What’s the Difference Between Turbocharging and Supercharging?

When it comes to enhancing locomotive performance, turbocharging and supercharging are the two primary ways. Both are forced initiation methods that parcel the park purpose of boosting horsepower in normally aspirated engines. Although the two technologies are sometimes mistaken for one another or used interchangeably, distinct differences set them apart.

What is Forced Induction?

Mazda Skyactiv-G Turbocharged Engine Photo: Christian Wardlaw basically, turbochargers and superchargers are air out compressors used to increase oxygen flow into an engine through forced evocation, but each accomplishes this goal in its own way. Forced induction uses the principle that more air in the combustion work creates a greater output of power. By compressing air and increasing its concentration, forced evocation allows more oxygen into the engine cylinder, calling for a correspondingly greater come of fuel. More fuel means larger explosions in the burning chamber which leads to more power generation. At higher altitudes, where the air out is less dense, push initiation helps regain lost world power by pressurizing air and squeezing more oxygen into the cylinders. Without coerce induction, an engine is limited by the vent concentration of the atmosphere around it, whether at ocean level or 10,000 feet .

Turbo vs. Super: The Key Difference

Although both methods use forced induction, the fundamental remainder between turbocharging and supercharging is how the air compression components for each system receive power. A turbocharger takes an indirect border on as it does not mechanically connect to the engine. alternatively, it uses the stream of run down natural gas from the engine to spin a turbine that powers the compressor. A supercharger physically connects to the engine. It operates by using the engine ‘s crankshaft as a direct energy source for the compressor .

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What is Turbocharging?

2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo Skyactiv Engine Photo: Christian Wardlaw As exhaust gases pass through and spin a turbine, the turbine creates a vacuum that compresses vent before forcing it into an engine ‘s inhalation manifold. As the locomotive spins faster, then does the turbine, thereby sending tied more air into the drive and boosting might by 25 % to 40 %. however, this system is not instantaneous. Since an exhaust-driven turbine takes time to spool astir and the turbine must spin at a specific rate of speed for optimum promote, the system will often experience a lag. This stay, known as a “ turbo interim, ” is a fleeting lapse of baron that occurs as the turbocharger tries to get up to speed. Turbochargers are not a potent as superchargers, but since they run away recovered energy in the form of run down gases, they improve the engine ‘s overall efficiency. A turbocharger besides utilizes a wastegate that reduces the emission of exhaust gases into the environment.

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What is Supercharging?

2021 Jaguar F-Type Supercharged V8 Engine Photo: Christian Wardlaw A supercharger is connected to the locomotive by a knock or chain. As the engine ‘s crankshaft spins, the supercharger spins along with it. Like with the turbocharger, the spin creates a vacuum that compresses air and then forces it directly into the engine. The direct-drive relationship between the supercharger and the engine creates a linear powerband that results in an instantaneous boost of 30 % to 50 %. The supercharger provides this optimum boost throughout the revolutions per minute band without any slowdown. This aim association to the engine makes superchargers more mighty than turbochargers, but this besides makes superchargers well less effective. In the end, they are designed to produce engine exponent by drawing engine power. In some ways, they are like powering an air pump with another tune heart. besides, unlike a turbocharger, a supercharger does not utilize a wastegate. This means it emits more smog than its turbocharged counterpart .

The Pros and Cons of Each

While turbocharging and supercharging bring a significant increase in horsepower to normally aspirate engines, they each have pros and cons. Turbocharging Pros :

  • Ideal for smaller displacement engine applications; often paired with four-cylinder engines
  • Lighter weight and lower impact on fuel economy
  • Overall more efficient powertrain operation due to energy loss recovery (exhaust gases)
  • Utilizes wastegate that reduces carbon emissions
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Turbocharging Cons :

  • Presence of turbo lag 
  • Designed to provide boost within a specific engine operating range rather than across the entire rev band
  • Higher engine oil requirement due to extremely hot operating temperatures
  • Complex installation 

Supercharging Pros :

  • Produces significantly more horsepower than turbocharging
  • A quick solution to boosting power in larger displacement engines with more cylinders
  • No power lag as is seen with turbocharging; power delivery is instantaneous
  • Delivers power boost at low engine revs in comparison with turbochargers
  • Experiences longer life and less heat wear than turbocharging

Supercharging Cons :

  • Absence of wastegate results in more carbon emissions
  • Lower fuel economy due to direct power draw from the engine
  • Louder and more abrasive sounding than turbocharging


Although the say goes, “ there is no successor for supplanting, ” turbochargers and superchargers are both highly effective ways to get more power and performance from any engine. But each system comes with a alone fix of trade-offs. For those looking to balance performance with fuel economy and efficiency, turbocharging is the better choice. For those more interest in a straightforward solution to raw horsepower, supercharging is more likely the way to go.