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How Much Horsepower Does a Horse Have?

Horsepower is a term that many of us are familiar with when talking about cars. However, just how much horsepower does a horse have? Though you would think that a horse would have the equivalent of one horsepower, this is actually wrong.

On average, a horse can achieve a maximum output of 14.9 horsepower. However, this number will vary between each horse. An average human has a maximum output of 1.2 horsepower.

Originally, when calculating horsepower, a draft horse was used. So, a lighter horse such as an Arabian or Thoroughbred would not have the same horsepower as a muscular draft horse that is bred for pulling.

Also, read our guide on the strongest horse breeds to learn more about horse strength.

What is Horsepower?

A horsepower is a unit of measure that is usually in reference to the output of engines or motors. One unit of horsepower equals 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute or 550 foot-pounds per second (745.7 watts).

The measurement of horsepower was invented by Scottish engineer James Watt. Watt came up with the measurement in the 18th century as a way to compare the power of draft horses to steam engines. After improving the design of steam engines, he used his calculations as a way to show that they are more fuel-efficient.

Watt was able to calculate that, over an average day’s work, a horse could turn a 24 feet mill wheel approximately 2.5 times per minute. From this, he came to the conclusion that the amount of force and energy applied by the horse to turn the wheel is equivalent to 33,000 foot-pounds per minute.

This measurement is also equivalent to 550 foot-pounds per second or 745.7 watts or joules per second. After his name, Watt came up with the unit of power, watt, which equals one joule of work performed per second. The abbreviation for horsepower became hp.

Three horses pulling farm machinery
Gertan /

Horsepower soon became a common measurement for motors and engines. Not only has it been a unit of measurement for steam engines, but also cars, boats, airplanes, lawnmowers, and much more.

Also read: How much weight can a horse pull?

Why is it Called Horsepower?

In the late 18th century when James Watt coined the term horsepower, horses were the primary source of power in the world. He came up with it as a way to equate engine power to horses.

Across the world, horses were used for many things including transportation, farming, turning mill wheels, pulling barges, and much more. Upon the invention of machines, many people were hesitant to rely on these man-made products. Watt set out to show people that they were reliable and powerful.

Watt wanted to prove the power of the steam engine and the best way to do so was to compare it to the power of a draft horse. By doing this, he was able to prove the advantages of using the steam engine.

How Much Horsepower Does a Human Have?

On average, a healthy human can produce about 1.2 horsepower in a brief increment. Indefinitely, a human can sustain 0.1 horsepower.

On average, a person can produce about 0.27 horsepower. For a few seconds, an incredibly in-shape athlete can produce up to 2.5 horsepower. The actual amount of horsepower a person has will vary by how in shape they are and what physical activity they are doing.

How is Horsepower Calculated?

The equation for horsepower is hp= Fd / t. Hp stands for horsepower, F stands for force in pounds, d stands for distance in feet, and t stands for time in minutes.

How Many CC’s are in One Horsepower?

Generally speaking, one horsepower is equal to 14 to 17 CC. Most commonly one horsepower will be 15 CC, though the full answer is complex. The value will vary depending on different factors such as engine tuning, size, fuel, and boosting.

Does Horsepower Make a Car Faster?

In general, the more horsepower a car has, the better its acceleration. This means it will have better overall performance and simply put, more horsepower can mean greater speed.

However, the relationship between speed and horsepower is not linear. There are other factors you must take into consideration such as size, weight, torque, and aerodynamics.

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