Rating a Treadmill Motor

You’re shopping for a home treadmill when you realize that there’s a lot you don’t know about treadmill motors!  You know that you want a motor that is built to last, but what size motor do you need?  How much power should it have to be able to accommodate all the users in your household?  In order to make an informed decision, you really need to understand more about rating a treadmill motor.

Not All Treadmill Motors Are Created Equally!

Generally speaking, the larger and heavier motors are expected to be more durable.  This isn’t always the case, however!  Two motors of the same size may not be of the same quality!

Take, for instance, two treadmill motors that are both labeled as 2.0 HP continuous-duty motors.  Will both motors have the same power output?  Will one motor be as durable as the other?

Interestingly, just because both motors are ranked as 2.0 HP continuous-duty motors doesn’t mean that they are of equal power and quality.  There can be a huge difference in the output and quality of a cheap 2.0 HP continuous-duty motor compared to one that costs more money.  After all, an inexpensive treadmill will be constructed of inexpensive, lower-quality parts, while a pricier treadmill will have higher-quality components.

(Treadmills that cost over $1,000 are more likely to have well-built, durable motors than cheaper models.  As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for.”)

In spite of the discrepancies that can occur in the motor ratings, the continuous duty rating is still the most accurate for determining motor output.  This rating is the one you want to go by when determining which treadmill motor will work best for you.

What IS Continuous Duty Horsepower?

Continuous-duty horsepower is not the same as peak horsepower.  Whereas “peak horsepower” refers to the maximum horsepower that a treadmill can reach, “continuous-duty horsepower” refers to the level of power that can be sustained during regular use.

Peak horsepower typically measures higher than the motor’s continuous-duty horsepower capacity.  Continuous-duty horsepower on a treadmill motor is the amount of horsepower that the motor consistently puts out during an extended exercise period.   

Unfortunately, there is not a set standard for rating continuous-duty horsepower on a treadmill motor!  However, it’s usually safe to presume that the larger the motor, the more the continuous power output of the motor will be. 

Ratings of Treadmill Motors

As you consider your choices in home treadmills, take note of how you and other users in your household intend to use the machine.  Will it be primarily used for walking, or will it be used mainly for jogging or running?

If you have only walkers in your household, you can probably get by with a 2.0 HP continuous-duty motor.  However, if there are any joggers or runners among the potential users, you’ll need a more powerful motor.  A 2.5 HP continuous-duty motor or higher is a suitable choice for users who plan to jog regularly on the treadmill.  Runners should plan on getting a treadmill that has at least a 3.0 HP continuous-duty motor.  A less powerful motor simply would be inadequate for a hard-core runner’s needs.  (Note: If any users in your household weigh in excess of 200 pounds, add an extra .5 HP to the power level of the motor that you should look for on a treadmill.)

Due to the inconsistencies in the ratings of treadmill motors, be sure to check out the motor warranties on any of the treadmills that interest you.  A decent motor will be backed by a decent warranty.  Many leading treadmill manufacturers, including Smooth Fitness, are now offering lifetime warranties on their treadmill motors.


Written by Cyndi Waters, Fitness Researcher and Writer

Smooth Fitness | Treadmills & Ellipticals

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