After researching 40 indoor outdoor thermometers and narrowing down the results to a final six, which we then tested over 30 hours (and 12 months of long-term testing), our pick for the best indoor outdoor thermometer is the La Crosse Technology WS-9160U. Although basic in feature set, the design is best-in-class, giving you an easily readable screen from across the room — a feature many of the other units lacked.
There are several other solid indoor outdoor thermometers in this set depending on your functionality needs. But for those without those needs, the most important characteristic is usability.
Our Pick: La Crosse Technology
Affordable, accurate and easy to read, La Crosse has everything you need in an indoor outdoor thermometer at a low cost.
Is it easy to take a quick glance at the thermometer and know the temperature inside and out? Can you casually pick up the temperature without having to distinctly think about it due to poor design that makes the screen difficult to read?
This might seem obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Some of the screens reflected light in a strange way, displayed small numbers, or displayed large numbers poorly. And quite ironically, the color screened AcuRite indoor outdoor thermometer was actually one of the hardest to read because of it.
Table of contents
- What to look for in an indoor outdoor thermometer
- What is barometric pressure?
- What about range and temperature accuracy?
- How we’ll describe thermometers in this post
- How the thermometer displays compare
- Indoor outdoor thermometer comparison chart
- The best wireless thermometer
- The best thermometer for humidity
- The best office thermometer
- The best thermometer for weather geeks
- Long-term testing notes
- The bottom line
What to look for in an indoor outdoor thermometer
If you’re in the market for a thermometer, you first need to decide what’s important to you. Temperature is an obvious one, but past that and a clock display, the feature set gets a little more grainy. If you’re in a humid environment, you may want a unit that displays humidity. Not all of them do.
From there, you can get nice-to-have features like temperature prediction, barometric pressure, forecast, and high-low temperatures. While these are nice, in our opinion most extra features are not worth the tradeoff of worse screen readability for most people. If it’s 6PM, it’s about to get cooler. If it’s 9AM, it’s about to get warmer (which is a good time to turn on that portable AC). That part isn’t rocket science.
The decision basically comes down to how much you want to balance feature set and the ability to read the screen. The more features you add, the worse each unit performs. This might not matter to you if it sits at your desk or you’re a weather geek, but if you’re placing it across the room, it can be an annoyance.
Not every unit is wireless, either. The colored AcuRite has a battery-powered dim option, but that’s completely unreadable unless you manually trigger the brightening button on the top of the unit. If it’s plugged in, it stays lit, but if you aren’t planning to dock it where it’s readable, it won’t be as functional for you.
Summarized, the following list details the core features most of these have. Almost all units have the features at the top of the list, but as you get further down, less will have it and those that do will be more expensive. It’s also our opinion that this list reflects what’s actually important to most casual users, from most to least.
- Indoor/outdoor temperature
- Readability of the display
- Wireless or wired display
- High/low daily temperatures
- Temperature/forecast prediction
- Temperature range
- Barometric pressure
What is barometric pressure?
A common feature on the some of the more advanced units is barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is the pressure exerted by the weight of the air in the atmosphere of Earth.
Air pressure matters because it affects the weather by influencing the movement of air around the world. High pressure areas tend to bring sunny skies, while low pressure areas generally develop clouds and precipitation.
If you’re in a sun-filled climate, this feature might not be as interesting to you. But if you think predicting the weather in more volatile climates might be a dream of yours in the future, you may be interested in one of the units that include those calculations in their LED screens.
What about range and temperature accuracy?
We tested the six models for range accuracy, but after walking almost halfway around our neighborhood to do so (and getting our wireless sensors thrown away), we realized that for 99% of people that use these, it just won’t matter. All of these units have solid range for the average homeowner, and it would take a very unique use case to test the limits of their reach.
Similarly, all six units were pretty on point with accuracy, showing consistent temperatures across the board when placed in the same environment and monitored over the four weeks we owned all of them.
For most, one to two degrees difference is not a deal breaker, and should not impact your purchase decision when buying these. If you find yourself perturbed by the slightest inaccuracy, it’s our suggestion you look into a home weather station instead.
The six best indoor outdoor thermometers
|Product Name||Readability (out of 5)||Range||Cost|
|a. La Crosse Technology WS-9160U||5||330 ft||$$|
|b. AcuRite 00611A3||4||165 ft||$$|
|c. AcuRite 02027A1||3||330 ft||$$$$|
|d. AcuRite 75077||3||330 ft||$$$|
|e. Taylor 1730||4||200 ft||$|
|f. Ambient Weather WS-1171B||1||300 ft||$$$|
How we’ll describe thermometers in this post
As you can see from the list above, these models have strange names, and also, AcuRite, a prominent weather instrument company, has three in the list. For that reason, it’d be pretty confusing to reference them by their model numbers. Because of this, we’ll pair the models with naming conventions that match their aesthetics and brands, where appropriate.
From left to right in the above photo:
- AcuRite 75077 = AcuRite Wide
- Ambient Weather WS-1171B = Ambient Weather
- La Crosse WS-9160U = La Crosse
- AcuRite 00611A3 = AcuRite Tall
- AcuRite 02027A1 = AcuRite Color
- Taylor 1730 = Taylor
How the thermometer displays compare
In the following photos, we did our best to show you the thermometers in a consistently shot environment so you could get a sense of their screen legibility and also, proportions in reference to each other. And following each photo, we’ll discuss the attributes of each thermometer.
The AcuRite Wide indoor outdoor has a lot of good attributes, including high/low temperature, date, and forecast. However, its screen isn’t super easy to read despite its massive size. Take a look at the hero photo on this post and compare the AcuRite to the centered La Crosse. The text on the screen seems lighter. That’s no mistake — it is. So although it probably tries to make up for legibility in size, it doesn’t acctually accomplish it.
That’s not to say it reads poorly — it’s still solid, but it’s not as good as the size might make you think. And at that size, comes drawbacks — if you have a small area to host it, it’s going to take up a lot of space and not return the positive benefits back to you.
Bite size and yet readable, the Taylor is a good and unexpensive fit for your home office.
The Taylor is the polar opposite. By far the smallest unit we tested, and also bare bones from a features perspective. But it’s not hard to read at all, utilizing its proportions to present to you the most important metric: the outside temperature.
It’s also the cheapest thermometer by a considerable margin. We still wouldn’t say it’s easy to read from long distances, though, and the range was lacking compared to other units. But it does the job if you plan to have it situated close to you.
The AcuRite Tall reads great from a distance, and also includes humidity, making it an attractive and affordable choice for those who live in humid environments and care about that metric. On the negative side, it’s safe to say this model is also the ugliest ones we tested, with a gray, bulky design, although not quite bad enough to be worth deeming horrific.
The middle ground between a weather center and an indoor-outdoor thermometer.
The AcuRite Color is the online dating match that had a great profile photo but looked horrible when they showed up in person. Well… maybe not that bad, but you’d expect the color screen would mean it’s the easiest to read by far. Quite the opposite.
The design, as you can see from the shot above, captures the light awkwardly and makes the text difficult to read. Again, we couldn’t consider it poor, but you’d expect better from the most expensive model.
The color version has all the bells and whistles: forecast predictions, humidity, barometric temperatures, and even the current state of the moon. On the downside, it’s the only non-wireless model we tested, requiring it be plugged in to stay lit up.
The La Crosse Technology thermometer has a design feature that should have been obvious, but few thermometers integrate — it tilts up. This slight tilt makes it easier to read from afar (and up close), giving it a natural position for reading no matter your position in the room.
Its large, crisp digits also contribute to that aesthetic. Overall, it’s definitely bare bones from a display perspective, but for those not looking to spend a ton, it delivers in quality.
Ambient Weather also tilts up, but unlike the La Crosse, it suffers from information overload. You’d have difficulty reading this model from afar, and as you can tell from the display, it almost feels blurry up close.
That said, it has a host of features including detailed barometric pressure, humidity, temperature forecast, and the ability to measure dew point (the temperature where dew will begin forming in the air) that may offset that weakness in the minds of some.
Indoor outdoor thermometer comparison chart
For those who prefer to see the differences side by side, we’ve drafted up the following comparison chart so you can see the feature differences in one snapshot. Click the image to see it at full size.
The best wireless thermometer
The La Crosse indoor outdoor thermometer is by far the best choice for 80% of the population. It’s well designed, low cost, minimalistic, and is direct in giving you what you want: the temperature. Although you won’t buy it as a clock, it doubles as a highly effective one, too, given its easy-to-read display.
If there’s one negative that might effect a small sliver of that 80%, is that its low price point comes with limited range.
But the only time said range would come into play is if you have some far away location, maybe a shaded guest house porch, that you’d want to monitor the temperature of. Any reasonable distance right outside your home should cover 99% of the population.
That said, the La Crosse’s minimalistic feature set is exactly that — minimalistic. If you want the bells and whistles, the La Crosse isn’t for you. If you don’t care, it is.
The best thermometer for humidity
The AcuRite Tall does everything the La Crosse does and takes it one step further, adding humidity. It slightly loses on display quality and aesthetics, but overall, it’s still an easy to read, affordable unit that would be a great addition for anyone who lives in more humid situations and would like to see those metrics on their thermometer.
The best thermometer for your office
If you’re short on space, the Taylor thermometer is a great option. It’s the cheapest model we tested but still has a serviceable display, one that would make for a perfect fit for reference on your desk.
The feature set is as bare bones as the La Crosse, featuring temperature and time only. But for a price less than $20, you really can’t complain.
The best thermometer for weather geeks
If you enjoy knowing the small forecasting details of the weather but aren’t quite ready to pony up the $80+ a weather station requires, the AcuRite Color is for you. It includes barometric pressure, humidity, forecasting, and a pleasant although not perfect color display.
On the negative side, it’s one of the only models that requires it be wired to truly function effectively. If not, you have to click that black button on the top to fully light up the model. It’s also the most expensive product we tested in the indoor-outdoor thermometer segment. However, if you classify it as a home weather station, which tend to be more complex/expensive overall, it’s actually quite affordable… so it really comes down to what you’re looking for.
Long term testing notes
We’ve owned the La Crosse for 12+ months now (and since writing the first version of this article) and we’re still as happy with it today as we were then. It’s predictably reliable: the screen looks just as good, the numbers just as bright, and the temperature no less accurate than it had been previously. It’s a simple and ridiculous useful tool: as an indoor outdoor thermometer should be.
The bottom line
Bigger is not always better. The La Crosse indoor outdoor thermoeter is minimalistic, but it does everything asked of it in a highly efficient way. It’s not for everyone, but for most, it’s the cost-effective and preferred choice.