By Simon Gould
A decent home treadmill is a motorized one. These are powered by your electrical outlet and the motor comes in different sizes. You’re always told details about the motor, but what do the numbers and letters really mean? How do you choose the right one for your needs? I go through that here with my guide to treadmill motors.
What the letters “CHP” mean for treadmill motors
When a treadmill is being sold we’re told how powerful the motor is and it’s usually followed by “CHP” or “HP”. CHP stands for Continuous Horse Power and is the power in which the motor can push the treadmill belt around it’s rollers. CHP is better because it means how much power output a motor can impart continuously.
When it says “HP” it leaves the continuous off and you’re told how much power the treadmill can go for at it’s peak. The thing is with a home treadmill is, it can only draw it’s power from your home electrics so there is a limit to how powerful it can be. That’s why when the manufacturer boasts about a very large motor then it’s not possible to get too much power from the home circuit.
The amount of horse power
We’ve established that motors are graded in horse power for treadmills and they are not usually very much. The most you can get for the home is usually about 4.0 CHP and this means it will be able to take you running on it on a regular basis. You can get higher for commercial treadmills but they are used constantly.
Horse power is very much linked to cost so the higher you go the higher the cost of the machine. It’s best to get the highest cost of treadmill you can afford as they have lasting and durable components used in their build. Smaller motors are generally used for people who only want to walk or jog on their treadmills. If you only want one for walking right now, think if you may want to run on it in future.
What motor size you need
- Walking – 1.5 to 2.0 CHP
- Jogging – 2.0 to 3.0 CHP
- Running – 3.0 to 4.0 CHP
Jogging is between 4 and 6 mph. There are other factors that can affect the size of motor I would recommend. If you’re particularly heavy, the motor would need more power to maintain its speed. If you plan on using the treadmill on most days of the week or multiple family members will be using it, then you need a more powerful motor.
If you plan on doing speed training like high intensity interval runs or any sprinting. Then you need a more powerful motor. If you’re confident you’ll only be walking and sometimes using the incline. Then go by what I’ve said above. Same goes with jogging. Just go with the higher number if any of the factors I’ve mentioned apply.
Treadmill motor warranties
My favorite treadmill brand, Horizon Fitness*, has a lifetime warranty on their motors. However, on all brands these warranties have exclusions. Typically, a treadmill motor warranty won’t cover normal wear and tear. So if it’s failing after many years of heavy use, the manufacturer won’t replace it under the warranty.
If the motor proves to be defective, then that’s something that’s usually included. Go for a warranty of at least 10 years. Be aware of any burning smells as that can often come from the motor. It has an electric circuit board to control it and that can develop a fault. However, a treadmill motor is usually reliable these days.
How long should the motor last?
- Motor lifespan – 7 to 12 years
- Replacement cost – $300 to $500
The motor should last as long as the treadmill and a typical treadmill lasts 7 to 12 years. Sometimes they can go much longer. It all depends how much use they’re getting. If the factors I’ve mentioned above all apply and maybe the motor wasn’t powerful enough. You may have used a 2.5 CHP motor for doing speed training on multiple days per week for years. Then it’s going to wear out sooner.
If your motor does go wrong and the treadmill is 7+years old. Then is it really worth spending $500 to replace it? Something else could go wrong soon too which will cost you more. With a good treadmill being a thousand dollars, you may want to replace the whole thing, rather than just the motor. Make sure to vacuum in the motor compartment regularly to make it last longer. Dust can negatively affect it.
So the acceptable horse power for different uses are: Around 2.0 CHP for walking, between 2.0 and 3.0 CHP for jogging and 3.0+ CHP for running. The higher the number the better. The motor is arguably the most important part of the treadmill, so think carefully before you decide on the size you need. They cost a lot to replace.
A lifetime warranty is still a good thing, it shows a commitment the manufacturer has in the motor and their workmanship. Remember that a good treadmill can last up to 12 years and sometimes longer. Always go for CHP rather than HP and go for the highest number you can afford, or the number you feel is most suitable.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*