We Took Our Temperature Over 50 Times to Find the Best Thermometers

Our testers loved the Kinsa Smart Thermometer for the whole family

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Adult thermometers

Courtesy of Leticia Almeida

Whether you're getting ready for flu season or just weathering life in a germ-filled world, being able to take your family's temperature at home is an essential part of staying healthy. While we are happy that the days of taking your child's temperature with a mercury-filled thermometer are long gone, the variety of thermometer options available can make the decision process tricky.

To find the best options for your family's needs, we purchased 13 thermometers and tested them on our own families. With the guidance of pediatrician Lyndsey Garbi, MD, and the how-to instructions outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), we spent three days capturing oral, axillary (armpit), temporal (forehead), and rectal temperature readings.

After taking our temperatures over 50 times, we evaluated how easy each thermometer was to set up and use straight out of the package, as well as how easy it was to read the temperature on the display screen. We also evaluated the response time of each thermometer and the consistency between readings.

Here are the best thermometers for you and your family.

Best Overall: Kinsa Smart Thermometer

4.9
Kinsa Smart Thermometer

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    4.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4.9/5
  • Consistency
    4.8/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Data Readability
    5/5
Pros
  • App allows for virus tracking in your neighborhood

  • Brightly colored fever indicator

  • Previous temperature storage

Cons
  • Requires app download before using

Who else recommends it? Insider and Forbes both picked the Kinsa Smart Thermometer. 

What do buyers say? 89% of 4,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Between the ergonomic design and the incredibly intuitive app, we rated the Kinsa Smart Thermometer best overall because of its fast response time, consistent readings, and easy setup. While a mobile health app may seem like an unnecessary extra step when it comes to capturing your temperature, we found that downloading and setting it up wasn't difficult, and it turned out to be useful. It easily organizes an infinite amount of temperatures which a great for a large family. We also loved that if you enable the GPS feature, the app can track viruses going around in your area so that you can stay in the know.

As far as the actual thermometer goes, we appreciated the one-button design that made taking a temperature straightforward and simple. The lollipop-shaped design is easy to hold, and the screen is backlit, so users can clearly read the results in a dimly lit room. Whether you are taking an armpit, oral, or rectal temperature with the Kinsa thermometer, the soft and flexible tip makes the process far more comfortable.

Aside from the quick reading, flexible tip, and consistent results, the app component of the Kinsa sets this one apart from the other thermometers that we tested. Within the app, users can create a profile for every family member and track their temperature over time. This means you don't have to guess which temperature belongs to which person. The app also allows you to add reminders for medicine and take notes on symptoms.

While our testers agreed that it is a bit pricier than other options, it is a worthwhile purchase that will get plenty of use and last for a while.

Location: Oral, axillary, rectal | Reading Time: 1 second | Battery: 1 lithium metal

What Our Testers Say

"The app seems like it can be an unnecessary perk, but it is super helpful and even allows users to track illnesses around their area." — Latifah Miles, Verywell Family Commerce Editor

Kinsa Thermometer

Verywell Family/Leticia Almeida

Best Budget: iProven Dt-R1221AWG Medical Thermometer

4.5
iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    3.5/5
  • Consistency
    3.8/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Data Readability
    4/5
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Waterproof tip

  • Faces indicate if a temp is okay or not

Cons
  • Screen is not backlit

  • Long response time

For users who want a basic thermometer that will consistently get the job done, this one from iProven is reliable and easy to use for adults and children. We found this one to be easy to figure out straight out of the package. While the tip isn't very flexible, it does fit comfortably under the tongue, and the one-button design makes capturing your own temperature a breeze. Despite the thermometer being a budget option, it includes a smiling/frowning face fever indicator—a cool feature that is typically reserved for pricier options.

While this thermometer offered a consistent reading, the response time (about 10 seconds) was on the longer end, compared to some of the other thermometers that we tested, which is why we rated it a 3.5 for the responsiveness attribute. This can be a major con for caregivers using it on children who aren't likely to sit still to capture an accurate reading.

Location: Oral, rectal, axillary | Reading Time: 10 seconds | Battery: 1 LR41

What Our Testers Say

"It's a very inexpensive thermometer, and it'll get the job done. The display isn't the biggest, but you can pretty easily read the temperature, and I liked that it stays on the screen for a while. Other thermometers were quicker to turn the screen off and clear the reading, which might not be ideal for some." — Ashleigh Morley, Editorial Director, Health Commerce

iProven Thermometer

Verywell Family/Leticia Almeida

Best Multi-Use Thermometer: Elepho eTherm Ear & Forehead Thermometer

4.6
Elepho eTherm Ear & Forehead Thermometer

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    4.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Consistency
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Data Readability
    4.3/5
Pros
  • Automatic shut off

  • Ergonomic design

  • Compact

Cons
  • Cannot silence beeper

The highly effective dual design of the Elepho eTherm Infared Ear and Forehead Thermometer made it a standout option. The first feature that stood out was how easy it was to switch between the tympanic (ear) and temporal (forehead) mode, thanks to the included cap. While our testers found that both modes were simple enough to use, they feared misplacing the cap, which would essentially eliminate the temporal mode option.

Like many of the forehead thermometers that we tested, the results appeared almost instantaneously, but the Elepho eTherm provided the most consistent results with the lowest standard of deviation, which is why we rated it a 4.5 for the consistency attribute. The display screen is large and bright, which is great for late-night readings, and the beeping system alerts users of an elevated temperature or fever. We rated this thermometer high for its ease of use because of its ergonomic design and helpful beeps.

Location: Ear, forehead | Reading Time: 1 second | Battery: 2 AAA

Elepho Thermometer

Verywell Family/Leticia Almeida

Best for Infants: Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer

4.2
Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    4.5/5
  • Responsiveness
    5/5
  • Consistency
    2.8/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Data Readability
    4/5
Pros
  • Response time is less than 5 seconds

  • Quick setup

Cons
  • Screen can be difficult to read

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), rectal thermometers provide the most accurate readings, so this is the suggested method for infants under 3 months old. While many of the thermometers that we tested can be used to capture a rectal temperature, we liked that the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer is designed exclusively for that purpose.

For caregivers who are nervous about taking a baby's temperature rectally for the first time, our tester noted that the shape of the thermometer helped them avoid inserting it too far, and the loud beeps let them know when the temperature was ready to read. We rated the Vicks Rectal thermometer a 5 out of 5 for the ease of use attribute because of its helpful dome-like shape and short tip.

While the price point is a bit higher than the average thermometer (and the lifetime value is limited because it is designed for babies), the intuitive design and quick response make it a worthwhile investment.

Location: Rectal | Reading Time: Less than 5 seconds | Battery: 1 LR44

Best Ear Thermometer: Braun ThermoScan Digital Ear Thermometer

4
braun-reg-thermoscan-5-ear-thermometer

Courtesy of BuyBuyBaby

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4.5/5
  • Consistency
    4.8/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Data Readability
    4.2/5
Pros
  • Large screen is easy to read

  • Sanitary disposable filters

  • Cradle for easy storage

Cons
  • Screen isn't backlit

  • Must be used with filter

Complete with a holding cradle and sanitary ear caps for super easy cleanup and sharing, we rated the Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer the best option to measure tympanic temperature. Powered by AA batteries, this thermometer is ready to use right out of the box, and we found the design to be straightforward and intuitive, which is why we rated it highly for its ease of setup. We tested this thermometer on an 8-month-old as well as a 9-year-old and found that the reading was both fast and consistent.

The instructions noted that the thermometer needed to be angled up to ensure an accurate reading, which required a bit of a learning curve. The digital screen is large, backlit, and has a color-coded fever indicator to alert a caregiver of an elevated temperature. While this was one of the pricier thermometers that we tested, we rated this one high for its unique features like the age-adjustable fever guidance and easy two-click design.

Location: Ear | Reading Time: 2-5 seconds | Battery: 2 AA  

What Our Testers Say

"This thermometer had a super-fast read and clear fever indication. I appreciated the clear instructions that made it easy to figure it out. The sanitary covers for the ears made the clean-up ridiculously easy. It is important to position it right, however, to ensure accuracy." — Latifah Miles, Verywell Family Commerce Editor

Braun thermometer

Verywell Family/Leticia Almeida

Best Fever Indicator: Vicks Speedread Thermometer

4.6
Vicks Speedread Thermometer

Courtesy of Vicks

Our Ratings
  • Setup
    5/5
  • Responsiveness
    4.3/5
  • Consistency
    4.5/5
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Data Readability
    4.5/5
Pros
  • Bright color-coded fever indicator

  • Simple one-button design

Cons
  • Doesn't store previous readings

The main purpose of a thermometer is to alert the user of an elevated (or decreased) temperature as it may be an indication of a fever or illness. We rated the Vicks Speedread Thermometer high for its brightly colored fever indicator and its quick setup. Similar to our best budget option, this is a simple thermometer with a single button, and it can be used to take a temperature rectally, orally, or under the arm.

This one lost points in the response time category when we tested it orally versus rectally, which is why we rated it a 4.3 for its slower response time, depending on how you use it. Our tester found that the oral temperature took up to 10 seconds to produce a result, while the rectal temperature was almost immediate. Since this is a cost-effective option, it doesn't have any of the extra features like previous reading storage or a backlight for nighttime readings.

Location: Oral, rectal, axillary | Reading Time: 2-5 seconds | Battery: 1 LR44

What Our Testers Say

"This thermometer is ergonomic, well designed, and easy to use with bright color-coded fever indicators." — Latifah Miles, Verywell Family Commerce Editor

Vicks SpeedRead

Verywell Family/Leticia Almeida

Compare

Overall Rating Setup Responsiveness Consistency Ease of Use Data Readability
Kinsa Smart Thermometer
Best Overall:
Kinsa Smart Thermometer
4.9
4.5 4.9 4.8 5 5
iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer
Best Budget:
iProven Dt-R1221AWG Medical Thermometer
4.5
5 3.5 3.8 5 4
Elepho eTherm Ear & Forehead Thermometer
Best Multi-Use Thermometer:
Elepho eTherm Ear & Forehead Thermometer
4.6
4.5 5 4.5 4 4.3
Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer
Best for Infants:
Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer
4.2
4.5 5 2.8 5 4
braun-reg-thermoscan-5-ear-thermometer
Best Ear Thermometer:
Braun ThermoScan 5 IRT6500
4
5 4.5 4.8 5 4.2
Vicks Speedread Thermometer
Best Fever Indicator:
Vicks Speedread Thermometer
4.6
5 4.3 4.5 5 4.5

Final Verdict

The Kinsa Smart Thermometer (available at Amazon) is our top pick, thanks to its easy-to-use app, super-fast response time, and consistent readings. If you are in the market for a budget-friendly thermometer, we love the traditional and easy-to-use design of the iProven Oral Thermometer (available at Amazon). For a larger family, the Kinsa Quickcare Smart Digital Thermometer (available at Amazon) offers quick, consistent readings that are reliable and easy to interpret. If you are caring for infants under 6 months old, having the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer (available at Amazon) on hand for rectal readings will give you extra peace of mind.

Group of adult thermometers

Courtesy of Leticia Almeida

How We Rated the Thermometers

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best thermometers we tested. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These thermometers are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great thermometers, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These thermometers are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend thermometers with this rating. You won't find any on our list.

How We Tested the Thermometers

The Verywell Family team tested 13 temporal, axillary, tympanic, and oral thermometers in our homes to determine how they performed within five attributes: ease of use, ease of setup, consistency of readings, data readability and storage, and response time. We identified these attributes as significant data points based on the features that are most important when shopping for a thermometer for family and personal use.

Our testers included two Verywell Family editors and three of their children, who were 8 months old, 2 years old, and 9 years old. With the guidance of Dr. Garbi and the written instructions provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), we asked our testers to take their resting temperature, wait five minutes, and then repeat the process. Our adult testers took their own temperatures to determine how easy each one was to use on themselves. Our editors then took their children's temperatures to evaluate the thermometers from a caregiver's point of view.

During each test, our editors noted how comfortable it was to hold the thermometer, how useful the extra features were, and how long it took to move from package to reading. To evaluate the consistency of each thermometer, testers captured their temperatures twice, five minutes apart. To ensure the readings were not impacted by external factors, like a change in body temperature due to increased activity, the testers maintained a relaxed position between readings. From there, we calculated the standard deviation between the readings to help determine consistency and reliability.

What to Look for in a Thermometer

how-to-choose-thermometer

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

Features

Beyond simple temperature readings, some thermometers will store a history of your family members' temperatures, and some will even provide advice on when you should see a doctor. There are also thermometers that do double duty and can be used to check the temperature of things like baby formula or the air in the room. Let the size of your family and your estimation of how often you'll use the thermometer determine how many bells and whistles you'll need.

Types of Thermometers

Every thermometer isn't right for every person in your family. Here's how thermometers are classified:

Oral: Oral thermometers have a tip that is designed to slide under the tongue. The user has to hold it in place until the thermometer has time to capture their temperature. While this type of thermometer is safe for everyone, it is more difficult for little kids, toddlers, and babies to sit still long enough for an accurate reading.

Forehead and Ear: Many ear thermometers are designed to be used as a forehead thermometer as well (with the use of a cap). Both formats are accurate, but we've found that forehead thermometers can be a little less intuitive and lead to discrepancies the first few times you use them. Ear thermometers are great, less invasive options for toddlers and children.

Armpit: More of a technique than a type of thermometer, taking your temperature via your armpit isn't the most accurate option. Still, it can give you a general reading that will let you know if you are running a fever or not. Most babies and toddlers won't be able to sit still while holding their arm in place to capture an accurate reading, so we suggest this method for a school-aged child.

Non-touch: Usually used in communal spaces like schools or a doctor's office, non-touch thermometers use infrared to read your temperature. While these are safe for everyone to use and offer a very fast response time, we found that they lag when it comes to consistency.

Rectal: According to the American Pediatrics Association (AAP), rectal thermometers are the most accurate way to capture temperatures for infants under 3 months old. Rectal thermometers read your body's core temperature to offer the most accurate reading. Some rectal thermometers are designed to be used orally and under the arm, but we suggest marking rectal thermometers for exclusive use.

Ease of Use

From cleaning the thermometer to getting a temperature reading no matter the circumstances (think squirmy or sleeping children), some thermometers make the job a lot easier than others. Also, consider the battery life of a thermometer. There are few things more frustrating than trying to care for a sick loved one in the middle of the night only to find that the thermometer is out of batteries.

Accuracy

One of the most important qualities of a thermometer is accuracy. You want to be able to rely on the results to help you make the best health decisions for yourself and your family. While rectal readings are recommended for children under 3, for older children and adults, there are a variety of methods thermometers use to produce accurate results, including some models that don't even have to touch the skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the best type of thermometers for adults?

    The best kind of thermometer for adults is one that is easy to read and delivers a digital result. Various models on the market can be used orally, via the ear, or without even touching the skin. While little ones under 6 months old should be using a rectal thermometer for the most accurate readings, adults have various options.

  • What is the best type of baby thermometer?

    When it comes to taking care of your sick infant, you need peace of mind knowing that your thermometer is accurate and reliable. For babies under 6 months old, a rectal temperature is recommended to gather the most accurate reading. We rated the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer highly because the short, dome-shaped design is user-friendly—even if you've never taken a rectal temperature before—and it delivers a fast, consistent reading.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Latifah Miles is the Commerce Editor for Verywell Family and a mom to a 9-year-old son. For nearly a decade, she has taken more temperatures than she can count and is a self-professed expert on the process. From her son's infancy to toddlerhood to now school-age, she certainly feels like she has taken his temperature in just about every possible way.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The 5 best doctor-recommended thermometers for all ages. Insider. https://www.insider.com/guides/health/best-thermometer

  2. The Best Thermometers For Adults And Kids Of 2022. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/health/family/best-thermometers-for-adults-and-kids/

  3. How to take your child's temperature. HealthyChildren.org.

By Latifah Miles
Latifah Miles is the parenting commerce editor for Verywell Family. She has written for and been featured on Romper, Cosmopolitan, Elite Daily, Redbook Magazine, and Best Products.