What specification thermometers are available, and what are the differences?

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What specification thermometers are available, and what are the differences?

Thermometers are used in most laboratories across all industries, and a wide range are available to suit any temperature monitoring task.

For high accuracy applications that need to adhere to international standards, traditional glass specification thermometers are still the most popular choice.

Traditional glass thermometers are widely used when adhering to international standards is necessary


Specification thermometers are those which are manufactured to conform to internationally recognized standards. The most common of these are explained below

Standard BS 1704:1985

This specification is the same as the original ISO 1770 – 1981.

It includes standard thermometers, designated A to H, and thermometers of higher accuracy, designated J to W. Those which reach below -35°C are red spirit filled, but all others are mercury filled.

See the BS 1704:1985 standard thermometers here.


ASTM Thermometers designation E1-01

Thermometers that conform with the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) specifications are widely used in the oil industry.

Each thermometer is given a standardised ASTM code, for example the -5°C to +300°C is an ASTM 2C thermometer. Most of these also have an equivalent IP (Institute of Petroleum) code; the ASTM 2C can also be referred to as an IP 62C.

Although many of these models are made with particular test methods in mind, they are also widely used in other tests when high accuracy is required.


Working with Mercury Thermometers

Most thermometers containing mercury have now been phased out under EU regulations, but specification thermometers that conform to international standards are currently exempt from this.

Thermometers are fragile and mercury is highly hazardous.

Always wear suitable PPE and have a mercury spill kit on hand to safely deal with any breakages.

Mercury thermometers should only be used when necessary – safer alternatives like spirit filled thermometers are a more appropriate choice for everyday use.


If you have any questions about glass or digital thermometers, just contact us.

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