optimum thermometer overall
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The iProven Forehead and Ear Thermometer DMT-489 is particularly amazing due to its instantaneous accuracy, adaptability, and detailed instructions on high-quality packaging.
Positives: user-friendly, simple to see, good storage pouch, accurate, contactless or in-ear useable
Cons: Method-change cap is difficult to snap on and there are no probe coverings.
The iProven DMT-489 infrared thermometer is a two-in-one device that allows you to choose between an in-ear probe and a forehead setting, with the latter being safer for newborns under 3 months old.
It was the most accurate thermometer in my tests, with forehead readings consistently within 0.5-1.0 degrees and ear mode readings within 0.5-0.8 degrees. Additionally, the temperature is displayed within one second.
There are distinct buttons for “head” and “ear,” and to switch between them, you must snap on or off the thermometer’s top cover, which I found somewhat challenging but manageable.
To obtain an accurate ear temperature reading, you must accurately insert and position the probe top, therefore be sure to follow the directions carefully. It took me a few attempts before I felt comfortable measuring my own temperature in this manner.
I liked that it features a fever warning and color-coded temperature indication to eliminate the need for interpretation. In addition, the manual contains a full comparison table detailing how to interpret measurements based on age and technique. Additionally, the thermometer may save up to 20 previous readings for comparison.
The gadgets include two AA batteries, a storage pouch (ideal for diaper bags and travel) and cleaning instructions. It also has a two-year limited warranty and the option of a free one-year extended warranty.
Best inexpensive thermometer
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The Vicks Comfort Flex Thermometer was the least expensive of the tested thermometers, was simple to use, and had a large digital display with color-coded readings to indicate fever.
Affordable, versatile, precise, with a large digital display and probe covers
Cons: Very loud beep, must be turned off between readings, colored fever signals are deceiving, and replacing the coin cell battery is a nuisance.
The Vicks Comfort Flex Thermometer is simple to use right out of the box: it has only one button and may be used orally, rectally, or subcutaneously. It is powered by the provided button cell battery.
The huge digital display was the most legible among the thermometers I examined. It also beeps the loudest of the group, which is good for seniors with sight and hearing problems, but could be annoying to some because to the eight-second duration of the beeping.
The LCD panel employs a color temperature indicator in addition to displaying the actual number, which is often helpful, but fever is not uniform, so this could be alarming if you tend to run hot.
In my tests, the thermometer’s precision and repeatability were quite good and only varied by about 0.5 degrees. I observed that the Vicks Comfort Flex Thermometer had a response time of 5 to 6 seconds orally and 6 to 7 seconds rectally, significantly faster than the 10 to 12 seconds stated on the packaging.
It is somewhat bothersome that you must turn it off and on again to take a second reading, and that it can only remember the most recent reading. I liked that this device included with 100 disposable probe covers, a protective holder, a one-year limited guarantee, and English and Spanish instructions.
Best forehead temporal thermometer
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The iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer PT3 reads in under one second and makes it simple to measure an individual’s temperature correctly while maintaining social distance.
Pros: rapid reading, accuracy, absence of beeps, and useful content in user manual
Cons: Vibration may be overlooked, user error is possible, and it does not function well for children who cannot sit still.
Prior to testing the iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer PT3 firsthand, I had witnessed it in action at my dentist’s office and my daughter’s daycare for pre-screening. It appeared to be a quality product that provided speedy results.
When I tried it myself, I discovered that it was the most accurate temporal thermometer available. Instead of a beeping alert, the device vibrates and illuminates its LED display when it has a reading. The precision and repeatability fluctuated by no more than 0.5 degrees throughout testing, which is convenient if you don’t want a loud noise.
Cindy Mrotek, whose company A.C.E Behavior Solutions screens persons upon arrival, also tested it, and she reported that the iHealth was quicker to read than other infrared thermometers. However, she noted that it was difficult to use on children who could not sit still. I discovered that the gadget could not be read if it was too far from the skin.
The iHealth comes with an English and Spanish user handbook, a pictorial fast guide, two AAA batteries, and cleaning instructions. A one-year limited warranty is included.
The most accurate thermometer for everyday testing
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If you’re tech-savvy and looking for an excellent smart thermometer, the Kinsa Quick Care Smart Thermometer may be utilized in three different ways and even lets you to participate in public health research.
Possibilities to support several family members and maintain distinct temperature logs, fantastic app features, and contribution to public health research are all advantages of this thermometer.
Cons: Requires an app to function and lacks probe covers
Before sending my children to school each day, I must self-certify that they do not exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms. A smart thermometer, such as the Kinsa, which records all readings for each family member on my phone and enables me to track their baseline temperature, makes this daily ritual significantly easier to manage.
The Kinsa Quick Care Smart Thermometer connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and a user-friendly app. Then, I established profiles for each member of my family, which included entering their birthdays so that the app’s algorithm could deliver suitable care recommendations for each individual. You can also track medicine doses and add comments and symptoms to the app.
After each reading, the thermometer displays not only the temperature, but also a smiley face, neutral face, or sad face emoji that corresponds to the fever status.
You can take the temperature orally, subarm, or rectally (they also make a separate model specific for in-ear use). Although the packaging indicates a response time of 8 seconds, I observed it to be between 2 and 3 seconds when taken orally. The degree of precision ranges from 0.8 to 0.5 degrees.
As Insider’s Senior Health and Science correspondent Hilary Brueck has outlined, the smart thermometer has helped forecast outbreaks of both the coronavirus and the flu, including detecting fever increases weeks before hospitals and clinics begin to see an influx of patients.
The fact that this outstanding, adaptable, and accurate thermometer may aid in predicting COVID hotspots is an added plus.
Best thermometer for kids
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The Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer with Smart Glow was the most accurate and reliable thermometer I evaluated, and its usage on children is supported by over 80 peer-reviewed clinical papers.
Pros: Highly accurate and appropriate for all ages older than three months
Cons: Unintuitive, dull display, easily-lost plastic lid for sensor protection
In addition to rectal thermometers, temporal artery thermometers provide the most accurate readings for toddlers and infants older than three months. Use a rectal thermometer for newborns younger than three months.
Using the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer, a simple brush over a child’s forehead captures the naturally produced heat waves emanating from the skin around the temporal artery and provides a reading in two to three seconds. There is room for up to eight readings.
The Exergen thermometer provided the most constant and accurate findings, within 0.3 degrees, of any type tested on myself and my children.
In contrast to other models with backlit displays, the Exergen sports a very small LCD screen with a dim display. It may be difficult to see in a dark room.
Despite having instructions printed prominently on the back of the device, this thermometer was not as easy to use as others. I wasn’t sure if I was appropriately stroking the unit’s top across the brow. However, the instructions contained a QR link that led to instructional videos, which was helpful.
The item includes a pre-installed 9V battery, cleaning instructions, and a five-year limited warranty.
Additional options can be found in our guide to the best thermometers for newborns and children.
What else we tested
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What we suggest
Braun Thermoscan 7 Ear Thermometer ($50.39): This is an excellent in-ear thermometer supported by extensive peer-reviewed research; not only do we endorse it, but many parents with whom I’ve spoken already possess one. It takes 10 seconds to check a temperature and is the most expensive choice I evaluated, especially when you consider the disposable lens filters that must be replaced to ensure accuracy and sanitation.
Dr. Talbot’s Infrared Non-Contact Forehead Thermometer ($19.89): This gadget has comparable precision and speed to the iHealth and is meant for non-contact readings of infants and adults over 3 months of age. This device was easy to use and I loved it, however it was more expensive than the iHealth and harder to adjust the settings using simply the trigger.
Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer ($39.99): The Kinsa is ultra-sleek and simple to use on your own ear, which can be difficult. I also regarded the app’s information and instructions to be of the highest quality. Even though readings only took a second, the precision varied by 1.5 degrees on average.
What we do not endorse
The CVS Health Flexible Tip Digital Thermometer ($18.49) was ruled ineligible because it did not operate at all.
Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer with Fever InSight ($9.72): Despite being named “SpeedRead,” this gadget takes 8 seconds to provide a reading, which is slower than its relative, the Vicks Comfort Flex, which is our favorite budget thermometer. In addition, I found that the SpeedRead had a metallic flavor.
Insider Molly Hebdo/Molly Hebdo
I contacted a number of pediatricians for their professional opinion on thermometers, read journal articles, “Consumer Reports,” and consumer evaluations, and even chatted with twenty parents about their temperature-taking experiences.
I tested each of the top 10 thermometers on myself, my two children, my sister, and two of my nieces, one of whom is a newborn, nine times over the course of three days.
I also gave two of the infrared thermometers to Cindy Mrotek, owner of A.C.E Behavior Solutions, an essential firm that screens people and children with unique health care needs upon arrival, for one week of testing.
I evaluated the speed, display size, mute settings, memory recall, batteries, warranty choices, and storage containers of each product. I also examined carefully:
The accuracy, precision, and clarity of thermometer instruction manuals
In order to obtain an accurate reading with a thermometer, I examined the information on each product’s packaging and in its user manual from a health literacy standpoint, including how informative and easy to read the instructions were.
Some models included a brief tutorial with photos (excellent), information in Spanish (huge plus), or a QR link for video instructions, while others required a magnifying glass to read the instructions.
Price and accessibility
Since thermometers are a vital component of a home health kit, they must be reasonably priced. Some of the thermometers on our list cost less than two cups of coffee, while others exceed $30, but we also explain how you can save money by using your health savings account or flexible spending account.
FAQs on thermometers
What are the various types of household thermometers?
Your fundamental digital thermometer options include:
single-use thermometer on a stick (marketed for rectal only)
Multipurpose thermometer (rectum, mouth, or armpit)
Thermometer for the ear canal (ear)
Thermometer located in the temporal artery (forehead)
Both temporal and tympanic thermometer (ear and forehead)
Infrared thermometer without touch (forehead)
In a blog for Ask a Pediatrician, Dr. Elizabeth Murray, an official spokesperson for the AAP, addresses these issues directly, despite the prevalence of worry around non-contact thermometers. Murray asserts, “The assertions concerning their danger are unfounded… The thermometer detects infrared energy emanating from the body, not infrared light beamed upon the person.”
All thermometers sold in the United States must conform to federal specifications and are already calibrated for household usage.
Which thermometer kind is the most precise?
Omaha physician Dr. John Vann told Insider that only a rectal temperature provides an accurate outpatient measurement. He answered, “Everything else is an estimate.”
“Fortunately, the actual figure is typically less significant than how the patient seems,” he continues. This means that there are other markers of the severity of a sickness or ailment besides an accurate temperature reading. Even if you do not have access to a thermometer, there are still accurate ways to determine your temperature.
Regardless of whether you pick for an infrared thermometer or an ear-based type, it is essential to understand that fever varies by age, gender, and time of day, among other factors. Using a thermometer at various times of the day when you are feeling well provides you an idea of your baseline temperature, or what is usual for you.
Which thermometer is the best for home use?
Medical study has not shown an accurate association between oral, rectal, ear, armpit, and forehead temperature measures using home thermometers. Kaiser Permanente says that an ear (tympanic) temperature is often 0.5 to 1 degree higher than an oral temperature, while a forehead (temporal) temperature is typically 0.5 to 1 degree lower.
Can my HSA/FSA funds be used to purchase a thermometer?
If you have an HSA or FSA account, know that digital thermometers purchased without a prescription are eligible for reimbursement.
Here is how it operates:
You can seek reimbursement from your HSA/FSA account for in-store or online purchases made with cash or a credit card. Varying plans have different requirements for reimbursement, but a copy of your thermometer receipt will typically suffice.
There are HSA and FSA-specific retailers, such as the HSA Store and the FSA Store, that make it incredibly easy to shop for things eligible for reimbursement. According to both websites, buyers who pay using an HSA or FSA card are not need to submit receipts; purchases made on these websites are automatically substantiated. It is important to note, however, that the thermometer selections on these websites are limited and more expensive than those offered by other vendors.
What qualifies as a fever?
Many Americans believe that any temperature above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous, yet what defines a fever varies from person to person.
Age, gender, and even time of day influence normal body temperatures, according to biomedical engineer and thermography specialist Rik Heller.
Dr. Jesse Hackell, a practicing pediatrician at the New York-based Pomona Pediatrics, notes that certain children’s temperatures tend to run higher than others. Temperatures of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater in infants younger than 3 months should prompt a call to the clinician. “Another reason to contact is if the fever persists for more than 24 hours in children younger than 2 and for more than 3 days in children 2 or older,” he said.
Among contrast, older persons tend to have lower baseline temperatures than younger adults, and fevers are occasionally completely absent in the elderly.
To determine what constitutes a fever for you, you must determine your usual temperature by taking your temperature at several times of the day when you are feeling well.
Multiple of our doctors agree that how you or your child acts and feels is a better sign of a fever than the temperature reading on a thermometer.
Jesse Hackell, MD, FAAP, is the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine and a practicing pediatrician with Boston Children’s Health Physicians’ Pomona Pediatrics in New York.
Pediatrician John Vann, MD, FAAP, works at Omaha Children’s Clinic in Omaha, Nebraska.
Dr. Jenifer Johnson, an internist and family care physician at Westmed Medical Group in Westchester, New York.
Rik Heller, a biological engineer and thermographic expert, developed Wello, a manufacturer of clinical-grade thermometers.
Cindy Mrotek, owner of ACE Behavior Solutions, is a company owner.
The AP News. The use of infrared thermometers for COVID-19 testing poses no harm to the pineal gland. July 28, 2020
Consumer Studies. Thermometer Purchasing Advice. September 23, 2016
NASA. A Pill That Measures Body Temperature Helps Athletes Beat the Heat. 8 January 2007
EPA. Mercury Temperature Gauges June 26, 2018
CDC. How COVID-19 Proliferates. 5 October 2020
Business Insider. Temperature tests for coronavirus are nothing more than pandemic security theater. In some instances, they are hazardous.
Mayo Clinic. Thermometers: Know your alternatives. September 15, 2018
HealthyChildren.org. Fever should prompt a pediatrician visit. November 21, 2015
HealthyChildren.org. How to Take the Temperature of Your Child 12 October 2020
HealthyChildren.org. Are Infrared Temperature Gauges Safe? 15 October 2020
The New York Times Can Smart Thermometers Track the Coronavirus’s Spread? March 18, 2020
Kaiser Permanente. Temperatures of Fever: Accuracy and Comparison June 26, 2019
The HSA Shop website
FSA Store online store