What is the Difference Between a Supercharger and a Turbocharger?

In the world of high-performance engines, forced induction is a popular way to increase power output. Superchargers and turbochargers are the two most common forms of forced induction, and while they both have the same end goal, the way they achieve it is quite different. In this article, we will explore the key differences between superchargers and turbochargers.


A supercharger is a device that forces air into an engine at a higher pressure than atmospheric pressure. This increases the amount of air that enters the engine, which in turn allows more fuel to be burned, resulting in increased power output. Superchargers are typically driven by a belt that is connected to the engine’s crankshaft. The most common types of superchargers are roots, twin-screw, and centrifugal.

Roots superchargers are the oldest and simplest type of supercharger. They use two meshing lobes to force air into the engine. While they are efficient at lower engine speeds, they tend to produce more heat and noise than other types of superchargers.

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Twin-screw superchargers use two meshing screws to compress the air. They are more efficient than roots superchargers and produce less heat and noise, but they are also more expensive.

Centrifugal superchargers use a spinning impeller to compress the air. They are the most efficient type of supercharger at high engine speeds, but they also tend to be the most expensive.


A turbocharger is a device that uses the engine’s exhaust gases to spin a turbine, which then drives a compressor that forces air into the engine. This increases the amount of air that enters the engine, allowing more fuel to be burned, resulting in increased power output. Turbochargers are typically more efficient than superchargers because they use waste energy from the exhaust to spin the turbine.

Turbochargers are often classified by the number of turbos they use. A single turbocharger uses one turbine and one compressor, while a twin-turbocharger uses two of each. In some cases, engines may even use multiple turbochargers.

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Which is Better?

The answer to this question largely depends on the specific application. Superchargers are generally better at providing low-end power, while turbochargers are better at providing high-end power. Superchargers also tend to be easier to install and maintain, while turbochargers can be more complex and require more maintenance.

Another factor to consider is cost. While superchargers are generally less expensive than turbochargers, the specific cost will depend on the type and application.


In summary, both superchargers and turbochargers are effective ways to increase power output in an engine. While they both achieve the same end goal, the way they do it is quite different. The choice between the two will depend on the specific application, as well as cost and complexity considerations.

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