Horsepower - Is it Really Power of the Horses?

We all have thought of horses when we hear the word horsepower. But we see it associated with things that do not involve horses. What gives?

Well, horsepower defines work done over time. Not work as in employment but as in force done over distance for a period of time. This is a physics unit that is measured in Joule (J).

The definition of horsepower is 33,000 lb-ft per minute. To be more specific, if you moved 33,000 pounds 1 foot in a minute that would be one horsepower. So imagine an engine that can generate 400 horsepower! It is no surprise when you have this type of horsepower that a vehicle can travel a quarter of a mile in seconds.

This term was coined by James Watt who wanted to promote the steam engine industry. Watt envisioned replacing the horses with steam engines and needed a way to rate the two. Thanks to this we now have horsepower as a unit of measure that rate the power of chainsaws, lawnmowers, and cars.
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