The 6 Best Thermometers of 2020

Keep a close eye on sickness in your household

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall Thermometer: Kinsa Digital Ear Thermometer at Amazon

"Can be easily cleaned with a cloth and a dab of 75 percent alcohol."

Best Budget: iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer at Walmart

"Gives you a fast temperature reading in just 10 seconds."

Best Forehead Thermometer: TrackAid Thermometer at Amazon

"Will store up to 20 previous temperature readings."

Best Thermometer for Kids: Exergen Temporal Thermometer at Amazon

"Has a glowing display for taking temperatures in the dark."

Best No-Touch: Braun No Touch Thermometers at Walmart

"The non-invasive technology will do the work for you."

Best Ear Thermometer: Braun Ear Thermometer at Amazon

"Uses disposable lens filters to make it easy to switch between users."

Due to increased demand for online shopping, items in this article may be out of stock. Updates to this article will be made frequently with products we recommend.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Thermometer: Kinsa Digital Smart Ear Thermometer

This smart digital thermometer takes the spot as our best overall option. The ultra-fast reader takes an accurate reading in the ear in only one second, which is perfect for parents trying to take temperatures for a finicky, squirmy kid.

Unlike the ear thermometers you probably remember growing up, this thermometer doesn’t require disposable plastic covers that can interfere with fever reading, instead, the BPA and Latex-free reader can be easily cleaned with a soft cloth or cotton swab and just a dab of 75 percent alcohol.   

In addition, this thermometer connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth that not only tracks your family’s fever history but offers personalized suggestions on when to see a doctor. It also reminds you when it’s time to take your medications again. And with a battery life that lasts for two years or up to 1,000 readings, you won’t be panicked to search for new batteries when someone you love is already feeling their worst.

Best Budget: iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer

iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer

Courtesy of Amazon

If you want something that’s at a cheaper price point but will still give you an accurate reading, reach for this oral and rectal thermometer from iProven. This small and discreet thermometer will give you a fast temperature reading in just 10 seconds, and the reading will be super-accurate within one-tenth of a degree.

While you might remember under the tongue thermometers as uncomfortable, this version has a very flexible tip that makes it much more comfortable than its predecessors.

This durable thermometer is also waterproof, making it super easy to clean with just a little water and soap. Like the other options on this list, this thermometer is a great mercury-free option.

Being that this can be used rectally, this is a great option for newborns since a rectal temperature is the most accurate. If your household doesn't get sick much it is also an affordable option to keep at home in case a fever strikes. 

Best Forehead Thermometer: TrackAid Medical Thermometer

Digital Thermometer

 Courtesy of Amazon

If you’re looking for a thermometer that will give you ultra-accurate readings at just a touch to the forehead, try this option from TrackAid, which is praised for its speed, accuracy, and affordability. In addition to reading temperatures in only one second, this thermometer will store up to 20 previous temperature readings, so you can have your fever history available at your fingers.

In addition to non-invasive forehead functionality, this thermometer can also take your inner ear temperature, so you can choose the setting that you prefer. A nice bonus: This option comes with batteries included, so you don’t have to scramble to find a working set when you need it to work the most. The thermometer is suitable for infants, toddlers, kids and adults, so it's perfect for the whole family.

Best Thermometer for Kids: Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

If your child is consistently picking up bugs and viruses on the playground, make sure you have a reliable and easy-to-use thermometer on hand. Say goodbye to the discomfort of under-the-tongue, inner ear, or rectal thermometers. Instead, this option takes the temperature by capturing the heat from the temporal artery through the forehead skin.

Other great features include a lightly glowing display to help you see when you’re taking temperatures in the dark, an automatic shut-off feature to help you preserve the batteries for when you really need them, and super-simple one-handed functionality. This thermometer is completely mercury-free, so you know it’s safe for even the youngest members of your family. The AAP reminds parents that for the most accurate reading under the age of 3 you should take a child's temperature rectally. You can use this for a quick check and then try rectal for a more reliable number. Babies under 3 months always need to have their temperature taken rectally. 

Best No-Touch: Braun No Touch Thermometers

Braun No Touch Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon

If you find yourself needing to take temperatures from finicky kids when they’re sleeping, invest in this no-touch option form Braun to make it super simple. This Braun thermometer also has a silent option so you won’t disturb your little one’s sleep when they’re already not feeling well. To take your loved one’s temperature, simply hold the thermometer up to 2 inches away from their forehead, and the non-invasive technology will do the work for you.

When you use this thermometer, the backlight will change from green to yellow or red, each indicating the severity of the temperature. It’s a little pricier than most of the other options on this list, but the discreet technology is worth the splurge. And you know you’re in safe hands with this doctor-preferred brand: According to the July 2017 Ardent Consulting Survey, more pediatricians use Braun than any other thermometer brand.

Best Ear Thermometer: Braun Thermoscan 5 Ear Thermometer

braun-reg-thermoscan-5-ear-thermometer
Courtesy of Walgreens.

This easy-to-use thermometer is suitable for the whole family—babies, kids, and adults alike. Buyers praise this thermometer’s accuracy and ease of use. This ear thermometer uses disposable lens filters to make it easy to switch between users without having to clean, and also because Braun knows that a buildup of earwax can impact the accuracy of the reading.

Thanks to Braun’s pre-warmed thermometer tip, temperatures are more accurate than other brands whose cool tip can lower readings. Braun stands by ear temperature readings as the most accurate way to detect fever, even when other brands sing the praises of forehead readings, explaining that the blood supply in the eardrum shares the temperature control center of the brain, so it’s the best place to detect unusual temperature changes.

What to Look for in a Thermometer

Features: Beyond simple temperature readings, some thermometers will store a history of your family’s 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. How many bells and whistles you want will depend on how often you use a thermometer, the size of your family, and your general preferences.

Ease of use: From cleaning the thermometer to getting a temperature reading no matter the circumstances (think squirmy and/or sleeping children), there are some thermometers that make the job a lot easier than others. Also, consider the battery life of a thermometer. There are few things more frustrating than someone spiking a fever in the middle of the night only to find that the thermometer is out of batteries.

Accuracy: The most important quality you want in a thermometer, of course, is accuracy. You want to be able to rely on the results to help you make the best health decisions for you 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.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to Take a Child's Temperature. Updated November 21, 2015.

  2. Nimah MM, Bshesh K, Callahan JD, Jacobs BR. Infrared tympanic thermometry in comparison with other temperature measurement techniques in febrile childrenPediatr Crit Care Med. 2006;7(1):48–55. doi:10.1097/01.pcc.0000185476.35550.b2