Margaret Ray Ringenberg
Turbo Charger VS Super Charger
One of the most common questions asked when modifying a car is which rout to take turbo or supercharger. The answer is not a simple one by any means each has special characteristics. In Webster a supercharger is defined as “a device (as a blower or compressor) for pressurizing the cabin of an airplane or for increasing the volume air charge of an internal combustion engine over that which would normally be drawn in through the pumping action of the pistons”. A turbo charger is defined as “a centrifugal blower driven by exhaust gas turbines and used to supercharge an engine”. However turbo charger is included in with the definition of a supercharger.
The main goal for both of these systems is to force more air into the combustion chamber than would normally be allowed with standard atmospheric pressure at sea level (14.7 PSI). More air in the combustion chamber along with proper tuning allows for more fuel to be burn which in turn creates more energy and thus more power.
Turbo chargers use potential energy in the exhaust to spin an impeller that compresses air and feeds it to the motor. Because a turbo takes a little while to spool up (usually between 2k and 4k rpm) there is always going to be some lag before you get the power and sometimes the power is delivered so quickly it can shock the system and cause you to lose traction or break something. To eliminate lag you can get a smaller turbo which spools lower in the rpm and has less power potential but then is past its efficiency at higher rpms and exhaust must be bypassed through the wastage to prevent damage to the turbo. To install a turbo system on you vehicle is going to be much more complicated than on a supercharger also turbo systems require major amounts of fuel tuning.
Superchargers are belt driven from the main pulley which means they have no lag. However it is not free power like the turbo some power is sacrificed to spin the pulley that powers the supercharger this power is made back once the supercharger is making boost. Supercharger systems are substantially less complicated and easier to install and require very little tuning. However all of the things superchargers have going for them still don’t make up for the fact that they will never have the power capability of a turbocharger setup.
Each system has its place turbo for high power and rpm and supercharger for medium power all the time. You usually see turbo charger setups on high revving 4 and 6 cylinders because of their ability to rev to high rpms they can use good sized turbo’s with minimum lag. Supercharger setups are more common on v8s that need power down low. In my biased opinion turbo is better than supercharger but in fact there is no clear winner each has its place and always will.