The 3 Pillars of V-Belt Efficiency

If you are looking for ways to reduce energy costs in your facility, a great place to start is by optimizing your V-belt drives. Not only do inefficient V-belt drives increase electricity usage and costs, but they can also shorten their own lifespan, which increases the frequency of replacement and can also increase downtime.

While there are many factors that can affect V-belt efficiency, by focusing on our three primary pillars – Selection, Alignment, and Tension – you will be well-equipped in finding the biggest opportunities to optimize and save.


It all begins with selecting the proper products and components. At the highest level, the V-belt drive itself may be outdated and over-belted; so for older drives requiring service, it is worth looking into what kind of improvements to components have been made since the last replacement before simply going with the usual solution.

There are several considerations when selecting the correct V-belts as well. Length and geometry may be obvious, but a switch from a wrapped V-belt to a notched belt can have considerable effects. As a result of better engagement with the sheaves and decreased resistance to flexing, notched V-belts can reduce operating temperature and wasted energy and increase horsepower.


Even with ideal selection, V-belt drive efficiency can be robbed by improper alignment. There are two types of sheave misalignment: parallel (offset) and angular.

When sheaves are not parallel, the V-belt is skewed and forced into and out of the grooves at an angle, causing uneven wear on both the V-belt and the sheaves while increasing the chances of slipping. Angular misalignment is caused when the shafts are not parallel to one another, leaving the sheaves at differing angular orientation. Like with parallel misalignment, angular misalignment causes uneven and increased wear, requiring more frequent replacement.

Additionally, for sheaves with multiple grooves, the improper angle affects the tension of the V-belts, which brings us to our third pillar.


Under-tensioning is one of the most common causes of inefficiency in V-belt drives, causing slippage and resulting in less horsepower, faster wear and heat-aging while requiring more frequent replacement. Over-tensioning affects resistance and puts strain on the drive, which can drain energy.

If you’ve noticed cracked or worn belts, black dust on the floor beneath your drive, loud squealing, or just high electricity costs, it is a good time to analyze how your V-belt drive can be made more efficient. Be sure to check with MDS for a wide selection of V-belts, drive systems, sheaves, and much more.

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