US 220V Kitchen Outlet for Kettle

This is the second post in a 2-part series. Read part 1 on installing an 8kW under-sink water heater in our kitchen. And if your takeaway from these posts is that I have an unhealthy obsession with heating up water then… maybe you’re right. But as laid in the Technology Connections video below, boiling water is such a foundational kitchen activity and making it fast is worth it.

Between the under sink water and our new induction range, getting water boiling in a pot for pasta is now pretty fast. But what if I want to make a cup of hot chocolate or tea? For that I’ve always used an electric kettle, and it beats an old-fashioned kettle (even on the induction stove). But coming from Europe and 3000W kettles, American 110-120V kettles are something of a let down because they top out at about 1500W. Some outlets in the US can provide up to 20A and power in excess of 2000W but I’ve never seen a US kettle that takes advantage of that.

So what to do?

  1. Install 220-240V outlet in kitchen
  2. Buy and ship 240V kettle from Europe
  3. Snip euro plug off kettle cord and attach US-style plug
  4. Boil water!

The US has a standard-size 220-240V 20A receptacle type called NEMA 6-20R. It’s like a normal 3-prong outlet, but with the prongs turned 90° to prevent accidental insertion of incompatible devices. Unfortunately you can’t get GFCI variants of those, so for kitchen applications you’re strictly speaking supposed to wire them up with a GFCI-breaker in your electrical panel. Other than that, the US 220-240V outlets fit into normal electrical boxes and install the same way. You obviously have to run a pair of wires from your electrical panel, and I ran ours when wiring for the induction range and under-sink water heater.

For the kettle I just went on amazon.uk and amazon.de and to find some sane-looking 3000W kettle. I opted for a Russell Hobbs one from the UK, but any kettle will work. Then wait for it to travel across the Atlantic and replace the giant UK-style plug with a US-style one from Amazon (I don’t actually know if doing that is a code violation and I’m definitely not recommending you do it, but it worked for me!).

Snipping off the UK plug

That’s all! I didn’t time the new kettle vs our old one, but going by power output it’s twice as fast which seems about right. And considering how annoying it is to wait for water to boil, the upgrade was well worth it for me.

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