TEST: Electric Supercharger
Written by Wild Weasel
This page started off with a bunch of questions that I intended to find answers
to, but now that the testing is complete, I'll try to begin with a decent summary
of what I found. Firstly, here's the charts. The test was a big success. Enough
so that I've decided to keep one on my car. There are larger more legible versions
below, but this should get you interested.
Firstly, Rob's website is now up and running. Visit www.phantomsuperchargers.com to see all of his material
including links to his dyno tests and what not. Now I know you should never trust
anything from the people that are perpetuating these electric supercharger scams,
but let's start off with this conclusion. Rob's kit is not a scam. It works, and
I have no reason to believe anything I've seen on his site and YouTube channel are anything but honest. I'm basing this
on my personal experience with this testing as well as the extensive emails Rob
and I have exchanged over the past couple months.
You're going to find a lot of details below, but here is the quick synopsis of my
findings. I tested two different blowers. A smaller one and a larger one. There's
an amusing story below about how the larger one came into my possession. Both of
them made significant usable boost but with different distributions in the rpm range.
The smaller one made nearly 5 psi at lower rpm and tapered off to just under 2 at
my redline just over 6000 rpm. The larger one made a bit over 4 psi at lower rpm
but held nearly 3 psi at redline.
Both made very obvious gains in power. I didn't do dyno tests, but I did measure
and record the boost readings. Obviously with boost comes either power or terrible
lean conditions. My car didn't run lean.
I also tested both blowers with my M45 supercharger running in tandem, and it was
interesting to note that the small one ran out of steam and became a restriction,
while the larger one worked brilliantly and evened out the boost curve all the way
to redline. This basically confirms Rob's design goals in that the smaller one is
meant for smaller engines but won't keep up with a larger one, while the larger
blower is optimal for a larger engine that needs more airflow.
So what do I think of all this? Well... frankly, it's a lot of fun. In practice,
it acts as though it were a nitrous system that automatically activates whenever
you stomp on the gas pedal and is always available. I had it set up to activate
at full throttle so when you plant the pedal, a split second later you'd get a noticeable
boost in power and away you went. In the future, I may change the setup to activate
at 80% or so rather than full throttle, so maybe I'll have an update on how that
feels later on. As it was, there's an obvious boost in power when it engages and
you can sort of hear the whooshing noise it makes.
The obvious question then, is how long does it last before it runs out of juice?
Frankly, I don't really know. I did the best I could to run it out of battery and
just couldn't do it. So the short answer is that it recharges faster than you can
use it up. That's not to say it's instantly charging. It's just that you simply
can't spend that much time at WOT while driving around, even in the most spirited
manner. It would probably be an issue on a lapping day, but it isn't during anything
that can remotely be called "everyday driving".
Now it's worth noting that it's drawing a LOT of power while running, and all my
test runs involved WOT pulls from under 2000 rpm to redline. That means that my
boost numbers at redline are at a time when the battery is already a bit depleted.
Rob suggested I might get even higher numbers by doing a few short pulls from around
4000 to 6000 rpm. I may try that in the future and post the results just for kicks,
but the results I have now already show that it clearly holds up all the way though
to redline. If you can get even more out of it, then so much the better.
You may be able to tell from the tone of this article so far that I seem a bit excited
by all this, and in all honesty I really am. I've been warning people off of e-blower
scams for nearly 10 years in these pages, so while this will ultimately make this
mission more difficult, I'm genuinely happy to have an actual viable option in this
space. I believe he's going to be selling them for around $1400 or so, which is
pretty tough to beat for this sort of power gain.
Now, if you have any questions or comments about what I've done here, please drop
a note in my guestbook
or contact me on Twitter (@WildWeaselGT).
If you're new to this page please keep reading to hear about everything that's happened. If you're already following along...
Follow this link to get to the latest update.
From here on in, I'm going to stick with the original text I wrote before doing
the testing and add in all the results and comments along the way. The new additions
will have a green box around them.
Every now and then some yahoo will contact me about my article
discussing electric superchargers and why they're all scams.
Sometimes they'll email me and sometimes they'll post in my guestbook. Many of them
will just rip into me, probably because I'm costing them money. The angrier they
sound, the more I giggle. Some will try to convince me that their particular piece
of garbage isn't a scam and that I should talk about how theirs is the exception.
It usually doesn't take much discussion before they give up.
Sometimes, however, they're not a complete waste of time. There's been a few folks
over the years trying hard to overcome all the issues inherent with this concept
and some have seemed quite promising. Ultimately, nothing I'm aware of has come
to market that genuinely works (this has obviously changed),
but as technology gets better it seems as though it may just be a matter of time.
As a matter of fact, Audi may be working on a system to provide low levels of boost
at lower RPM's to get the ball rolling before a larger proper exhaust driven turbo
takes over. I believe their system is designed to eliminate turbo lag while keeping
the benefits of a larger turbo. It's certainly a step in the right direction so
far as this technology is concerned.
This brings us to the present day. A gentleman called Rob from Calgary got in touch
with me a while back and is working on a system that seems to tick all the right
boxes. The conversations started as they always do with me peppering him with questions
about all the areas where these things fail to live up to expectations. In this
case though, he didn't give up and go away. He seems to have good answers to all
the questions I've thrown at him and eventually we got to talking about testing.
You can see his videos on YouTube posting as Robftss. He's also sent me a number of dyno sheets which
I won't post here just yet, but it appears by all accounts that what he's got is
actually working. Of course, this is the Internet, so there's no way I'm going to
take him at his word when it comes to this sort of thing, and neither should anyone
else. For the first time in my experience, however, this guy is willing to back
up his claims with an independent test so I jumped at the chance.
So What Have We Got Here?
So that brings us to the point of this page. Rob has put together a kit for me to
install on my Sunfire to see for myself the results of his efforts. I've just received
the parts, and from the initial inspection, it all looks very promising. Even after
all the discussion we had, I was half expecting to be completely let down when the
box showed up with a plastic bilge blower and a spool of wires, but that's not what
I've got. What I've got is a proper turbo with the turbine replaced with an electric
motor. I've also got a set of 3 compact batteries to replace the stock one. One
of them is to run the car, while the other two are connected in series to provide
24v to run the electric motor.
There's also a nicely built control box that will handle the switching of the motor
and the charging of the battery pack and all the other bits and pieces I need to
install the kit in the Sunfire. It all looks to be a very high quality bunch of
kit and I'm initially very impressed. Even though it's still a prototype, Rob has
obviously put a lot of effort into making this stuff look good. The arming switch
even has a built in voltmeter to tell me how much juice is available in the battery
Of course, none of this means that it will actually produce any boost. That's what
I mean to find out.
Does It Look Plausible?
Ultimately, looking at everything he's put together, the only question now in my
mind is whether the motor and battery pack can provide enough power to spin the
compressor with enough speed and torque to compress the intake charge all the way
through the RPM range. If it can, then I believe we have a winner.
It did. None of the obvious issues that come with electric supercharger
scams are present here. It is definitely a proper compressor. It's not running off
the stock 12v system. It's not hooked up with flimsy little wires.
Without having hooked it up yet, there's no obvious reason it shouldn't work. Rob
even provided a method of relocating the CCV hose. So not only has he sent me all
the bits he's been working on, but he's really thought out the installation on my
particular car, which I fully expect to be the only one of it's kind and, thus,
useless to him for future kit development if it comes to that. Kudos to Rob for
going the extra mile.
What Are We Going To Do With It?
Now, even if this works, there are still a lot of questions as to how such a system
will behave. I welcome you to post questions in the
guestbook and I'll address them here as much as I can. We've already had
a bit of discussion on the Toronto Mazda3 Forums about this and got into a bunch
of the details. Eventually I'll get to putting as much info here as I can.
To end this for the moment, I'll give some details on how the testing is going to
go. The Sunfire has been sitting idle for years now, so there's a few things that
need to be taken care just to get it up and running. I'm a little concerned about
the fuel in it and want to ensure the oil is as fluid as possible before starting
it for the first time, so I'm going to wait for some nice warm 15+ degree weather
to get things going. That might be a week or it might be a couple weeks. I'll definitely
post something here when I get started.
By some miracle, the car started right up once I hooked the battery up. It seemed
highly unlikely, but it did. I ended up getting a bunch of random cylinder misfire
codes when really pushing it with boost at higher rpm's, but these stopped happening
once I had run down most of the old fuel, replaced it with fresh Ultra-94, run most
of that down, dumped in a full bottle of injector cleaner, and finally filled it
For those of you unfamiliar with my wonky Sunfire, here's a pic of the engine bay
showing where it's going to go. The battery, intake tube, and filter are removed
here, making space for the new stuff.
Then I plan on replacing the fuel and doing a few test runs to record what she's
presently doing in her current form. When last she ran, I believe she was making
around 7-8 lbs of boost through the M45 supercharger. The nice thing about using
this car as a test bed is that it's all set up for boost already and the existing
blower can be easily disabled.
There's been a lot of questions and speculation regarding how I disabled the M45.
The blower has a bypass valve built into it that allows it to spin freely without
creating boost when you're mostly off the throttle. This is to prevent it from using
much power to spin when not needed. I used zip ties to tie this bypass open at all
times rather than allowing it to close and allow boost. To understand why this works,
you need to understand how a roots type supercharger works.
The blower doesn't actually compress air internally the way a turbo does. What it
does it to essentially grab a bunch of air and then push it into the intake manifold
while not allowing any to escape backwards through it. By pushing more air in than
would otherwise be sucked in there on its own, pressure is created. By tying open
the bypass valve, you open up both sides of the blower to the open end of the intake
so the supercharger blades are just spinning in the breeze. The very slight amount
of pressure you can see in the tests with the bypass tied open are essentially the
equivilent of the blower acting like a big fan blowing on the intake. I've basically
turned it into the M45 equivalent of an electric supercharger scam.
Once I have that baseline, I'll put in the new electric blower, disable the M45
by tying open the bypass valve, and then we'll give it another go to see what happens.
What happened is BOOST! I've got an OBD scanner,
but I haven't a clue whether the ECU will give a boost reading.
It did. Quite nicely. I don't know what wizardry GM used to get the car
to recognize the 2 bar MAP sensor, so I'm not really sure what to expect from the
data. What we DO have available for sure though is the mechanical boost gauge on
the pillar. That should provide all the evidence we need to determine whether this
new gizmo is making a tangible difference.
What Are We Hoping For?
In my mind, I'm setting the minimum threshold for success at 4 psi.
Both blowers made well over 4 psi at low rpm. The smaller one made nearly 5.
If it drops to 3 or 2 at the top of the RPM range, then that's fine by my reckoning,
but if it drops below 2, then we're getting dangerously close to robbing power rather
than creating it, and we'll throw down the gavel and call it a failure. That seems
fair to me. Producing 2 psi is better than nothing, but not worth the effort of
trying to install something like this in your car.
Note that this was the comment that spurred Rob on to send me the larger blower.
I expect he knew that the smaller one would taper off to below 2 psi at redline
and was hedging his bets so I wouldn't call it a failure.
Now, having said that, even though this was the threshold I'd set going in on what
I'd call a success, having tested both of the blowers, I have to change my tune
there. The smaller one, even though it tapered off to under 2 psi, is the one I'd
recommend for smaller engines. The boost difference isn't much even on the low end,
but there was a noticeable difference in how quickly the boost came on when you
planted your foot on the pedal. There is significantly less weight in the compressor
wheel of the smaller one which made a tangible difference in how quickly it spun
up. To be fair, both kicked in within a fraction of a second, but the smaller one
Since doing the testing, I've sent the blowers back to Rob and he says he's going
to fit a lightened compressor wheel to the larger one which may do away with the
difference in spin-up time. I'll post something in the future regarding whether
I notice an improvement. If this difference in spool-up time becomes irrelevant,
then it may become just a matter of which one your engine can keep up with so far
as fueling goes.
This section is going to change as we progress through the testing, but for the
moment what we have is a plausible system with a huge question mark around the electric
motor and battery pack. My fingers are crossed as I'd really like to see this succeed
and have something concrete to point to when people ask about electric superchargers.
Time will tell though. Come back often for updates!
Well, obviously my conclusion is that it works. Please read from here on in though
to get a sense of what I went through as the testing progressed. I've left this
next section un-edited so you can come along for the ride as I went through the
various steps of getting this stuff installed and running.