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The disadvantages of a digital thermometer

Updated November 21, 2016

At first glance, a digital thermometer seems to be the best choice for measuring temperatures. When choosing digital, you avoid the mercury risk of other thermometer types. Another advantage is the easy-to-read digital display. However, while there are benefits, there are also disadvantages to digital thermometers.

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Battery Issues

Dead batteries are a drawback of digital thermometers. It is hard to determine how much power is left in a digital thermometer's battery, which in turn makes it difficult to predict when it will die. Because they are specialised batteries, it is hard to locate replacements. And close-to-dying batteries will provide inaccurate readings. Replace your battery annually to prevent power-related problems.


While it is easy to submerge a regular thermometer in warm, soapy water, it is more difficult to do so with a digital thermometer. You have to be careful not to get a digital thermometer too wet or you will mess up the mechanical system, and it will no longer work. Killing germs is very important when using your thermometer and disinfecting after using it rectally is also important. It is recommend you use cool, soapy water only on the tip of a digital thermometer. Some digital thermometers even come with disposable tips to help with this situation.

Digital Accuracy

Not all digital thermometers are as reliable as others. For example, you want to steer clear of using digital ear thermometers. At first glance, they do appear as the easier choice between taking a rectal temperature or having a fussy child hold a thermometer under his or her tongue. But sometimes, they do not register fevers at all, according to Liverpool University Institute of Child Health researchers. These thermometers can also have a one or two degree difference compared to rectal or oral readings.

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About the Author

Krista Raye is a Steel Magnolia who began writing professionally in 2009 with eHow, Answerbag and Trails. She has 10 years teaching experience in middle and high schools. Raye holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Science in secondary English education and a Master of Arts in adolescent English education.

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