Buying guide for best smart thermometers
A thermometer is a key piece of first aid equipment to have in the home. Monitoring your temperature can help you gain a head start on treating an illness and help you track your recovery. The design of thermometers has come a long way from glass tubes filled with dangerous mercury. Today’s thermometers have digital screens that provide fast, clear readings.
The next step forward is smart thermometers. Smart thermometers can store data about your temperature readings and share it with your smartphone through a Bluetooth connection. A smart thermometer’s app will track your health data so you can refer to it while monitoring the progression of an illness. You even can share this data with your doctor to help with your diagnosis.
Our buying guide has everything you need to know before you invest in a smart thermometer. When you are ready to buy, check out our picks for the best smart thermometers on the market.
As you’re comparing different smart thermometers, the main consideration is whether you want a thermometer that measures body temperature or environmental temperature.
For measuring body temperature, think about how you’d like the smart thermometer to work as well as the level of accuracy you require.
- Armpit: An armpit thermometer will deliver a quick reading, but it typically yields the least accurate results. Some manufacturers of smart thermometers indicate temperatures taken in the armpit register about one degree lower than the person’s actual temperature.
- Ear: An ear thermometer has a reasonable accuracy level, although an excessive amount of earwax can throw off the reading. Do not use an ear thermometer on a child six months old or younger. If you want a general idea of a person’s temperature, an ear thermometer works fast and is only minimally uncomfortable. But these thermometers are not as precise as other options.
- Forehead: A forehead thermometer returns a reading within a few seconds, using infrared scanning. It has a high level of accuracy, especially for small children. It’s not quite as accurate as a rectal thermometer, but it’s far easier to use. Unless a doctor specifically tells you to take a child’s temperature rectally, a forehead thermometer is a more than adequate substitute.
- Oral: An oral thermometer is extremely accurate, delivering results in a short amount of time. However, do not take your temperature orally within several minutes of eating or drinking. Very young children may struggle to hold an oral thermometer in the proper position in the mouth for an accurate reading.
- Rectal: A rectal thermometer is very accurate, but it can cause discomfort. For the most accurate temperature reading for a baby or toddler, doctors often recommend a rectal thermometer reading. Once you’ve used a smart thermometer rectally, be sure to disinfect it and only use it as a rectal thermometer in the future.
Smart thermometer prices
When purchasing a smart thermometer, you can expect to pay $20 to $100, depending on the smart features included. Thermometers with a greater number of smart features cost $50 to $100.
The only ongoing cost you should have with a smart thermometer is replacing the battery, which should cost just a few dollars every six months or so. The app associated with the smart thermometer should be free, although some apps may have in-app purchases available to unlock certain features.
If you find that you’re receiving inaccurate results with your smart thermometer, it may be because you’re using it incorrectly. Here are some tips for using a smart thermometer for the most accurate readings.
- Avoid readings after certain activities. You should not use a smart thermometer for several minutes after eating, exercising, bathing, or drinking, or it may give you an inaccurate reading.
- Allow the thermometer to reach room temperature. If the thermometer has been in your car during extreme temperatures, don’t use it until you are indoors and the device has returned to a normal room temperature.
- Place it properly in the mouth. If taking an oral reading, place the tip of the smart thermometer underneath the tongue at the back of the mouth.
- School-age children can take oral temperature readings. Typically, a child around four to five years old is ready to hold the smart thermometer under the tongue properly for an oral temperature reading. Younger children will struggle with this.
- Use rectal readings for babies and toddlers. When taking a rectal temperature reading on a baby, only insert the tip of the smart thermometer between one-half and one inch.
- Remove clothing for underarm readings. If using the smart thermometer for an underarm reading, move the clothing so there’s nothing between the thermometer and the skin.
- Always run updates. If you’re having problems connecting the smart thermometer to your smartphone, upgrade both devices to the latest versions.