The Difference Between a Turbocharger and a Supercharger

February 26, 2015

I have always had students ask me “what’s the difference between a turbo and a supercharger.”  Well let me tell you the end result is the same out of both, BOOST, but one is more efficient than the other.

Turbocharger vs Supercharger

Turbocharger

Let’s start with a turbocharger, a turbo uses the exhaust pressure of the engine to turn a turbine wheel. That turbine is hooked to the compressor wheel by a direct shaft that goes through the turbo housing. The compressor wheel compresses the air. That’s where the boost comes from that makes all of that POWER! Since a turbo uses the wasted exhaust that the engine produces, this makes a turbo 65% to 75% efficient. Now that is the way to make power!

Supercharger

Now let’s take a look at superchargers, superchargers are ran off of a big belt. This belt is attached to the engine crankshaft. Superchargers aren’t as efficient as a turbo, because it takes horsepower to turn the supercharger, we call that parasitic loss. That equates to a low efficiency of 35% to 50% on the best style of supercharger.  You have to be able to spin a supercharger pretty fast to make horsepower, and this is why diesels do not use them as much as turbochargers.