Don’t be fooled by Horsepower ratings!

A lot of people out there are buying treadmills at least partially based on how much horsepower they can get for their dollar. First off, let me say that way of thinking is not completely incorrect. You want to have a good motor in your treadmill. But you can’t just go off of what a treadmill is rated at for horsepower. The first thing you should know is that there is no standard for rating horsepower in a treadmill motor. One of the big variables to how different companies rate their motors is the RPM’s that they are getting tested at. There are some companies out there that will wind up their motor to as high of an RPM as they can get without destroying the motor and record the horsepower there. This obviously yields a larger result but doesn’t reflect the horsepower available under normal use. So when looking at horsepower, ask what RPM that rating was established at. The lower the RPM they got that horsepower rating, the better.
Another factor to consider is the size of the motor and its flywheel. The larger the motor and flywheel, the more mass there is to keep the motor turning while resistance is applied (i.e. when you take a step and put your weight on the running belt). With a smaller mass, the motor has to pull more electric current to keep the speed constant. The more power that has to run through that motor, the quicker the motor and your lower electronic control board wear out. Some fitness stores will let you look under the hood of the treadmill to see the size for yourself. Now don’t start asking the size of the flywheel while shopping because that is not a stat that most sales people are going to know. What you can ask though is about warranty. A good motor will get backed by a good warranty. How far does the company back that motor… and the labor to repair/replace it?
One final thought: Today a lot of sales people will tell you that you need at least 3.0 HP. Keep in mind that 10-15 years ago, all of the commercial treadmills in clubs had 2.0-2.5 HP motors and they ran for a LONG time! Be a smart consumer and find out what is really under the hood of that treadmill that you are buying. Don’t just read a stat sheet. Do it Right!