What is Horsepower?

Horsepower is a basic unit of power, abbreviated as hp. It has a variety of definitions for different applications. In layman’s language, it can be explained as the power that a horse gives when pulling or the rate at which work is done. In technical terms, it has two commonly used definitions; metric horsepower and mechanical/imperial horsepower.

Metric horsepower is calculated as the power required in moving 75 kg over one meter in one second at standard gravity, which translates to 735.5 watts. Imperial/mechanical horsepower is the power needed to raise 550 pounds a distance of one foot within one second, or 33,000 pounds a distance of one foot in one minute. One horsepower (hp) is therefore varyingly equivalent to 745.5 watts or 735.5 watts. The unit horsepower accounts for 3 factors; the weight involved, the distance over which it is moved and the time taken to move it.

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