We regularly get the question, how big does the motor need to be in my treadmill? The truth of the matter is there is no good answer to this question because ALL treadmill companies lie about motor size. You might ask how they get away with it and the answer is because they have for the last 30 years.
When treadmills for the home came into the marketplace back in the 60’s and when they were popularized in the 80’s, factories were actually quite honest about the motor horsepower but once the market got competitive, companies started trying to compete based on features of their product. Like all good marketers, many factories started touting features that either made no difference in a treadmill or were simply fabricated.
For instance, in the motor world, there is no accepted standard for rating treadmill motors. We tried to get everyone on board several years ago but when we started talking about how we planned to rate them (honestly), trying to get any of the manufacturers on board was like herding cats.
Everyone liked the idea until they realized that they were suddenly going to be telling people that they had a fractional or low horsepower motor in their machine instead of the 3 horsepower beast that they had claimed in the past. If other companies didn’t agree to the same standards, some factories would be at a marketing disadvantage to the others.
As you know, one of the base things people lie about is size and so goes the treadmill industry. Until some enterprising lawyer decides to take on the industry and file a class action suit against the big factories, we will all continue to be exposed to the lies that the factories claim.
If you want more detail, read on. In the industrial world, there is a standard set by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) that explains how to properly rate an electric motor. When you follow that standard, everyone is playing from the same playbook and everyone is comparing apples to apples. When the “games” started being played, a company came out with what they called “Treadmill Duty” instead of “Continuous Duty.”
The theory was that a treadmill motor doesn’t run 24/7, 365 days a year. It actually might run only 30 minutes, then rests a couple of hours and then someone else might run it for an hour. Accordingly, the motor would be able to be stressed more with this type of use. So, companies would take a motor that in the past might be rated 1 HP and give it a 1.5 HP rating. From that point, the whole thing devolved into companies making new standards, ratings, and creative and misleading names for their motors.
Factories continue to get fancy with their motor ratings and the newest one we have seen is by using the wattage of the motor rather than expressing the motor in terms that other factories that might use. Be assured, if your motor says it is 2.5 HP or 4 HP, the company is lying to you and the HP rating combined with a buck might buy you a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.