Home / Social media / Cars / Blown or sucked? A forced induction comparison.


The way things work in this universe of ours is strange, there’s lots of evidence that the same, or very similar things are invented in different parts of the world at the same time by people in similar industries. It was like that with cars too, having people working on different types of engines in different countries and having basically no contact. Internet searching hints that after engines had been in production for a while, engineers started trying to increase the power output, and back then with the knowledge at hand, it usually went the way of increasing engine capacity, but this soon proved inefficient and space became a problem. The basic things needed for an engine to work are air, fuel and spark. Adding more air to the fuel creates more power, and so in the early 1900s Swiss born Dr. Alfred Büchi started tinkering with ways to make this happen, and by 1905 he registered the first patent on a turbocharger. Sure it was for a marine application, but an engine is an engine and it clearly migrated from there.

More towards central Europe, slap-bang in the middle of the UK, a chap by the name of G Jones from Birmingham created a prototype of a supercharger as early as 1848. The design was later improved on by some American brothers with the name of Roots. It’s clear that their improvements worked great considering the whole of the car( guy/girl/person) world knows about a Roots-type supercharger. In 1815 German records show a patent for a supercharger for an ICE taken out by none other than Gottlieb Daimler, and another famous name registered a French patent for a supercharger - Louis Renault. So we’ve actually had a quest for more power for many, many years. Who knew the aftermarket industry was so old.

There’s only really been one kind of turbocharger for many years, with the only real addition being the electric variant we’re seeing people trying to make work properly these days. You get different variations in the normal turbocharger design though, which is where things like twin-scroll, variable geometry, and variable twin scroll comes from. These can also be used in combinations, most modern supercars are using a pair of turbochargers. A few automakers even have models that have a supercharger system combined with a turbocharger system, both working together to try and get efficient power. On the supercharger side of things there’s also a few kinds beside the older Roots-type. Twin-screw superchargers are aptly named because they basically feature a pair of rotating screws that create and direct airflow. A more common aftermarket conversion is with the centrifugal supercharger, it can work better in smaller spaces and due to the way they use impellers, they have a housing that’s easily confused with a turbocharger.

Which is better though? Both essentially do the same job. A supercharger is parasitic in nature though as it’s driven via a belt and pulley system that works off the already rotating assembly in the engine. Their efficiency has been improved and tuning has become so good that this isn’t really too much of a concern anymore. The bonus with a supercharger is that the boost is almost instantaneous, there’s no waiting for the revs to climb before the boost is created. Turbochargers work because the exhaust gases spin a turbine on one side of a turbo assembly, while on the other side another impeller sucks in air to create boost. The housing and impeller sizes determine the power. There’s actually quite a lot to the turbo vs supercharger story.   

Each kind of charging has its fans, some swear by turbos and can’t understand people who use stupidchargers, and vice versa. Many of you reading here at SXdrv will know most of this and every YouTuber and his uncle has some kind of content on the subject, but we quite like how the chaps from Ideal Cars have taken a look at what each of these different kinds of boost creator is all about and the different applications as well as the pros and cons. Let us know if you have anything to add to this turbo vs supercharger explanation.

Take a look at the YouTube video about the differences between a turbocharger and a supercharger below: Turbo vs. Supercharger - Which is Best? | Ideal Cars.

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