Best thermometer 2020: Check body temperature in adults and babies

Our pick of the best thermometers for no-contact temperature checks and whole-family health

best thermometers: Withings Thermo
(Image credit: withings)

The best thermometers can be used to check body temperature as an indication of whether you or someone else has a fever, which can be a symptom of viral infection. Never has that been more important, we're sure you'll agree. 

Obviously not everything makes for a good coronavirus thermometer, so we'll break down a number of the best non-contact thermometers which let you check body temperature from afar, no touching required. Contactless thermometers are perfect if you're running a small business and want to make checks on the door, but they're also great thermometers for babies and children who won't react well to more invasive methods of temperature checking. 

The pandemic did, for a while, knock stock levels to seriously low numbers, but things seem to have picked back up now for the majority of our list.

Of course, you might not need a COVID-19 thermometer. You might need a specialised thermometer to check for ovulation, an in-ear thermometer for a more accurate reading, or a more traditional internal thermometer for specific readings, and we've got those too.

Some thermometers are specifically designed for illness and health maintenance. If you're dealing with someone who's unwell, or if you're unwell yourself, it can be a stressful and difficult time. We've picked out a few smarter thermometers that can go some way to helping you track your vital statistics over time. They automatically keep a record of a person's different temperature readings, which is helpful to spot any patterns that may emerge, then share them with your GP if needed.

Body temperature isn't the only important metric. If you have a young baby, you'll want to ensure their nursery is at the right temperature while they sleep, so we've picked out examples that both help with that and have other benefits too.

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.

Do note that we've mostly stuck to reading human-related temperatures here; if you're looking to see how hot that suspicious piece of malfunctioning tech is getting, something like Etekcity's Lasergrip 800 is a great way to get laser-pointed temperature readings for not much money.

Different types of thermometer: A guide

There are reasons why you might want to use a digital thermometer. These range from tracking your body temperature when you have a fever, to monitoring the temperature of your baby's room, or even to give you an indication of whether you might be near ovulation.

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. And with the latest breed of smart thermometers and non-contact thermometers, you can get fast temperature readings without having to take an internal measurement. 

The smartest models in our best thermometers roundup automatically keep a record of a person's different temperature readings. You could use the data to spot any patterns that may emerge over a specific period of time, then share them with your GP if needed.

Of course, there are other types of thermometer too, such as room thermometers. You see these used frequently in nurseries where parents want an easy way to make sure the room isn't too hot or too cold for their baby.

Speaking of little ones, there are tons of baby thermometers on the market, ranging from forehead thermometers to in-ear and non-contact thermometers, which gives you plenty of choice on one hand but can also make buying a thermometer a little confusing. The top features to look out for here include a simple one-touch operation, and a large display with a backlight so that you can read it without turning the nursery light on and waking baby.

Choosing 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).

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.

The best thermometers to buy now

Best thermometers: Braun Thermoscan 7

(Image credit: Braun)

1. Braun Thermoscan 7

The best thermometer for accuracy and sheer ease of use

Placement: Ear
Contact required: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Exact temperature readings + Included lens filters + Temperature memory + Colour-coded display 

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.

best thermometer: Berrcom No-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer

(Image credit: Berrcom )

2. Berrcom No-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer

The best thermometer for flexible readings

Placement: Forehead
Contact required: No
Reasons to buy
+Forehead and surface readings+Colour coded light+Good value+32-temperature memory

It's 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 quick-and-dirty 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. 

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.

Best thermometers: Withings Thermo

(Image credit: Withings)

3. Withings Thermo

The best thermometer for smart functionality

Placement: Forehead
Contact required: No
Reasons to buy
+ Great for charting temperature+ Non-intrusive + In-app health advice 

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.

Best thermometers: Miniland Thermo Kit

(Image credit: Miniland)

4. Miniland Thermo Kit

The best thermometer for babies

Placement: Armpit / mouth
Contact required: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Three thermometers in one pack+Bath temperature readings+Many options for measurement

Taking a baby’s temperature requires a certain mix of cunning and skill, and Miniland’s clever kit gives you three options in one pack. There’s the more traditional body thermometer, which may be the most difficult to employ; it does, at least, have a flexible tip, and if your little one isn’t too ticklish it can be used in the armpit.

Potentially more effective (if your baby can be convinced to use it) is the pacifier thermometer, a soft-ended sucker offers a solid approximation of their internal temperature. Figure in the owl-shaped atmospheric thermometer, which is equally adept at showing the room temperature as it is being slung in a bath to make sure it’s just right, and you’ve got a solid and very affordable package.

best thermometer: K3 Infrared Non-contact Thermometer

(Image credit: K3)

5. K3 Infrared Non-contact Thermometer

The best wall-mounted thermometer for small businesses

Placement: Forehead
Contact required: No
Reasons to buy
+Completely hands free+Wall mounted+USB charging

Another of those thermometers available under a host of brands (including, much to our amusement, the name DEREK) but definitely super-useful in its form factor, because the K3 charges via USB and bolts to a wall. Position your forehead in front of its sensor, and it'll spit out a temperature reading on the bright seven-segment LCD display. Simple, effective, and straightforward temperature reading that crucially doesn't require a human to wave their arms 5cm in front of someone's face to get it done.

Now this isn't practical for most home use, unless you're a really big fan of checking your own temperature every time you walk into your kitchen, but for businesses worried about checking temperatures on entry this'll be a great addition. Nobody needs to touch it, nobody needs to get near one another, and it's pretty self explanatory to use. All being well this won't be something you need day-to-day in the future, but right now it could be just the business thermometer you need.

best thermometer: iHealth PT-3

(Image credit: iHealth)

6. iHealth PT-3

The best thermometer for night time readings

Placement: Forehead
Contact required: No
Reasons to buy
+Classy styling+Quiet action +Simple controls

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. 

Best thermometers: Femometer Vinca Basal Thermometer

(Image credit: Femometer)

7. Femometer Vinca Basal Thermometer

The best thermometer for tracking ovulation

Placement: Under tongue
Contact required: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Subtle design +Easy to navigate companion app +Button-free operation 

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.

Best thermometers: Braun no touch

(Image credit: Braun)

8. Braun No Touch + Touch

The best thermometer for non-contact readings

Placement: Forehead
Contact required: No
Reasons to buy
+ Multi-functional + Quick measurements + Backlit for night use 

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.

best thermometer: Geratherm Rapid thermometer

(Image credit: Geratherm)

9. Geratherm Rapid thermometer

The best thermometer for taking internal temperature readings

Placement: Various
Contact required: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Flexible measurements +Reasonably fast +Switchable temperature scales 

Ear and forehead thermometers are one thing, but there are still many times when an internal thermometer is a better choice. If your doctor has asked you to take your temperature orally, rectally, or under your armpit, the flexible Geratherm Rapid can pull off the task within about 9 seconds, letting you know it's done with a slight beep. You can flip it between farenheit and celcius depending on which you prefer, and the screen is large enough to read in most lights. Do note, though, that there's no backlight here. A nice touch from German manufacturer Geratherm is the gold-covered tip, which makes this a very good thermometer for people with certain metal allergies.

Best thermometers: GroEgg2

(Image credit: Gro)

10. Gro Groegg2 Thermometer

The best thermometer for tracking the temperature of your nursery

Placement: Room
Contact required: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Uses colours to indicate temperature+Doubles as a dimmable nightlight 

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.