In today’s fast-moving world, everyone’s looking for new ways to achieve more speed, especially when it comes to motor vehicles. However, in the quest to gain momentum, a fierce debate seems to have broken out, i.e., turbocharger vs. supercharger, which power-boosting device is better for forced induction?
Now, before pitting turbochargers and superchargers against each other, let’s explore the concept of forced induction and how it feeds the modern appetite for speed.
Turbocharger vs. Supercharger: What is Forced Induction?
Whether we talk about turbocharging or supercharging, the primary goal is to extract the maximum possible power from your car’s engine.
Despite their many differences, turbochargers and superchargers use the same forced induction principles.
The idea is to push as much air as possible into your engine to help generate more horsepower.
A standard gas engine, or what is also called an internal combustion engine, produces energy by burning fuel and creating tiny explosions in its cylinders every second.
These little explosions require three primary ingredients:
You can increase engine power by burning more fuel or using an air compressor, i.e., a turbocharger or supercharger, to push more air into the engine for a super speed boost.
After explaining the concept of forced induction, let us explore how a turbocharger vs. supercharger functions.
How Does a Turbocharger Work?
A turbocharger is an air compressor that uses the exhaust fumes emitted by the engine to increase engine power and torque. Turbos are tiny, yet they can provide an intense power boost that will take you by surprise.
A turbocharger consists primarily of a turbine and a compressor.
The turbine, in turn, has two essential parts, i.e., the turbine wheel and the equally important turbine housing.
Once you press down the pedal for a turbo boost, the turbine housing guides the exhaust gases from the engine to the turbine wheel. These gases help turn the turbine wheel and exit via the exhaust outlet.
Now, the compressor part of the turbine turns in the opposite direction. As the turbine rotates due to the exhaust gases, it turns the compressor wheel and starts a high-velocity spinning that draws in air and compresses it. This compressed air is pushed into the engine, providing a serious power boost. It does so by empowering the engine to burn more fuel and generate more power.
A turbo can add anywhere between 30 to 45 horsepower to your engine’s current capacity.
Well, mystery solved. You now know how a turbocharger works. We will see how a supercharger functions next.
How Does a Supercharger Work?
As mentioned before, a supercharger is also an air compressor that provides a significant power boost when required. However, unlike a turbocharger, it doesn’t draw energy from the exhaust gases but a mechanical connection to the engine.
The most common system utilizes a belt on a pulley system propelled by the engine. However, there are several different supercharger systems in use right now. A supercharger is like a part of an engine that supplies air or fuel at a higher pressure than usual.
A supercharger increases air intake by compressing air above the atmospheric pressure without creating a vacuum. As more air is forced into the engine, more fuel is burned to boost the engine’s power. A supercharger typically adds around 46% increased horsepower and 31% more torque to your engine’s power.
After studying how a turbocharger and supercharger work, let’s explore their pros and cons below.
Turbocharger vs. Supercharger: Which One’s Faster and More Furious?
Here are our pros and cons in the fiercely raging debate about a turbocharger vs. supercharger.
|A turbo is a more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly way to increase speed as it reuses exhaust fumes to give the engine a turbo boost. |
A turbocharger can improve your fuel economy by 20-40%.
|A supercharger, meanwhile, draws power from engine movements and burns more fuel for energy generation.|
|A turbocharger is highly effective at high altitudes, where the air is thinner, as it can pump the low-density air better.||While a supercharger is also very useful at higher altitudes, its capacity to compress the thinner air is far less.|
|There is a delay between when you step on the gas pedal and by the time enough exhaust gases are produced to turn the turbine. This delay is called turbo lag.||A supercharger provides an instant boost as it draws its power straight from the engine pulley. So, there’s no need to wait for the engine to produce enough exhaust gases and no turbo lag.|
|If you’re fond of turning corners at high speed, a turbo is your best friend as it provides an excellent boost to power you out of turns. |
Turbos are a perfect fit for corner carving sports cars and drivers with a fiercely competitive spirit.
|Superchargers are best for V-shaped engines, where they can fit easily in the valley area. They provide great straight-line acceleration.|
|Turbos generate a large amount of power from a small-size engine.||Superchargers generate a significant boost in larger-sized engines and are limited in the amount of power increase they can provide.|
|Turbochargers are quieter. They produce a low, whistling, or whoosh sound.||Superchargers are the louder of the two, making a loud whining noise which is a definite disadvantage.|
|Turbochargers are being increasingly favored by luxury car manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Range Rover, etc.||Cars fitted with superchargers are relatively niche.|
Turbocharger vs. Supercharger: Which is a Better Fit for Your Car?
All said and done, deciding whether to go for a turbocharger or supercharger depends on your boosting needs.
If you want a more incredible burst of speed accompanied by the ability to turn sharp corners and drive skillfully in rough, high-altitude terrain, turbochargers are the clear answer. If, on the other hand, you are looking for you do not wish to wait for the turbo to spool and seek an instant power boost even at low engine speeds, superchargers are the way to go.
However, for some speed enthusiasts, it’s not a matter of turbocharger vs. supercharger as they tap into the power of twin charging, i.e., using a turbo and supercharger to get more power and speed.
Manufacturers have been using the concept of twin charging since the 1980s. It can be a fantastic solution if done correctly with the recommendation of experts.
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We hope you enjoyed the debate on turbocharger vs. supercharger and had fun discovering these two forced induction devices’ pros and cons.
If you need any help with your existing turbo, or if it’s been acting up and you need professionals to look at it get in touch with seasoned experts at Diesel Components Inc., today!
As a regional warehouse distributor and authorized turbocharger repair service provider for brands like AiResearch, Garrett, Schweitzer, etc., we know almost everything there is to know about turbocharger repairs.