Boiling water taps are right at the top of the list for anyone planning a new kitchen or kitchen makeover. But with so many makes and models to choose from, not to mention an array of different features, choosing the best boiling water tap for you and your family might seem quite a challenge.

Understanding the difference between a boiling water tap and an instant hot water tap

Don’t be disheartened. Because with a little homework, it’s easy to make the right choice. Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between a boiling water tap and an instant hot water tap. Too many so-called boiling water taps don’t dispense water at 100°C. And call us old-fashioned, but we think that for a proper cuppa, it’s 100°C or nothing. Similarly, all those snacks in seconds – noodles, porridge, soup – need truly boiling water. Genuinely boiling water is also essential if you’re planning to use your boiling water tap for making up babies’ bottles – and for sterilising them afterwards.

So, read beyond the headline – and take a moment to find out exactly what temperature the tap will dispense water at. After all, no one wants a tepid cup of tea. For drinks that benefit from near-boiling water – green tea or freshly ground coffee, for example – a tap that also dispenses filtered drinking water is your friend. Run a splash of the cold, filtered drinking water into your mug, then top up with boiling water.

Should I choose a 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 tap?

How do you decide if you want a 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 boiling water tap? And what’s the difference? Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. 4 in 1 taps give you boiling water, filtered drinking water, plus normal hot and cold flows. So, you have one kitchen tap that does it all – everything from making instant cuppas and refilling your water bottle to the washing up. Designing a tap that delivers four flows from a single spout is ingenious.

British brand QETTLE’s 4 in 1 tap is a fully patented design that is also completely mechanical. Now, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean it’s a wind-up tap. What it does mean is that the tap doesn’t have any electronic components. This is good. Because if, a few years into your boiling water tap’s life, you find a part needs servicing or even replacing, it’s a lot easier and cheaper if the part in question is mechanical as opposed to electronic.

3 in 1 taps dispense boiling water, plus normal hot and cold flows. Still useful, but typically, there is only a marginal difference between the cost of a 3 in 1 and 4 in 1 tap – so if you can also enjoy the convenience of filtered drinking water on tap, for not very much more money – why not?

Safety Considerations

If you’re now beginning to make a shortlist of taps, based on 100°C delivery and 4 in 1 functionality, it’s time to pay attention to safety. Used correctly, a boiling water tap is arguably much safer than a kettle. After all, it’s fixed – usually to the rear of the work surface – and there are no cables that can be grabbed or pulled. It’s also likely you’ll be dispensing relatively small volumes of boiling water – there isn’t a situation where you’ll have a vessel containing up to 1.5 litres of boiling water that could fall, from a height.

Even so, if you have young children, vulnerable users or just guests who might not be familiar with boiling water taps, it’s vital to ensure you choose a boiling water tap at least two-stage safety. In practise, this means a safety clip and a handle lock. When the clip is in place, it should be impossible for boiling water to be accessed. A handle lock will ensure that even if the safety clip has been removed, an exacting action is still required for boiling water to be dispensed.

Watching videos of how boiling taps work should also be part of your pre-purchase research. When the tap is turned on, it is normal to see steam and occasionally, a little splutter or splash. After all, it is boiling water. An excessively spluttery flow or a flow that sprays out at acute angles is not desirable.

Be aware too, that instant hot water taps (taps that do not achieve 100°C) will often vent through their spouts. This literally means the tap is letting off steam – the steam has nowhere else to go, apart from out of the spout. Venting can happen when the tap is not being used – so it is perfectly possible to be adjacent to the tap – e.g. drying up – and for the tap to vent without warning.

What size boiler tank should I get?

Thinking about how you intend to use your boiling water tap will help you to decide what size boiler tank to choose. QETTLE’s 2 litre boiler tank will provide up to 4 cups of boiling water in one go – so would probably be ideal for a couple, living in a small home, who don’t expect to use their boiling water tap for much other than instant hot drinks and snacks. If, however, you’re a family of 4 or 5 and you’re intending to use your boiling water tap for much more – cooking rice, pasta, blanching vegetables etc – then it is sensible to choose a bigger boiler tank. As a guide, QETTLE’s 4 litre boiler tank provides up to 8 cups of boiling water in one go, and its 7 litre tank will give you up to 14 cups of water.

A chiller is a great addition to a boiling water tap. It will chill your tap’s flow of filtered drinking water down to between 3-6°C. It’s especially lovely in the summer, but chilled filtered water is pleasant all-year round and for many people, is actually the difference between drinking 1-2 glasses of water a day and the recommended 5+. If you’re not sure about getting a chiller from the off, check to see if you can retrofit one. It’s normally simple to do so – just remember to leave plenty of undersink space, ventilation – a simple grille in the cupboard’s kick space will do – and allow for an additional power socket.

What’s involved with installation?

Understanding what will be involved with installing a boiling water tap is key – and should be as much part of your homework as features and functionality. Fitting a boiling water tap shouldn’t be difficult – whether in a new kitchen or as a kitchen tap upgrade. But designs and undersink components e.g. the tap’s boiler tank and its filter system, vary enormously. As does the size of the components. Your basic checklist should include knowing what your home’s water pressure is, having a power socket under your kitchen sink and being comfortable with how the tap itself will be sited. Watching an installation video can be really useful – for you and your installer.

Filter cartridges and servicing

One final, but important consideration to make before your buy your boiling water tap, is what – if any – servicing and maintenance requirements it will have. All boiling water taps use a filter system. This can use one or two filter cartridges – so it’s wise to find out before your purchase how often these will need to be replaced and how much they cost. As a guide, QETTLE’s filter system uses just a singular filter cartridge that protects both the boiler tank from limescale and removes unpleasant tastes and odours, e.g. chlorine, from the flow of drinking water. The filter cartridge must be replaced every 6 months and currently costs £26.95.

However, filter cartridge costs vary enormously – and can often cost in the region of £50.00. Ask too, whether an annual service of the tap is needed. Lastly, any object that has a life cycle should be as eco-friendly as possible. So, understand whether you’ll be disposing of just the filter cartridge, or its housing/canister, too. The latter are often manufactured from plastic – is it recyclable – or destined for landfill? It might be one of your final considerations prior to purchasing your boiling water tap – but it’s still one of the most important.

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