Nitrous vs. Blowers vs. Turbos-Pros and Cons
Oct 21, 2000
"Juice","Hairdryer" or a"Blower"? All popular terms for power add-ons. But which to use? This overview is intended to to address the advantages and disadvantages of using Nitrous oxide, Turbochargers and Superchargers.
PRO:Provides the greatest horsepower improvement per dollar.
CON:When the bottle is empty your a spectator.
PRO:It doesn't matter what level of modification is done to your engine. It contributes to engine output immediately giving even your grandma's pinto the dramatics of a fine tuned big-block.
CON:It's not like going to the store to buy a six-pack. Many refilling stations are difficult to find or non-existent in some parts of the country. Some racers have to ship their bottle for refill!
PRO:Nitrous is easy to hide not letting other racers now the true capability of your vehicle.
CON:Some racers feel that nitrous is for cheaters who can't win without help.
PRO:Nitrous systems are very light. Even the most advanced systems weigh less than 70lbs. even with the bottles filled.
CON:To accommodate the faster burn rate nitrous produces, timing must be retarded approximately 2 degrees per 50 horsepower the system produces. This leaves the vehicle sluggish and engine efficiency is greatly reduced. Some race cars have timing control modules to control this effect.
PRO:Nitrous acts as an internal coolant when introduced thus decreasing the conditions which lead to pre-ignition and detonation.
CON:Unless your tune up is right on, chronic users eventually experience meltdown of internal engine parts. Durable and expensive engine parts must be used if you rely on nitrous.
PRO:With use of computer controlled timing, fuel and boost control devices, turbos offer almost unlimited potential.
CON:The extremely high operating temperatures create a hazard to surrounding parts.
PRO:There is no direct connection to any mechanic parts.Turbos generate power from exiting exhaust gases. The closest thing to "free" horsepower.
CON:Turbochargers do not work unless enough pressure is built up to spin the turbine wheel creating a condition called turbo lag. This is most noticeable during initial vehicle acceleration.
PRO:Turbocharged vehicles are much quieter. Sound waves are decreased as the gases move through the system(this might be a CON for some readers!).
CON:Sometimes expensive and complicated intake and exhaust plumbing is required. Anybody can purchase parts, but to put them together takes real skill sometimes.
PRO:Turbochargers are available in many different configurations for many applications.There is one for just about every vehicle.
PRO:There is nothing more intimidating than a polished GMC 'blower' sticking through the hood whining like a red headed step child.
CON:The size of most superchargers almost always requires body modification such as a hole in the hood.
PRO:Superchargers are very straight forward in installation and use. And of course with simplicity comes reliability.
CON:The front of an engine can become very cluttered making the routing of other accessories difficult.
PRO:Superchargers have immediate response because they are crank driven. There is no lag experienced like with turbos.
CON:The additional height of a supercharger limits forward sight and there fore seems to attract the ever undesirable law enforcement employee.
Hopefully this article will help anyone trying to make a decision on which system to use. I've installed and used each system and anyone of them will definitely put a smile on your face!