Best digital thermometers for body temperature

Best digital thermometers for body temperature

Thermometers that are used to measure body temperature in day to day life are clinical thermometers. There are many thermometers available to buy. We get confused which is good and not. The online market places are flooded with cheap quality thermometers that need not be accurate and need not to be intended for the clinical use. 

Indeed many people buy cheap industrial thermometers that may have errors of plus or minus 10 F. These thermometers can be pretty useless for measuring body temperature.

Here in this blog post we will see types of clinical thermometers and how to choose the best quality one for you and your kid.

Before knowing about the best quality thermometers let’s first see the types of thermometers. So what are the types of thermometers available and usually used as clinical thermometers? Following are the types of the thermometers usually used as clinical thermometers. Let’s list them at one place and then we will explain them in detail.

Types of thermometers depending on location of use

  • Rectal thermometers.
  • Oral thermometers.
  • Forehead thermometers.
  • Tympanic Thermometer.
  • Axillary thermometer.

Types of thermometers depending on mechanism

  • Mercury thermometers.
  • Digital thermometers.
  • Infrared thermometers.

Let’s discuss thermometers in detail about their type and use.

Rectal thermometers

Rectal temperature is considered as the most accurate and nearest to core body temperature.

Rectal thermometer gives the most accurate body temperature.

It is generally a digital thermometer with batteries.

It has a thin tip which is long and can be inserted into the anus. This tip is blunt so it does not cause injury.

Though extremely accurate this method is annoying to children and even to parents.

Oral Thermometers

Oral thermometers are a good and convenient way to measure temperature.

It is usually a digital thermometer.

It is to be kept in mouth till it produces a beep sound.

The accuracy is good and very near to core body temperature though not as good as rectal thermometers.

Axillary thermometers

Axillary thermometers are used at many places.

They are easy to use and temperature accuracy is good.

It gives a fairly accurate idea about core body temperature.

Oral thermometers can be used as axillary thermometers and vise versa.

It is good to use digital thermometers instead of traditional mercury thermometers.

Forehead thermometers

These are usually non touch thermometers.

These are also called as temporal artery thermometers.

They give reading very quickly.

They use infrared technology to measure the surface temperature.

As we know surface temperature cannot give an exact idea about the core body temperature, the accuracy is questionable.

These are good for screening purposes.

Tympanic thermometers

These are usually digital infrared thermometers.

They measure the temperature inside the ears of the baby.

They are convenient to use if properly placed.

They are accurate to some extent close to core body temperature.

Mercury thermometers

They are very cheap and in use for many decades.

They can be used as oral, rectal or axillary thermometers.

They are mostly obsolete and banned in many places as they pose the risk of mercury poisoning if accidentally broken.

It is not recommended to use mercury thermometers nowadays.

They are not battery powered.

Some poor third world countries are still using it as digital and infrared thermometers are somewhat costlier.

Digital thermometers

Digital thermometers are safe.

They are powered by button batteries usually.

They can be used as oral, rectal or axillary temperature.

They have additional features like storing last readings and measuring in Celsius and Fahrenheit

There is no risk of mercury poisoning.

Infrared thermometers

They are usually sold as non touch forehead thermometers.

No need to touch the patients with a machine.

They give quick readings.

Good for screening.

They have additional features like auto power shut off which help to prolong batteries.

Additional features like storing last readings and measuring in Celsius and Fahrenheit make it more usable.

They are powered by batteries and some are rechargeable also.

Finally coming to the point, now we will see which is the best thermometer out of many types.

Points to consider before buying thermometer

Following are the points to consider while buying the best suitable thermometer for you and your kid.

  • Purpose of buying a thermometer.
  • Age of the patient.
  • Safety of the device.
  • Accuracy of the device.
  • Availability of batteries.
  • Warranty of device.
  • Error in device.
  • Ability to reproduce the reading.
  • Cost of device.
  • Portability of the device.
  • Unit of measurement.
  • Time required for reading.
  • Instruction and user manuals.
  • Ease of use and interpretation.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Mute alarm facility.
  • Disposal.

Let us discuss all these factors in detail.

Purpose of buying a thermometer

Before buying any medical device it should be clear to you why are you buying it for. The purpose can be just screening where high accuracy is not needed or the purpose can be monitoring where a high accuracy device is preferable.

For use at home and clinic and hospitals digital thermometers are preferable for their accuracy. For screening purposes like on stations and society gates rapidity is important rather than accuracy, in this case infrared thermometers are preferable.

Age of the patient

Yes this is the factor you should consider before buying thermometers. Read the information of each thermometer which is given by manufacturers. Some thermometers are not suitable for use by people below age 6 month olds. Some like mercury thermometers are risky and not recommended to use especially in children.

Safety of the device

The device should be safe and non harmful posing danger to the environment and people around. Mercury thermometers can pose danger if they are broken. Similarly digital thermometers which usually are powered by the button shaped batteries are dangerous to small children if they accidentally swallow the batteries. These devices should be kept away from children. They should be made up of design so that they cannot be opened easily by children.

Accuracy of the device

You should buy the device that gives accurate reading rather than buying a cheap quality machine and then later repenting for the decision. In case of use in monitoring and treatment accuracy is the utmost important factor that is needed for the successful treatment.

Availability of the batteries

The batteries which are needed to be changed after using the device should be available easily near your house. You should confirm which batteries are used in the device. Otherwise it will be costly to change the batteries and if not easily available you may need to change the device itself. Most of the devices now use batteries that are generally available everywhere.

Warranty of the device

You should check this feature before buying the device. It confirms that your device is not a cheap quality device which is dumped to your pocket and the seller is away. You should check how many months and what are covered under warranty terms. Moreover whom to contact and how to contact for an warranty claim should be clearly mentioned in the terms of the warranty.

Error in device

Like any other device these thermometers have some error in the reading. Usually the manufacturer or seller gives these details in description of the device. You should see what is the expected error in reading. Lesser the error, better the device to be used as a clinical thermometer.

Ability to reproduce reading

If you take three readings in succession in a short span of time they should show the same reading each time on the same surface. If it is not the quality of your device is doubtful and not reliable reading or you are making some mistake in taking the reading.

Cost of device

With the rise of Covid-19 prices thermometers have gone to the roof. The prices were inflated 3-10 times during this period. You should see whether the price you are paying is at least worth the thermometer. You should compare the prices with other similar products. You should compare them considering the brand and features those are provided with the device.

Portability of the device

You won’t like it if the device intended to be used especially for the children is bulky and difficult to carry. The device should be lightweight and comfortable to carry wherever you want. Also it should be sturdy so that does not get damaged while carrying.

Unit of measurement

Most of the time temperature measurements are taken in Fahrenheit in the medical field. Your device should be able to show you reading in Fahrenheit and also Celsius. Nowadays this feature comes with almost any device cheap or costlier.

Time required for reading

The thermometer should take minimum time to show the reading that is accurate. Your children may feel anxious and uncomfortable while you take readings of temperature. If the thermometer is taking longer to show reading they may not cooperate and the result is accurate reading of temperature cannot be taken. You should see whether a digital or infrared thermometer the time required to get reading temperature should be the minimum in seconds.

Instructions and user manual

Many devices need particular procedures to follow for accurate reading. So your device should have a user manual with it which explains about the parts and procedure to use the device. The user manual should be preferably in a language that you can understand. The user manual should be with legible font size which can be read easily.

Ease of use and interpretation

You should select a thermometer device which is easy to use and does need a bare minimum skill to use it. The use and interpretation of the machine reading should not be very difficult to understand. It should give some signal when reading indicates fever, high fever or cold temperature. It will make you understand the interpretation easily.

Easy to clean

The thermometers can spread diseases if used without cleaning them. The thermometer should be easy to clean and should not get damaged while cleaning the device. You should follow the suggested procedure of the cleaning. If you are using the device for oral or rectal temperature you should be particularly careful while using the device. All the digital thermometers that need touch for reading should be cleaned after each use. If you are using the thermometer for taking the rectal temperature it should be clearly labeled and should not be used at other places.

Mute alarm facility

Many times you need to see the temperature of your baby when she/he is sleeping. If your thermometer beeps every time it takes reading it can be disturbing the sleep of your baby/patient. There should be a facility to mute the alarm that rings after taking the reading.


Your device should have a clear instruction of disposal if you want to dispose of it. In fact all the medical devices and electronics should have clear instruction of procedure for disposing the device. It should not harm your environment when it goes out of work.

Above are the points to consider before buying a thermometer device.

Using the above criteria we have chosen some best devices for you. These are easy to use devices and safe thermometers. We are listing them below with their short description.

Dr Trust (USA) Forehead Digital Infrared Thermometer for babies and Adults with color Coded Fever Guidance – 603 Professional

Mediweave Compact Digital Infrared (IR) Thermometer Gun AET-R1D1 (1 Pieces), CE and RoHS Certified

Omron MC 246 Digital Thermometer With Quick Measurement of Oral & Underarm Temperature in Celsius & Fahrenheit, Water Resistant for Easy Cleaning

Omron MC 720 Non Contact Digital Infrared Forehead Thermometer With 1 Second Quick Measurement, 3 in 1 Measurement Mode, Auto On/off & Backlight

Dr. Odin Medical Digital Thermometer (White)

Some FAQS about thermometers

How to clean a thermometer?

Thermometer can be cleaned using soap water in small amounts or using alcoholic solution.

Go through the user manual.

Excess water or alcohol entering in the parts of the thermometer can damage the thermometer.

My thermometer gives different reading each time

Most commonly it can occur if you have bought a poor quality thermometer.

It can also occur if you are using the thermometer wrongly.

In the case of an infrared thermometer the distance specified should be maintained from skin.

Also check whether the batteries are properly charged.

What is the normal range of body temperature?

Normal range of body temperature is 97F (36.1 degree Celsius) to 99F (37.2 degree Celsius).

What are special instructions for an oral thermometer?

You should not have eaten or drunk something 15 min before taking temperature.

Don’t bite your thermometer too forcefully.

Properly clean the thermometer after the use.

Do not use mercury thermometers for taking oral temperature.

When should I give fever medicine?

Follow your doctor’s advice regarding this.

Should I maintain a fever record?

Ideally you should, as the pattern of fever helps your doctor in diagnosing the condition and effective treatment.

Most of the thermometers have a built in function of recording past few readings.

You can also do that on a fever chart provided by your doctor or just on plane paper.

Which is a better thermometer for home use?

Digital thermometers that can be used in armpit are best for home use.

They are cheaper, durable and also can be cleaned easily.

They are easy to use.

Accuracy is fairly good when compared to digital thermometers.

There are harmful effects like mercury poisoning in case of mercury thermometers.

Should we use an infrared thermometer at home?

They are difficult to use at home.

accuracy is less as compared to digital thermometer.

They are costlier than digital thermometers too.

They are mainly good for screening purposes.

Further read about vaccination.

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