Difference Between Turbocharger And Supercharger: Turbocharger Vs Supercharger

An engine produces power and converts heat energy into mechanical work. More power means more mechanical work. For decades engineers are trying to increase the power of engines. The concept of Turbocharger and supercharger arises from it. So in this article, we will explore the differences between turbochargers vs superchargers.

To improve the power of an engine, it needs to burn more fuel. More fuel means it needs more air as, without air, fuel can not burn. Right? So ultimately, improving the engine power needs an improved mechanism to deliver more air.

How much output an engine can deliver is directly proportional to how much air it can take. For sure, we need to have some mechanism that can force more air to the engine. The turbocharger and supercharger do the same job. Both are designed to inject more air into the engine.

What is turbocharger?

A turbocharger uses the velocity and heat of exhaust gas to spin a turbine that drives a compressor which in turn injects more air.

So ideally, the gas that is supposed to be waste is used by the turbocharger to improve the efficiency of an engine. Since a turbocharger needs exhaust gas to work, so you may notice a bit of lag when you start an engine with a turbocharger.

turbocharger vs supercharger
Credit : Wikipedia

The reason for this lag is simple. For the engine to produce exhaust gas, it needs some time, and the turbocharger needs to wait for that time before it kicks in. That is called turbo lag.

If you leave this drawback, turbochargers are an excellent concept to increase the output and efficiency of an engine by using exhaust gas which ultimately would have been wasted.

What is supercharger

A supercharger does the same job as a turbocharger, but instead of using exhaust gas, it uses engine power to force more air into the engine.

Usually, superchargers are driven mechanically by an engine with a belt drive that runs off the crankshaft. It can also be connected with the engine by chain drive or gear.

turbocharger vs supercharger
Credit : Wikipedia

Since a supercharger uses engine power, so engine with superchargers is less efficient. Although there will be no lag like you see in turbochargers, as I said, the efficiency will be inferior.

High-end cars and racing cars often have superchargers so that the moment they start their engine, and they get the instant boost in power. For general automobiles, a supercharger may be a bad concept as it eats up engine efficiency.

Here is a link to see a great animation to figure out the differences between Turbocharger and Supercharger.

Difference Between Turbocharger and Supercharger: Turbocharger Vs Supercharger

Here are the key differences between turbochargers vs superchargers. However, the list is not exclusive and may have a couple of more differences as and when we dig into the design aspect.

The turbocharger uses engine exhaust gases to operateThe supercharger uses engine power to operate
The turbocharger needs an intercooler as it deals with hot exhaust gasThe supercharger does not need any intercooler
The turbocharger has exhaust gas housing to use the force of the exhaust gas Superchargers are often directly connected to engine crankshaft or use belt drive, chain drive, or gear drive
The turbocharger increases engine efficiency as it uses exhaust gas.The supercharger decreases engine efficiency as it uses engine power
The power boost up is not instantPower boost up is instant
Turbo lag present as the turbocharger needs to wait for exhaust gasNo turbo lag as it starts operating as soon as the engine starts
The turbocharger generates less noiseThe Supercharger generate more noise
A turbocharger can be used in any car as it is compact and efficientSuperchargers are good for racing cars as racing cars need an instant boost in power. It can also be used for special purpose cars
The cost of turbocharger is less The cost of a supercharger is more than turbochargers
Simple design as it does not get connected directly to the engineComplex design as it needs to be connected to the engine

You may like to read: Types Of Engines

Conclusion: Supercharger Vs Turbocharger

This is all about the differences between turbochargers and superchargers. If you ask me which is the best between turbocharger vs. supercharger, I would definitely go for the turbocharger to increase engine efficiency. In fact, nowadays, low-cost cars are also coming with turbochargers.

The supercharger is a great concept, but it suffers from a decrease in engine efficiency. It is best suited for special applications like racing cars or high-end cars where the power matters more than the engine efficiency.

I hope you got a fair amount of knowledge to find out the difference between turbochargers vs. superchargers. If you still have questions, please write in the comment section, and I will be happy to respond.

Here is a video explaining the difference between turbocharger and supercharger. The video credit goes to Deutsche Auto Parts

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Turbocharger Vs Supercharger

What Is A Turbocharger?

A turbocharger is a mechanical device that uses engine exhaust gas to produce power for its compressor, which injects more air into the engine. Thus engine efficiency gets increases.

What Is A Supercharger?

A supercharger is a mechanical device connected to an engine and uses engine power to inject more air into the engine. This increases the power of an engine but reduces engine efficiency.


A 2004 batch Mechanical Engineering graduate From NIT, Agartala. Close to 16 years of experience in the field of consumer electronics and appliances domain as a Sr. Design Engineer and Team Leader in India and the United States. A GD&T practitioner, with expertise in Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Crazy about exploring CAD-CAM tools and in his free time love to go for a ride with his champ, Rian.