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What is Horsepower?

What is horsepower?
 
While most people are familiar with the term horsepower considering it is in almost every car commercial, few actually know the meaning of it and where it comes from.
 
The term “horsepower” was invented by James Watt, who came up with the word when he was determining how much coal a pony could lift. On average, he found that the average pony could do 33,000 foot pounds of work in a minute. This means that a pony can lift 33 lbs of coal, 1000 ft in one minute or 330 lbs, 100 ft in one minute. To this day, we still consider one horsepower as 33,000 foot pounds of work per min.
 
In cars, the horsepower of your engine is measured with a dynamometer, which measures the amount of power your engine can produce against the load. A dynamometer determines how much load the engine can handle at various speeds. All engines have a peak horsepower, which is an rpm value where the power is at a maximum.
 
A vehicle is considered “high performance” if it is powerful relative to the amount of weight it carries. The lighter the car, the faster it can accelerate. Engineers are constantly trying to find ways to make high performance vehicles lighter to help increase their horsepower.
 
Patrick Britton – Guest Blogger