Temperature Limits for Drive Belts

Temperature is frequently used to gauge the condition of motors and power transmission equipment. In this Tip, we discuss the effect of heat on flexible drive belts and temperature limits for them.

Drive belts are an integral component on many types of machines. Despite the critical role they play in machine operation, V type drive belts tend to out-of-sight and out-of-mind until they fail. In most installations, belt temperature largely influences the life installed V belts.

As a rule of thumb, properly applied and maintained belts should not exceed 140º F (60º C), assuming an ambient temperature of less than 110º F (43º C). It should be noted that belt life can be greatly reduced by higher operating temperature. In fact, for every 18 F (10 C) increase in belt temperature, belt life is cut in half.

Thermogram shows overheating V belt. Note castoff in control photo. Images courtesy Skip Handlin.

There are many factors that contribute to high belt operating temperature including, but not limited to: ambient air temperature, machine design, installation, alignment, and belt tension. Overheating belts can be readily detected with an infrared imager. Once detected, overheating belts should be investigated for cause and proper corrective measures undertaken as soon as possible. Doing so can help prevent unscheduled downtime and may prolong belt life.

Temperature limits for mechanical equipment is one of the many topics covered in the Infraspection Institute Level II Certified Infrared Thermographer® training course. Classes are held regularly throughout the year and are also available through our web-based Distance Learning Program.

thermal hot transmission