Fitness Equipment Articles & Tips
When discussing treadmills with a sales representative, the topic of motors will inevitably arise. During this discussion, you will hear some engineering-type terminology, including AC, DC, and continuous and peak horsepower. A basic understanding of these terms will help you to ask the right questions and make the right purchase.
DEFINING THE TERMS
1) Fixed Speed Alternating Current (AC) Motors:
What you need to know: Running at a constant speed puts less stress on the motor, but the transmission introduces extra parts.
2) Direct Current (DC) Motors:
What you need to know: No transmission (so fewer moving parts), but does require a motor control board. It also contains brushes that wear down over time. DC motors are used in a majority of treadmills on the market.
3) Variable Speed AC Motors
What you need to know: Like DC motors, these AC motors have no transmission, but they also do not use brushes. Usually higher quality.
4) Peak Horsepower:
What you need to know: In actual use, peak horsepower is never achieved and is not particularly relevant. Usually found in lower priced treadmills.
5) Continuous Horsepower:
What you need to know: The maximum power the treadmill can provide when used continuously.
HOW MUCH HORSEPOWER IS ENOUGH?
Horsepower is an indication of how much load a motor can pull at a given speed. However, a motor can only pull as much as the power coming out of your wall will allow. For instance, a 120 volt, 15 amp wall outlet will allow a motor no more than 1.8 horsepower. A 220 volt, 20 amp wall outlet will allow no more than 3.8 horse-power. Many other minor variables can lower these figures, but doing a lot of math is not important. It is important to understand what a motor can and cannot do in your situation. It is also important to understand that horsepower should not be your primary consideration in choosing a treadmill. Two motors with the same horsepower will perform differently in different treadmills.
Keep in mind, when thinking about the performance of the motor, AC, DC,
and horsepower, you are thinking about the performance of the motor not
the treadmill. The pros and cons of different motors is much more of a
maintenance and cost consideration than of how the treadmill feels beneath
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