The 7 Best Thermometers of 2022

These devices are vital to your at-home first aid kit

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While your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day due to a variety of factors—activity, time of day, and even what you're eating—a sudden temperature change can be an indicator that something is wrong with your health. 

While historically, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit has been considered “normal” body temperature, one recent study calculated it is closer to 97.9. Regardless, health experts are pretty unanimous when it comes to what defines a fever—100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. “Fever is often just a sign of the body fighting some type of an infection—and an elevated temperature is a good thing and is helping your body recover,” explains Maryellen Flaherty-Hewitt, MD, FAAP, Interim Section Chief of General Pediatrics Yale Medicine.

Identifying a fever is crucial and “accuracy is critical for your physician to make an appropriate assessment of the situation,” she continues. “Many of us think we can guess by using the back of the hand, but this has been shown to be inaccurate.”

She adds that investing in an accurate thermometer (or two) to keep in your family’s health kit should be a priority.

“You should take your temperature anytime you feel ill,” Darren Mareiniss, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College – Thomas Jefferson University, explains. 

There are many different types of thermometers to choose from. So, which should you consider? 

“I would use an oral, tympanic, or rectal thermometer,” says Dr. Mareiniss “The oral and rectal thermometers are more accurate.” While adults don't typically use rectal thermometers, which are “better markers of core temperature and can often give a reading a full point higher Celsius than the oral temp,” they are regularly used with children and hospital patients. 

Dr. Flaherty-Hewitt recommends using axillary in older children, and oral “for children that can follow the directions appropriately” as well as adults. “Infrared thermometers are good for screening but not recommended for use for specific clinical judgments, for example, evaluation of fever in infants, as they can be affected by sweating or vascular changes,” she adds. 

Obviously, you want a thermometer that is accurate. Dr. Mareiniss explains that in order to test a thermometer for accuracy, you can take your temperature several times. If it “consistently gives results that are similar,” it is reliable. Additionally, Dr. Flaherty-Hewitt suggests finding one that is easy to use.

We did a deep dive into thermometers to find the best of the best based on budget, type of user, and the number of users in a household. The thermometers listed in this article were chosen because of how well they met these criteria. Here are the best thermometers on the market today.

Our Top Picks
It is an accurate, efficient, and user-friendly thermometer recommended by many doctors.
Lightweight and convenient, it offers an accurate measurement in two to three minutes.
Able to store 20 readings, it is a great tool for monitoring temperature.
Best for Ovulation Tracking:
femometer Digital Basal Thermometer at Amazon
This uses your data and an advanced algorithm to predict your likelihood of conceiving.
It relies on 16 infrared sensors that take a whopping 4,000 measurements in just seconds.
It is easy to use, monitoring the infrared heat radiated from the eardrum and surrounding tissue, offering a reading in a second.
It features a flexible tip that can be used under the tongue or armpit and even rectally.

Best Overall: iHealth No Touch Forehead Thermometer

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer

No-touch thermometers are incredibly easy to use, making the process of taking your entire family’s temperature multiple times a day an easy task. 

The iHealth PT3 is an accurate, efficient, and user-friendly battery-operated best-selling thermometer. To use it, you simply place it within 1.18 inches (3 cm) in front of the center of the forehead (the optimal distance is about one-half inch). With the help of three infrared sensors, it reads 100 different data points, uses an algorithm, and then offers up an accurate reading in a single second. 

It's a great option to use on children and adults, making for the perfect family thermometer. We also appreciate its large LED display and extra-large text, making it easy to read even when the lights are out. Another great feature? Instead of beeping during the temperature-taking process, it simply vibrates, so you can monitor your child’s temperature while they're sleeping without fear of waking them up.

Best Budget: femometer Digital Thermometer

femometer Digital Thermometer

If you are looking to get an efficient thermometer while spending the least amount of money, Femometer’s digital thermometer is our top pick. This digital gadget, which can be used orally, under the armpit, and rectally, is perfect for children, adults, and even pets. “A tip for oral thermometers: keep your mouth closed while taking a temperature so as not to have an inaccurately lower temperature,” suggests Dr. Mareiniss. 

Lightweight and convenient, it offers up an accurate measurement in up to two to three minutes. Just in case you forget to turn it off, it automatically shuts down after 10 minutes to preserve battery life. It also comes with a hard case, so after you disinfect it post-use you can store it easily.

Best for Forehead: iProven Ear and Forehead Thermometer

iProven Thermometer

This thermometer from iProven is a double-tasker, offering readings taken from both your forehead or eardrum. It features state-of-the-art infrared technology, relying on sensors to measure radiation, giving you an accurate reading in just one to three seconds. It is also a great tool to monitor temperature, as it stores up to 20 readings. To use, simply hold up to your forehead or use the attached ear probe. After three beeps, it will either show a red warning light if a fever is detected or green if your temperature is within normal parameters. Two AAA batteries are included, as well as a handy carrying pouch to store it in.

Best for Ovulation Tracking: femometer Digital Basal Thermometer

femometer Digital Basal Thermometer

Whether you are trying to get pregnant or avoiding it, a thermometer is a handy tool to track ovulation. Fermometer’s Digital Basal Thermometer was constructed specifically for the purpose of family planning. This smart and precise thermometer connects via Bluetooth to an app on your smartphone, keeping track of your temperature, which they recommend taking daily at the same time. Just in case you forget, there is an alarm to remind you. The app uses your data and an advanced algorithm to predict your likelihood of conceiving, incorporating other fertility signs including BBT, ovulation test results, PdG test results, and period information.

Best Smart Thermometer: Withings Thermo Temporal Thermometer

Withings Thermo Temporal Thermometer

A smart thermometer can come in handy for temperature monitoring. Withings Thermo Temporal Thermometer is a contactless tool that automatically synchronizes with your phone via Wi-Fi, sending data so that up to eight users can access their personal temperature history. The gadget relies on 16 infrared sensors that take a whopping 4,000 measurements in just seconds, giving you an accurate reading as well as a color-coded indication whether you're experiencing a fever or if your temperature is normal. An added bonus? It is FSA eligible, so no prescription needed.

Best for Ears: Kinsa Smart Ear Digital Thermometer

Kinsa Smart Ear Digital Thermometer

Kinsa’s Smart Ear Digital Thermometer is another intelligent temperature-taking tool cleared by the FDA for safety and accuracy. It is easy to use, monitoring the infrared heat radiated from the eardrum and surrounding tissue, offering a reading in a single second. It sends your data via Bluetooth to the free Kinsa app, where it stores readings and also offers guidance based on age, temperature, and other symptoms. It also features a large, easy-to-read backlit display for accurate readings in the dark.

Best Oral: Vicks ComfortFlex Digital Thermometer

Vicks ComfortFlex Digital Thermometer

An oral thermometer is an old school and accurate temperature taking method. For those who shy away from high tech and “smart” gadgets, Vicks ComfortFlex Digital Thermometer is a user friendly tool offering up results in just eight seconds. It features a flexible tip that can be used under the tongue or armpit and even rectally.

Final Verdict

While there are plenty of thermometers on the market, iHealth PT3 (view at Amazon) is particularly noteworthy. Not only is it reasonably priced, but this no-touch gadget offers readings quickly and can be safely and effectively used on the whole family, making it the perfect everyday family thermometer. However, if you are looking for a specific type of thermometer, have budgetary restraints, or are looking for one with smart capabilities, there are a variety of others you should look at.

What to Look for in a Thermometer

Budget: Always take budget into consideration before buying any health gadget. You can spend as little as a few dollars or over $100 on a thermometer. Usually, the pricier ones rely on more advanced technology to give readings and may connect to an app via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. However, some of the less expensive models are just as accurate. 

Type of User: As the doctors mentioned, different types of thermometers are better suited for various ages, and others are specialized for specific uses, such as family planning. 

Number of Users in a Household: If you are looking for a thermometer for just yourself, you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination quite as much. But if you want to purchase one for the entire family’s use, a no-touch unit is a better option, as you won’t have to disinfect after every use.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do thermometers work?

    It depends on the type of thermometer. Digital thermometers with the metal probe are based on the fact that the resistance of the metal part (how hard it is for electricity to flow through it) changes as the temperature changes, such as when it is inserted under the tongue. The thermometer has a microchip that measures how much resistance there is and then translates that into temperature. Other digital thermometers like forehead thermometers use sensors to measure infrared heat that is coming from the body, such as the forehead or ear. Mercury thermometers, which are not recommended to take someone’s temperature because the glass can break, work by seeing how much the mercury expands/rises as the temperature rises.

  • What type of thermometer is most accurate?

    Digital oral and rectal thermometers are the most accurate. Rectal thermometers, while they may not be used widely for at-home use, are the better measure of core temperature. Digital infrared thermometers are good for screening, like taking a worker’s temperature when entering the office for COVID-19 safety reasons, but they are not recommended for making a clinical judgment on fever since temporary body temperature changes like sweating can affect the reading. For kids, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends thermometers based on age, with oral and rectal being the most reliable.

  • How do you clean a thermometer?

    A thermometer should be cleaned before and after each time it is used, especially when it is being used for multiple people, such as in a family. To clean it, you can use a cotton ball/pad with rubbing alcohol; to get into small crevices, try using a Qtip with rubbing alcohol. You can also clean it with soap and lukewarm water. Be sure to dry it with a clean cloth or let it air dry.

  • Can an adult use a baby thermometer?

    Most baby thermometers can be used on adults too. It’s just that baby thermometers are designed with babies in mind so they may be smaller and have a flexible tip to make it more comfortable, such as in oral/armpit/rectal thermometers. If used as instructed, the reading of an adult’s temperature should still be accurate on a baby thermometer. 

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  1. Yale Medicine. Is 98.6 degrees really a 'normal' temperature?