Min Capacity: 500ml
Max Capacity: 1.7l
Water gauge: Yes
Lid type: Flip top
Exterior: Plastic coating, stainless steel interior
Cord length: 28.7 inches
Weight: 2.89 pounds
Size: 10.8 x 6.7 x 8.9 inches
Variable temperature: Yes
The Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle is, by far, the most stylish kettle we’ve tested. It comes in a range of colors, each of which will make it pop on your kitchen countertop, and the sleek casing, protruding brand name and soft-open lid gives it a premium finish. It will even sing a tune when the temperature is set.
As attractive as it is, the design is not ideal in some cases, as you will discover in our full Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle review; it is notably heavy, even when empty, and the exterior grows very hot in use. However, these faults aside, it is one of the nicest-looking kettles we’ve seen and will make a statement in any kitchen.
Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle review: Price and availability
The Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle is available from Amazon (opens in new tab) for $229.95 in the colors red, black, pastel green and polished stainless steel. It is also available in the UK from Amazon (opens in new tab) from £160 and from Smeg for £169.95. In the UK, it is available in pastel blue, white, black, red, pink, cream and polished stainless steel.
Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle review: Design
This kettle features a tall, jug-like design with Smeg’s name printed across its casing on both sides. It’s coated in plastic with a stainless steel interior and uses a flip top lid with the release button found on top. The positioning of this button is a little unusual — it means you can’t open the lid with the same hand that’s holding the handle, although this isn’t a huge flaw.
The body and soft-open lid feels thick and of premium quality, but the handle feels hollow and plastic by comparison. I wish it had more cushioning, but it’s not uncomfortable to grip.
The base is fairly bulky, but not as heavy as others as it’s made from plastic. It stands on four small feet, which means that the cable can be thread through at any angle — a useful design feature if you want to hide it. The cable is 28.7 inches long, which is more than substantial, and it’s a soft grey color to match the chrome coating of the base. Combined, the kettle and base take up 10.8 x 6.7 x 8.9 inches in total. However, the kettle does weigh a fair amount — 2.89 pounds when empty and 6.61 pounds at full capacity.
You control this kettle from the base using a single switch to increase and decrease the temperature selection. There are seven temperatures to choose from, ranging from 122-212°F (50-100º C), and you can see which temperature setting you’re on from another side of the base which shows a gauge via LEDs. The temperatures are printed here and each lights up as you cycle through.
The start/stop button and keep warm settings can be found on either side of the temperature switch. Because of this design, you will ideally need to be able to see two sides of the base at any time. It plays a tune when you press start and again when it reaches temperature — you can mute this if it’s not to your taste. While it heats, the lights fill the temperature gauge on the base to show you its progress.
There’s a water gauge behind the handle which shows the minimum capacity (500ml) and max capacities (1.7 liters) respectively. 500ml is quite a large minimum capacity, and means you will waste energy if you’re only boiling enough for one cup of tea. The removable limescale filter can be accessed from within the lid, the mesh of which feels more premium and sturdy than others we’ve tested. While it’s heavy, we loved the general design and look of this kettle — few others were on par with its premium quality feel and we especially loved the soft-open lid.
Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle review: Performance
The Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle was slightly faster than average in terms of speed to boil one liter of water, taking two minutes and 11 seconds. It was quite quiet in doing so as well — in fact we noticed that it sounds like rainfall as it boils, reaching 73dB, which is quieter than the average. Electricity consumption was pretty standard as well, needing 0.114kWh to boil one liter. However, the performance fell down when it came to the external casing temperature. While the handle remained at room temperature, the body reached 89.8°C or 193.6°F, so this could scald you if you’re not careful and poses a safety hazard if you have small children or pets around.
At full capacity, this kettle didn’t leak or spit and it remained stable. It needed three minutes and 30 seconds to boil 1.7 liters of water, which is a little slow, but it’s a large capacity. It scored well for insulation thanks to the keep warm setting, which lasts for 20 minutes once the temperature has been reached. At 20 minutes, this is a fairly short keep warm setting, and we noticed that, once it finished, the temperature dropped quite quickly — the water measured 71.9°C or 161.42°F an hour after boiling with the keep warm setting activated.
It’s easy to control the water and accurate to pour through the spout, but it can dribble back down itself if you recede slowly.
Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle review: Ease of use and manual
The limescale filter in the Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle is easy to remove and refit, whether you’ve got big or small hands. The lid is also very easy to open and close and the switch on top is responsive, although you can’t press it with the same hand that holds the handle, as mentioned earlier. You can fill this kettle up through the spout, but you can’t run the tap on full flow, so you need to be a little patient. However, you can fill it through the lid without issue. The water gauge is easy to see as you fill it up as well and the increments are clear to read. The kettle as a whole is easy to clean with a smooth body, although the chrome plated base does show up marks easily.
The manual contains all of the relevant safety information as well as lots of clear diagrams. Suggestions are given for what types of tea to use for the different temperatures and there’s also useful cleaning guidance and a troubleshooting section. However, there are no obvious contact details, which it would benefit from.
Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle review: Verdict
On the whole, we were impressed with the style and the quality of the Smeg Variable Temperature Kettle’s design. It certainly has a premium feel with the soft-open lid and audible tunes when it starts and finishes boiling. The useful keep warm and mute settings also sets it aside from other kettles we’ve had on test.
In terms of performance, it’s just above average, with our winner, the Bosch Sky Kettle, being faster to boil, cooler to touch and using less energy, although the Smeg is quieter. Our main qualm with this kettle is the hot external casing, which is a scalding hazard. The Smeg costs more than the winner as well, and almost five times as much as our best budget kettle, the Breville Curve Kettle. However, those who are willing to spend the big bucks to get a premium design won’t be disappointed, as it will become the centerpiece in any kitchen.