BHP can be the abbreviation for two different terms, both having to do with horsepower. Horsepower is a measurements of power, most widely recognized as an automobile's power. While BHP is more widely recognized as standing for "brake horsepower," it can also be the abbreviation of the unit of measurement "British horsepower."
"Brake Horsepower" Definition
"Brake horsepower" is the measurement of the power that is produced by a motor without considering certain factors that could slow down the power given off by the motor.
Difference from Horsepower
Unlike horsepower, instead of gauging the actual power of a machine by measuring where the machine is producing (for instance, in a car horsepower would measure the amount of power produced by the engine by measuring the wheels), brake horsepower measures the machine itself.
The reason it is called "brake" horsepower is that the first method of taking this measurement was by applying a brake that would gauge the torque produced by the motor itself. The measurements would then be applied to the protocols of that time period to see whether the machine was within the acceptable requirements.
How It's Measured
"Brake horsepower" is measured by taking the amount of power produced by the actual machine and then removing all other obstacles that machine has to produce the power. For instance, not only does the engine's horsepower need to be measured, but also the amount of energy spent on the water pump of the machine, or the machine's generator or the gearbox in the machine. Once found, the brake horsepower can be determined by mathematically removing these measurements to account for the amount of actual horsepower delivered by the machine itself. Because of the wide variety of machines and amount of parts in them, each method of measurement will vary depending on the machine itself.
"British horsepower" is simply the unit of measurement in the British engineering world. However, the term has the same meaning as ordinary horsepower (with the unit of measurement being one unit of British horsepower for 745.699872 watts) so in most cases engineers just say "horsepower."
- Photo Credit horsepower image by Kevin Chesson from Fotolia.com
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