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Aftercooler Vs. Intercooler: What Is The Difference?

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Aftercooler Vs. Intercooler: What Is The Difference?

Aftercooler Vs. Intercooler: What Is The Difference?

What is an aftercooler? What is an intercooler? Are they the same or different? Which one is used when and where? Time to answer all the questions popping into your mind in this article.

Let’s unravel.

Aftercooler Vs. Intercooler

These two words can sometimes be used interchangeably but do possess some differences. The difference between an aftercooler and an intercooler is given here:
1. An aftercooler, also known as an “air aftercooler” or “interstage cooler,” is positioned after the compression stage of a compressor. It is essentially a part that exchanges heat and cools down the air from the compression unit.An intercooler, also called an “air intercooler” or “stage cooler,” is placed between two compression stages in a multi-stage compressor system. It is a part that cools the air before it enters an engine.
2.They can help remove the heat generated during the compression, reducing the moisture content and improving the efficiency of downstream processes, letting dry air enter. The intercooler helps increase the air density and reduce temperature, allowing for more efficient compression in the subsequent stages. This helps achieve higher compression ratios without excessive heat buildup, improving and enhancing compressor performance.
3.Its primary function is to cool down the compressed air temperature before it enters the next compression stage or reaches its final use.Its primary purpose is to cool down the compressed air between the stages in order to increase the compressor’s overall effectiveness.
4.It is employed in turbocharged engines located after the compressor stage. Its purpose is to rapidly cool the compressed air as it is released from the compressor, bringing it closer to the surrounding temperature.It is a mechanical component usually found in turbocharged and supercharged engines to cool the intake air. Its purpose is to lower the air temperature compressed by either a turbocharger or a supercharger.
5. The aftercooler makes removing moisture from compressed air easier by using ambient air. This condensation process not only helps to remove moisture but also helps to chill the air.By reducing the air temperature, the intercooler enhances the density of the air, resulting in higher engine power output and improved overall efficiency.

Applications Of Aftercooler And Intercooler

  • Aftercoolers are ideal for drag racing applications. A Vortech aftercooler is a famous air-to-water aftercooler commonly seen in automobiles and trucks to cool water via air passing through the front grill.
  • Air-to-air intercoolers are significantly more feasible for mild racing and street applications since they do not lose their ability to cool incoming air over time. Intercoolers are only helpful in conjunction with forced induction engines where there is a significant temperature difference between the air entering the engine and the cooling medium.


As you may have noticed how the two work, the two words may be used interchangeably but possess different characteristics. An aftercooler is a heat exchanger employed in turbocharged engines located after the compressor stage. At the same time, an intercooler, on the other hand, is placed between the steps of a multi-stage compressor and cools the air between the stages to improve overall compressor efficiency.


1. What is the purpose of aftercooler?

An aftercooler is a device that cools hot compressed air while eliminating condensation, keeping moisture from accumulating in the compressor’s pipe system.

2. Why intercoolers are used in compressors?

An air compressor intercooler’s primary function is to cool air before entering the next compression phase. Cool air is simpler to compress than hot air due to its larger density.

3. Does the intercooler increase horsepower?

Yes, an intercooler can increase horsepower as compressed air enters the intake manifold; it becomes denser, resulting in a better air-to-fuel mix in the engine’s cylinders.

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Shaleen Ashish

Shaleen is a Journalism postgraduate, and like every other gen-z, loves a good dose of humor, Italian food, fashion trends, and TV series. She is an acomplished author and expert in the field of air compressors. Shaleen discovered her passion for technical products and gadgets early in life, which drove her research and write about it.

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