We’ve all heard of the term, but how many of us really know what it horsepower is? What does it do? How did it get its name?

Let’s find out!


steam engineWith the creation of the steam engine, engineers decided to study and compare the output of the steam engines to the output of the workhorses that were being replaced. Later, an engineer by the name of James Watt furthered the studies to assist in the marketing of his new and improved steam engine and determined that the electrical equivalent to 1 horsepower is 746 watts. It was then that the term was born, and the goal was to create an engine that could exert more power than the workhorses.


horsepowerIt is a unit of measurement of power, and there are many different types. We mostly hear of it when talking about the power of an engine in auto mechanics. It is the show pony of car and automobile ads. What it literally means is this; one workhorse can do 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute. Imagine a horse lifting coal. A horse with an output of 1 horsepower can lift 330 pounds of coal 100 feet per minute. The number of pounds and feet can vary as long as the end result equates to 33,000 foot-pounds per minute.


Now that we know that the power an engine produces is called horsepower, let’s talk about the measuring process and torque, which is a rotating force. It some cases it may lead to motion and in others may not. It is the base power for work and can be created without having to move an object.

The power that is produced by the engines in our cars is measured on an engine dynamometer. The dynamometer, however, cannot measure the horsepower without first measuring torque. After that, it can be converted into hp by using a special formula.

Equipped with a better understanding of the subject at hand, you can now go out and share your newfound knowledge with others!