Hot stuff

30 Sep, 15

Kitchens & Bathrooms News reports steaming or boiling water taps are the latest in a line-up of must-have appliances

With increased consumer awareness fuelled by TV appearances, celebrity endorsements, and now more players entering the market, sales of steaming and boiling water taps are on the rise. In fact, such is the increase in purchases, industry experts believe they have now joined a must-have line-up of appliances for the modern kitchen.  Sales and marketing director of Reginox Dave Mayer comments: “Steaming hot water taps are becoming increasingly popular and are no longer considered a luxury item. They are moving into the mainsteam and will become the norm over the next few years, resulting in the kettle becoming a thing of the past. Costs are starting to come down and will continue to fall as cheaper imports arrive and they become more mass market.” And the communications manager of Carron Phoenix, Jeanette Ward agrees adding: “The genie is out of the bottle now as far as boiling water taps are concerned and the combination of more brands and more choice has made the mainsteam consumer realise they are so much more accessible to them now. But buyer beware, as they do vary in quality and functionality.”

And marketing operation manager for Franke, Steve Rutter agrees,s tating: “More and more brands are now entering the market and the choice of models multiplying rapidly. Against this backdrop, it’s important that retailers and consumers understand the variations in terms of design, material and functionality at the difference price points available because there are key differences.”

Know temperature differences

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One of the first points of learnings for kitchen designers and specialists is the difference in delivered water temperature, from near boiling to 100C. Steve Rutter of Franke continues: “For example, there are only a few models that actually deliver boiling water at 100C at the point of delivery, as opposed to those which deliver steaming hot water.”  And, as managing director of Quooker UK Stephen Johnson points out, this create two different markets: “The connoisseur and the professional recognise and have embraced the advantages of having instant, truly boiling water at 100, whilst there are others who just want a device that delivers hot water, not clearly understanding the significant difference.” While boiling may be required for sterilising and preferable for tea making, sales director of Perrin & Rowe David Cole adds there may be occasions when a range of steaming water temperatures are required. His company manufactures a steaming water tap with an LCD digital display that can be adjusted “to deliver water at a lower temperature – for example 85C, which is ideal for green and fruit teas”.

Dedicated or combination?

Certainly, there is a wide variety of steaming and boiling water taps available from dedicated steaming or boiling water-only models to those which offer filtered cold and even sparkling water. While steaming and boiling-water only models may be the most popular option, they do require a separate fitting. Dave Mayer of Reginox explains why the dedicated model may be the preferred option: “Boiling/steaming are currently the most popular, probably because they have been available for longer.” While marketing manager (Europe) for  InSinkErator Linda Phoutthasak believes it is because the model is more cost-effective. “Combined and single steaming hot water taps cater for different price points, however, with the single steaming hot water tap often an entry-level product for consumers moving into the combined tap market.”

However, consumers are now recognising the benefits of the three-in-one tap which replaces the standard mixer and offers the added value of boiling water.  These further reduce worktop clutter as they can be fitted in existing sink tap holes. Stephen Johnson of Quooker comments: “The all-in-one Fusion tap, although launched recently, is quickly becoming the dominant player.” And Dave Mayer agrees: “3 in 1 taps offering boiling, hot and cold are a more recent addition and, in time, I believe these will overtake those offering just boiling water.” In fact, some believe the 3 in 1 tap is already there. Marketing manager (Europe) for  InSinkErator Linda Phoutthasak comments: “This all in one market has matured”.

Although there are now tap models which offer even more versatility than the 3-in -1 with even sparkling water, industry experts don’t expect these to take over. Stephen Johnson explains why: “We are not of the view that greater functionality necessarily delivers a real benefit to the market. [Quooker] was conceived and designed to replace the kettle, which we know is an inefficient and unsafe product. But, at no time in the history of kettle design, has anyone thought it was a good idea to adapt the kettle to deliver chilled or fizzy water.”

Classical and contemporary

If a greater number of water options, then, aren’t the key to driving aspirational sales, what will separate premium hot water taps from cheaper imports entering the market. Industry experts believe it will be a combination of enhanced technology and a greater variety of design. Linda Phoutthasak of InSinkErator warns: “For manufacturers, it is easy to invest heavily in technology and functionality, introduce it to the market with a price-tag to match, and rely on its innovation to drive sales. This is not always the case; consumer needs do not always favour appliances with the most features, or largest technical investment, and design and simplicity are now taking the forefront.” She continues: “As the market grows, we have learnt that packing as many features as possible into one appliance does not necessarily correlate with convenience in the eyes of the consumer.” And Phoutthasak adds:“Design, colour and function are the main factors that distinguish premium products from those at entry-level.” InSinkErator has used colour to differentiate its top-of-the-range 3N1 tap offer. But Dave Mayer of Reginox believes manufacturers can continue to do more. “Design needs to develop considerably”, he says continuing “whilst it is true to say that there is already a broader range of styles available, function is currently still taking priority over form.” Mayer believes steaming and boiling water taps shouldn’t just be created in modern styles but should offer more classical styles too. “It would be good to also see some more classical styles appearing that would suit the more traditional Shaker-style kitchen.”

Enter Perrin & Rowe, which alongside its 3-in-1 kitchen tap now also offers a dedicated Hot Tap in a choice of styles. Sales director of Perrin & Rowe David Cole explains: “Developments in terms of style have been made with Perrin & Rowe taking the lead as the first to release three new styles of Mini Instant Hot Tap to market: the contemporary Mimas, country Aquitaine and traditional Parthian.”

Improved hot tap tech

However, of course the technology has moved on from the first boiling taps. Quooker now offers a model which uses instant boiling and water from the cold feed to provide mixed hot water – suitable for if the tap is situated away from the boiler thereby reducing the need to heat a lag of cold water. While Perrin & Rowe has introduced nano-technology filters for its boiling water taps, which David Cole explains “allow filtered water to pass through and be free from chlorine and other harmful metals and bacteria. Not only that, but our Nano-technology filter will also act as a lime inhibitor, which will ultimately increase the lifespan of the hot water tank through its prevention of limescale build-up”. And Dave Mayer believes the hot water tap may take inspiration from commercial brassware operation, as he says “perhaps we will see more ‘gimmicks’ starting to appear, such as infra-red operation”.

However the design and operation of the hot tap may evolve, one thing is certain, they are now considered part and parcel of an on-tend kitchen specification. Stephen Johnson offers a retail  analogy about the popularity of the steaming or boiling water tap: “Designers frequently tell us that they greet their clients, make them a cup of tea, and before they can discuss what kind of kitchen they are looking to create the client will point to the Quooker and say, ‘We want one of those’.”

And Steve Rutter of Franke believes the market potential is “huge” as “sales of boiling water taps are the fastest-growing [kitchen] category.” He concludes: “Although they started in the top-end, boiling water taps are rapidly becoming a mainstream purchase and could soon be as competitive as a microwave in the kitchen.”


This feature first appeared in Kitchens & Bathrooms News September 2015 issue