What is a supercharger?
A supercharger is a way of forcing more air into the engine than is allowed naturally. It is a compressor driven by the engine's belt system. When we add more air to the system we also add more fuel. This allows the engine to move more air than was previously possible, in a way simulating an engine of higher displacement. Depending on the size of the supercharger pulley we can alter the ratio of engine RPMs to supercharger RPMs. The steeper the ratio, the more boost we can add. Changing your boost levels is as simple as swapping pulleys.
The main reason to convert to forced induction is to increase power. But there are two main options for forced induction: Supercharging and turbocharging. Here are a few benefits of supercharging over turbocharging:
- No custom exhaust work. Superchargers use the same exhaust configuration as naturally aspirated vehicles. In most situations a quality aftermarket exhaust is plenty for a supercharged engine.
- No oil plumbing. Turbo chargers require both an oil feed line and an oil return line. The superchargers we use and sell are closed systems, only requiring oil changes every 10k miles.
- Linear power delivery. Superchargers deliver power in direct correlation to the engine RPMs. This means the power can more smoothly be put to the ground.
- No lag. Turbochargers are powered by engine exhaust, meaning it takes time for them to spool up. Superchargers are driven directly from the engine's crankshaft, meaning instant power. Superchargers also make boost from a lower RPM than turbochargers, meaning you get your power even sooner.
You may ask, well why would anyone turbocharge then? Are there any downsides to superchargers? Here are a couple:
- Less efficient. Superchargers are driven by the engine, and therefore require engine power to make more power. Turbochargers are using potentially wasted energy found in the engine's exhaust, meaning they are more efficient.
- More heat. Superchargers generate lots of heat. This can be tough to reduce, but a good way is to install an intercooler or water injection. You can also implement systems such as bypass systems so the supercharger isn't heating the air when it doesn't need to.
In summary, superchargers are an easier, simpler way than turbos to add power to a car without as much custom fabrication as a turbo. Many times this simplicity outweighs the larger power potential of a turbocharger.
What is required to install a supercharger?
Superchargers are in fact easier than turbochargers to install, but that does not by any means infer that they are easy. Here is a basic list of supercharging requirements:
- More fuel. With more air comes the need for more fuel. If your car is already fuel injected, great! The smallest size injectors we offer with our fuel injection kits will support a good bit of boost. If your car is not fuel injected, we recommend converting!
- Exhaust. With more air in comes more exhaust. We highly recommend an aftermarket exhaust to help move those gases out quickly and efficiently!
- Drivetrain upgrades. Supercharging is a large jump in power, even at the entry level! At a minimum expect to upgrade your clutch, or at the very least replace it with a fresh OEM one. Also take into consideration other drivetrain parts, such as axle strength and transmission health.
- Brakes. More power means more speed. If your brakes aren't up to the task, you may find yourself in trouble! Although this isn't necessarily an upgrade, we definitely recommend making sure your brakes are in safe working order.
- Gauges. With a supercharger comes more heat. It also puts more stress on the engine. Having a way to keep an eye on temperatures, oil pressure, air/fuel ratios, and boost levels is a good way to monitor your engine.