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Under $500 Treadmills - Features and Specifications
A good home treadmills under $500 should be folding treadmill with transport wheels. This way, when in use, it can be positioned on the best possible spot and when the workout is done, it can be moved away. However, having the treadmill positioned on the permanent position is the best option - when willing to exercise, just unfolded it and walk, jog or run. When done, just fold it to preserve space and that's it.
Deck size of running treadmills in this class is usually 50 inches long and 16 inches wide, while walking treadmills have somewhat shorter running/walking decks, usually in the 40 inches range.
Maximum user weight depends on the type and construction, but good home treadmill of this class should support the users of at least 220 pounds, preferably users of at least 250 pounds. In fact, 250 pounds is perhaps minimum for the 'maximum user allowed weight' in this class, but there are very good affordable treadmills that support users up to (only) 220 pounds, and such treadmills are excellent choice for lighter users.
300 pounds maximum user limit is not often found for a running treadmill in this class, but there are models that support even such users.
Walking treadmills have weaker and cheaper motors, allowing the manufacturers to make stronger and durable walking treadmills with maximum user limit up to 400 pounds, while keeping the price in check.
These treadmills generally use stronger motors than treadmills in 'under $300 range', but some manufacturers still use 'Peak HP' or 'Impulse HP' instead of 'Continuous HP' labels. Any way, one can expect 2.0 - 2.5 HP motors in running treadmills and 1.0 - 2.0 HP motors in motorized walking treadmills. Of course, manual walking treadmills don't have electric motors at all.
Maximum speed of running treadmills under $500 is usually around 10 mph, while walking treadmills have maximum speed between 4 and 6 mph.
Most of the treadmills have manual incline with 2-3 positions, however, there are treadmills in this price range that are closer to $500, but offer motorized incline change, usually between 0 and 10%. Such systems allow the user to change incline without interruptions during workouts, which is, of course, great.
Number of programs vary significantly from just 4-6 programs to up to 15 or even more workout programs. Also, certain models can have connection to Google Maps and simulate real terrain, simulating the workout on the real terrain. Of course, quality of simulation depends on the price of the treadmill, but it is very interesting feature for treadmills under $500.
Having different user profiles and saving previous workout sessions is great option for situations where several users train on the same treadmill. However, most of the units in this price range don't have different user profiles.
Treadmill console allows the user to track parameters of the exercise like burned calories, covered distance, speed, duration and similar. Consoles in this price range mostly don't have built-in speakers, MP3 players, USB charging ports, cooling fans etc.
Also, heart rate monitors are mostly in the form of contact sensors on the handles, although some models support wireless heart rate monitors, but they don't come with heart chest strap monitors.
Maintenance is very simple - lubricate the belt and other parts of the treadmill after certain amount of time (depending on the usage) and adjust belt, if required. Note that it is vital to maintain the treadmill as instructed by the manufacturer - read the manual/instructions before assembly and first use and act accordingly.
Warranty terms vary significantly - some models come with the most basic 90 or 180-days warranty on motor and parts, while some models come with 1- or 2-year warranty on most stressed parts like motor, belts and similar.
Long Story Short - home treadmills under $500 are very good cardio exercise machines. Certain models offer features that were recently reserved only to more expensive models, at budget friendly prices. However, be sure to check every aspect of your potentially new treadmill: size, running deck size, motor power, speed, workout programs etc. Some advanced treadmills, when on sale, cost less than $500 and are excellent opportunity not only for beginners.