Japanese winters can be harsh for some, and families here have various appliances at home to help with the cold. One of these winter saviours you can find in almost every household and work place is the Electric Thermo Pot. This compact water dispenser is always plugged in, keeping the water hot and ready whenever you want it so you can make your hot tea or coffee from a simple push of a button.
An electric thermo pot is very rudimentary. You plug it into an outlet, pour water in, and it will automatically begin to boil. After approximately half an hour, a beep will go off, indicating that the water has reached boiling point. The pot will then keep the water consistently at 60°C, 80°C, 90°C or 98°C, depending on your preference and the options available with each model. And the sizes of the pots range from 2.2L to 5L, so you can choose one suitable for your household.
The common brands that make these thermo pots are Panasonic, Tiger and Zojirushi. Since this is a simple appliance, the products offered by each brand are very similar. Since they are also incredibly durable, the models don’t often change either. You can get yourself one of these hot water dispensers for about 8,000yen, more for the bigger ones, and it will easily last you anywhere from five to ten years. If you are somehow breaking these pots every year, I wonder what you are putting into it other than water.
Newer and more expensive models often have an insulated body like a thermo mug, so it requires even less electricity when it is keeping the water hot. Some new models offer a nicer coating for the pot or multiple buttons on dispensing water, but I would say that there isn’t anything revolutionary that a basic model cannot do. After all, what you are looking for is simply hot water.
When you examine the buttons panel on the dispenser, you will find “lock/unlock”, “dispense”, “temp”, “re-boil”, and “timer”. First, the lock/unlock is a safety feature installed so you wouldn’t get burnt by hot water if you hit the dispense button accidentally, and the pot automatically locks up again seconds later. The temperature button is for selecting how hot you want the water to maintain at. When the pot is running low on water, you can simply refill it and hit the “re-boil”, and you can use the same button when you want the water to be boiling hot again. Lastly, the timer function is an energy saving feature that you can fill the pot up but then delay the boiling process six or ten hours later. That way, when you are out for work or sleeping, you are not using electricity to keep the water hot.
Another safety feature is that when there is less than 0.3L water in the pot, the water wouldn’t dispense so that the pot doesn’t burn itself dry. The magnetic cord is another safety design. Just in case you trip on the cord, the cord will come off so it doesn’t pull the whole pot down from the counter.
Maintenance-wise, there isn’t much to do. Every couple or few months, you can throw in a packet of acidic water pot cleaners and activate the “self-clean” function so that the chemicals will clean out the water stain. A lemon with its seeds taken out will do the job just as well. Either way, you shouldn’t need to wipe the inside of the pot to avoid scratching the coating.
When the temperature drops, you want something hot to drink, or a sudden craving for cup-noodles kicks in, wouldn’t you want access to hot water immediately? These electric thermo pots do take more time than an electric kettle to boil, but once it is done, it keeps the water ready to go. It helps many families every day through the cold winter, so if you don’t have one yet, consider investing in one of these and it will last you for years of winters to come.