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Somebody please explain Horse Power in Laymen's terms.
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Somebody please explain Horse Power in Laymen's terms. - February 6, 2010, 05:26 PM

So I just got finished clearing my long 300 ft driveway and the neighborhood country roads of 2+ feet of snow using my New Holland 33 HP diesel tractor w/front loader.

Doing this made me realize what a work horse this tractor is and all with just 33 HP. Now here is what i don't understand. many sportbikes out there have well over 100 HP. But yet no way that engine could power a tractor my size and do all the work it does. But yet 100 HP is 3 times more HP. I always assumed the term "Horse Power" came from the olden days and how much work an average horse can do vs. how much engine power it would take to match the work of that many horse that would be needed.

So I admit I do not understand displacement and torque, but I have a basic idea of how that all works. But how come more HP can mean less working power?

Can somebody please explain this to me in the "for dummies" format so I can understand it. Remember....LAYMEN'S terms. I am not looking for Einstiens theory of relativity or big words that make you look smarter.

Thanks for your help!


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February 6, 2010, 05:59 PM

Horsepower is work done over time.

One horsepower = 33,000 lb-ft/one minute.

Meaning, one horsepower is the amount of power it would take to lift 33,000 pounds for one minute.


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February 6, 2010, 06:03 PM

There are two different things that you are talking about here. Power and torque

horsepower is proportional to engine speed, which is why motorcycle engines have a max HP rating at 14,000 some rpms...the higher the engine speed the more work the engine is doing per minute hence the more horse power you engine will produce.

On the contrary your tractor does not benefit from high HP because the ideal engine speed is very low, especially if it's a diesel motor, but instead it benifits from a rediculous amount of torque to plow through shit. Torque is inversely proportional to engine speed (i.e. for a given amount of HP a lower engine speed = higher torque). This is the basic concept behind transmissions.

The basic formula for HP is: HP = rpm x torque/5252

Power is the rate the work is accomplished, so it makes sense that a screaming 14,000 rpm motor will produce a lot of HP. Torque is the hidden force that produces work and hence creates power.


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Last edited by dv/dt; February 6, 2010 at 06:09 PM..
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February 6, 2010, 06:06 PM

Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall.
Torque is how far the wall moves with you when you hit it.


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February 6, 2010, 06:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveZX9 View Post
Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall.
Torque is how far the wall moves with you when you hit it.


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February 6, 2010, 08:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveZX9 View Post
Horsepower is how fast you hit the wall.
Torque is how far the wall moves with you when you hit it.
OR Horsepower is what gets you to the buffet, Torque is what gets you to eat the whole buffet!


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February 6, 2010, 09:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by YaoMatt View Post
Horsepower is work done over time.

One horsepower = 33,000 lb-ft/one minute.

Meaning, one horsepower is the amount of power it would take to lift 33,000 pounds for one minute.
yup, work is force through a distance, and power (of which HP is a measure of...) is the time derivative of that value - which means how fast you can get that done.

Matt meant to say:

one horsepower is the amount of power it would take to lift 33,000 pounds one foot over one minute.


So I was be able to lift my girlfiend's futon up to her second story balcony with my hand operated winch, but it took me a while. I don't have that much 'horsepower', but I did the same amount of 'work' as if I'd lifted it in half a second with a solid rocket motor. So I have less HP than the Space Shuttle, and I'm ok with that. I still have some big guns, relatively speaking.

Torque, RPM, and gearing are important too, so you need to consider those when comparing your tractor to a sportbike. Is your tractor going to follow my bike up to 180mph+, through all of that drag (this goes up with the square of velocity, so it really starts to climb when you get up top like that...)

A 'picture' is worth 'a thousand words', so this is how I could best describe HP.

We want to move 2000lbs 1000ft in 4.5 seconds, so how much HP does it take to do that? (a lot)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm5RkeuKC1Q


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May 15, 2010, 02:38 AM

Think about it like this: torque is the force of the piston pushing on the crank where HP is just torque over a certain time period (usually measured against RPMs).
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May 15, 2010, 08:29 AM

Work = moving something

Force = the capability to do work

Power = the rate at which work can be accomplished

Torque is a Force, specifically a twisting force. There are a lot of different types of force, but torque is the one generated by your engine or your power drill.

Horsepower is just a unit of power. Like millimeters and centimeters are unit of distance. Horsepower is Torque * RPM / 5252

1 Horsepower can do work (move something) at a rate of 33,000 lbs one foot per minute. You can algebra the shit out of this equation and it holds true. So 1 Horsepower does work at a rate of 1 lb 33,000 feet per minute. (Which is how those train commercials claim massive mileage on 1 gallon of fuel, deceitful bastards)

Don't however confuse horsepower as the ability to do work. It's not. Torque is the ability to do work. *If* you are capable (you have enough force to actually move something), power is the measurement of the rate you move it.

What am I saying? If we believe wikipedia, a human can produce about 0.1 HP steadily. So 0.1 hp does work at a rate of 3,300 lbs over 1 foot in 1 minute. So, can you squat your car? I know I can't. The problem is that we can't apply enough force to actually move the car. When force is applied, but nothing moves, no work is done. Because work is 0, the rate of 0 work is 0, ie: power is 0.

Give us a system of pulleys to multiply our force, and we'd be able to move the car. Now that we're moving the car, we're doing work. The rate at which we're doing that work can be measured as our power.

The transmission in your tractor by the way, is equivalent to that system of pullies. Put your lawnmower engine behind a "short enough" 1st gear, and it would move your house. "Give me a lever long enough and I will move the world"


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May 15, 2010, 10:40 AM

The engine in the bike could do the work of your front loader. It would just have to be geared waaaay down or power a hydraulic pump to operate everything else.


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May 15, 2010, 03:38 PM

There are a lot of good answers here, but I think you guys missed the "layman's terms" caveat...
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