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HP vs. BHP — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Published on May 6, 2024
HP (Horsepower) and BHP (Brake Horsepower) both measure engine power, but HP is a general term while BHP specifically measures power output without auxiliary engine losses.
HP vs. BHP — What's the Difference?

Difference Between HP and BHP


Key Differences

HP, or horsepower, is a unit of measurement used widely to indicate the power output of engines in cars, motorcycles, and other machinery. On the other hand, BHP, or brake horsepower, refers to the power output of an engine measured at the engine's crankshaft, not including power losses due to auxiliary parts, making it a more precise measurement of an engine’s raw power.
When car manufacturers list HP, they often refer to the total usable power that can be employed for vehicle propulsion, while BHP figures are used to show the maximum power an engine can produce before any mechanical losses.
BHP numbers are typically higher than those for HP when referring to the same engine. This distinction is crucial for understanding engine performance, especially in contexts like car racing or when comparing the performance specifications of different vehicles.

Comparison Chart


Measures total engine output including losses.
Measures power output directly from the engine crankshaft, excluding losses.


Commonly used in general contexts and specifications.
Used for more precise, technical assessments of engine power.


Includes engine power lost in drivetrain (e.g., gearbox).
Excludes power losses, measured at crankshaft.

Typical Use

Often cited in vehicle specs for consumer information.
Used in detailed engineering and performance contexts.


Lower than BHP for the same engine due to including power losses.
Higher than HP for the same engine as it represents raw engine power.

Compare with Definitions


Reflects the total power output, including losses through the drivetrain.
The engine produces 250 HP, enough for robust performance.


Crucial for comparing the performance of high-performance vehicles.
BHP figures are essential for race car comparisons.


A unit of power measurement used for engines and motors.
The new tractor has an engine of 75 HP.


Represents the unadulterated power output of an engine.
The prototype’s BHP was higher than any existing models.


Used in commercial and marketing contexts to describe engine capabilities.
This model is leading its class with 350 HP.


Used to provide a precise measurement of an engine's raw power.
Engineers measure BHP to fine-tune engine performance.


Commonly applied to assess the power of cars and machinery.
The sports car boasts 300 HP.


A specific measurement of engine power at the crankshaft, before losses.
The racing engine was rated at 450 BHP.


Indicates the overall effectiveness of a vehicle’s engine.
High HP ratings are preferred for heavy-duty tasks.


Often cited in technical specifications and engineering discussions.
The engine’s BHP is key to understanding its potential in a new design.


Abbreviation of horsepower


(automotive) brake horsepower


A unit of power equal to 746 watts

Common Curiosities

What does HP stand for in engine terms?

HP stands for horsepower, indicating the overall power output of an engine.

How is BHP different from HP?

BHP stands for brake horsepower, which measures engine power without considering losses like the gearbox or alternator, unlike HP.

Why is BHP important in car racing?

BHP provides a precise measure of an engine's raw power, crucial for optimizing performance in racing.

Can BHP and HP be the same?

Theoretically, if an engine has no power losses in its auxiliary components, HP and BHP could be the same.

Is BHP measured with any equipment on the engine?

BHP is measured using a dynamometer directly on the engine's crankshaft without any drivetrain components.

What kind of power losses are excluded from BHP?

Power losses from components like the alternator, water pump, and transmission are excluded in BHP measurements.

How do manufacturers decide whether to use HP or BHP in specifications?

Manufacturers use HP for general consumer information and BHP for more technical, detailed engine performance data.

Which is typically higher, HP or BHP?

BHP is typically higher because it measures engine power before any mechanical losses.

Does BHP affect vehicle efficiency?

While BHP itself is a raw power measurement, higher BHP can indicate potential for greater efficiency and performance.

How does understanding HP and BHP help in buying a car?

Understanding HP and BHP helps buyers assess engine performance and vehicle capabilities more accurately.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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