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How Do I Choose the Best Engine Dynamometer?

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  • Written By: Bobby R. Goldsmith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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Choosing the best engine dynamometer, also called a dyno, is a process of determining exactly what your engine testing needs are, and how frequently you expect to test the performance of engines in the short term, long term and on an ongoing basis. To choose the best instrument, decide what type of engine the engine dynamometer will be testing and find the one that best facilitates those testing requirements. Make sure to take into account the size, weight, and level of performance of those engines. It also is important to note that an engine dynamometer is different than a chassis dynamometer, in that an engine dyno is meant to test and tune engines in a stand-alone capacity.

The first major consideration is what type of engines you plan on testing. For regular, stock engines for street cars and trucks, you will need an engine dynamometer that can test for torque and horsepower curves at regular tolerances of between 1,000 and 8,000 RPM. An automotive service shop that performs engine rebuilding work would want to ensure that an engine dynamometer facilitates this primarily over any other attribute.

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An engine dynamometer will also require a fairly sophisticated computer interface to handle all of the analytics and to show, in real time, all of the data during the engine test. This aspect usually requires a state-of-the-art engine dynamometer to be located in an indoor environment, free from the ravages of inclement weather. With that being the case, of course, an engine dynamometer must then have a sufficient apparatus to expel the exhaust gases released by the engine during the operation of the dyno.

For service shops that handle high-performance engines for race cars, trucks or boats, the engine dynamometer must be capable of handling a high amount of torque at all points in the test engine’s power band. This will require that the engine dyno be precision manufactured using high-grade alloys and industrial strength components. The dyno must be capable of handling an engine that outputs more than 1,000 foot pounds (about 1,356 newton meters) of torque and horsepower at RPMs that will surpass 10,000 foot pounds (about 13,558 newton meters).

In order to service commercial grade engines, a dynamometer must also be able to handle a high level of torque and horsepower output, but it will also need to have the software for such tests. It also will need to be properly calibrated in order to test the performance of diesel engines. Also, for commercial engines intended for hauling, towing or industrial applications, there will be specific size and weight parameters required in order to successfully bench test these types of engines; any such dyno will be larger and must therefore take up more space in a shop.

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