Turbocharger vs Supercharger | Which is the Best?

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In this edition of the Auto42, we go into Turbocharger vs Supercharger in depth.

As government regulations and environmental concerns push a trend away from large-displacement naturally aspirated engines and toward smaller, more fuel-efficient engines, automakers are increasingly adopting turbochargers and superchargers to provide greater power while using less gasoline. Both devices act as “replacement for displacement” by cramming the same quantity of air that a larger engine would normally inhale into a smaller engine, allowing them to produce the same amount of power when the driver’s foot touches the floor.

Oxygen is far more difficult to get into an engine than gasoline. Let’s take a fresh look at the advantages and disadvantages of turbocharger vs supercharger.

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What is a car’s forced induction system?

A forced induction system overcomes atmospheric pressure limits by forcing a large amount of air into the combustion cylinders. Turbochargers are an example of a forced induction mechanism. They compress the air going into the engine, allowing more fuel and air to be burnt in the cylinders, resulting in a roughly 50% boost in power.

Difference? Turbocharger vs Supercharger?

The phrase “supercharger” refers to a type of air compressor that is used to enhance the pressure or density of air entering an engine, hence giving more oxygen with which to burn fuel. The first superchargers were all powered by crankshaft power, often via a gear, belt, or chain.

A turbocharger is basically a supercharger that is driven by an exhaust turbine. The first of these, known as turbosuperchargers, was used on radial aircraft engines to increase power in the thinner air encountered at higher altitudes. This was abbreviated to turbocharger and eventually simply turbo.

The turbocharger’s compressor is powered by a turbine that is powered by the engine’s exhaust. This is not the same as a supercharger powered by a mechanical pulley drive. Turbocharging is very common with diesel engines because they are well suited to turbocharging. Turbocharging may significantly improve an engine’s precise power and power-to-weight ratio.

What are the advantages of using a Supercharger?

  • With a supercharger, power is delivered quickly and instantly.
  • Superchargers improve power with no latency (turbo lag, for example).
  • Superchargers are simple to install and use engine power.
  • Suitable for lower displacement combustion engines.

What are the advantages of using a turbocharger?

  • A turbocharger comprises a turbine and a compressor that are both positioned on the same shaft.
  • There is no mechanical drag since a turbocharger does not take power from the engine.
  • The turbine of a turbocharger is propelled by the vented exhaust gas.
  • Turbochargers are ideally suited for engines with larger displacement.

Which is better? Turbocharger vs Supercharger?

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Each has advantages and disadvantages with increasing power, fuel efficiency, or both. Turbochargers take advantage of part of the “free” energy that would otherwise be wasted in the exhaust. Driving the turbine increases exhaust back pressure, which puts some strain on the engine, but the net loss is usually less than the direct mechanical load imposed by driving a supercharger.

Turbocharger vs Supercharger; everyone on their own, whether turbocharger or supercharger. Both of these induction methods have a function. Both systems work together to extract every ounce of power and torque from an internal combustion engine. However, automobile makers have found that the turbocharger outperforms the supercharger by a narrow margin, not in terms of power, but in terms of fuel economy.

A important aspect of the design of both superchargers and turbochargers is to keep the air that enters the engine cold. Because air compression raises its temperature, it is common to utilise an intercooler to reduce the temperature of the air between the pump and engine.

However, superchargers may deliver boost nearly quickly, but turbochargers normally experience some reaction latency as the exhaust pressure necessary to spin the turbine develops. Clearly, a top-fuel dragster attempting to run the quarter-mile in four seconds has no time to waste waiting for exhaust pressure to build, so they all use superchargers, whereas vehicles tasked with increasing a company’s corporate average fuel economy can’t afford to waste precious horsepower on blowers, so they mostly use turbos.

However, as light hybridization and 48-volt electrical systems gain popularity, superchargers powered by freely recuperated electricity collected during deceleration and braking will become more common.

How Much Power Can they Add? Turbocharger vs Supercharger.

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The quantity of oxygen that an engine can “breathe” is the limiting factor in how much power it can create, as fuel-injector technology is more than capable of giving as much fuel as burnt with the amount of oxygen in the cylinder. At sea level, naturally aspirated engines get 14.7 psi of air, therefore if a turbo or supercharger adds 7 psi of boost to an engine, the cylinders themselves get around 50% more air and should theoretically be able to create 50% more power. That isn’t normally how things work out.

Compressing intake of air produces heat, which, along with the extra pressure, raises the chance of engine-damaging pre-detonation or “ping,” hence timing is frequently delayed. This can reduce the time the fuel has to burn entirely, eroding part of the power boost. Most contemporary engines with turbochargers and/or superchargers contain intercoolers to assist dissipate some of the heat generated by the turbocharger or supercharger. Finally, it is commonly assumed that adding 50% more air results in 30-40% greater power.

How many horsepower can a supercharger add?

Using superchargers significantly increases the engine’s horsepower and torque by 70 to 80 percent. Fuel economy improves when the supercharger increases engine RPM. It is a simple and easy approach to improve a vehicle’s performance.

How many horsepower can a turbocharger add?

The installation of a turbocharger may enhance power and torque by 20% to 30%. In rare cases, it can boost the power to up to 50% of the engine’s maximum capacity.


Also Read, About FWD vs AWD vs RWD vs 4WD


Can it save fuel? Turbocharger vs Supercharger.

Turbos and superchargers mostly help to burn more gas when they’re working, but when they’re bolted to an engine that would otherwise be too small to adequately meet the vehicle’s needs in terms of acceleration or towing, etc., they help save gas during the low-power cruising that makes up most of our driving.

One way this is accomplished is by lowering the pumping losses that occur when a large-displacement engine is running at 5% throttle or less—it has to work hard to pull air through a mostly closed throttle. The same amount of power may cause a 20% throttle opening on the smaller engine, resulting in less pumping labour.

What exactly is turbo lag?

The time it takes between pressing the accelerator and feeling the rush of torque from a turbocharged engine is referred to as turbo lag. A turbo lag is the time it takes a turbocharger to take in air, spool, and produce a burst of power to the engine. This is quite frequent in turbocharged diesel vehicles.

Is it harmful for your engine to have a supercharger?

A supercharger improves vehicle performance by increasing air pressure in the engine, allowing it to burn more fuel and generate more energy. A turbine to the supercharger may be converted into a turbocharger, which outperforms a supercharger in terms of performance.

Is it possible to turbo-charge or supercharge any automotive engine?

Yes, you may add an aftermarket supercharger system to a car, but be careful! If you want to put a supercharger in an economy hatch or a c-segment car, it can be quite costly and possibly not an excellent investment.

Superchargers are classified into three types: root, twin screw, and centrifugal. Superchargers are often standard equipment on a wide range of racing vehicles where the emphasis is on speed and sometimes are not street legal.

Is it possible to employ both a turbocharger and a supercharger?

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Yes, it is workable to use a turbocharger with a supercharger. In reality, racing vehicles have used twin-charging (turbocharger+supercharger) to improve power at both the low and high RPM bands.

However, twin-charging is achievable with gasoline-powered vehicles. Diesel-powered vehicles are limited in their ability to produce high torque at low RPM.

What are some examples of supercharged automobiles in India?

Superchargers are an uncommon sight on Indian roads, appearing only on high-end luxury or exotic automobiles from manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Range Rover, and others.

Karan Kapoor

Karan Kapoor

62 articles published

Karan Kapoor is a motorhead and a big time muscle car enthusiast. His Body functions on a 7L V8, and he trains it to become a W16. He tends to stay in the Fast Lane and sometimes is a little furious about it too. From Maruti to Ferrari, his love of cars is not hindered by price but specs. For 2 Wheels he loves choppers and cafe riders over sports bikes His love for travel is also paved by the roads, and long journeys that he finds more intriguing than the destination. His love for speed is halted by the legality of NOS in India. Give him 2 Wheels or 4. He knows how to handle 'em all.