uses JavaScript to provide the best possible experience for our content, but your browser has it disabled. Learn how to enable it here.


Best Pulse Oximeter for Home Use -- Pulse Oximeter


Pulse oximeters, which simply clip onto your fingertip, are non-invasive devices that can measure blood oxygen saturation as well as pulse (heart rate). They are relatively inexpensive (about $20) and can be purchased for home ("non-medical") use.

Although they are not as accurate as FDA-approved "medical" pulse oximeters, which cost much more and undergo more rigorous testing, comparison studies indicate that some (but not all) non-medical pulse oximeters can help signal when medical attention is needed in conditions such as COVID-19, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Learn the pros and cons of non-medical pulse oximeters, factors that can affect their accuracy, tips for geting more accurate readings (including if you can take a reading while wearing nail polish), and which brand has performed best in studies. Sign in as a ConsumerLab member.

Join today to unlock all member benefits including full access to all CL Answers and over 1,300 reviews.

Join Now

Join now at


Join the conversation

August 11, 2021

As an RN, I have had good luck with turning the machine over and reading through the finger pad if a person had on fake nails or polish. If someone is extremely obese, this could be problematic, but I have tried it both ways on people with normal nails, as a little test, and got the same readings. Sideways reading sounds quite awkward to me.

Sandra Collins
August 12, 2021

Thank you!!! I have gel nails and going on a trip. Did not want to remove them. The finger pad is a great idea

December 20, 2020

Pulse Ox differences for people of color have been noted going back to 1998. Shameful this hasn't been addressed or solved by now.

December 2, 2020

We spend time in mountain cabins at high elevations (6000 - 10,000 feet) where the altitude causes a large drop in oxygen saturation. We need a meter that is accurate in the 80% to 90% range, and are willing to spend $100 - $200. Any suggestions?

April 21, 2021

Though I am a physician, I cannot claim expertise, but I am a pathologist who subspecializes in blood diseases and coagulation (hemato-pathology). When a person moves to high altitude, they develop higher blood counts, but most importantly, their oxygen carrying capacity of the blood increases. Especially important is that hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen inside red blood cells) has a "dissociation curve" that shifts, allowing the oxygen to more easily leave the hemoglobin and go into tissues. These changes allow the body's cells to get more oxygen to compensate for the lower amounts in the air at high altitude. These changes take time to develop, usually a matter of a couple of weeks, but begins to happen fairly quickly. With pulse oxymeters relying on the more "red" color of transmitted light, that shows only the amount of oxygen being carried in the blood, the effect on the numbers seen on a pulse oxymeter may, OR MAY NOT, be helpful in high altitude situations. A more knowledgeable person than I am may be able to answer that question better. The only thing that is certain is that a person who is developing lung dysfunction in a COVID-19 infection would be a much greater danger when travelling to high altitudes, and this would be less likely if the person has already been living at high altitudes for awhile.

August 11, 2021

Excellent information William! Thank you.

November 7, 2020

Has ConsumerLab reviewed pulse oximeters? I clicked on a link but only found this brief statement talking about others' reviews.
November 7, 2020

We did not test these devices but reviewed the results for specific pulse oximeters published in independent studies by others, leading us select one as our Top Pick.

September 23, 2020

I'm curious about your comments on this video review
October 1, 2020

We watched the video, apparently made by the manufacturer of the DB products, so unclear how objective it is. In our article, we cite results from independent studies.

September 23, 2020

In terms of Amazon customer reviews, the ChoiceMMed Grey Finger Pulse Oximeter at $25 has good reviews. As a long-time (good) HR monitor user for athletics, I can attest to its accuracy on that score and it’s pulse oximeter readings closely jibe with what’s been found in the doctor’s office. I don’t know about its accuracy under 90, but if I had a steady reading there, at least during the covid-19 period, I’d be on the way to the hospital.

Other things to add about these finger monitors is that I’ve found they need to be held away from other electrical devices, such as a phone charger, the hand/arm should be flat not upright and lower than heart level, and it typically takes a few moments to a minute or so for the readings to become settle, all like in the doctor’s office.

Join today to unlock all member benefits including full access to CL Answers

Join Now

Join now at