Hot water dispensers vs boiling water taps - which is best for your home?

For cups of tea on demand

Brass boiling water tap
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Boiling water taps are fast becoming a must-have in kitchens, with the promise of saving both time and money, but how do they shape up when it comes to the comparison of hot water dispensers vs boiling water taps?

There are plenty of the best boiling water taps out there to choose from, whether you want a simple tap that dispenses near-boiling water, or one with extra bells and whistles like a carbonator to provide sparkling water.

But when you’re trying to choose which direction to go in when it comes to installing a hot tap, it can be hard to make sense of some of the jargon out there, as well as the relative advantages and disadvantages of installing one compared to a water dispenser.

So, let's delve into the difference between boiling water taps and hot water dispensers, then get to grips with which one will be best for your kitchen.

What is a boiling water tap?

A boiling water tap is just like a regular tap but can deliver near-boiling water instantly. The tap has a tank underneath the sink which is plugged into the mains and water supply - this is where the water is heated and stored at the correct temperature so each time you turn on the tap you get instant boiling water.

In truth, the name is ever so slightly misleading, as the water that comes out of your tap is probably a few degrees lower than boiling - anywhere between 92°C and 98°C - but it’s close enough to do the same job as the best kettle, just quicker and probably cheaper, as we explored in our feature on boiling water taps vs kettles.

blue kitchen with white worktops and sink with gold tap

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

Plumbing expert Peter Clayton, from Trade Plumbing, says 'Boiling water taps are not essential, however, they are an extremely convenient addition to your home.'

He adds that hot taps 'can be especially helpful for those with mobility issues who may struggle using a kettle. 

If you have multiple hot drinks a day, or boil pasta and rice often, you will save a significant amount of water wastage by investing in a boiling water tap.'

Peter also adds that 'Boiling water taps are an investment, so if you plan on living in your property for a short period of time it's probably not worth the initial cost of the tap. However, for the long-term you will save a significant amount of money.'

white kitchen worktop with gas hob and kitchen sink underneath blue cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

A boiling water tap is fairly easy to install because it is fitted the same way as a regular tap. You'll just need to make sure you have space for the tank, and sufficient water pressure. 

Boiling water taps also vary in cost, from more affordable versions at around £399 up to more high-end versions that can dispense near-boiling water but also hot water, chilled water, filtered water and even carbonated water.

What is a hot water dispenser?

A hot water dispenser sits on your worktop and dispenses a set amount of hot water - often somewhere between 80-98°C - when you need it, making it perfect for a cup of tea or coffee whenever you like. 

They’re often cheaper than boiling water taps, and you can pick one up for as little as £30, with most ranging around £100-200, such as one we've reviewed, the Aqua Optima Aurora. They don't need to be professionally installed.

 'A hot water dispenser is an appliance that keeps a small tank of water hot over a long period of time,' explains Trade Plumbing’s Peter Clayton. 

A white kitchen with hanging copper pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

'This appliance is different to a boiling water tap as the water isn’t boiling but rather stored at a very high temperature suited for making coffee or tea.'

Often popular in offices, hot water dispensers are increasingly popular in homes as they give you control over how much water you dispense compared to a kettle, but aren’t quite as expensive and complicated as a boiling water tap.

What are the advantages of boiling water taps?

'The most obvious advantage of a boiling water tap is the on-demand hot water,' says Clayton, 'it is a small luxury that saves time and provides convenience.' 

'Boiling water taps prevent water wastage by only dispensing the required amount of water needed. These taps are therefore key to conserving energy and make a great investment for saving money in the long term.'

Navy kitchen with brass bar handles and a white worktop

(Image credit: Future/Anna Stathaki)

For many, the fact the boiling water tap can double up as a tap for chilled and filtered water and even carbonated water is also a bonus. They might be pricey, but in the long term, they can be easier and cheaper than using a traditional kettle.

They also save clutter, with everything hidden under the worktop, and are a safe alternative to kettles thanks to various features as well as being easier for those with mobility issues.

What are the advantages of hot water dispensers?

Hot water dispensers offer the same ease of use and potential cost-saving element as boiling water taps, allowing you to dispense one cup at a time quickly and easily without boiling a whole kettle. 

White painted kitchen with kitchen worktop and coffee station, large plants displayed, artwork hanging, shelving, and wall light

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

They may be a few degrees lower than a boiling water tap, but for a simple cup of tea or coffee this probably won’t make much difference, making them fine for this purpose.  

They’re a good alternative to a traditional kettle, especially if you have mobility problems and struggle to lift or pour, and some also have a variable setting so you can select how much water you want the tap to dispense.

What are the disadvantages of a boiling water tap?

Boiling water taps are a great alternative to a kettle, but there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind. The more state-of-the-art versions can be expensive, and you’ll need to be prepared to lose some cupboard space for the tank underneath your worktop for them.

Detail of white cupboards with wooden top in kitchen, white wall tiles.

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

You’ll also have to take regular maintenance into account, and the possibility that in hard water areas, limescale can build up and cause problems, though the process of removal is much the same as removing limescale from standard taps.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, some owners of hot taps also find the process a little less straightforward than compared to a basic hot water dispenser.

What are the disadvantages of hot water dispensers?

Hot water dispensers are a good alternative to a basic kettle and for many will be exactly what they need. But if you’re choosing between a hot water dispenser and a boiling water tap you should be aware of a few things. 

Hot water dispensers are often limited between 150ml and 350ml which will be a limiting factor compared to a boiling water tap.

Black painted kitchen cupboards and countertop, white tiled backsplash and decorative open shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

You’ll also have to think about space, as they’ll sit on your worktop, potentially adding to clutter. 

'These dispensers are usually fairly large so they take up a significant amount of counter space,' says Peter Clayton, 'unlike a boiling water tap.' 

The water may also be a few degrees less hot than a boiling water tap, which you should factor into your decision depending on what you want to use your hot tap for.

Should you buy a boiling water tap or a hot water dispenser?

The best quality long-term option to vouch for is a boiling water tap, though they are more expensive than hot water dispensers, and more of an effort to install and maintain. 

Hot water dispensers are a fantastic budget option or are great if you're not ready to commit to a hot tap just yet, though you'll notice that they aren't as capable of providing lots of hot water at one time, and often don't reach the same temperatures. 

Ellen Manning

Ellen is a journalist specialising in food and drink and writes for a range of national newspapers and magazines. She’s also a judge for awards including the Great Taste Awards and you’ll sometimes find her hosting events or food festivals, as well as writing her own award-winning food blog Eat with Ellen. In between all that, you’ll find her adventuring in her campervan with her two dogs or probably in the gym.