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Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
- Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
- Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
- Best overall thermometer: CHOOSEEN Digital Forehead and Ear Thermometer 8-in-1
- Best ear thermometer: Braun Thermoscan 7
- Best oral thermometer: Vicks ComfortFlex Thermometer
- Best forehead thermometer: Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer
- Best thermometer for babies and children: iProven Baby Forehead and Ear Thermometer
- Best smart thermometer: Kinsa Smart Thermometer
- Best no-touch thermometer: iHealth Thermometer PT3
- Best budget thermometer: Vicks SpeedRead V912US Digital Thermometer
As with many modern technological advances, we’re now able to get all kinds of information with the touch of a button. Even thermometers, which once took several minutes in order to get a true reading, have gone digital, making it so much easier to get an accurate, readable temperature.
If you haven’t upgraded your mercury thermometer, now is the time to swap out this bathroom cabinet staple for a modern version.
But with so many types of thermometers on the market, how do you choose the right one? Good question!
We’ve selected one thermometer of every type to highlight key features and things you should consider before choosing yours.
The first thing to consider is how you’re going to use it. Some thermometers are geared toward infants or children, while others are better for adults.
Then decide if you prefer oral, ear, forehead, or no contact. If you tend to get a buildup of earwax, for example, an ear thermometer probably isn’t a good choice. Many thermometers have multiple uses.
You should avoid glass thermometers, which can break, and mercury thermometers, which are dangerous.
Here are some other things to consider when choosing a thermometer.
The purpose of a thermometer is to gauge body temperature. Anything else is a bonus and paying more won’t necessarily buy accuracy. The most accurate thermometers are first rectal, then oral. Generally, the farther you get outside the body, the less sensitive your reading will be.
Fever strips and pacifier thermometers are known to be inaccurate, so choose digital over these options.
Ease of use
Can you get your thermometer out and get a reading within a few minutes? Is it easy to operate or does it require too many steps?
If it looks too complicated or awkward, it probably is.
Look for things that matter to you:
- Do you need a big, easy-to-read display?
- Would a flexible tip be better for your kids?
- Do you want a loud beep or the option to turn it off?
- Would it be useful to have lots of memory?
Choose one that checks off your must-haves.
Most digital thermometers have the option to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius, but make sure it has your preferred method.
Thermometers loaded with extras can be helpful, but you may not need anything fancy. You can find many simple digital thermometers that do the job for under $20.
If you want oral and rectal use options, you can buy two and still pay less than you would for some fancier models.
If you’d like some of those bonus features, you can expect to pay more. Check for a warranty or money-back guarantee.
Look at product reviews, especially if you’re interested inexpensive models. If possible, check out multiple sites.
Every product will have some negative reviews, so look for consistency. If many reviewers point out a particular pro or con, it’s worth mulling it over.
We all have our preferences. The best thermometer for you isn’t necessarily the best for someone else. For purposes of this article, we’re paying special attention to:
- Design. We looked for thermometers that don’t complicate things when you’re looking for clarity. It should be intuitive and easy to use.
- Speed. You or someone you love is sick. You want to know if there’s a fever, and you want to know now so you can take the next steps.
- Readability. You shouldn’t have to turn on a spotlight or squint hard to read a thermometer.
- Accuracy. What’s the point if you can’t trust the reading?
Sellers of these products weren’t given a heads up. They neither asked nor paid for inclusion in this article.
Another thing to remember is that sales for thermometers are booming, in large part due to COVID-19. Some products may be out of stock right now, but hopefully, they’ll be available again soon.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting supply and demand, which may be reflected in pricing. Here’s our price guide:
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$50
- $$$ = above $50
Prices may change, so check for current prices.
Our use of the word “best”
All thermometers count as medical devices and therefore must pass certain federal standards.
So really, no thermometer brand should be “more accurate” than another, though a brand may have more or less consumer trust.
But people tend to prefer the features of some thermometers over others. And some types are known to be the most precise in general.
Best overall thermometer
CHOOSEEN Digital Forehead and Ear Thermometer 8-in-1
Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Key features: The CHOOSEEN 8-in-1 thermometer is designed for the whole family. With forehead and ear options, you can take someone’s temperature while they relax.
This thermometer can also take the temperature of the room, bathwater, or even a cup of soup. If you’re a caregiver, that could come in handy.
The 8-in-1 offers instant readings, a color-coded fever warning system, and 35 sets of memory. A lot of people who used it say it’s accurate, easy to use, and easy to read.
It comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and an 18-month replacement warranty. Two AAA batteries are included.
Considerations: Some people say the batteries die out too quickly, and others have trouble hearing the “ready” beep.
Despite all it does, it lacks a “no contact” feature, so if that’s important to you, this isn’t the right choice.
Best ear thermometer
Braun Thermoscan 7
Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Key features: Ear thermometers can be easier for some people to handle than oral thermometers.
With the Braun Thermoscan 7, your results will be displayed in just a few seconds, plus it keeps track of the previous nine readings.
You also get to select the appropriate age group, which offers a better understanding of what the reading means.
You can also pre-warm the tip for comfort. It comes with disposable lens filters and two AA batteries. Many users love that it’s super easy to read.
Considerations: Some people find it annoying that you have to set the age every time you use it. If you have a newborn, your pediatrician will probably advise against an ear thermometer in favor of a rectal, forehead, or underarm device.
Also, earwax or tiny ear canals can interfere with digital ear thermometers, giving you an inaccurate reading.
Best oral thermometer
Vicks ComfortFlex Thermometer
Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Key features: Vicks ComfortFlex Thermometer only needs 8 seconds to display your temperature and let you know if you have a fever. The flexible tip makes it easier for little ones, too.
We’re in a high tech age, but people tend to praise this thermometer for its simplicity.
Considerations: It can also be used under the arm or rectally. If you need a rectal thermometer, you should have one designated for that purpose alone.
Also, some people have complained that replacement batteries are difficult to find.
Best forehead thermometer
Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer
Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Key features: Of all the ways to check for fever, what could be easier than a quick swipe to the forehead? Forehead thermometers are also known as temporal artery thermometers.
The Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer saves the last eight readings, has an illuminated display, and includes a programmable beeper so you don’t have to disturb your kids if they’re sleeping. One-button programming can also be very convenient.
A 5-year warranty and 9-volt battery are included.
Many reviewers also applaud it for its accuracy and longevity.
Considerations: It’s pricey and could be a challenge if you’re dealing with fidgety kids. Forehead temperature can be affected by sweat, matted hair, or bandages, so be sure to read the instruction manual carefully.
Best thermometer for babies and children
iProven Baby Forehead and Ear Thermometer
Amazon rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Key features: Babies and toddlers can be fussy and squirmy even when they’re not sick. That can make taking an oral or rectal temperature quite an exasperating task.
The iProven DMT-489 can get a temperature reading in just 1 second. You can also look back over the last 20 readings to keep track of your child’s fever.
It has a large display, and you can switch from ear mode to forehead mode with the touch of a button.
People praise it for ease of use and accuracy and say it’s a good option for kids of all ages.
Considerations: It’s on the expensive side and there are some complaints that it has a short lifespan.
Best smart thermometer
Kinsa Smart Thermometer
Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Key features: This digital thermometer stands out for its ability to take an accurate oral, rectal, or armpit temperature in just 8 seconds or less.
It links to the Kinsa app to track and save temperatures, which provides the following:
- guidance to decide if you need to see a doctor
- health history
- medication tracking
- information on illnesses going around in your area
- on-screen entertainment for the kids while you’re taking their temperature
Considerations: The app is free, but you have to buy the Quick Care Smart Thermometer linked here, which is good for oral, underarm, or rectal use, or the Kinsa Smart Ear ($$) thermometer. Both use Bluetooth and work with or without the app.
Best no-touch thermometer
iHealth Thermometer PT3
Amazon rating: 4.5. out of 5 stars
Key features: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the benefits of no-touch temperature taking as a way to minimize the risk of spreading disease. They’re also certainly easy to keep clean.
The iHealth PT3 can be used on kids and adults and features a one-button control. You shouldn’t have to strain your eyes at the large LED display, even in the dark.
Instead of waiting to hear a beep, you’ll feel a vibration when it’s ready.
Two AAA batteries and a 12-month warranty are included.
Considerations: Distance, environment, and positioning can affect no-touch thermometers. Read the instructions carefully to avoid inaccurate readings.
Best budget thermometer
Vicks SpeedRead V912US Digital Thermometer
Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Key features: If what you want is an accurate, no-fuss temperature reading, Vicks SpeedRead is right up your alley. No bells and whistles here, but it gets the job done.
It features a color-coded display, last temperature recall, and automatic shut-off to preserve battery life.
Whether you use it orally, under the arm, or rectally, you only need 8 seconds to get a temperature.
It’s waterproof and comes with batteries and a storage case.
Considerations: Some people caution that it’s hard to find replacement batteries, so you might want to keep some on hand.
What if my thermometer isn’t accurate?
Look at customer reviews for any thermometer, and you’ll find at least some consistency complaints.
If you suspect your thermometer is inconsistent or inaccurate, contact the manufacturer. Many companies will allow you to refund or exchange faulty devices.
Who can use a digital thermometer?
Digital thermometers can be used by adults, children, and newborns.
Where can you use a digital thermometer?
Most digital thermometers can be used orally under the tongue (for adults and children over 4), rectally (for babies and children under 3), or axillary (under the armpit). The last method is not typically as accurate as the first two methods.
What are the different types of digital thermometers?
Regular digital thermometers use heat sensors in the mouth, rectum, or armpit to record the temperature. Digital ear thermometers use an infrared ray to measure temperature within the ear canal.
Temporal artery (or forehead) thermometers use an infrared scanner to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead. Digital pacifier thermometers are also available for infants.
Is it OK to use a mercury thermometer?
No, experts do not recommend using mercury thermometers because of the risk of poison.
Digital thermometers are the most accurate way to measure body temperature. There are many types, including oral, rectal, and forehead, plus many that are multifunctional.
Once you decide on the type of thermometer you want, you can think about design, extra features, and price.
Checking for fever is one way to gauge health and an important thing to know when you call a doctor. Having a working thermometer and a few extra batteries on hand can give you a little extra peace of mind.