Consumer Reports: The best thermometers

October 12, 2011

Consumer Reports tested nearly a dozen. We'll look at some of the best.

Liz Quinones is one of ten parents Consumer Reports asked to take home ten thermometers to try out on their kids.

The families checked out digital stick thermometers, used orally, as well as several infrared thermometers, used on the forehead or in the ear, to see how comfortable they are. Infrared thermometers are fast but pricey, ranging from about $40 to $80.

Back in the lab, testers assessed the thermometers for accuracy. They took the temperature of staffers without a fever, comparing the readings to those from a professional, medical-grade thermometer.

One thermometer tested works a little differently.

"The $80 Thermofocus BV 1500 non-contact thermometer looks cool," said Consumer Reports' Nicole Sarrubbo. "You don't have to touch any part of your body. Just line it up perpendicular to the forehead and move the two circles. They merge into one."

But it doesn't beep to let you know the reading is done. And it wasn't as accurate as some others. Neither was the $50 ear thermometer from Braun, the IRT 45-20.

But Consumer Reports did find infrared thermometers to recommend, including the $37 Vicks V977. It works in three seconds or less and is very accurate. But it's important to follow the directions carefully.

Walmart's ReliOn Rigid digital stick thermometer is just as accurate for just $3. But there is a trade-off: it takes about a minute and 20 seconds to get a reading.

Consumer Reports says in addition to being accurate, the Vicks V977 is loaded with helpful features. It has a backlit display and colors that indicate a normal temperature, mild fever and high fever.

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