How Many Horsepower Does a Horse Actually Have? The Answer Might Surprise You

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.15 - 2023 9:47 AM CET

How Many Horsepower Does a Horse Actually Have?

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Contrary to common belief, a horse does not just have one horsepower. In fact, a car with 200 horsepower can produce the same energy as 200 horses, logically speaking, since it's measured in horsepower.

However, this is a misconception. The term 'horsepower' does not actually equate to the energy output of a real horse. This might be confusing, but there's an explanation for why the unit is called horsepower, even though it doesn't directly relate to horses.

And we've found the answer to how many horsepower a horse actually has!

According to Pensionist, A horsepower (abbreviated as hp) is a name for different units used to measure physical power. A metric horsepower is a common standard, where 1 hp equals 165lbs × 9.80665 m/s² × 1 m/s = 8.830 W

How many horsens can it replace?

In simpler terms, a horsepower corresponds to the power needed to lift a mass of 165lbs 1 meter vertically from the earth's surface in 1 second.

So far so good, but since real horses don't often jump vertically, it's not straightforward to calculate a horse's actual horsepower.

Fortunately, some smart people have done these calculations for us, and the answer to how many horsepower a horse has varies. It depends on the specific horse, but the range varies from a horse having between 2.5 and 15 horsepower depending on the individual horse.

As a little bonus info, the maximum power a human can produce is a little more than one horsepower.

The reason it's called horsepower dates back to the 1700s. Scottish engineer James Watt wanted to market his newly developed steam engine but quickly realized that potential buyers couldn't relate to the new invention. He was repeatedly asked how many horses his new machine could replace, so he decided to conduct an experiment to calculate what a horse could actually pull - and then used that result as the unit "horsepower" to describe how fantastic his new machine was.