I’ve owned two heart rate monitor straps - a basic Garmin one, and a more expensive Polar H10. Both started to give erratic readings after less than a year of use. I’ve always cleaned them after every use, tried changing the batteries and used conductive gel. Is this typical with heart rate monitor straps, or do they tend to last longer in your experience?
The cheapest polar watch will last for many years if you replace the battery.
2 1/2 years for the Garmin strap that came with my Forerunner. I wash it once a week, and give the nodes a lick before putting it on. Some days are tastier than others…
I’ve had my Garmin HR strap for 23 months.
Before that I had a Polar HR strap for 41 months.
So for that N=2 sample at expect an average life of at least 32 months.
Did it stop working completely, or just start giving erratic readings?
It started reading ridiculously high heart rates. Like 200+ just walking around. It would do that whenever I stepped out into the cold then return to normal after it warmed up. Changing the battery (which usually solves that problem) did not help. Eventually it just quit working completely.
My old Garmin HRM started doing that occasionally on the trainer when it was soaked in sweat, not all sessions but the ones where the floodgates open, I had to dry the metal connectors to get it working normally.
That said it lasted me about 5 years
My cheap garmin strap came with my Edge 800, so over 8 years now. Still going strong. (I did replace the elastic part once, but the brains are still working).
My Garmin HRM (run) strap may be killed as I cannot get the stench out of it. Pretty bad when you struggle to outrun your own HRM strap stench.
Garmin soft strap here, bought in 2013, still going…
Had to cut the strap between terminals however, because sweat was fouling readings.
Garmin basic strap from the 520 bundle lasted 2 years without issue. Sold it on eBay to change to a tickr x for Bluetooth support, it died after a season when I changed batteries Now using an H10. My wife’s Tickr has been going for ~2 yrs
I had a gamin hrm strap gave me issues after 6 months. I was getting erratic readings either to low or way to high then just stopped working (found out it was the strap). I was washing it once a week in the washer with cycling gear on gentle. A buddy told me he had the same issue and he started washing it by hand and didn’t have an issue after that. Bought a new one and wash it by hand and have not had an issue for 9 months now…Hope this helps
Perhaps this may save someone a minute or so. When changing the battery, worth shorting battery terminals on the unit, this discharges the unit completely before placing new battery in. Every time I forget doing this, HRM appears to be bricked.
I’m inclined to say you’re washing it too much? The strap is a fairly delicate electrical connection and you could be damaging either the strap or the electrical contacts by overworking it. I don’t tend to wash my straps very often, and when I do, that tends to be when I have issues. I do try to lay it out so it has good ventilation to dry out after every workout, and especially make sure the electrodes aren’t touching, or “connected” via some other wet garment/towel.
Have you tried not using the conductive gel? I don’t have to use gel on either of my softstrap. The electrodes seem quite sensitive. Many many years ago I had an old Polar strap that needed to be wet. Later I starting using it with gel, but that seemed to make it progressively worse and worse until one day it stopped working and no cleaning could get it back to working. I suspect the gels are hard on the contacts somehow.
I have the original Wahoo BlueHR with its strap. Bought it new over … um… hmmm… 5 or 6 or more years ago…
Rinse the strap in the shower and let it air dry after every workout or ride.
Still going strong with no signs of wear or tear!
Wahoo makes quality products.
Just my 2 cents!
I replace my HRM strap every couple of years, whether it needs it or not!
Sorry if you already know this - I thought I killed my Garmin strap by changing the batteries. It turns out you have to keep the battery out for 30 seconds or else it plays dead on you.
I had a old Garmin hard plastic strap for around 4 years that still works but upgraded to a wahoo tickr 3 years ago that it still going strong. I just bought a garmin hrm tri today to replace the tickr but will keep it as a backup. I am the person who enjoys wearing a hrm even though the ohr on my 935 works for me on steady state runs.
Never had had any major problems with any garmin items I have had but when I did have any small issues there customer service has been great. I know wahoo customer service is good too from what I hear.
Over time, the accumulation of salts from sweat in the fabric of the strap can lead to alternate electrical pathways that produce a stronger signal than that of the nerve impulses of your heart.
Washing the fabric of the strap regularly will help reduce the buildup of salts. But over time, washing (especially if you live in an area with a “hard” ie. highly mineralized water supply may not solve the problem.
With the older Garmin straps, you can replace the fabric strap, and transfer the sensor unit to a new strap.
I only started using the conductive gel when the erratic readings started. The gel initially improved the accuracy, but like you say, it seemed to get progressively worse over time.
It’s a shame as the Polar H10 was great for the first 6 months - really accurate during activities and optimal readings every time in the HRV4T app.
I just give it a quick wash by hand after use, so doubt that’s causing any issues.
My Polar H10 strap is still under warranty so I’ve returned it (hopefully for a replacement). If it doesn’t last too long next time then I’ll look at trying a Wahoo HRM
For me… The soft strap part (rather than the little box) of Garmin heart rate monitors always used to do exactly as you describe after about a year. I switched to Wahoo HRM for use outside and havent had a problem since.
I also bought one of these straps https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B06WLMMG7S and have found that the original Garmin HRM box now works great, so can only assume its the strap part that was repeatedly failing on mine. For less than 9 notes delivered to your door it may be worth a try