Forced induction is one of the most common ways through which vehicles’ engines are boosted. During forced induction, boost is generated by compressing the air which usually flows in the engine. This means more fuel will be pumped into the engine since the compressed air has more oxygen. The car then gets more power from the explosions in the cylinders. Usually, it is turbos and superchargers that are used to generate the boost.
Difference between Turbos and Superchargers
As much as these two boost generators work together, they have a difference. In addition, supercharger Vs turbo pros and cons vary.
Turbos use the exhaust gases from the engine to generate boost. For the process to be complete, exhaust gases spin a turbine which then spins another air pump. When a car is turbo charged, its fuel economy is not affected by the turbo when it is at idle or having low revs. This can be attributed to the fact that turbochargers are lightweight. Additionally, exhaust gases require more time to generate the pressure that is required to spin the turbine. The time that is taken to generate this pressure is called turbo lag. This explains why big turbos have more turbo lag.
For a supercharger, it gets the power to increase air compression through a belt that is connected to the engine’s crankshaft. Since the supercharger is directly connected to the engine, it is able to provide immediate boost unlike a turbo which is not able to do so due to turbo lag. Normally, a supercharger works by using the belt connected to the engine’s crankshaft to spin a pulley which is usually connected to a drive gear. The drive gear then turns a compressor gear which compresses the air which is fed to a cylinder. By using a supercharger, an engine’s bhp power is increased by 46% while Torque is boosted by 30-40 percent.
Pros and Cons of turbos and superchargers
Each method of creating boost for the engine has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it is important to consider what each boost generator has to offer before you make a decision on which one to install.
Pros of using turbos
- Turbos offer a significant amount of boost to the engine
- With turbos, even smaller engines can be able to produce enough power for the car. This explains why turbos can be installed in even the smallest or less powerful cars.
- Helps in maintaining good fuel economy. Small engines that are turbo charged use less fuel to idle. This means that the rational and reciprocating mass is less which is very good for fuel economy.
- More efficient engines. Technically, turbochargers use energy that is lost in the engines that are naturally aspirated and supercharged. With this energy being recovered, the overall performance of the engine is improved.
Cons of using turbos
- Take time to provide enough boost. Due to the turbo lag, the car does not immediately speed up. This is especially disadvantageous to vehicles with big turbo chargers.
- Compromise vehicle stability. In big turbo chargers, reaching the required amount of boost can lead to a power surge. This causes the car to loose tyre traction which can cause an accident.
- Numerous engine oil refills. Owing to the fact that turbo chargers get very hot, they try to get some of the engine’s oil. This means that you will always have to do some additional plumbing as well as numerous engine oil refills. This can turn out to be bad not only on the financial side of the vehicle owner but also on the entire engine.
- Threshold for the boost. Normally, turbos are set for a certain range where the exhaust gas required is enough to offer more boost to the engine. However, they do not have a wide range as compared to the superchargers. This explains why there is occurrence of power surges.
- Can damage engine. Due to the amount of power they produce, turbos have a high probability of destroying the engine.
Pros of using superchargers
- More horsepower. By installing a supercharger on an engine, you are assured of immediate boost for your car hence more power.
- Zero lag. Once you engage the supercharger you will immediately get the results. This can be attributed to the fact that the supercharger is driven by the crankshaft.
- Easy to install. There is not much involved when it comes to installing superchargers. In addition, the supercharger is easier to maintain since it does not need intercoolers unlike in the case of turbos which are known for heating compressed air.
- Save engine fuel. Since superchargers do not have to heat the compressed air, they do not heat up hence they do not tap into the engine’s oil supply.
Cons of using superchargers
- Low efficiency. Superchargers are less efficient compared to turbo chargers. This is because they are not independent like the turbos. The supercharger has to rely on the engine to generate the power it needs to run.
- Cannot be used on small engines. Due to the amount of power they suck from an engine, superchargers are only recommendable on big engines. This means owners of small cars who may want to install a supercharger have to change the car which is also expensive.
In the supercharger vs. turbo pros and cons, it is also important to note that any forced induction is bound to negatively affect the engine. This is because the internal parts of the engine have been exposed to immense temperature and pressure. Therefore, it is advisable to build the engine from the bottom instead of using the stock internals. In addition, those who apply forced induction should ensure they also install waste gates which remove excess pressure.
Due to the immense heat and temperatures produced during forced induction, the installations should be carried out with a lot of caution and by experts. This will minimize the chances of engine explosion. Supercharger Vs turbo pros and cons are the perfect guide for a car owner who wants to apply forced induction on their cars. The choice is now in your hands.