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What is the Digital Thermometer ?

Digital thermometers are instruments that, based on the use of transducers, use electronic components to convert small variations in electrical voltage into numbers displayed on a screen. That number displayed on a screen is the measured temperature.

Nowadays the sophistication of digital thermometers have improved their speed and precision, making their measurements reliable. In the market there are already digital thermometers with the capacity for a wireless connection and storage of readings in the cloud.

What is the Digital Thermometer Used for ?

Like all thermometers, the digital one is used to determine the temperature. However, this does not imply that it is the same as all instruments used for that purpose.

Types of Digital Thermometers

There are several types of digital thermometers; their differences being in the purpose of their use. For instance:

Digital Ear Thermometer

This type of thermometer uses an infrared signal to measure the temperature in the ear canal. Its use is safe and its readings reliable, as long as the user follows the instructions correctly.

It is important to note that the design of the digital thermometer prevents it from being inserted deep, in order to prevent damage to the eardrum or the ear canal. This type of thermometer is recommended in neonates from the sixth month, in children and adults.

Digital Pacifier Thermometer

It is the ideal thermometer when a baby is in the stage of using a pacifier, as it is designed to avoid discomfort or rejection. However, its use is recommended only for children who can have it in their mouth for three to five minutes.

Home Digital Thermometer

This type of thermometer has various presentations, from which it can be placed in the armpit, in the mouth or even in the rectum. Digital armpit thermometers are often less accurate but are more hygienic. Those for oral use are usually more accurate, and are recommended for young people and adults; requiring that the thermometer does not move for seconds to make its measurement.

Finally, rectal thermometers are more recommended for young children or babies. This type of digital thermometer records the temperature quickly and efficiently, and takes approximately 1 minute to display the result on the screen, making the point that the oral type should be used at least fifteen minutes after eating.

Plastic Strip Thermometer

This type of thermometer has been marketed as an alternative for babies and children because it is easy to use and apply, although they are less accurate and therefore are not recommended by health professionals. It is important to highlight the inconvenience, and contraindication, of using the same thermometer in all parts of the body.

Temporal Artery Thermometer

This type of device is also known as a forehead thermometer and uses an infrared scanner to measure the temperature in the temporal artery, in the forehead. The device records the temperature quickly, and is recommended for babies older than three months and children. This type is appreciated as the best rectal thermometer alternative. Its only disadvantage is that its cost is usually higher than other types of digital thermometers.


This type of thermometer uses sensors that measure temperature by resistance. It is commonly used in large kitchens, as it allows observing the temperature of the food inside the oven without having to open its door. Thermistors operate in two opposite ways:

  • NTC: resistance decreases as temperature increases.
  • PTC: resistance increases as temperature increases.

Fork Thermometer

This type of device is also highly appreciated in industrial kitchens, as it measures the temperature of food. The fork part is inserted and the temperature is displayed on a digital screen. It carries a system of lights that indicates if the food is undercooked or if it is just right.


This type of thermometer registers the temperature of food between two and five seconds, with the advantage that it allows to know the exact cooking point of the meats. They come in different presentations, but those with probes are the most required both for cooking food at an industrial level and for research in the area of ​​medicine.

Parts of the Digital Thermometer

Temperature Sensor

It is the component that detects the thermal degree and sends the information to a microprocessor, and is located at the end of the thermometer.


It is the receiver of the data sent by the temperature sensor, in which they are formatted and converted into decimal numbers, and then displayed on the screen.

Screen (s)

Depending on the type of thermometer, it can have one or two, and its function is to show the user the information collected by the sensor and processed by the microprocessor.


It is the component that generates the energy for the operation of the microprocessor.

How Does the Digital Thermometer Work ?

The following is a brief description of how a digital thermometer works. It starts with the sensor, which sets it apart from liquid and bimetallic thermometers. A digital thermometer requires a sensor. In this sense, there are 4 types of sensors in common use today. They are:

  • Resistance temperature detectors (RTD or PT100)
  • Solid state sensors
  • Thermocouples
  • Thermistors

The sensors record the change that occurs in voltage, current, or resistance when changes in temperature occur. Based on this change, the temperature of the surface that is in contact with the sensor can be calculated.

Depending on their type, sensors have the ability to read the information that is being generated. But such information would not be understandable to the common user, so it is sent to the microprocessor. The latter is usually much simpler than the one used in smartphones or computers, and its main function is to receive the information – from the sensor – and display it, through a screen, so that it is legible.

Finally, the screen becomes the most prominent component of the thermometer for the user, since it is there where the temperature is displayed so that it can be read. Displays can be either seven-strip or LCD. The information that you have received is basically converted into a couple of numbers.

However, for the process to work it is essential to have a power source, which is usually a button battery.

In short: the sensor generates a difference in voltage, current or resistance, depending on the temperature, and sends it to the processor. This calculates the temperature using a series of mathematical formulas, and sends them to a screen where the calculated reading is displayed.

After waiting a short time, an acoustic signal indicates that the temperature has been taken.

What Does the Digital Thermometer Measure ? Unit of Measurement

A digital thermometer is a device that, like all thermometers, is used to measure temperatures, but it does so by processing and displaying the measurement. Readings are usually displayed in degrees C ° (Centigrade) or F ° (Fahrenheit) depending on the unit of measure chosen and programmed into the thermometer.

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What is Digital Thermometer Used For, Definition, Uses, Types, How Does it Work, What it measures, Unit of measure and More
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