Turbocharger vs. Supercharger (Similar Yet Different) (2023)

The main difference between turbocharger vs. supercharger is the way each one is powered. Turbochargers run off exhaust gases. A supercharger is powered by the car’s engine using a belt or chain connected to the camshaft. Both of them increase power to the engine by acting as a turbine to push more air into the engine through the intake manifold. This process is explained by and called, “forced induction.” A ‘naturally aspirated’ engine is any engine that is not equipped with a turbocharger or a supercharger.

Turbochargers and supercharges both act as a compressor to force more oxygen into the engine. The main advantages are better performance, and in the case of the turbo, better gas mileage. Alfred Büchi, a great Swiss engineer, invented the turbocharger in 1905. Over the years turbos were used a lot in ship and aircraft engines. They are also very common on diesel engines used to power trucks, busses, and other hard-working vehicles. The first production car to use a turbocharger was the 1962 Chevrolet Corvair. Next they showed up on Porsche’s during the 1970’s. Gottlieb Daimler,an engineering genius who would go on to start the Mercedes Benz car company, started working on early versions of superchargers by getting a patent on a way of using a gear-drivenpumpto force air into an engine in 1885. Earlier versions of superchargers were used in blast furnaces as early as 1860. Mercedes rolled out their Kompressor engines equipped with superchargers in 1921. An engine equipped with a supercharger and a turbocharger is called a ‘twincharger.’

(Video) Turbochargers vs Superchargers - Which Is Better?

Turbocharger vs. supercharger, which is faster?

A supercharger has faster response because it is directly controlled by how fast the car’s crankshaft is spinning. It works all the time, no matter how fast you’re going or how you drive.

The faster the engine spins, the faster the spin of the supercharger as more air is pushed into the combustion chamber. A supercharger typically provides an engine with higher horsepower, increased performance, and more boost across the entire operating range of the engine from top to bottom. Hot exhaust gases power the turbocharger creating a short lag time from when the throttle is opened by pushing the gas pedal down. It typically takes a few seconds for the power to spool up. Turbochargers provide more power in the low or high end of the engine’s RPM range depending on the type of turbo used.

(Video) Turbochargers VS Superchargers | Which is Better?

Turbos are very popular in diesel engines where they are used to help produce extra torque needed to power buses, and locomotive engines. Turbos produce extreme amounts of heat and need to be lubricated by the same oil that flows through the engine. This is a possible maintenance issue as the oil will wear out faster and need to be changed more often. Most superchargers don’t need to be lubricated with engine oil. Superchargers do not produce nearly as much additional heat as a turbocharger.

What effect does a turbocharger or supercharger have on car value?

When considering a turbocharger vs. supercharger in terms of a car holding it’s value, the effect is very little. Assuming the car or truck included a turbo or supercharger, as original equipment it doesn’t cause the car hold its value any better or worse. If you paid extra for a supercharger or a turbocharger on your car, it will retain this value when you go to sell it just like any other desirable option. Adding a turbocharger to the standard engine package when buying a new car is usually costs about $1,000 extra. Keep in mind that turbochargers are much more popular when it comes to engine upgrades. In the year 2018, there were over 200 models of cars and trucks available with a turbocharger as an option. In the same year there were only 30 models available with a supercharger. The latest numbers are similar for the 2019 model year. In some ways, turbos and superchargers are one more thing that can go wrong on a car. Older cars with turbos run the risk of extra maintenance. Overheated engines were a concern on some older model cars equipped with turbos. Turbos have come a long way as they’ve become more established. Transmission and brakes are other possible problem areas. If you’re considering buying a car with a turbo have these items looked at by a qualified mechanic. Today’s new generation of turbos tend to be less troublesome.

(Video) Turbo vs. Supercharger - Which is Best?

Can you add a turbocharger or supercharger to a car?

You can add an aftermarket supercharger system to a vehicle but it is very big expense and probably not a good investment or worth the money. Superchargers come in three main configurations known as root, twin screw, and centrifugal. Superchargers are usually standard equipment on many types of racing cars where it’s all about the speed, and in some cases are not actually going to be street legal.

Be aware of any warranties on your car that could be voided by adding a supercharger. You can add an aftermarket turbocharger to your car but it too is very expensive and probably not worth the time or extra cash. Any fuel savings you get from adding a turbo will be very small as compared to what it will cost to turbocharge the engine. You would need to buy the turbocharger, upgrade the fuel system, and possibly change the engine control module, which is the engine’s brain. You could also replace the entire engine in your car with a turbocharged model, but once again it’s a very expensive way to go.

(Video) Supercharger vs Turbocharger - Why Supercharged Car is Better than Turbo

How much does it cost to add a turbocharger vs. supercharger to a car?

Installing an aftermarket supercharger will cost anywhere from $1500-$7500 and should not be tried by amateur car mechanics. Installation tips are available via video on various company’s websites and they can be contacted by email for more information. Upgrading the size and capacity of the cooling system of a car equipped with an aftermarket supercharger is also needed. Adding a turbocharger to a naturally aspirated engine is a complicated and expensive job. An aftermarket turbocharger sells for anywhere from $500-$2000. You will also need to change several other engine components or buy a turbo conversion kit. By the time you pay for the kit, the turbo, extra parts, and the labor you could easily be close to $5000. The bottom line is that it’s not a simple build and unless you’re doing it as a hobby would be wasted money.

Turbocharger vs. supercharger effect on horsepower?

Turbochargers and superchargers both boost horsepower by injecting more air into the engine. A turbocharger is powered by exhaust gas, which is a waste product so they tend to be more fuel-efficient. A supercharger actually requires horsepower to turn it. That horsepower is sacrificed for better performance. Extra power supplied by the supercharger is not free. Experts estimate that adding a supercharger to a car’s engine will boost performance by 30%-50% over a comparable car without a supercharged engine. Keep in mind that since the supercharger runs on engine power, it also subtracts up to as much as 20% of the engine’s energy. Car manufacturers, including Mercedes are now offering electric superchargers that are powered by an electric motor as opposed to the car’s engine. This is a relatively new innovation and how well they perform is still being debated. Adding a turbocharger to a car’s engine will also give you a boost in power of about 30%-40%. Some cars are equipped with twin turbos with one designed to add boost at lower RPMs and a second one that’s targeted at reducing the amount of performance lag. Because turbochargers produce extreme amounts of heat, some of them come equipped with “intercoolers.” Intercoolers work very similar to radiators. In a turbocharger they cool the exhaust gas before it’s sent back into the engine, which also boosts the performance. Both types of forced induction systems create more horsepower. Turbochargers make more economical sense if you are trying to save gas while a supercharger provides quicker and better-balanced performance.

(Video) How Superchargers vs. Turbos Work

Turbocharger vs. supercharger effect on fuel economy?

A turbocharger typically helps a car get better gas mileage because a smaller engine can be used to get the same amount of performance. Expect a turbocharged engine to be about 8% -10% more fuel efficient that the same engine that is not turbo equipped. Because engine power controls superchargers, they are not a reliable way to save fuel. They do allow a smaller engine to be used in a car to get the same performance as a larger engine, but they are not designed to save gas. Superchargers are installed to enhance performance. They are not the best choice for fuel efficiency.

Is a supercharger or turbocharger bad for your engine?

Superchargers and turbochargers are not bad for your engine. They have been used on engines since engines were originally designed. They offer the advantage of increasing engine performance. Turbochargers can also enhance fuel economy but have more moving parts, which could lead to extra maintenance. Superchargers improve performance but don’t really save any gas.

(Video) Turbocharged VS Supercharged: What's Better For Daily Driving? | Opposite Lanes

Conclusion

In many ways there is nothing new about how turbochargers and superchargers work and what they do. Both of them share the same function of forcing more air into the engine, which creates more horsepower. A turbo relies on the byproduct of the engine in the form of exhaust gas to run. The engine itself – except for the new electric superchargers available on some models – powers a supercharger. Turbocharged engines tend to be more fuel-efficient. Supercharged engines are more about getting better performance. Their effects on resale value are very little in terms of being a plus or a minus. The money you paid upfront to get an engine equipped with a turbocharger or supercharger retains its value when it’s time to sell or trade your car. Both of them boost engine performance by about 40%. Turbochargers and superchargers are mechanical devices that may at some point need maintenance. Of the two, the turbocharger has more things that can go wrong. The expense of adding a supercharger or a turbocharger onto a car as an aftermarket item doesn’t make any economic sense. When looking at the pros and cons, along with the differences, the bottom like is really about performance and fuel efficiency when looking at turbocharger vs. supercharger.

FAQs

Which is better between turbocharger and supercharger? ›

For those looking to balance performance with fuel economy and efficiency, turbocharging is the better choice. For those more interested in a straightforward solution to raw horsepower, supercharging is more likely the way to go.

Why do some superchargers look like turbos? ›

A centrifugal supercharger looks a lot like a turbocharger on the compressor side, and that's no coincidence. Much like a turbo, it uses an impeller to compress intake air and force it into the engine.

Why are turbos more common than superchargers? ›

Unlike superchargers, many modern cars incorporate turbochargers as a standard part. Turbocharged vehicles are much more common in the United States, mainly due to the fact that they're powered by exhaust gases that were not being used until now.

Can a car have both turbo and supercharger? ›

Yes, using a turbocharger in tandem with a supercharger is very much possible. In fact, racing cars have been using twin-charging (turbocharger+supercharger) to increase the power both at the low RPM band and the high RPM band.

What is the biggest advantage a supercharger has over a turbocharger? ›

No lag: the supercharger's biggest advantage over a turbocharger is that it does not have any lag. Power delivery is immediate because the supercharger is driven by the engine's crankshaft. Low RPM boost: good power at low RPM in comparison with turbochargers. Price: cost effective way of increasing horsepower.

Why are superchargers not used anymore? ›

Its simply a matter of choice just like having a v6 or v8. Superchargering was never “in favor" with manufacturers. They are too big and use up too much fuel compared to turbos.

Are superchargers AC or DC? ›

To get technical, Tesla Superchargers are 480-volt direct current (DC) fast chargers. But more simply, Superchargers are just really fast electric vehicle battery chargers.

Why do muscle cars use superchargers instead of turbos? ›

One significant advantage to superchargers is that they can be more easily tuned to provide power and boost over a broad RPM band as opposed to turbochargers, which comparatively operate most effectively in a small powerband.

What is the disadvantage of turbo engine? ›

Disadvantages of a Turbo Engine

Well, more power means more energy output per second. This means that you have to put more energy when you use it. So you must burn more fuel. In theory, that means an engine with a turbocharger is no more fuel efficient than one without.

What is better for drifting turbo or supercharger? ›

Turbocharging your drift car will provide more power in higher RPMs, at the cost of lacking low-end torque. Superchargers will provide a nearly linear powerband, but require power from the engine to drive them. Of course, there's more than one turbo configuration, and there's more than one style of supercharging.

What is it called when you have both turbo and supercharger? ›

Twincharger refers to a compound forced induction system used on some piston-type internal combustion engines. It is a combination of an exhaust-driven turbocharger and a mechanically driven supercharger, each mitigating the weaknesses of the other.

Can you put 2 superchargers on a car? ›

Well, you can add as many as you want depending on your skills and finances. We ran an engine with a single large supercharger, then changed the same engine to four turbo chargers, ran that for a while and now run two turbochargers. Some we know are running multiple turbochargers on in-line six cylinder diesel engines.

How much HP can a supercharger add? ›

Supercharger or turbocharger

A turbocharger works with the exhaust system and can potentially give you gains of 70-150 horsepower. A supercharger is connected directly to the engine intake and could provide an extra 50-100 horsepower.

Do superchargers run hotter than turbochargers? ›

Superchargers have no lag, they boost an engine at low RPM, they run at cooler temperatures than turbos, and they're relatively cheap in comparison to turbos (those turbines can get really expensive). Now for the cons. Superchargers are inefficient, because they require quite a bit of engine power to turn.

Can a supercharger damage an engine? ›

Superchargers use air to increase power, meaning that overboosting the supercharger will blow hot air into the engine and could cause damage. A turbocharger is also able toproduce power quicker because it is not attached to the engine.

Why don t diesel engines use superchargers? ›

Since a super charger is driven by the engine and runs off of the crank it has a fixed amount of capable boost. The only way around this is a turbo - doesnt matter how well the super charger is designed, it will have a limited amount of boost and would not have the power potential a turbo would have.

Do superchargers damage battery? ›

Supercharging marginally degrades Tesla batteries, but this is normal. To minimize degradation Tesla's onboard Active Thermal Management system carefully manages and optimizes battery health. Tesla and EVs are becoming increasingly popular, but they only account for 1.5% of US sales in 2021.

Which supercharger is the strongest? ›

The Roots Supercharger is the most powerful and the most basic option. It is nestled into the intake manifold and often protrudes through the hood when installed. This supercharger works by forcing air through mesh lobes in the engine's intake manifold to increase pressure.

Which supercharger is best? ›

Centrifugal superchargers are prized for their efficiency, which translates into less heat and lower parasitic drag on the engine. Heat transfer to the motor itself is also greatly reduced, given that the supercharger isn't in direct contact with the engine itself.

What are the two types of turbocharger? ›

Well, there are two main turbochargers through which an engine breath. A Fixed Geometry Turbo (FGT) or an A Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT).

What voltage are Superchargers? ›

A Tesla Supercharger is a 480-volt direct current fast-charging technology built by American vehicle manufacturer Tesla, Inc. for electric cars.

Can electric cars have Superchargers? ›

Tesla's exclusive charging network is opening up. Tesla will open up its Supercharger network throughout the U.S. to owners of electric vehicles from other, non-Tesla manufacturers, the U.S. White House confirmed Friday.

Can any car charge at Supercharger? ›

Tesla uses a proprietary connector in North America, so non-Tesla vehicles here will need an adapter in order to access the company's Superchargers, of which there are over 6,798 plugs in the US, according to the Department of Energy.

Why does a Procharger look like a turbo? ›

Just like a conventional supercharger, it is belt-driven but takes the shape of a turbo in the engine bay. The reason for this is to lessen the amount of piping and drastically reduces the amount of heat transfer with immeasurable air-to-air cooling benefits as well.

Is a supercharger a turbo? ›

Turbochargers use the vehicle's exhaust gas; two fans – a turbine fan and a compressor fan – rotate from exhaust gas. Conversely, superchargers are powered directly by the engine; a belt pulley drives gears that cause a compressor fan to rotate.

Why are some superchargers GREY? ›

Battery running low...

If light grey then usually means coming soon.

Why do some superchargers have blowers? ›

Technically speaking, roots-type superchargers do not actually compress air internally in the supercharger; instead, they push air into the intake manifold into the engine. That is why is type of supercharger is sometimes called a “blower” rather than a compressor.

Is a ProCharger illegal? ›

Yes, even if you live in California, it's completely legal to add a ProCharger Supercharger System to your hot Hemi!

What makes a turbo scream? ›

What causes turbo whistle? Turbo whistle is the sound of the compressor inside the turbocharger speeding up (also known as 'spooling up', which is why it kicks in at the boost threshold (when the turbo starts to kick in) as you accelerate up the rev range.

Do superchargers whine or whistle? ›

The sounds that they make can turn heads on the busy street! When the compressed air leaves the discharge outlet, the supercharger creates a whistling, whining sound.

Do superchargers waste gas? ›

Because a supercharger uses the engine's own power to spin itself, it siphons power—more and more of it as engine revs climb. Supercharged engines tend to be less fuel efficient for this reason.

Do superchargers need to be oiled? ›

Superchargers just require a dedicated oil. For normal use, we recommend changing the oil every 12,000 miles. Severe use will require more frequent changes. The standard bottle holds 7 ounces and – depending on the kit – the supercharger takes approximately 5 ounces.

Do superchargers run better in cold weather? ›

Tesla Supercharging V3

Cold temperatures also reduce charging speed. While it may not be a concern for a nightly charge at home, it does have a noticeable impact at fast-charging stations. Any extra delay at a place where drivers are meant to get in, charge, and get out as fast as possible is noticeable.

How much psi can a supercharger produce? ›

A supercharger increases the pressure of the air entering the engine so that it's more than atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.7 psi (pounds per square inch), so a typical supercharger providing an increase of between 6 and 9 psi boosts the engine's air consumption by about 50 percent.

Can a stock engine handle a supercharger? ›

Because superchargers push the air/fuel mix into an engine, they're well suited to stock motors — provided you don't get greedy with how much boost you want to run or how hard you want to rev the engine.

Can you turn a supercharger on and off? ›

Third from the right in the above photo of easy-to-find-in-junkyards superchargers, the Previa supercharger can be turned on and off in true Mad Max fashion, and that requires the correct switch. This switch is used for two-speed truck axles.

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