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I have learned three things recently: first, that treadmills should be run from dedicated 20A circuits; second, that they do not do well plugged into GFCI outlets; and third, that basement outlets require GFCI protection. So the question is...

Is there a safe and effective way to power a treadmill in a basement? It looks to me as if it will either frequently trip the outlet, or be wired contrary to code.

Here is the manual, where it instructs me to "NEVER" use a GFCI.

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    Have you actually tried it, and you actually get GFCI trips, or that's just something you've heard but not verified if it actually applies to yours?
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 13:20
  • @Ecnerwal I'd read that they frequently cause problems. I haven't tried it yet (the treadmill is yet to arrive). It says in the manual that it is likely to trip a GFCI, however.
    – nuggethead
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 13:21
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    UL Product IQ has no listings for Sole Fitness. They want a 20A circuit, but a 14AWG extension cord. They claim a 4HP motor which is 3000W, more than a 20A outlet would support. I have ... issues ... with that equipment's documentation.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 14:51
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    Nobody here would suggest, but a pragmatic homeowner might attempt, to just plug it in to the available outlet. If GFCI keeps popping, replace the outlet with a normal one. If it's an outlet fed by the Load side of another GFCI, you might need to have a new circuit installed. If it keeps popping a 15A breaker, you WILL need to have a new 20A circuit installed. Make sure the outlet has a real properly installed ground. Test that.
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 15:50
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    Just for everyone's enlightenment, does the equipment nameplate on the device itself indicate any listing (UL, ETL, TUV, ...) at all?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 18:37

2 Answers 2

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Update based on OP's link to Sole F85 manual:

I'm a little concerned as the manual refers to 110V. That has not been the standard for decades, which indicates a misunderstanding of the US electrical system. I can't blame it on this being an old product as the Sole web site lists all kinds of advanced features such as WiFi, which simply did not exist in the 110V days. That may point to a misunderstanding of electrical appliance design and a blanket GFCI prohibition that is based on the first generation of GFCI together with older treadmills and not necessarily applicable today.

That being said, the normal rule is that, particularly for a UL or ETL or similar listed device (is this UL listed?), you follow manufacturer directions.

The treadmill only needs a 15A circuit. However, it also raises the issue of high current requirements at startup and possibly other times. So that points to a dedicated (no spare capacity for other stuff) 20A (gives you more capacity) circuit. The GFCI prohibition (which, to me, is ludicrous) forces you into a single receptacle, instead of the usual duplex, to help with any inspection/permitting issues. Label it "treadmill only, not GFCI protected". Since it will be the only receptacle on the circuit, you must use a 20A NEMA 5-20 instead of the usual 15A NEMA 5-15 (a duplex 5-15 is allowed on a 20A circuit, but not a single 5-15).


Below are general rules for any plug-in exercise equipment.

Dedicated circuit depends on instructions for the particular treadmill. May say any 15A or 20A, any 20A, dedicated 15A or 20A or dedicated 20A. Impossible to guess.

  • Safe

Install on GFCI per code. Can be GFCI/breaker or GFCI/receptacle.

  • Effective

A well designed new device should not to GFCI unless a fault occurs. Newer GFCI should also be more reliable than older ones. Get the treadmill. Install properly. Come back here if you get frequent nuisance trips.

The exception for refrigerators is a cost benefit analysis (potential for spoiled good being a key factor). The factors for a treadmill are quite different.

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    the manual specifically forbids GFCI use - see link I added at end of question. Instead they recommend a high inrush current breaker.
    – nuggethead
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 13:58
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    The manual says "nominal" 110V, meaning, something we call 110V even if it is 120 or 125 or something thereabouts. Probably anticipating this post. :)
    – jay613
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 15:44
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    @jay613 True. But 120V has really been the standard for my entire life - it changed in 1967! The good news is that if the treadmills are really designed for nominal 110V then at 120V there is a bit more extra to help them start and keep going, which is good based on the stated concerns in the manual. But more likely the engineers have been updating things with new models (including improving GFCI compatibility) but nobody told the manual writers and marketers. Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 16:39
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    At least the 2020 version of the manual on their website does not reference 110V anymore - it just doesn't specify a voltage, only warnings about it varying by more than 10%. It also doesn't say anything about being listed either...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 16:46
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This answer on a question about the requirements poses a workaround: get a variance. Code is a guide for inspectors, to some extent, and they do have some discretion to rectify situations where code is contrary to usability or good sense.

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