Nearly half of all new cars made today use forced induction or ‘boost’ - this means they use superchargers, turbos or sometimes, both together. There’s a reason every major manufacturer now offer turbocharged or supercharged variants; boost improves efficiency, reduces the engine displacement size, improves packaging and increases horsepower and torque. In the aftermarket, one of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck is with turbocharger or supercharger kits and bolt on accessories like intercoolers, larger downpipes, and boost controllers.
What different types of turbochargers and superchargers are there?
Turbochargers and superchargers have one main difference: superchargers use a belt to compress air (boost) while turbos use exhaust gasses. For an in-depth comparison, read our articles on superchargers vs. turbochargers
. Both types of chargers have evolved over the years to improve efficiency, packages and performance. For the most part, superchargers come in 3 three different flavors: roots style, centrifugal and twin-screw.
Roots superchargers are the oldest design, named after inventors Philander and Francis Roots in 1860, roots style “blowers” use two fan-shaped cylinders to suck air in from the top and push it down into the intake manifold. These are the oldest and least-efficient style of supercharger and are typically seen on vintage hot rods with a large ‘blower’ stack sitting on top of a rumbling V8.
Centrifugal superchargers look a lot like turbos with a compressor that resembles a snail. Inside, the supercharger has an air compressor that is belt driven from the accessory belt system that also powers things like A/C, power steering and the alternator. This compressor then sends air into the intake, creating boost.
Twin-screw superchargers are popular with OEMs for stock vehicles because of packaging, cooling capability and performance. Twin-screw superchargers are belt driven like centrifugal chargers but use two spinning gear shaped cylinders like the roots-style superchargers. Twin-screws make that very distinguishable supercharger ‘whine’ when on boost and make tons of power.
Turbochargers come in six most common configurations and have evolved in complexity, performance and efficiency over their evolution. The turbocharger was patented in 1905 by Swiss engineer Alfred Büchi and used “a compressor driven by exhaust gases to force air into an internal combustion engine to increase power output.” Turbochargers were popularly adopted by OEMs in the 1980s and were only used in single turbo configuration. Twin-turbos were widely adopted in the 1990s and were either in sequential or biturbo configuration.
Intercoolers, Downpipes, and Boost Controllers
No aftermarket turbo setup is complete without an intercooler, exhaust downpipe, boost controller and blow-off valve (BOV). In some cases, a turbocharger downpipe exhaust temperatures can exceed 2000°F! These hot exhaust gasses in the wastegate side can heat up the intake compressor chamber in a turbocharger. Most turbo applications use intercoolers to cool down compressed air before it enters the intake manifold and engine. Intercoolers are essential for minimizing heat soak and ensuring reliable, consistent performance from a turbo or supercharged engine. Downpipes help this as well by evacuating those hot gasses as quickly as possible.
Controlling boost pressure is just as important as controlling temperature. Boost controllers and blow-off valves work together to make sure excess boost is dispelled in a controlled and safe manner. Without a boost controller, an engine can overboost and cause an engine to run lean. A lean engine has too much air and not enough fuel - this can cause backfires and engine damage.
Our aftermarket turbocharger and supercharger kits are durability tested and backed by warranties but it’s important to properly tune and maintain your engine to accommodate extra boost. Whichever you choose, we want you to be satisfied with your selection. That's why our experts at AutoAnything are here to answer all your questions about superchargers and turbochargers, just give us a call or hop in a chat!