Having one of the best thermometers to hand means that you can quickly and easily check body temperature. They're perhaps most often used to check for a fever, but beyond that there are a range of options with different capabilities, from contactless thermometers that don't require any skin contact, to app-connected smart thermometers with advanced tracking capabilities. While today's best fitness trackers will accurately monitor a lot of your vital stats, for a quick, reliable body temperature reading, your best bet is still to invest in a thermometer.
Our best thermometer list includes a range of different options at different price points, and also includes more specialised models designed specifically for babies, for tracking ovulation, monitoring room temperature or even checking a pet isn't running a fever.
If a loved one is unwell, being able to accurately track their temperature could make all the difference between settling them down with a blanket in front of some daytime TV, or calling your GP. Contactless thermometers have gained prominence over the course of the pandemic by offering a non-invasive way to check for a fever.
What are the different types of thermometer?
There are a few different types of thermometer to know about. Perhaps most common nowadays are digital stick thermometers, which are simple, easy to read, and can be used for oral / rectal / armpit readings (check the notes on your particular model). Smart thermometers are app-connected, to let you track temperature over time, and can be useful if you need to spot patterns and share info with your GP if needed. No-touch thermometers will let you check temperature without the need for actual contact with the skin. There are thermometers specifically designed for ovulation tracking. And some of the best thermometers aren't for checking body temperature at all: room thermometers let you keep an eye on, for instance, how hot or cold it is in a nursery.
The best thermometers to buy now
There's no fun in taking someone's temperature six or seven times in a row in order to calculate an average, but that's something some thermometers demand – how do you know you've measured at the right point, or if you've activated the thermometer properly? Braun's Thermoscan 7 is our top pick for the best thermometer and is also Braun's flagship offering. Not only is this ear-reader extremely accurate, but it includes built in guidance to make sure you're pointing its sensor at the exact right point of the inner ear to get a good reading first-time. It even pre-warms the ear tip to ensure it's not too uncomfortable, and keeps a log of the last nine temperature readings.
These kinds of non-contact thermometers are typically used nowadays for checking people's temperature at the door of a public place, as a quick-and-dirty way to check if someone might be harbouring Coronavirus symptoms. This one is on the cheaper end of non-contact thermometers, and we're pretty sure you'll find the exact same product packaged under different brand names, but Berrcom's temperature gun packs in some very useful features and it's perfect if you don't want to spend too much on upgrading your equipment to comply with whatever regulations are currently in force. It's reassuringly well reviewed on Amazon, too.
Point it at a dry forehead from up to 5cm away, and it'll give you a temperature reading in one second. It's colour coded, meaning you'll see at a glance if that temperature is elevated (orange) or feverish (red), with a more exact reading in farenheit or celcius displayed over the top. You can flick back through the last 32 temperature readings, so it's suitable for monitoring over time, and you can also switch modes and use it to read general surface temperatures, ensuring that bottle or bath isn't too hot for the baby. Honestly, there's not much you'd want to thermo that this thermometer can't thermo. For the price, whether you're keeping an eye on things at home or using it as a small business thermometer, you can't really go wrong.
You don't want to be squinting at tiny numbers when a few tenths of a degree could mean the difference between calling a doctor and leaving your kid to sleep it off for a few hours, and this model from Salter – a company with over 200 years of history behind it – will leave you in no doubt. Its standout feature is a big backlit display that'll let you see readings with ease, even if you're taking them in a dark bedroom in the dead of night. It's easy to use; simply pop the probe into an ear and press the scan button, and its infrared technology should give you a result in under a second. There's even a fever alarm to alert you if the temperature reading's too high. you can switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit, and a built-in memory will hold up to 10 readings so that you can compare temperatures over time. On the down-side, the functions are all accessed via two buttons, which some reviewers found fiddly and confusing.
If someone has a fever, it's important to keep track of it. Withings calls the Thermo a smart temporal thermometer, which has something of a double meaning: it uses its 16 infrared sensors to take a detailed reading of the forehead and temporal artery, and its smart functionality feeds those readings into a phone app so you can monitor them over time. Admittedly this is on the more expensive end of thermometers, but its vibration feature makes it easy to take your own temperature, and the app can also offer some measure of advice – whether it's a recommendation of over-the-counter medicines, or to seek help from a doctor.
Great for measuring kids' temperature non-invasively, and a stylish addition to the generally rather ugly world of digital thermometers, iHealth's PT-3 is a nice choice if you like your medicine cupboard looking all modern and fancy. Don't be fooled by the lower-case 'i' in the company's name, because this isn't a connected thermometer – really, it's a fairly standard infra-red forehead thermometer, one which can work from up to 4cm away. The readings glow through the case thanks to the under-mounted LCD display, which is pretty neat, and rather than bleeping away the PT-3 has a tiny vibration motor as an indicator that your temperature reading is done. That light-up display and mostly silent action makes this absolutely perfect for night time temperature readings, and the PT-3 isn't outrageously expensive, either.
Tracking ovulation with a regular thermometer is neither easy or accurate. To do the job properly you need a basal body thermometer – one designed to take internal temperature with the tightest accuracy possible, and the ability to track changes in your temperature over time. Placed under the tongue first thing in the morning, the discrete and compact Femometer feeds its results (which are within 0.1ºF) automatically to its app, and draws up a chart to show when you're ovulating. Our pick for the best thermometer for tracking ovulation does take a couple of minutes to make a reading, but it's easy to use and provides useful insight into your monthly cycle. It also rolls in period tracking features. On the down-side, the lack of screen means you can only see readings in the app, and some customers have had issues with app performance.
The Braun No-Touch thermometer is the best thermometer to go for if you want to take readings without bothering your child. Using a thermometer can be pretty invasive, particularly on those who aren't really aware of why you're trying to stick something in their ear, armpit, mouth or worse. Plus, if you're trying to monitor the temperature of an unwell baby, the last thing you want to do is wake them up from a restful nap. Braun's versatile infra-red thermometer mutes itself with a physical switch, and can get a reading from 2cm away – though you may want to opt for a touch reading taken on the forehead instead. It's also capable of measuring liquid temperatures, so you can check if that bath (or that porridge) is a little too hot. This is hands-down the best thermometer for babies and children.
If you think it's hard to take a toddler's temperature, wait until you find yourself faced with sickly, fractious cat. It's not always humans that need their temperature taking, and if you find yourself with a peaky pet then you'll be grateful for having the Aurynns Pet Thermometer to hand if you need to monitor its temperature. It's designed specifically for animals with a slimline tip that should allow you to get an internal reading without causing your pet much discomfort (you'll probably need to rope someone in to help keep them still, though). It'll give you a reading accurate to within 0.2°F in a few seconds, and it has an LCD display as well as a memory function if you need to keep track of temperature over a few days.
It's switchable between Celsius and Fahrenheit, and it features an audio alarm if the temperature reading's too high. It's not a thermometer you'll need often unless you're a farmer or animal breeder, but if you have a pet then you never know. Just make sure you store it separately from your main household thermometer.
When you have a little one at home, even if they're not currently poorly, it's important to make sure the conditions are right at night. You'll tuck them in, make sure they've got their favourite soft toy, and take a quick glance at the GroEgg to ensure the temperature is within a safe and comfortable margin. The great thing for bleary-eyed new parents is that you don't even need to focus on the numbers. Colour coding on the Groegg – which doubles as a dimmable nightlight – gives you that information instantly. It's the Goldilocks of thermometers: Blue is too cold, an angry red is too hot, and a warm orange is just right. To turn it off, you need to use the switch underneath the device; some customers have noted they'd have liked a tap on/off function.
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How to choose the best thermometer for you
GPs mostly use ear thermometers to take your temperature, and if this is the way you're leaning too, pick up some extra lens filters to keep your readings hygienic and wax-free. You'll find some good options for this type of device in our best thermometers list below.
Oh, and you may actually need two different types of thermometer: for example, tracking ovulation requires an internal measurement (usually taken underneath your tongue), but taking the temperature of a baby or child is so much easier with a non-contact thermometer (far less scary for them).
Speaking of little ones, there are tons of baby-focused thermometers out there, ranging from forehead thermometers to in-ear and non-contact thermometers, which gives you plenty of choice but can also make buying a thermometer a little confusing. Look, in this case, for one-handed operation, a night light which stops you having to turn the main light on and risk waking a poorly little one, and the option to switch off any warning beeps.
Hygiene is extra important if you do opt for an internal thermometer – these are flexible and much more comfortable than they once were, but be sure to clean yours with an alcohol wipe after use.