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Optical HR sensor - any that works?
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Hi,

I bought a Garmin Fenix 5s six months ago and the optical HR sensor is useless: ok accuracy while at rest, but in training it is consistently about 15-20 beats off, especially at high intensity.

I have tried all tips Garmin support has suggested, no success. Garmin is willing to replace the watch but are saying that they believe I will have the same issue again as apparently the hr sensor does have these issues with some people.

So, has anyone had similar issues and switched to a different watch with better success?

Granted, I do have skinny wrists but am otherwise a pretty typical middle aged white male so was hoping to be in the middle of the Garmin target group...
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Swede wrote:
Hi,

I bought a Garmin Fenix 5s six months ago and the optical HR sensor is useless: ok accuracy while at rest, but in training it is consistently about 15-20 beats off, especially at high intensity.

I have tried all tips Garmin support has suggested, no success. Garmin is willing to replace the watch but are saying that they believe I will have the same issue again as apparently the hr sensor does have these issues with some people.

So, has anyone had similar issues and switched to a different watch with better success?

Granted, I do have skinny wrists but am otherwise a pretty typical middle aged white male so was hoping to be in the middle of the Garmin target group...

You are lucky to get it to work at rest. If my HR is 80 the Garmin says 40, if the HR is 40, the Garmin reads 80. If you are serious about using HR I still suggest a chest strap still. I know they can be a PITA too, and need replacing but I really like the Wahoo Tickr that has a flashing dot to at least identify if it is on, working, and sending a signal. Really helps determine if it is a connection issue or another corroded battery / strap.


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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Thomas above is the second person in as many days to lament on the Fenix optical HR sensor. My 935 works like a champion, day and night, and my 735 was excellent as well.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [nickwhite] [ In reply to ]
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The heart rate sensor in my 935 works great as well. The only issues I've encountered are when I sweat A LOT, and then it does seem to read inaccurately.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Thomas Gerlach] [ In reply to ]
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Thomas Gerlach wrote:
Swede wrote:
Hi,

I bought a Garmin Fenix 5s six months ago and the optical HR sensor is useless: ok accuracy while at rest, but in training it is consistently about 15-20 beats off, especially at high intensity.

I have tried all tips Garmin support has suggested, no success. Garmin is willing to replace the watch but are saying that they believe I will have the same issue again as apparently the hr sensor does have these issues with some people.

So, has anyone had similar issues and switched to a different watch with better success?

Granted, I do have skinny wrists but am otherwise a pretty typical middle aged white male so was hoping to be in the middle of the Garmin target group...


You are lucky to get it to work at rest. If my HR is 80 the Garmin says 40, if the HR is 40, the Garmin reads 80. If you are serious about using HR I still suggest a chest strap still. I know they can be a PITA too, and need replacing but I really like the Wahoo Tickr that has a flashing dot to at least identify if it is on, working, and sending a signal. Really helps determine if it is a connection issue or another corroded battery / strap.

I use the 735 and I would put it at about 85-90% in terms of accuracy...

I still have problems with "cadence lock" once in a while. Both on the bike and running...
And there are times when it's just goofy and there's no rhyme or reason to what it's reading.

Overall, I like the functionality. I'm just not 100% sold on the reliability and accuracy






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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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If you are looking for a HRM and don't want a chest strap I suggest the Scosche Rhythm 24. It is an optical HRM that I wear on my forearm and it works like a charm. It is really comfortable and reliable. I don't trust my Fenix 5 HR to use it during working out. I tried one time and it was not that great.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [wei5209] [ In reply to ]
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wei5209 wrote:
If you are looking for a HRM and don't want a chest strap I suggest the Scosche Rhythm 24. It is an optical HRM that I wear on my forearm and it works like a charm. It is really comfortable and reliable. I don't trust my Fenix 5 HR to use it during working out. I tried one time and it was not that great.


I haven't followed up but make sure the production issues with the Scosche 24 have been fixed. Lots of issues, mine broke last summer. I still like the Scosche rhythm model, even though I lost it at a race. I'd buy one again, but currently using the wahoo tickr fit for longer battery life. Works great (I know for the OP it's a PITA when the Fenix should already work...)
Last edited by: ChrisM: Apr 16, 19 13:27
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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wahoo tickr x hrm strap is 20% off on clevertraining
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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My guess is that it's wrist dependent.

I have a Vivoactive 3. It's accurate while sitting, standing, or generally not moving. Sort of okay when walking. I've given up on the HR sensor for workouts though. I've had times where it reads 90 bpm where it should be reading closer to 165+. Then it sort of reads close (+-3%), then suddenly it's way off again. Luckily for me, I didn't really buy it to track HR on it's own.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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The Polar OH1 works great, and I believe the new ones are shipping with ANT+ compatibility.

I wear it on my upper arm and it is super reliable, even in the water. It has a stand alone recording mode since Bluetooth and ANT+ won't transmit underwater.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Skinny wrists. 935 is trash for me. Scosche worked on forearm or bicep until it went wonky after a few months. Wahoo band is the best and I've had less issues with it than a chest strap.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Honestly, the optical sensors are all pretty similar in all units.

It's the fit and snugness of the sensor on your wrist or forearm that makes all the difference. This is why the older Scosche Rhythm+ can outperform nearly all the other units.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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I have had no problems with my 935. When I am doing sport I make the band tighter than normal to ensure I get a good HR reading.

This has meant that I have not used my Scosche HR for 6+ months. The Scosche (original version) worked perfectly for me either high on my forearm or on the bicep.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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The optical heart rate on my Apple Watch is more reliable than my Garmin.

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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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My Garmin Fenix 5x Plus HR has worked perfectly for me, as did the Fenix 3HR before it. I guess I’m the only one who had literally dozens of workouts with useless HR data from chest straps due to static electricity, shitty straps, voodoo, whatever. Anyway to answer your question, Scosche Rhythm+ on your forearm. Problem solved.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for all the replies.

It seems the Scosche is worth trying then.

But what about other watches? I like the idea of having one device rather than an external HR sensor be it chest strap or something like the Scosche on the arm.

Is there a difference in the HR sensor design between the Fenix and the 935 so it would be worth trying that one instead?
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Swede wrote:
So, has anyone had similar issues and switched to a different watch with better success?

Granted, I do have skinny wrists but am otherwise a pretty typical middle aged white male so was hoping to be in the middle of the Garmin target group...

That could describe me as well...my 735 has worked well in the few years I've had it for everything from easy running to short sharp efforts that it might struggle with. It's had the odd hiccup but in fairness probably fewer than I had with various Garmin HR straps which regularly had erroneous high readings at the start of sessions despite damping the connections.

I use a Scosche rhythm+ indoors for the bluetooth connection but I've no complaints about the 735.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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I have the garmin 735; hr readings are ok on the bike (match with edge and hr strap) and almost useless when running
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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My Vivoactive 3 is:
1) accurate at rest
2) fairly accurate when running
3) not accurate at all when on the trainer

For the life of me, I cannot explain 2 vs. 3. When on the trainer, it simply never catches up to my HR, often reading 40-50bpm low. The only real difference is my arm is mostly stationary when on the trainer, vs. obviously not when running.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Swede wrote:
Thanks for all the replies.

It seems the Scosche is worth trying then.

But what about other watches? I like the idea of having one device rather than an external HR sensor be it chest strap or something like the Scosche on the arm.

Is there a difference in the HR sensor design between the Fenix and the 935 so it would be worth trying that one instead?
One of the advantages of the Scosche is the ability to position it where it works best. A watch won't allow that.

I've had a Scosche Rhythm+ for 3 years. I wasn't overly impressed for the first few weeks I had it due to getting some erroneous readings and a few dropouts. However, when I moved it from the recommended location just below the elbow to the front of my upper arm just above the bicep, it became highly reliable. I've used it in that position ever since and it's been pretty bulletproof. Initially I used it for runs and stuck with the chest strap for the bike, but soon enough I was letting the chest strap gather dust. The data is fairly indistinguishable between the two. The optical has a bit more lag to changes in HR but it's not dramatic and it's also not really important for endurance training.

The Scosche Rhythm+ has 2 minor problems and that's about it:
  • Battery life is only something like 7hrs
  • Velcro strap can be annoying under clothing

The newer Scosche 24 version addresses both of these and adds a lot of new functionality such as built in data recording but is also slightly more expensive and seems to have had some quality issues on early examples (might be sorted out now). I wouldn't go back to a chest strap, especially for running. I just find them too uncomfortable. A watch alone would be great if it worked well, but it seems they need to be very tight on the wrist to work well and many have issues even then.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Look at the Polar OH1+, supposedly the most accurate.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/...wahoo-tickr-fit.html
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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Cody Miller was raving about the optical sensor on the Phlex Swim (it sits on the temple). Mine is coming in the first batch.

So many delays but the beta testing appears to be going well.

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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [realAB] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
Cody Miller was raving about the optical sensor on the Phlex Swim (it sits on the temple). Mine is coming in the first batch.

The Polar OH1+ comes with a swim goggle strap clip that places the sensor on the temple also.

Mine has worked well on my upper arm.
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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Swede] [ In reply to ]
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The fenix works ok for me, but can be off a bit due to wrist angles (esp. when riding out of the saddle).

I have a MIO Link (similar to the Scoshe and the Wahoo), and just place the "puck" under my bike shorts on my quad. Reads fine, and is more consistent.


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Re: Optical HR sensor - any that works? [Ai_1] [ In reply to ]
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I've been lucky with my 24. No problems besides a few brief cadence locks over the 8 months I've used it. It also works in the water paired with my Suunto ambit 3. It picks up your HR whenever your arm is out of the water.
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