How accurate is your personal thermometer?

Our investigation into personal thermometers has found you can’t always trust the number on the screen. We offer some tips on getting an accurate reading:


Interesting to see that the Oricom HFS1000 was the top performer with the price listed at $99.00.

Available with free shipping Australia wide from Gadget City now for a mere $99.88.

A massive reduction off their pandemic price scam of up to $999.00.

Did somebody say shonky?

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At a Dr’s the other day I was safe from getting a “fever” reading as the IR thermometer registered mine as 32…yeah a nice ahem healthy low reading.


We use one of the in ear IR models tested.

Interesting that both our GP’s prefer these, disposable protective covers included over the IR forehead type. But the latter are universally used when we have been checked in numerous places including getting past the security coded front door of the local Aged Care facility. The care taken by the operators varied considerably as did the long list of prior temperature checks on the sign in sheet. Never high!


I only have an elderly suck-it-and-see model. It does have a tiny screen but no IR involved.


Manual Reset, battery free! :wink:


One thing that is not mentioned is… is there any way for the average person to test a thermometer at home to see how accurate it is? I am asking about veracity, not reliability and replicability.

Déjà vu?

Most personal thermometers should be most sensitive around body temperature. The easiest way to check is test as many people (say at family gathering) and see if most temp are around 36.9°C. It may become an interesting point of discussion. Make sure you sterilise it between use with alcohol.

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Probably not. It isn’t that hard to set up a test against the triple point of water (0 C), a little harder to test boiling point (100 C) but both are off the scale for the thermometers we are talking about. There are not too many household substances that have a melting point in the range we want.


Hopefully the thermometer instructions include a statement of the accuracy and number of years the calibration is assured for.

Medical opinion suggests that the range of normal body temperatures is highly variable. In sampling a small gathering do we really know what the average or range should be?

It’s much broader than the stated calibration accuracy of individual devices tested by Choice.

I’m left wondering after reading a variety of sources whether the variation in the samples Choice assessed has been reliably attributed to the device or there are other factors that Choice needed to account for? @BrendanMays


I still use a traditional oral thermometer (glass tube with mercury) which I understand is very accurate.

I recall that when I was young my parents would use it by putting it under my arm, as a young child would be in danger of biting on the tube. As an older child and adult I’ve always put it under my tongue.

Any problem with this type of thermometer apart from the difficulty of disposal?


In the hands of a professional, (some of us had mothers who were well experienced nurses) there was always the threat of a more accurate option for use of said glass tube. The old 98.6F normal body temperature was established using such devices. The pros now have access to digitally connected probes, which can be applied or inserted as needed.

We still have one old style glass thermometer in our first aid kit. Sterilisation after each use was always inconvenient, as well as the obligatory need for glasses and a squint to read. We now have a non-contact in-ear digital thermometer for at home use. No debating the easily read numbers. Just remembering how to replace the disposable cap.

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Not that difficult, just requires planning and thought. This website provides some useful information:


My digital oral thermometer is decades old and the tiny screen had just started to black out. So, delighted that ALDI had forehead/ear thermometers a couple of weeks later, and of course cheap. Unlike the oral type these provide a reading in a few seconds. I prefer the ear, which includes instruction my voice, records the last 30 readings.

Just for pure curiosity, I decided to see what happens with exercise, using my indoor bike trainer at high intensity. The readings were all higher rising as I got further into my 1hr session, stabilising about 25 minutes in, I was dripping sweat. So, did a follow up test with a room fan on low setting, enough to reduce the sweat, and my readings were higher than normal but lower than those without the fan ( 35.7 to 37, then to 36.6.).

Your (Choice) tips to record your own temp when you are feeling fine, morning and evening for a few days, to get a mean seems like a great idea. Thanks.