Treadmill Buying Tips

Buying the right treadmill can be quite a job. As there are so many different brands and models in the market, you've got to know what you are looking for to get the best value in a treadmill. You'll get more out of your money by doing some research first.

Get to know the top treadmill brands, visit: Treadmill Brands.

Here are a few tips on treadmill features and specifications that will hopefully make your treadmill shopping easier:

Manual or Motorized?

Decide which to buy - A manual treadmill or an electric (motorized) treadmill? You can make up your mind by considering the amount of treadmill walking/running that you'll be doing. Please read this page if you aren't too familiar with the differences between a manual treadmill and the motorized one.

There aren't many manual treadmill models in the market. The top 5 best manual treadmills are listed here.

What you need to know before buying a manual treadmill

Walking or Running?

A manual treadmill is probably adequate if you're interested to do light to moderate amount of walking workout. If you intend to do plenty of walking and running we'd suggest buying a good quality motorized treadmill. However, not all motorized treadmills are good for running workout - A budget treadmill that costs $500 to $700 may be good for walking only. A good running treadmill has to be one that's built to withstand pressure abuses - with solid running deck of sufficient length, powerful motor, and good shock absorption system. A good running treadmill usually costs around $1,000 to $1,500.

Price factor - What is your budget?

Buying a treadmill is a significant investment. You get what you pay for. A manual treadmill usually costs in the price range of $100 to $200. Whereas the most basic motorized treadmill model will cost around $500. And high-end, high quality treadmills (for home use) with advanced features & specifications can cost anything from just under $1,000 to as much as $5,000 or more!

Space

Do you have ample space to place your treadmill?

A smaller, compact model would usually takes up a floor space of about 32 x 72 inches (W x L), and the larger machine needs as much space as 38 x 80 inches!

Room Ventilation & Power Source

Is the room where you'll place the treadmill well ventilated? You need plenty of fresh air while exercising.

How about the power supply to your treadmill? Do you already have a power point to supply electricity to your treadmill? You've to make sure that the power socket has adequate amp rating for your new treadmill -- For example, a 15 amp electrical wall outlet can only max out 1.80 HP! If your treadmill motor is rated 2.50 HP, you'll require a 20-amp power outlet. Consult a qualified electrician if necessary.

Also, it's always better to have your power point as close to the machine as possible. You don't want any electric wire running all over the floor, especially if you've small children at home.

User's Weight

Is there any of the users in your family weigh over 225 pounds? If there is, then you should carefully consider to raise your budget to buy a treadmill with a stronger motor and higher grade belt and deck. The reason is that most home treadmills use DC motors. DC motors operate at their full capacity only when running at their top speeds, which means that a person walking at 4 mph on a machine with a 2.5 HP motor will likely only be using a small fraction of the motor capacity. This is not a huge problem for most users, but a heavy person walking at a slow speed will put an extra load on the motor and cause it to heat up which will eventually result in motor failure. A larger motor will be able to handle the extra load without over-heating.

Always check on the 'weight capacity' of the treadmill - which is usually around 225/250 pounds for basic models to as high as 300/350 pounds for advanced models.

Treadmill Motor

A DC ( Direct Current Driven) motors power most home treadmills. DC motors start slowly, hence providing a more consistent response to the speed, incline and weight demands. DC motors are quieter than AC (Alternating Current) motors. Treadmills with AC motors start the belt at a faster speed.

Motor Horsepower (HP)
HP Ratings can be quite confusing. It is solely determined by the treadmill manufacturer itself. There is no industry standard as to how to rate DC motors! For example, a 2 HP continuous duty motor rated at 2,000 rpm and 15 amps may be rated by another manufacturer as a 3 HP continuous duty motor! All they have to do is to rate their motor at a much higher rpm speed (perhaps, 5,000 rpm) in order to achieve a higher horsepower number just for marketing purposes!

Anyway, what you want to look at is the Continuous Duty Rating (CHP). Most basic treadmills for home use come with motor rated 1.5 to 2.5 continuous-duty horsepower and the premium models 2.5 to 3.5 continuous-duty horsepower.

If you intend to use your treadmill just for walking, a 1.5 continuous-duty horsepower will be sufficient since walking places much lower load on the motor than running.

Running places a much higher load on the treadmill motor especially if you run on a steeper incline. So, if you plan to use your treadmill for plenty of running you will need at least a 2.0 continuous-duty horsepower motor, with 2.5 to 3.0 hp preferred.

Look for at least a three-year warranty on the motor. A longer warranty period of 5 years or more means that the manufacturer is confident of the motor is built to last.

Belt Size

Good quality treadmills have a two-ply belt--a top layer black polyurethane and a nylon-polyester weave under layer.

Depending on whether the unit is designed more for walking, jogging or running, belt sizes vary.

Most treadmills have belt widths between 16 to 22 inches, while belt lengths range from 43 to 60 inches.

For the average person, belt size of 18" x 50" inches is about right for walking but if you do a lot of jogging/running, 20" x 55" or higher is preferred.

Roller Size

Large rollers extend the life of treadmills. Larger rollers provide more contact between the treadmill belt and the roller. Which also means that the belt will revolve less and reduce the amount of strain on the bearings. In other words, larger rollers are better. Try to look for 2-inch rollers or larger.

Cushioning

Different treadmill manufacturers use different cushioning and shock absorption suspension systems for the decks and frames. The amount of cushioning you'll need depends on your training goals. For example, if you are training yourself for road racing, you'll want to go for a minimal cushioning so as to mimic outdoor running more closely. You will want more cushioning to help protect your joints if overall fitness is your goal.

Incline

All quality treadmills have adjustable incline, usually elevate from 1% to 10% (Note: some treadmills will elevate as much as 15%). Some high-end models also have the ability to decline, which can be very useful if you want to train for hilly road races.

Electronics

Each treadmill has 2 electronic packages:

1. An upper electronics package commonly referred to as the Console - A computerized control panel that tells you your speed, pace, distance and time. Many treadmill models come with pre-programmed workouts. You will want a console that's easy to read and with control buttons that are easy to reach while you're walking/running.

2. A lower motor control board which is the brain of the treadmill and typically the most serviced part.

Look for at least a three-year warranty on your electronics.

Other Workout Features

Treadmill models that have the most pre-set and programmable workouts to vary pace and incline are preferred. The incline and speed must be easily controllable from the console. It's good to have a pulse monitor, water bottle holder and book rack, etc.

Taking Delivery/Receiving Shipment

Often been neglected by many treadmill buyers, it's important to plan how you'd receive and unpack your new treadmill when it arrives. Bear in mind that a motorized treadmill weighs anything from 150 pounds (basic models) to over 300 pounds for some advanced models, you need at least 3 persons to move the machine and place it in where you want it to be. It's especially vital to have sufficient hands to move the equipment upstairs!. As far as possible, organize your new treadmill to arrive early so that you don't have to work in the dark.

Warranty

Generally, you always want to look for at least a three-year warranty on all key components--the motor, electronics, belt, deck and rollers. A longer warranty period means the manufacturer is confident that their choice of components could stand the test of time.