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I've gone through 3-4 wahoo HRM this year. They start off fine but then start reading 40-50 BPM after a few weeks. Does anyone else have this issue? Should I just get a more expensive / higher end HRM?

Thanks!

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    I had a similar issue with a Wahoo Tickr, and the solution was warranty.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 26 at 17:08
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    After 2 dead Tickrs, my solution was to stop buying Wahoo HRMs.
    – kmm
    May 26 at 17:30
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    Some people have very dry skin. It may be an issue. Have you tried a different make?
    – Carel
    May 26 at 18:12
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    I’ve sent back 2 have a 3rd that is doing the same, decided to try another brand. So far so good and half the price of the wahoo. If a device keeps breaking it’s time to try a different one, no point staying loyal to brand if they can’t get right.
    – Dan K
    May 26 at 19:59
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    @Criggie I don't believe it's an individual issue related to user, when they fail they either register a very low 40ish bpm or max out at a constant 220bpm. I believe Wahoo actually changed the strap design because their earlier units used to do the same. I suspect it's software related, I also expect it's a known issue to Wahoo because they will replace without any hassles.
    – Dan K
    May 27 at 5:18
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It is 2020, and we have had heart rate monitors for quite some time. Additionally, we have had the Bluetooth and ANT+ communication protocols for some time.

Note that this answer is primarily based on reasoned opinion - we tend to prefer more objective answers on Stack Exchange, but we have no basis for such an answer. My instinct is that by now, reliable enough HRM straps with wireless transmitters should be a commodity product, i.e. they're easily mass produced. I'd expect consumers to be able to get an HRM strap of any price point from any reputable brand and not worry about its reliability. You shouldn't need to pay for a premium HRM to increase reliability. If you are getting a low-cost monitor from an off brand, e.g. something generic from eBay or Aliexpress, I would be more concerned about reliability - but note that all our electronics are made in China anyway, so I'm not calling out Aliexpress solely on its national affiliation. Your experience does suggest that Wahoo might be having some design issues with its devices or that you are, for some reason, unusually harsh on your HRMs, which will be briefly discussed later.

If you ask about brand specific information on the web, it can be hard to parse out the noise from the actual signal. It is probably impossible for us to objectively point to reliable brands based on actual data. I could point you towards review sites like Cyclingtips, DC Rainmaker, Bike Radar, Velonews, probably some triathlon sites, the list goes on. The issue is that those reviewers will often not have a review device for long enough to surface many durability-related problems, and moreover they will only have one device at a time. I would expect that even for a low-reliability brand, the proportion of HRMs failing in the first year should be low in absolute terms.

You could, if you deem the effort worth it, continue to pursue a warranty claim with Wahoo. They should warranty the strap. They have generally made reliable products in the past, so I am surprised to hear of your continued issues - albeit I have had one Tickr X warrantied for a similar fault as yours (mine either reported a heart rate of 122-124 BPM regardless of effort even though it looked like reasonably random data, or else it appeared to work for a few minutes then reported a constant 225 BPM). If you don't want to stick with Wahoo, then obviously you should not. Per our FAQ, we don't do specific product recommendations, so I will not recommend a specific brand here.

You did not indicate if you have a chest strap that reads electrical signals or an optical HRM. Electric signal-based HRMs are considered to be more accurate than optical HRMs. However, the durability of the straps on electric HRMs might be a limiting factor, and some people might be unusually hard on their straps - do note that with electric HRMs, the strap contains part of the sensor assembly. One of these might be your sweat composition. If you are one of these people, you might consider an optical HRM, where all of the necessary sensors are in the HRM unit and the strap is just a strap. Be aware that skin tone, hair, and other factors can affect the accuracy of optical HRMs. Also, I believe optical HRMs draw more power than the electrode-based ones; the former have to generate enough power to shine a light through your skin. Thus, they typically rely on rechargeable batteries, which require recharging more frequently than the coin cell ones used by electric HRMs.

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    I changed over to optical, I would rather have a HR that's out by a few bpm than one that always has me at 40bpm or 220bpm and nothing else in between.
    – Dan K
    May 27 at 5:13

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