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link: Motorized Treadmills
How to Shop for a Treadmill
& What to Look For
Motor: Horsepower, R.P.M., Torque and Voltage.
Unless a treadmill has a strong motor (at least 1.5 Continuous-Duty Horsepower and under 5000 R.P.M.) you will easily wear it out, even if you only walk moderately. Check for the Continuous-Duty rating for the motor's true horsepower and watch out for misleading terms such as "treadmill duty", "air over", "peak horsepower", "Muffin Fan Assisted" and a new "Mach Duty" ratings which are usually gimmick ratings. These are done to unrealistically raise the true continuous horsepower. If you are unsure, then ask the salesperson to give you a look under the hood to see for yourself what is stamped on the motor plate. You would actually be very surprised to find out that a lot of manufacturers' brochures are different than what the motor says.
We recommend a continuous-duty horsepower rating of at least 1.5 H.P and under 5000 R.P.M. Avoid treadmills that bog-down at every step.
The relationship between continuous horsepower and RPM is torque. This is the most significant factor when determining the best suitable motor for your needs. The lower the RPM of a motor, the more torque it will have. This allows the motor to last longer and not allow the brushes to wear out as fast.
In theory, a 1 HP. Continuous Duty motor operating at 1000 R.P.M will provide more torque than a 3 HP operating at 4000 R.P.M. Avoid motors that have a rating over 5000 R.P.M! Any motor spinning at this speed will heat up too quickly and add unnecessary wear and tear on the motor and electronics and require replacement of motor brushes and bearings more often. A lightweight, high revving hot rod engine wouldn't last long trying to haul a heavy truck up a steep grade. You can test this by walking on it and seeing how well it performs at less than 1.0 m.p.h.
Ideally, what you should look for is a high continuous-duty horsepower combined with low motor revolutions. A good combination of these two means a smoother walk or run without the slightest hesitation. In fact, the right combination also means less current being consumed and therefore a lower electricity bill. This results in a longer lasting and cooler operation of a motor.
A good rule of thumb is to have a motor's RPM lower than 4000 if you want to use it for running and under 5000 RPM for walking. If you can find a unit that falls into your desired category, you should realistically count on the motor lasting a lifetime.
Since there is no governing body for the horsepower rating game found in treadmills, there is a new and disturbing trend amongst manufacturers. We have seen treadmill motors rated at 180 Volts (DC) claiming that they provide 2.5 HP. Since your treadmill motor controller can provide only approximately 100 Volts this is very misleading to the consumer. In fact, it is very unethical. Therefore in theory, for this motor to get 2.5 HP, it would require 180Volts (something that it can never have!). If we give that motor 100 Volts (55% of the 180 Volts), we will get 1.375 Horsepower. This is a far cry from the 2.5 that the manufacturer is claiming. The best recommendation that we have is to ask the salesperson to open up the motor cover and see for yourself! You will be surprised how many treadmill motors you will see at very high voltages. You will even see motors that are stamped Treadmill Duty, Airover Duty and Muffin Assisted Duty even though the brochures and websites indicate that it is a continuous duty rated. Even some manufacturers will give you a song and a dance when you call them. Do not be fooled by these manufactures; do your homework and send them a message!
Avoid Treadmills that use external cooling devices. This is a very negative thing because it forces dust into the motor compartment. Dust contributes largely to mechanical and electrical failure. We recommend avoiding treadmills that use fans to cool the motor externally. Good quality motors usually will use a high insulation rating that will avoid the use of fans. Dust can also be reduced by purchasing an anti-static treadmill mat.
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