At just £14, we can understand why the Summit Car/Truck Jug kettle GY-342 looks to be an attractive option. It also has a one-litre capacity. However, for us it takes too long to boil and the lack of an automatic switch-off function is a real let down, in terms of convenience and also safety.
It has a great, one-litre capacity
It’s only £14
It is slow to boil
There is no auto switch-off function
In Practical Caravan’s 12V travel kettle group test, this product, the Summit Car/Truck Jug kettle GY-342, scored three out of five.
But, you may ask, why do you need a kettle like this? When on your caravan holidays, you no doubt pack a mains kettle or a traditional whistling kettle, right? However, if the campsite or caravan park you’ve pitched at does not have electric hook-ups, or if you just like the convenience of having a compact kettle in the car for quick and easy coffee and tea breaks when on the road, a 12V kettle could be just the job.
We understand that some people might be worried about powering a kettle from a cigarette-style socket in the car. Indeed, on the packaging of some of the kettles in our group test, it says that they should only be used in power sockets that are capable of coping with 20 amps (A), when most cigarette lighter-style sockets are, on the whole, only rated up to about 12A.
However, the kettle only draws the maximum current stated for a very short amount of time when it is first switched on, after which it drops to 9-13A, or thereabouts. This short initial surge is almost never long enough to cause fuses to blow.
The wiring on electrical sockets is such that they can work efficiently at their maximum loading. This means that the wiring feeding most 12A sockets is usually sufficient to safely – although not too efficiently – cope with somewhere in the region of 30-40A.
However, safety is crucial when it comes to electrics. If you have any concerns at all about running electrical accessories or gadgets from 12V sockets, make sure you check with an expert. And although any proficient DIY-er can fit these sockets, not all hobbyists understand how important it is to over-size the wiring to ensure efficient operation under high loads. Worst, some may cut costs by fitting a lower-rated cable. So it is just possible wiring will be insufficient, from a safety as well as an efficiency point of view, if a DIY-fit socket’s maximum current is exceeded – even slightly. Do take care.
The Summit Car/Truck Jug kettle GY-342 was the cheapest kettle in the group that we at Practical Caravan tested, yet also one of the biggest – allowing up to a litre of water to be boiled at a time.
In general, it is not surprising that 12V kettles are slower to boil than their mains counterparts, so this was something we monitored closely when reviewing them. Also, users often worry about the amount of leisure battery power travel kettles sap, thus the battery capacity used was also taken into account.
Every kettle being tested had to bring a large mug (300ml) of water to the boil. In the case of this kettle, this took 25 minutes. And quite why the boil took so long is a bit of a mystery. The current drawn was a fairly average 10A, which means this is a pretty thirsty beast electrically, too: 10A for 25 minutes works out at 4.16Ah. And 300ml is the minimum quantity you can boil, so you can’t save time by using smaller cups. And using the kettle to its full, one-litre capacity will require a fair amount of patience.
However, our biggest gripe is the lack of any form of auto switch-off. This is a kettle you have to sit with, until you hear it boiling, and then you must unplug it to prevent dry boiling occurring.
So, what are the alternatives? Well, the Practical Caravan travel kettle group test winner was the Waeco Perfect Kitchen MCK750 which scored five out of five, but is priced at £39, plus its sister product, the cheaper (£16) Waeco Perfect Coffee MC01, received a four-star rating. You might also wish to consider the Halfords Go Car kettle – at £20 it is another affordable option, and it achieved four out of five, too.
Quite why the boil took so long is a bit of a mystery