A flu thermometer is a simple device, but there are still good ones and not-so-good ones. When you're sick, you want a reliable option. That's why we've tested several of the top thermometer models on the market, from $10 to $100 to know the No. 1 smart thermometer to cool down in 2024 as we have selected the 5 best and most accurate thermometers for colds and flu in 2024.

We've also tested the methods of measuring temperature to pick the best thermometer for you, your children, and the whole family. Following the pandemic, it's become more important than ever to have a thermometer in your medicine cabinet.

So, keep reading to know the No. 1 smart thermometer to cool down in 2024 and choose from our list of the 5 best and most accurate thermometers for colds and flu in 2024.

 

A Short Intro about this Smart Thermometers

No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down - Healthsoothe

Thermometers have come a long way since the glass mercury thermometer that I (and I'm sure at least some of you) had as a kid. Many options on the market now come with added bells and whistles, like smart thermometers that can connect to an app to log temperature over time and give you a holistic view of your health.

They also have improved accuracy, and you can usually get an instant read. No matter how you want to take your temperature (in the mouth, with a forehead thermometer, with a baby thermometer, in the armpit, with a contactless thermometer, or in the ear canal) there's a model out there for you.

 

The 5 Best and Most Accurate Thermometers for Colds and Flu in 2024

  • Best Thermometer for Taking Temperature in Ear - Braun ThermScan 7

No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down: Best Thermometer For Taking Temperature In Ear - Braun Thermscan 7 - Healthsoothe

Braun's ear thermometer reminds me of the type of thermometer I encountered as a kid at the pediatrician -- back when in-ear models weren't available at home. This older school design feels a tad dated compared to Withings' or Kinsa's models, but it works just as well.

This infrared thermometer makes it easy to measure the temperature of infants under 1 month old to adults. There are three preset age ranges you can choose from when taking your temperature: Up to 3 months, 3 to 36 months, and 36 months and up.

The infrared technology thermometer stores up to four recent readings and takes your temperature in just a few seconds. My biggest knock against the ThermScan 7 is that you have to use disposable plastic probe covers to take a temperature reading.

The thermometer knows if the plastic cover is missing and won't work until you put one on. Kinsa's model, in comparison, works without any cover. However, in talking to a colleague who uses this thermometer, he says he doesn't mind the probe covers because he doesn't have to clean the thermometer before taking his kid's temperature.

The thermometer is available at Amazon for $62.

 

  • Best Oral Thermometer - Vicks Speed Read Thermometer

No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down: Best Oral Thermometer - Vicks Speed Read Thermometer - Healthsoothe

If you're set on getting a classic oral, armpit thermometer, or rectal thermometer, Vick's model has everything you need and a little more. It has a large, clear backlit screen display that glows different colors when your body temperature measure is normal, elevated or you have a fever.

It comes with a plastic cover, it's easy to clean (key for an oral and/or rectal thermometer), and provides reliable and accurate readings -- I couldn't ask for more with this type of thermometer, especially when I'm taking a child's temperature.

While I tested the Speed Read model, I'd also recommend the Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer. It's the same thermometer but has a flexible probe, which makes it more comfortable for oral temperature readings than other types of stick thermometers.

The thermometer is available at Amazon for $10.

 

  • Best Thermometer for Ear, Forehead, and Surface Temperature - iProven Dual Mode Forehead and Ear Thermometer (Recommended, with reservations)

No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down: Best Thermometer For Ear, Forehead, And Surface Temperature - Iproven Dual Mode Forehead And Ear Thermometer (Recommended, With Reservations) - Healthsoothe

The iProven Forehead and Ear thermometer is the most versatile of all of the options on this list. Its probe can take your temperature from your forehead and ear, plus it can measure surface and air temperature. That means you can check to see if your baby or kid's bath water isn't too hot or record the ambient room temperature.

This thermometer stores up to 35 temperature readings, which is impressive but also unnecessary -- especially because there's no way to assign those temperatures to individual people.

My gripe with this thermometer is that the temperature readings were less consistent than other models I tested, and accurate reading is kinda the whole point of a thermometer.

Depending on where on my forehead I pointed it, I got different results each time, ranging from 96.0 to 98.0 degrees F. By comparison, the Withings Thermo consistently gave me readings between 98.3 and 99.1 degrees F.

This is because the iProven model will take a reading wherever you point it, so if it's not pointed at your temporal artery, you might get inaccurate readings.

Testing it against the two other ear thermometers on this list, the Braun and Kinsa, I again got inconsistent results, despite following the directions from the user manual and taking care to place the probe in my ear in the same position and angle each time.

Both Braun and Kinsa gave me consistent readings with only a few tenths of a degree difference.

This thermometer is available for $28 at Amazon

 

  • Best Thermometer For Guided Coaching - Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer

No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down: Best Thermometer For Guided Coaching - Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer - Healthsoothe

The Kinsa was one of the first smart thermometers on the market, and its products are designed with kids in mind. The Smart Ear thermometer connects to the Kinsa app on your phone to keep a log of each temperature reading, so you can keep tabs on how a fever is progressing.

The app also offers care advice with each reading -- like making sure you or your kid is getting enough fluids -- and provides information on when you need to see a doctor or go to the ER. You can also tell the app when you took or administered medication to bring the fever down.

The Kinsa thermometer takes temperature in under two seconds, which will help get an accurate reading on a squirmy kid who doesn't want to sit still.

One of the only downsides to this digital ear thermometer is that you need the Kinsa app to set up the thermometer -- so if you aren't keen on logging your temperature data in an app, skip this model for one of the other ways to measure temperature on this list.

The thermometer is available at Amazon for $35.

 

  • Best Thermometer Overall - Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer (No. 1 Smart Thermometer to Cool Down)

No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down: Best Thermometer Overall - Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer (No. 1 Smart Thermometer To Cool Down) - Healthsoothe

Withings' Thermo is undoubtedly the sleekest model I tested, but also the most expensive. This instant-read thermometer takes temporal readings, meaning you swipe it across your forehead and it captures your body temperature from your temporal artery.

The Thermo doesn't even need to make contact with your skin -- it can be up to half an inch away -- which makes it one of the most hygienic options and you won't have to disturb your sleeping kid to take their temperature with this forehead thermometer.

The Thermo has 16 infrared sensors that capture several thousand temperature readings at once -- meaning this smart thermometer takes a super accurate temperature reading. I like that the Thermo is also ridiculously easy to use -- when it's done recording measurements, it vibrates twice -- no obnoxious beep.

You will need to use the Thermo app to set up the thermometer and see a history of readings, but the app is not required to take your temperature. Further, the display on this thermometer is extremely easy to read.

This thermometer isn't rechargeable -- it requires two AAA batteries, but the battery life is about two years.

Look, I get that a nearly $100 instant read thermometer seems absurd to most people, but the sleek design and dead-simple ease of use (about a million times easier than an oral thermometer and about a zillion times easier than a rectal one) make the Thermo a worthwhile choice if that price doesn't scare you off.

The thermometer is available at Amazon for $100.

 

Not Recommended at all - Vicks SmartTemp Wireless Thermometer

In theory, the SmartTemp Wireless Thermometer is a good idea. In execution, not so much. Rather than have a display on the actual device, it connects to an app on your phone to display temperature readings.

Setting aside that the app is visually dated and clunky, I hate that the thermometer is useless without it. There's no way to take your temperature without opening the app, and what good is a thermometer if it alone cannot measure temperature?

It's also $10 more than the Vicks Speed Read. I could go on, but I won't. Just skip this thermometer.

 

What to Check for to Select the No. 1 Smart Thermometer to Cool Down in 2024

Type

There are different types of thermometers available to measure body temperature. The available types of thermometers differ based on where temperature readings are taken. There are three main types:

  • Oral, rectal, and armpit thermometers
  • Forehead thermometers
  • In-ear (tympanic) thermometers

The most common ones are oral, rectal, and armpit thermometers, which usually come with replaceable tips and disposable covers for hygiene purposes.

Forehead thermometers, on the other hand, can be either touch or no-touch and are usually held across the forehead or in front of it for a moment to take a quick reading using an infrared scanner.

Lastly, tympanic thermometers are inserted just inside the ear canal and use infrared technology to determine body temperature.

It is not recommended to use mercury thermometers anymore as they can break and release toxic mercury. Marc Helzer, MD, a primary care physician with the University of Michigan Health-West suggests that if you still have one of these, you should dispose of it in a hazardous waste collection. It is better to choose a digital thermometer for accurate readings.

Ease of use

In general, the user-friendliness of a thermometer depends on how easy it is to unbox, read the instructions, and get temperature results. A complicated thermometer can be frustrating to use, especially when someone is sick and irritable.

However, certain ease-of-use issues can vary based on the age of the person using the thermometer. For instance, young infants may not be able to stay still for a forehead or ear reading, while older children may not be comfortable with a rectal reading.

“For newborns up to age four, it is best to take their temperature under the armpit or rectum [while] children older than two can also have their temperature taken by ear,” says Dr. Johnston, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder at Redirect Health. “It’s also common to take a temperature orally once a child can sit long enough and they are able to hold a thermometer under their tongue, and most adults use oral thermometers.”

Dr. Johnston also flags the issue of cleaning and caring for your thermometer. Thermometers with a probe will require cleaning after use, she explains, while infrared thermometers won’t since they’re not used internally.

Accuracy

It can be hard to tell if your thermometer is giving accurate results unless you’re comparing it to another thermometer, and most of us aren’t spending our sick days conducting thermometer accuracy tests.  

That said, if you repeatedly get very different results on the same person while using the same thermometer in the same location, something may be off with your device. If it’s worked reliably in the past, you may just need to change the batteries. If it’s always been a bit unpredictable, look for a more accurate replacement.

Among different types of digital thermometers, a rectal temperature is typically considered to be the most accurate, especially in young children; beyond that, forehead temperatures are the second most accurate, followed by oral and ear, then armpit.

Data display

A thermometer that’s accurate but doesn't display your temperature reading won’t be that useful. You need a device that gives you quick, easy-to-read results.

“When you are looking for a thermometer, you should focus on finding the one that is easiest for you to read and use,” says Srini K. Hejeebu, MD, internal medicine specialist at The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, adding that this will probably be some kind of digital thermometer for the majority of people.

Look for devices with large, backlit displays so you can see the reading easily in all types of light. Some thermometer displays will also turn green, yellow, or red when the result is ready, so it’s even easier to know if your temperature is normal, slightly elevated, or high.

Lastly, Dr. Johnston says to make sure the thermometer you purchase is available in Celsius or Fahrenheit, depending on what you use: “Many thermometers have the ability to switch between the two, but you wouldn’t want to end up purchasing a thermometer you aren’t able to read or understand.”

Durability

It’s not always a given that a higher-priced thermometer will last longer than a cheaper one; sometimes, all the technology that gives a higher-priced device its costly price tag makes it more prone to failure. But whatever type you choose, you may want to focus on buying one made in the U.S.

“When purchasing a thermometer online or in a store, beware of retailers from outside the United States,” says Dr. Helzer, adding that the FDA offers guidance on purchasing and selling thermometers since they are considered medical devices (and some of those guidelines were modified during the pandemic).

Ultimately, if you’re not certain, talk to a physician or pharmacist before making your purchase.

Extra features

You need a basic thermometer that can take an accurate temperature reading, but you may want one that does more than just tell you what your numerical temp is. For example, people with chronic health conditions may appreciate the ability to store and track results over time in their thermometer or even on a separate app.

Meanwhile, parents might want to focus on color-coded backlit displays and quiet result alerts (like vibration versus beeping) for those middle-of-the-night temperature readings on sick kids.

Alright, that is it for the No. 1 smart thermometer to cool down in 2024 and we hope you have selected the best smart thermometer for you from our list of the 5 best and most accurate thermometers for colds and flu in 2024.

 

Frequently Asked Questions Associated with Smart Thermometers

Yes, the type of thermometer you’re using can alter what’s considered a normal reading: An oral reading of 100 degrees or higher may be considered a fever, as is an armpit reading of 99 degrees or higher. It’s important to read the manual that comes with your specific thermometer, so you know how it’s calibrated. The manual should specify what’s..... Read More »
Digital thermometers used for reading body temperatures usually can’t go as high as ones designed for cooking. Most of them will max out at 109 or 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Most body thermometers will give you a number with one decimal place, such as 98.6. (Some basal body thermometers, often used for tracking fertility, go to two decimal places.) It depends..... Read More »
You can also compare the results of one type of thermometer against another; for example, taking an oral temperature with one thermometer and a forehead temperature with a different thermometer. Keep in mind that these readings will need to be adjusted for their location since some types of temperatures (like oral) are typically lower than other types (like rectal and..... Read More »
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