What is horsepower? Why is it calculated on the basis of horse’s physical strength?

Horses are one of the most famous war animals in prehistoric times. Some of the world’s earliest historical sources tell of battles between ancient warlords in horse-drawn chariots. Horses primarily served as traditional cavalry horses, but the existence of modern machine gun and artillery fire made them vulnerable, thus changed their role in transporting troops and ammunition. In the past, the use of military vehicles were relatively new inventions and prone to problems. Thus armies used horses as they were more reliable and cheaper forms of transport.

Horses were frequently used in movies, and they represent human history and lifestyle, such as social status and aristocrat leisure. They have been a part of human communities for thousands of years. They were always associated with cowboys in Western movies. In films, even in paintings, they portray a character or strength, power, and agility. Could these be the same reasons why an engine’s power is measured in horsepower?

The Genesis of horsepower

During the 18th century, a discovery was about to provide rest for a lot of hard-working horses when James Watt, a Scottish-born inventor, and engineer, tried to stir up interest in his new and improvised version of the steam engine. However, pitching the new product is an issue since there was no accurate way to measure the benefit it can provide.

Watt looked for a way to prove that his stationary industrial engine could outwork the working horses’ power to push, pull, and lift heavy loads. He critically observed and made rough calculations on the horses’ working. He found out that each horse pushed with force approximately 180 pounds. This made his claim that with just one of his improved steam engine could produce enough power to replace 10 of cart-pulling horses or 10 “horsepower.”

Based on Watt’s calculations, one horsepower was equivalent to one horse doing 33, 000 foot-pounds of work in one minute. An example is a horse raising a 33-pound bucket of water from the bottom of a 1000-foot-deep well in 60 seconds. That amount of work is equal to one horsepower.

Although Thomas Newcomen first invented and commercialized steam engines in 1712, Watt’s version of the steam engine business soared as his competitors started advertising their engines’ power in “horsepower.” Therefore making the term a standard measure of engine power still used today. Indeed his marketing magic convinced companies that his novel technology was the better power source.

Was it the True ‘Horsepower?’

A famous calculation during Watt’s invention of the steam engine was one pit pony could pull one cart full of coal weighing 220 pounds, 100 feet up a mineshaft in 1 minute, or 22,000 pounds-feet per minute.

Watt’s assumption that regular horses must be at least 50% stronger than pit ponies, which makes one horsepower equal to 33,000 pounds-feet per minute, which was therefore incorrect. A standard horse that is about 0.7 horsepower as measured today is slightly powerful than a pit pony. Therefore, Watt’s ten horsepower rating for his steam engine had a little inaccuracy because he made his math on the power of pit ponies or Shetland, which are smaller in size.

What are the fastest cars horsepower?

We assume that a car with a 400-horsepower engine will be faster than a car with a 130-horsepower engine.

Sports cars, supercars, or hyper-cars. In the world of automobiles, performance, precision, and speed are the top factors. These cars are not rare these days as you can pretty much find them in every big city. In terms of speed, the top 12 cars have the horsepower that ranges from 770 brake horsepower (bhp)-1600+bhp. Hennessey Venom F5, Koenigsegg Regera, and Bugatti Chiron are the top three. These cars cost millions of dollars as they represent status, theater, and just plain showing off.

Variation of the unit definition

There are various definitions of the unit of power, and they are dependent on geographical locations, but most countries use the SI unit watt for measurement of power. The European Union (EU) Directive implementation in January 2010, stated that horsepower is permitted only as a supplementary unit.

Meanwhile, electricity’s unit of power is measured in Watts. It is named to honor James Watt.

One Watt is only equal to a small amount of power. There are devices that require only a few Watts to operate, while others require more significant amounts. The power consumption of small appliances is usually measured in Watts, and the power consumption of larger devices is measured in kilowatts (kW), or 1,000 Watts.

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