Whenever you watch a car commercial, it will always say just how much horsepower that car can put out. But, how do they reach that number? Are they just pulling it out of thin air?
No, they are using a dynamometer. What is dynamometer you ask? A dynamometer is a device used to measure the amount of power, speed, or mechanical force that a machine puts out.
But, how does it work? Well, let’s take a day trip back to middle school physics class. It is with the equation that force equals mass times acceleration that allows dynamometers to work. With this equation it is then possible to calculate just how much power is being created.
For car enthusiasts, there are two main types of dynamometers that are used. The first is known as the Chassis/Intertia dynamometer. It measures what is known as the wheel horsepower and torque. To measure this, the car is strapped in to a computer and the car is revved to it’s full RPM. Once the test is finished, the computer calculates the numbers and the results are delivered.
The second and last one is known as the Brake/Engine dynamometer. This test helps identify the power output of the engine. This dynamometer can only be used effectively if the engine is out of the vehicle. Once connected, The dynamometer uses either hydraulic fluid or water to create resistance to the engine’s spinning force. This resistance continues until the engine’s turning force is measured at every RPM. Once the test is finished, the tester is able to read the final torque.
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