If anything, what you are about to read touches up on factors which you must be aware about, factors which pertain to the accuracy of results related to the use of either mercury and/or digital thermometers.
In a sense, this piece doesn’t peg which of the two is more accurate, but is more inclined to help you determine the actual accuracy of a given thermometer, regardless of its type.
When talking about “Accuracy”
When talking about delivering accurate readings (figures), digital thermometers are more accurate when compared against mercury thermometers, since the interpretation of digital thermometer readings doesn’t require squinting or eye straining in an effort to focus on the analog ruler-bars typically found on mercury thermometers.
With a number of digital thermometers designed to give out number readings in tenths of a degree, their use is also more convenient when compared against the use of analog thermometers which mercury thermometers are, which essentially puts digital thermometers as the more accurate between the two.
The importance of calibration
Since a thermometer, digital or analog, is used to measure something, the calibration of a thermometer is important for it to properly come up with correct body temperature readings.
After all, any measuring tool or instrument would yield incorrect results when it is out of calibration or if it is improperly calibrated.
For medical thermometers, the “ice water check” and “hot water check” is a known calibration method, one which involves the plunging of a thermometer in ice water and in hot water.
A digital thermometer would read 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit when plunged in ice cold water. Not all mercury thermometers would read figures that low, but if your mercury thermometer can measure temperatures that low, it should ideally read the water temperature that way. Once plunged in hot water, a thermometer should read 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Caution has to be exercised with the measuring of hot water since not all thermometers are made with materials which can handle such heat.
If a given thermometer properly measures the cold and hot waters, then it’s safe to say that you’ve got an accurate and properly calibrated thermometer with you.
Comparing Thermometer Readings
You can back up calibration-aided accuracy ratings of thermometers by comparing the results of different thermometers. As there’s a big chance there will be differences in readings, the thermometers with the closest measurements stand to be thermometers which you can trust to give you accurate results.
Here’s hoping that you’ll be able to find the right thermometer for your needs, regardless if what you’re looking for is a digital or mercury thermometer.