Turbocharging vs. Supercharging Comparison

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Turbocharging vs. Supercharging Comparison

Getting more out of an engine often means incorporating forced induction systems such as turbochargers and superchargers to add to the power and capacity of the engine. For many owners, however, the distinction between turbocharging and supercharging is confusing. By comparing these two engine systems and learning more about their feature sets and advantages, vehicle owners can make more informed decisions about the best approaches for their cars or trucks. They may even want to consider twincharger setups that feature both types of systems.

 

Technical differences

The overall intent of a turbocharger and a supercharger is the same. The purpose is to increase the air density in an internal combustion engine to allow that engine to produce more power than a naturally aspirated engine would produce. A naturally aspirated engine relies on atmospheric pressure to force air into the combustion system, but mechanically forced induction increases air pressure in the system and leads to more engine power. Turbochargers and superchargers achieve this same purpose in different ways, and there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

Turbocharger design

A turbocharger connects to an engine at the exhaust manifold. The exhaust gasses enter the turbocharger through the exhaust component, and that component then transfers the air to a compressor component inside the device. The compressor spins the captured air and forces it into the intake manifold of the engine. Technically, a turbocharger is a subcategory of a centrifugal supercharger.

Supercharger design

A supercharger draws from the initial power of an engine to operate, instead of using the exhaust or waste energy produced by the engine. It connects with the crankshaft of the engine and relies on the crankshaft to initiate its spin cycle. Several different types of superchargers are available, including roots-style superchargers, which have the advantage of a streamlined design, and screw-style superchargers, which are much more efficient at moving air through an engine.

 

Choosing between a supercharger and a turbocharger

Both types of forced induction systems deliver a large amount of supplemental power to a combustion engine. Nonetheless, drivers tend to prefer the advantages of one system or the other.

Supercharger advantages

The major advantage of a supercharger is that it can deliver a power boost at lower RPMs. In contrast, a turbocharger has to wait for the engine to operate at higher RPMs to produce enough exhaust gasses to drive the system. Car enthusiasts call this concept turbo lag. A supercharger is also cooler to operate because it does not operate using hot exhaust gasses at high engine RPMs. On the other hand, turbocharged systems typically require the use of intercooler systems to ensure engines operate at safe temperatures. Superchargers are also simpler systems that are typically easier for less experienced owners to install.

Superchargers have a much wider boost threshold than turbochargers and do not require the same amount of time to spool up. This eliminates the risk of power surges that could cause a driver to lose control momentarily in the wrong circumstances. A supercharger also does not leech off an engine's oil supply and cause drag on a crucial engine system.

Turbocharger advantages

A turbocharger offers significant advantages to engines with smaller displacements, and it leverages much more power out of engines with smaller footprints. A turbocharger also offers increased efficiency to an engine. Because it uses waste energy in the form of exhaust gasses and does not rely on engine power to run, it raises an engine's energy recovery and ultimately its overall efficiency.

Another advantage of taking the turbocharger approach is that turbochargers can serve as a "plug and play" solution without requiring a full custom rebuild on an engine. In contrast, a stock supercharger can expose internal systems to undue pressure and heat over time unless owners make specific customisations to the engine's supercharger specs.

 

How to buy superchargers and turbochargers on eBay

If you are looking for either a supercharger or a turbocharger, you have a large array of items to choose from on eBay. You can begin by looking for the search bar on any page of the site. Use it to run a keyword search for a forced induction system and then click on individual titles to review products more closely. Turbochargers and superchargers offer great boosts to engines in cars and trucks and require just a basic understanding of their differences for vehicle owners to find the right options. Choosing a local seller can help save on shipping costs.

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