Advertisement
Consumer Reviews

A guide to buying the best thermometer for your needs

Some thermometers have a memory function, recording the last few readings taken, so you can see if your temperature has gone up or down.

Being sick is a drag and can hinder your ability to be productive. So it’s important to take the necessary steps to get better as quickly as possible when you’re feeling under the weather.

Checking your body temperature when you're sick can alert you to the possibility that you're running a fever, and if that's the case, you can proceed with the correct steps to quickly treat it. The best thermometers, such as our top choice, the Braun Thermoscan3 Ear Thermometer, have easy-to-use controls and provide accurate readings.

Advertisement

What to know before you buy a thermometer

Thermometer type

You can find various types of thermometers on the market, but the most common are digital stick thermometers, in-ear thermometers and temporal artery thermometers.

  • Digital stick thermometers are perhaps the most widely used of all home thermometers. You can use them to take temperatures either orally, rectally or under the armpit. They're simple to use and inexpensive but deliver results slower than other types of thermometers.
  • In-ear thermometers must be inserted gently into the outer ear to take temperature readings. They generally return results quickly and are great for taking kids' temperatures, but they give inaccurate readings for babies under six months.
  • Temporal artery thermometers use infrared light to read the temperature of the temporal artery on the forehead. They give accurate results, even on newborn babies. They're simple to use on others, but can be tricky to position correctly to take your own temperature.

Response time

Some high-end thermometers return temperature readings in a single second, which is a godsend when taking the temperature of an impatient child. However, on the other end of the spectrum, some thermometers are frustratingly slow to return results, taking up to a minute.

Advertisement

Thermometer features

Comfort tip

You can find thermometers that feature either pre-warmed or flexible tips for comfort. This is great for kids or for anyone who needs to regularly monitor their temperature and would prefer a more comfortable experience.

Fever alarm

The majority of modern thermometers have some kind of fever alarm — a series of bleeps that sound when the results returned indicate a fever. Occasionally, they let out a different number of bleeps for an elevated temperature that doesn't quite come into the fever range.

Backlit display

Many affordable thermometers don't have a backlit display, but having one is a convenient feature that lets you see the results on the LCD screen more clearly in a low-light environment.

Thermometer cost

You can find digital stick thermometers for as little as $5 to $10, whereas high-end home thermometers can cost up to $50. Professional-grade thermometers can cost even more, sometimes up to $100.

Thermometer FAQ

What's the best type of thermometer to use for kids?

A. From around age four to five, the majority of children will hold a digital stick thermometer in their mouths or under their arm for a short period of time, but it can be trickier to get an accurate reading from little kids. In-ear digital thermometers are a good bet for wriggly toddlers and older babies, but don't give accurate results in babies under six months old. Before six months of age, use a temporal artery thermometer or take your baby's temperature rectally with a digital stick thermometer.

How should I clean my thermometer between uses?

A. You should wash the tip of in-ear and digital stick thermometers between uses to keep them sanitary. Although you can use rubbing alcohol, it isn't necessary in most cases. Simply wash the thermometer tip with cold, soapy water and dry it before putting it away.

Best thermometers

Best of the best thermometer

Braun Thermoscan3 Ear Thermometer: available at Amazon

Our take: A reliable and speedy in-ear thermometer that's best for children.

Advertisement

What we like: This ear thermometer provides reliable readings and has an audio temperature indicator. It has disposable lens filters to reduce the risk of spreading germs and a memory function that recalls the last temperature taken.

What we dislike: It doesn't have a backlit screen.

Best bang for your buck thermometer

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer: available at Amazon

Our take: This forehead thermometer has a sleek design and is suitable for adults and kids.

What we like: It uses non-contact technology for safe use and has a single-button control design. It works within 1.19 inches from a person's forehead and uses an ultra-sensitive sensor to collect more than 100 data points per second for accurate readings.

What we dislike: It delivers an error message from time to time.

Advertisement

Honorable mention

iProven Medical Digital Ear Thermometer: available at Amazon

Our take: Not only does this thermometer take in-ear temperatures, but it can also be used for temporal artery readings on the forehead.

What we like: This ear thermometer with forehead function uses infrared technology to deliver accurate readings and sounds off three beeps when a fever is detected. It comes with a pouch, batteries and a quick start guide and provides readings in 1-3 seconds.

What we dislike: Some users reported not getting an ear tip cone for ear readings.

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Advertisement

Kevin Luna is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Advertisement