Treadmill Motors: Truths & Lies
The Truth About a Treadmill Motors:
The motor is a key component to a treadmill and delivers power to the belt system of the treadmill. A motor’s horsepower will usually ranges anywhere between 1.5 and 3.0 HP. All home treadmills are made using DC (Direct Current) motors. DC motors are quieter and only operate at their full capacity when running at their top speeds. This means that a person walking at 4 mph on a machine with a 2.5 HP motor will likely only be using a small fraction of the motor’s capacity. The issue here is that a heavy person walking at a slow speed will put an extra load on the motor and cause it to run hot which will eventually result in motor or lower electronic board failure. A larger motor will be able to handle the extra load without over-heating and typically I would suggest looking for a motor that’s at least 2 horsepower continuous duty. Larger motors allow for the higher user weight rating, and also have a higher top speed, reduce component fatigue and make for a more stable running experience.
The Lies About Motors:
If you are choosing a bigger motor then also be cautious as some manufacturers use bigger motors to power their treadmills because they have a poorly designed deck and belt, and they need a bigger motor to power it-always make sure to check the quality of the entire treadmill!
Not only that but the actual HP rating solely determined by the treadmill manufacturer itself. There is no industry standard as to how to rate your DC motors. A manufacturer may say they have 2 HP continuous duty motor rated at 2,000 rpm and 15 amps, and a separate manufacturer may be labeling the same motor as a 3 HP commercial grade continuous duty motor. This is because manufacturers can rate their motor at a very high rpm speed (around 5,000 rpm) in order to achieve a higher horsepower number for marketing purposes. These smaller, cheaper motors with high RPM’s increase the listed horsepower output on the belt but since the motor is spinning so much faster it will burn out more quickly.
One last thing to look out for is manufacturers that inflate ratings by specifying “peak horsepower” and only advertise the motors maximum power, not its sustained output, which is generally not relevant for runners who need continuous power.
Generally the top brands of treadmills are all using good quality motors and should last you a long time, however you should look at the motor warranty to separate out the high and low quality ones. Any motor that comes with less than a ten-year warranty is likely to be a poor investment.