Digital Thermometer vs Mercury Thermometer – Which One to Choose?

If I tell you to name one diagnostic tool that is there by default in every first aid kit and is equally essential, it has to be a thermometer. Because we have encountered its importance in diagnosing and analyzing many diseases. We have them in our homes, offices, and hospitals. There are different types of thermometers like a digital thermometer, mercury thermometer, infrared thermometer, etc. And each type of thermometer has different uses like some are useful in recording the temperature of humans, some of the food, etc.

That’s not it! Different types of thermometers also need to be placed on/under the desired body part to record accurate temperature. People often get confused while purchasing the thermometer due to its variety.

Mainly they get confused in two common types of thermometer – digital thermometer and mercury thermometer. And today, we are going to shed some light on these two types of thermometers to clear your confusion and to help you choose the best one according to your requirements.

Digital Thermometer vs. Mercury Thermometer

Mercury thermometers are traditional thermometers that have been in everyone’s home for years, but it seems like digital thermometers are taking over the traditional thermometers. Both have different features and structures for which people prefer them. Let us start with the introduction of these thermometers:

What is a Mercury thermometer?

A mercury thermometer is also known as a medical thermometer or doctor’s thermometers. It is useful to take accurate results of the human body’s temperature. This thermometer is useful to measure body temperature. A slight amount of mercury is present in the base of the thermometer. Mercury is used in this thermometer as it has a high coefficient expansion capacity. Because of this, mercury can even detect slight temperature changes.

This thermometer’s structure has a narrow curve where the mercury level fluctuates as per the temperature of the human body. Mercury thermometers can withstand boiling temperatures. There is also a kink present on the thermometer tube used to stop the mercury level from falling on its own. This thermometer can measure human body temperature ranging between 35 °C to 42 °C. One needs to sanitize it with alcohol after each use to prevent infection from spreading to others.

What are Digital Thermometers

Digital thermometers are accurate and inexpensive thermometers. This thermometer gives fast results and is easily portable. It measures the human body temperature by an electronic circuit sensor. This thermometer comes with a convenient digital display. The final temperature depends on the sensor types, including a thermocouple, thermistor, and resistance temperature detector (RTD).

It also contains a microchip that processes all the information captured by the sensor of the thermometer. This information is displayed numerically on the digital screen.

Following are the comparisons between these two thermometers based on some important factors.


Faster Results

Undoubtedly, digital thermometers provide fast results as compared to mercury thermometers. Traditional thermometers provide slower reading as one needs to wait until the mercury heats and then gradually rises to display the actual temperature. In contrast, digital thermometers are designed with advanced technologies that enable providing instant results quickly.

Better Accuracy

With faster readings, digital thermometers also provide high accuracy. Some of these thermometers include measured and calculated thermocouple sensors in it to provide high accuracy without the need for calibration like in mercury thermometers. Now you might wonder what calibration is? Well, calibration refers to the measurement performed on a thermometer to check the final readings. Once the thermometer is tested, it is re-calibrated to provide the proper reading.

Safer to Use

Mercury thermometers are made of glass, and glass being a fragile element, it can break anytime due to various reasons. Additionally, mercury is a toxic chemical that one should never release. And if by any chance it gets released, then it can contaminate the surrounding areas. Let me tell you that many governments banned mercury thermometers in their countries due to the risk they pose.

Whereas digital thermometers are made of metal components, which contain no harmful chemicals. There is almost zero possibility of it breaking up. All this makes it an ideal choice to lock safety. Also, let me tell you that its metal components do not compromise accuracy. There are some models that can measure temperatures far above the mercury’s boiling point and far below the mercury’s freezing point.

As we saw that digital thermometer is a clear winner here in all the terms – accuracy, safety, speed. This is the reason it is replacing traditional thermometers in many professional industries. Make sure you choose the ideal thermometer based on your requirements. Because in the end, the type of diagnostic tools you choose will make all the difference between the time spent in waiting for the temperature, the accuracy of the temperature, and, more importantly, the safety that it provides.

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