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Turbocharger/Supercharger: A Boost to Your Engine's Horsepower

The term turbocharger is commonly associated with sports cars or racecars, but it can also be present on trucks with large diesel engines. The biggest advantage of the turbocharger is its ability to increase the engine's horsepower without any significant increase in its weight. Turbocharger and supercharger are most often used connoting the same meaning. It may be true in some aspects: however, they also differ in some ways.

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How the Engine Works

Gasoline engine operates using the principle of combustion. A car engine converts gasoline into motion to make the car move. Motion takes place by burning the gasoline inside the engine, thus it is called an internal combustion engine. An engine requires a mixture of fuel and air pulled into cylinder. After the cylinder is closed off, the piston thrusts upward, creating a compression. A spark is then introduced igniting the mixture and creating combustion to thrust the piston down in the engine block.

Getting More Power

The best way to find more power in an engine is to make it burn a higher amount of air and fuel, which can be attained by adding cylinders or by increasing the size of the current cylinders. But since these changes may not be always feasible, a turbocharger is simpler. A turbocharged or supercharged high-performance engine allows air coming into the engine to be pressurized by squeezing into each cylinder. Turbocharger or supercharger is an aftermarket accessory, which is a more compact way of adding power to your engine.

Turbocharger Against Supercharger

Superchargers and turbochargers are both called forced induction systems, which basically mean that they compress and constrict the air that flows into the engine. Compressing the air has the advantage of letting the engine collect more air and more air in the cylinder means more fuel too. A turbocharged or supercharged engine is able to produce more power generated with every explosion from each cylinder. Each boost provided by a charged engine can give about 50 percent more air in it, which is also equivalent to at least 50 percent more power or roughly between 30 to 40 percent improvement in the engine. The same engine will not be able to produce the same power without the charging.

The Diversity of the Two Systems

The difference between turbocharger and supercharger is the source of its power supply to run the air compressor. A supercharger gets its power in the same way that the alternator or water pump does: directly from the engine through a belt that connects between the two. The installation is simple and easy but it is more expensive.

A turbocharger generates power from the exhaust stream, which runs through a turbine causing the air pump or compressor to spin. Its power source is the wasted energy coming from the exhaust stream making it more efficient but somehow it also causes an amount of back pressure within the exhaust system. The back pressure tends to supply fewer boosts but gradually increase as the engine runs at higher RPMs.

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