As the devastating COVID-19 virus sweeps through many parts of the world, it has never been more necessary to effectively monitor your body temperature. According to a number of health experts, a high fever is among the first signs of infection of the Coronavirus. While a good thermometer will not prevent you from potentially contracting the illness, it can certainly be helpful in identifying it.
A good digital infrared thermometer gives you accurate results quickly. Accuracy is important when reading body temperature. A margin of error of 1-2% can be the difference between a healthy diagnosis and an unhealthy diagnosis. Especially in the wake of a deadly virus, it pays to be nearly 100% accurate on temperature readings.
Good digital infrared thermometers also give you results fast. Whether testing your child or testing yourself, you need temperature information as soon as possible. A quick thermometer can help to encourage children to have their temperature taken, and even adults suffer from less of that dreaded anxiety if they get their accurate results as quickly as possible.
There are so many instant-read thermometers on the market today. They all promise to give you accurate results quickly. As the demand rises for essential household family items and goods, there have been shortages in everything from face masks, hand sanitizers (UV sanitizers), survival kits, first aid kits. Now new technology gadgets that provide a way to measure body temperatures accurately in both kids and adults via a quick and easy hassle-free, no-touch infrared sensor method using advanced medical technology.
Which digital infrared thermometer is right for you? Keep reading to discover the best forehead thermometers you can find today. Our guide will provide readers with everything they need to know about infrared thermometers, including a full section of frequently asked questions.
- 1 Ranking the Top 11 Best Infrared Thermometers of 2020
- 1.1 Goodbaby Ear and Forehead Thermometer
- 1.2 Runpilot Infrared Forehead Thermometer
- 1.3 Allrier Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer
- 1.4 Caline Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer
- 1.5 Lamijua Medical Forehead and Ear Thermometer
- 1.6 Lignin Infrared Thermometer
- 1.7 PaintYou Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer
- 1.8 Awakelion Forehead Thermometer
- 1.9 Megna Non-Touch Baby Temporal Thermometer
- 1.10 Magicelec Forehead Thermometer
- 1.11 Alextreme Infrared Thermometer
- 2 How We Ranked
- 3 Who Should Use a Digital Infrared Thermometer?
- 4 How Do Digital Infrared Thermometers Work?
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Infrared Thermometers
- 5.1 Q: How do infrared thermometers work?
- 5.2 Q: How do you use an infrared thermometer?
- 5.3 Q: Are infrared thermometers safe?
- 5.4 Q: Are infrared thermometers accurate?
- 5.5 Q: How fast do infrared thermometers work?
- 5.6 Q: How close do you have to get with an infrared thermometer?
- 5.7 Q: Can you check my grill temperature with an infrared thermometer?
- 5.8 Q: Can you check oven temperature using an infrared thermometer?
- 5.9 Q: What is emissivity?
- 5.10 Q: What does a high or low emissivity rating mean?
- 5.11 Q: Can you check meat or food temperatures using an infrared thermometer?
- 5.12 Q: Do infrared thermometers see through glass or plastic?
- 5.13 Q: Do infrared thermometers see through water?
- 5.14 Q: Does the angle matter when using infrared thermometers?
- 5.15 Q: Should you clean infrared thermometers?
- 5.16 Q: Can the infrared laser hurt you?
- 5.17 Q: Can you use an infrared thermometer when it’s dark?
- 5.18 Q: How do you check the accuracy of my infrared thermometer?
- 5.19 Q: Does your infrared thermometer display Celsius or Fahrenheit?
- 5.20 Q: Why is your infrared thermometer constantly changing temperature?
- 5.21 Q: Where’s the best place to take a temperature?
- 6 Final Thoughts
Ranking the Top 11 Best Infrared Thermometers of 2020
Note that the rankings below are always subjective. They are not listed in any particular order; these rankings represent the top picks of our online team. As always, personal preferences, needs, and priorities should dictate your own decision when purchasing an infrared thermometer for your family.
Goodbaby Ear and Forehead Thermometer
The Goodbaby Ear and Forehead Thermometer is one of Amazon’s best-selling thermometers. The device currently has an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5 with 2,400 reviews on Amazon. The clean, white device doesn’t have the same gun shape as other options on this list, but it takes forehead and ear temperatures in the same way. Just point, press the button and get an instant temperature reading.
Goodbaby’s Ear and Forehead Thermometer is one of the more accurate options on this list, claiming to have a margin of error of 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit. All temperatures are shown on the HD LED display, and Goodbaby’s thermometer may have the best-looking display on this list. It’s also available at a reasonable $80, which is a mid-range price on this list.
Runpilot Infrared Forehead Thermometer
Runpilot’s Infrared Forehead Thermometer is a reliable and proven solution used in plenty of homes and businesses around the world. The thermometer is comfortable to use and has an easy-to-read LCD screen. As with other thermometers, you can choose Celsius or Fahrenheit. The backlit display lets you get the information you need at a glance.
Runpilot’s Infrared Forehead Thermometer has memory for 32 groups of data, letting you track the progression of a fever or the temperature of an item. There’s also an auto shut-off function and a fever alarm function.
Allrier Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer
Allrier’s Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer reads a temperature in just 0.1 seconds. The company advertises the thermometer as a way to track body temperature in babies, children, and adults. You can also track the temperature of milk, soup, and other foods and beverages. Allrier also claims their product “is recommended by doctors and pediatricians”.
The CE/FDA certified thermometer tracks temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit. There are a health indicator and alarm colors that let you know when readings are close to dangerous levels. The thermometer can also store up to 35 temperature readings and recall those readings at any time. You pay a higher price for Allrier’s Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer, but you’re getting a very fast and very accurate infrared thermometer.
Caline Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer
Caline’s Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer lets you easily test the temperature of a baby, adult, or child. You can also test the temperature of any surface or object. As with other non-contact infrared thermometers here, Caline’s product lets you read forehead temperature without physical contact, reducing the risk of cross-infection between people.
Caline’s thermometer is higher priced than competing options listed here. However, it has features like a health indicator and alarm and a backlit display. It also reads the temperature in one second. As with most other thermometers listed here, Caline’s Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer requires one AAA battery to run.
The main drawback of Caline’s Non-Contact Infrared Forehead Thermometer is the price: at $110, it’s priced significantly higher than the first two options on our list despite not being significantly different.
Lamijua Medical Forehead and Ear Thermometer
Lamijua sells an infrared temporal thermometer that provides instant, accurate readings for babies, children, and adults. Lamijua claims their thermometer is clinically proven to work in professional and pediatric settings, recommending its use in nurseries, homes, clinics, doctor’s offices, schools, daycares, and more.
Like other non-contact infrared thermometers, Lamijua’s Medical Forehead and Ear Thermometer lets you read temperature with a single click of the trigger. It takes less than one second to get a reading. You can use it on humans, objects, or surfaces. Just stick a battery in (battery is not included), and it can start to instantly read temperatures.
Lignin Infrared Thermometer
Lignin’s Infrared Thermometer features a purple trim design unlike other thermometers listed here. It’s a dual thermometer that lets you quickly get a temperature reading. The temperature appears on the backlit display. If the reading is abnormal, then the display changes color to indicate the seriousness of the reading.
Lignin’s Infrared Thermometer has more storage space than any of the options above: it can store 50 temperature readings. If you have multiple children or want to track the progression of temperatures for any body or object, then Lignin’s Infrared Thermometer may be the right choice for you. The built-in probe tests temperature in one second with no contact required.
PaintYou Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer
PaintYou sells a safe and hygienic infrared thermometer with an LCD display. The built-in laser gives you a price temperature reading with no contact required.
PaintYou’s thermometer works in about one second, letting you check the temperature of a baby without disturbing the baby’s sleep. It also works on children, adults, objects, and surfaces. The battery-powered thermometer has a straightforward design and use: just insert a battery and pull the trigger to start tracking a temperature.
Awakelion Forehead Thermometer
AwakeLion’s Forehead Thermometer has a unique appearance compared to other thermometers on this list. It has less of a “gun” design than competing options. AwakeLion markets its thermometer for use with babies, infants, children, and adults. It works indoors and outdoors. There are just four buttons on the device, including three buttons on the front (for sound, C or F, and the display) and one trigger (to get a reading).
Although AwakeLion’s Forehead Thermometer looks different than other options on this list, it works the same: you insert a battery, point it at the object, and get a temperature reading. AwakeLion claims their thermometer has a very small margin of error: just 0.1F for body mode and 1.0F for ambient mode, making it more accurate than standard mercury thermometers.
Megna Non-Touch Baby Temporal Thermometer
Megna sells a baby thermometer that uses infrared technology for non-contact temperature measurements. You point it at a forehead and the device gets a temperature reading within one second. The temperature is displayed on the LCD screen.
Megna makes big promises about its dual-mode design. It claims to be the “#1 clinically tested and safe solution” that is FDA approved for all ages and “trusted by pediatricians and medical professionals”. The thermometer holds up to 20 temperature readings. Despite these bold claims, real-world use suggests Megna’s thermometer is very inaccurate: customers claim the temperature fluctuates multiple degrees within seconds, making it difficult to get a good reading.
Magicelec Forehead Thermometer
A company called “Magicelec” on Amazon sells one of the more popular digital infrared thermometers available today. It is, without question, the ugliest thermometer on this list, featuring a chunky, squarish design that sets it apart from sleeker options listed here.
Ugliness aside, The Magicelec Forehead Thermometer is a 4-in-1 infrared thermometer that can measure forehead temperatures of any baby, child, or adult. Although the thermometer makes big claims about its effectiveness, the thermometer has a margin of error of 0.3 degrees Celsius, which is a surprisingly large margin of error if you’re analyzing a baby or human’s body temperature.
Alextreme Infrared Thermometer
Alextreme’s Infrared Thermometer is virtually identical to others on this list: it gives you no-contact temperature readings of a human, object, or surface. The ergonomically designed device is portable and precise, letting you take a temperature in under one second.
The main advantage the Alextreme Infrared Thermometer has over the competition is its price: at just $52 on Amazon, it’s one of the most competitively priced options on this list. The main drawback is that the Alextreme Infrared Thermometer is less precise than its competitors: it has a margin of error of 0.2 degrees Celsius (1.0 degrees Celsius for objects).
How We Ranked
All digital infrared thermometers make similar promises: they all claim to test temperatures quickly and accurately. We used the following ranking methodology to separate good and bad infrared thermometers:
Margin of Error: A one degree difference might not seem like a big deal, but it is: it can be the difference between a life-threatening fever and a normal temperature. Most digital infrared thermometers above had a margin of error of less than 0.1F, although some cheaper options have a margin of error as high as 0.2 degrees Celsius.
Measurement Time: All infrared thermometers claim to measure temperature in less than a second. Some of the best infrared thermometers measure temperature in just 0.1 second.
Ease of Use: Most thermometers above are very straightforward to use. You point the thermometer at what you want to measure then pull the trigger. That’s it.
Display: Many infrared thermometers above have a backlit LCD display, letting you easily see the temperature as soon as the device reads it. Some displays are better than others.
Price and Value: Most infrared thermometers work in a similar way. They’re accurate and fast. However, thermometers vary widely by price. We featured a range of thermometers for all budgets, ranging from $50 to $120. Generally, cheaper thermometers are less accurate.
Features: Some infrared forehead thermometers have bonus features. They have fever alarms, for example, and color-coded temperature readings.
Storage: Some thermometers have storage for multiple readings, letting you easily track the progression of a fever or see how the temperature of a surface or object has changed. Other thermometers have no memory space whatsoever.
Temperature Range: Industrial infrared thermometers have a temperature range of -60F to over 1000F. Most thermometers above, however, are designed to measure a range of normal human body temperatures.
Power Source: Most infrared forehead thermometers listed above require one AAA battery to run. However, some are rechargeable. We preferred rechargeable infrared thermometers over battery powered options, although our list includes both types.
Design: Some infrared thermometers above are stylish and futuristic. Others are clunky and awkward. You’re not buying a thermometer because it looks good. However, we took design into consideration.
Who Should Use a Digital Infrared Thermometer?
All types of people use digital infrared thermometers. Most of the thermometers above are marketed to parents who want to easily check a child’s temperature. However, infrared thermometers are also ideal for industrial settings, supermarkets, warehouses, and more.
Parents can use digital infrared thermometers to track the temperature of a baby or child, for example. Non-contact infrared thermometers let you check a baby’s temperature while sleeping without waking the baby up, for example.
Parents can also use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of a baby bottle, soup, or formula. If you don’t want to harm your baby with hot liquid, for example, then you can use the infrared thermometer to quickly check the temperature.
Digital infrared thermometers are also ideal for reducing the spread of germs between people. If you want to check the temperature of multiple people without exchanging germs, for example, then the contactless infrared thermometer can help you do that.
That’s why digital infrared thermometers are popular in medical settings – especially when dealing with infectious diseases. During the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, for example, medical professionals are using infrared thermometers to measure the temperature of patients without spreading germs.
Some people use digital infrared thermometers when cooking. You can check the temperature of a frying pan or cooking oil, for example. Or, serious barbecue enthusiasts use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of a grill.
Supermarkets and warehouses may use infrared thermometers to track temperatures. If you want to make sure the meat is properly cooled on the shelf, for example, you can use an infrared thermometer to verify the temperature of the meat and prevent spoilage.
Electricians and people who work in industrial settings may also use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of an object without actually touching that object. If a piece of equipment is dangerous to touch or could contain an active charge, for example, then you might want to use an infrared thermometer.
Others use digital infrared thermometers for car maintenance, soap making, swimming pools, air conditioners, heaters, and more.
Overall, non-contact infrared thermometers can be found in a wide range of residential, commercial, and industrial settings.
How Do Digital Infrared Thermometers Work?
An infrared thermometer uses infrared technology to measure the thermal radiation of a person or object without the need for physical contact.
Most infrared thermometers use a gun shape for easy use: you can carry the thermometer in your hand and point it at any object to get an instant reading.
Once you point the infrared thermometer at an object and click the trigger, the device emits a laser. The thermometer measures the thermal radiation coming off an object or body the laser is pointing it, then displays a temperature on the screen.
Anything at a temperature above absolute zero has molecules inside of it moving around. The higher the temperature is, the faster the molecules move. As molecules move, they emit infrared radiation. As they move faster, they emit more infrared radiation.
This radiation is viewable in the infrared spectrum, which is what your infrared thermometer “sees”. Eventually, if an object becomes hot enough, it will start to emit visible light, which is why heated metal can glow red or white.
An infrared thermometer simply detects and measures this radiation. It does not emit radiation itself: it simply measures infrared radiation.
Because a non-contact thermometer reads thermal radiation, it will measure the surface temperature of an object instead of its internal temperature. The laser does not penetrate the surface; instead, it gathers information by sensing heat coming off the object itself.
An object or person’s ability to give off thermal radiation is known as emissivity. You measure emissivity on a scale of 0.00 to 1.00. Some high-end infrared thermometers (like the ones used in industrial settings) let you adjust for emissivity. Adjusting for emissivity can increase accuracy. The emissivity of a nearby object can interfere with your temperature reading, and you can adjust emissivity to avoid this issue.
Most infrared thermometers are very accurate when used correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Infrared Thermometers
With so many different ways to measure temperature, as well as so many infrared thermometers on the market in 2020, consumers should have many questions. This section will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about infrared thermometers, as well as the companies and technologies behind them.
Q: How do infrared thermometers work?
A: An infrared thermometer works by tracking infrared radiation. Hot objects emit more infrared radiation than cold objects. Infrared thermometers “see” this radiation and transform the data into a usable form (degrees). This creates an incredibly effective and accurate way to read temperatures.
Q: How do you use an infrared thermometer?
A: Infrared thermometers are straightforward to use. You point the thermometer at an object and pull the trigger. The thermometer reads the temperature of whatever you’re pointing at, returning an accurate reading quicker than most other types of thermometers.
Q: Are infrared thermometers safe?
A: Yes, infrared thermometers are safe to use. The thermometer does not emit any infrared radiation itself (at least, no more than any other room temperature object). It simply measures the temperature of a human or object.
Q: Are infrared thermometers accurate?
A: Good infrared thermometers are extremely accurate. However, some consumer-grade infrared thermometers have margins of error of 1 degree or more, which weakens their usefulness. Be sure to inquire with any company you do business with about the accuracy of their infrared temperature reading technology before making a purchase.
Q: How fast do infrared thermometers work?
A: Most consumer-grade infrared thermometers read temperatures in 0.1 to 1 second. This almost completely eliminates the wait time with traditional forms of thermometers, which can make users wait up to one minute for their temperature reading.
Q: How close do you have to get with an infrared thermometer?
A: Most consumer-grade infrared thermometers require you to be within 6 to 12 inches of the body part which you're measuring for temperature. However, industrial infrared thermometers can work from 100 feet away. Consult your specific infrared thermometer brand to be sure.
Q: Can you check my grill temperature with an infrared thermometer?
A: Yes. Many people use infrared thermometers to check grill temperature. However, the infrared thermometers on this list are mostly designed for human use and may not have a temperature range above 120F, which means they can’t track normal barbecue temperatures. Plus, the infrared laser may pass through the porous surface (like a grill or grate) and record the temperature of the underlying metal, not the cooking area.
Q: Can you check oven temperature using an infrared thermometer?
A: Yes, an infrared thermometer can track oven temperature. However, check the range of your infrared thermometer to make sure it can track normal oven temperatures, which might sometimes become too hot for the device to track or measure.
Q: What is emissivity?
A: All objects radiate or emit electromagnetic energy. Emissivity is a measure of a material’s ability to emit infrared energy. We measure emissivity on a scale between 0.00 and 1.00. The higher the emissivity, the more effective infrared technology will be at measuring its temperature.
Q: What does a high or low emissivity rating mean?
A: When a material has a high emissivity rating, it means the material tends to absorb reflected or ambient infrared energy and emit only its own infrared radiation. Organic materials, like plant and animal products, typically have an emissivity rating of 0.95. This makes them very easy to check for temperature.
Q: Can you check meat or food temperatures using an infrared thermometer?
A: Many people use infrared thermometers to check soups and sauces. Other people use thermometers to check meat. Be aware that infrared thermometers only check surface temperature, and the inside of the meat or food might be too cold or hot to consume.
Q: Do infrared thermometers see through glass or plastic?
A: Infrared thermometers cannot see through glass or plastic. Even though visible light (like a laser) can pass through these objects, the thermometer will still only measure the surface temperature of the first object it hits.
Q: Do infrared thermometers see through water?
A: No, infrared thermometers do not see through water. They only measure the surface temperature of water.
Q: Does the angle matter when using infrared thermometers?
A: Yes, the angle of the thermometer matters. Hold the gun level with the item you are trying to measure. If you hold it at an extreme angle, then it could affect the reading.
Q: Should you clean infrared thermometers?
A: Yes. Infrared thermometers should be kept clean of dirt, dust, moisture, fog, smoke, and debris to ensure accurate readings. Clean your thermometer every few weeks or months for maximum accuracy. Consult the packaging or manufacturer for instructions on how to clean your specific brand of infrared thermometer.
Q: Can the infrared laser hurt you?
A: No, the laser on an infrared thermometer doesn’t actually do anything. It's just used for aiming, and the actual measurement involves no physical laser.
Q: Can you use an infrared thermometer when it’s dark?
A: Yes, infrared thermometers work in complete darkness. They do not require visible light to work, as they monitor light that the human eye cannot see.
Q: How do you check the accuracy of my infrared thermometer?
A: Fill a pot or cup with water. Add ice. Then, check the surface temperature of the water with your digital infrared thermometer. It should say 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
Q: Does your infrared thermometer display Celsius or Fahrenheit?
A: Almost every consumer-grade infrared thermometer uses both Celsius and Fahrenheit, allowing you to switch between modes with the touch of a button.
Q: Why is your infrared thermometer constantly changing temperature?
A: If your infrared thermometer is constantly getting changing temperature readings with no apparent changes in temperature, then it could be a problem with your thermometer. Some cheaper infrared thermometers have inaccurate readings that wildly fluctuate. Or, you could be pointing the thermometer at a different object than what you’re trying to measure.
Q: Where’s the best place to take a temperature?
A: Most infrared thermometers are designed to quickly take temperature via a forehead or ear. The ear is a good indication of internal body temperature, which is why it’s used for both infrared and traditional thermometer measurements.
Digital infrared thermometers provide accurate, high-quality temperature readings without requiring contact. Just point the thermometer at someone’s forehead or ear, then get an instant temperature reading.
Parents use infrared thermometers to check a baby’s temperature without waking the baby up, for example. Infrared thermometers can also reduce the spread of germs because they don’t require contact.
Others use infrared thermometers for cooking, industrial purposes, grilling, and more.
There are many different digital infrared thermometers available today. The digital infrared thermometers listed above are some of the best options available for ordinary consumers in 2020.