Turbocharger vs. Supercharger

Turbocharger vs. Supercharger

Both turbochargers and superchargers are forced induction devices that are used to create greater power in engines. The principle is to inject compressed air of higher density into the engine cylinder. Higher oxygen level call for corresponding higher fuel to explode and boost horsepower.

However, turbochargers and superchargers differ primarily in their energy source. Turbochargers source their energy from the kinetic energy of exhaust gas while superchargers are powered by connecting to the engine with a belt pulley.

When exhaust gas drives turbine wheel to spin, the wheels rotate and compress air at the same time before the compressed air is forced into the intake manifold, creating a boost that increases horsepower by 30% - 40%. Using the exhaust gas to convert to power also increases engine’s overall efficiency. Turbochargers may also reduce emission of exhaust gas into the atmosphere with installation of a wastegate. However, it takes a little bit time for the turbo to spool up and get to the maximum boost.

Superchargers connect directly to the engine usually with a belt pulley on crankshaft. As crankshaft spins, the supercharger spins along instantly. The spinning then compresses air and force compressed air into the engine. However, since the supercharger is driven by the engine, the engine actually has to spare some power onto the supercharger to make it operate, this makes the superchargers less efficient than turbochargers. Besides, superchargers do not use a wastegate, therefore compared to turbochargers, they emit more smog.

Turbochargers are widely used nowadays on vehicles due to their overall efficiency as well as their kindness to the environment. That’s why people mostly choose turbochargers over superchargers.