Propellers and impellers both provide thrust, but do it in different ways.Let us understand the difference between two with the help of examples.


If you have ever seen pictures of ships closely, you must have noticed small rotating fans on both sides of the ship. 

These are propellers that actually help in propelling the ship forward. A propeller is an open running device that has the function of providing a thrust force. There is always a propelling fan on the mouth of an aircraft also. If we go by definitions given in various dictionaries, a propeller is a device having a revolving hub with rotating blades to propel an airplane, ship etc. 

A propeller is a special type of fan with blades that convert rotational motion into a force that helps in movement forward. This is because of a pressure difference that gets created between the front and the rear surfaces of the blades. This pressure difference pushes both air and water behind the blade. This thrust or force can be easily explained with the help of Newton’s laws of motion as well as Bernoulli’s theorem. Propellers are made heavy use of both in aviation as well as in ships.


Have you ever paid attention to the working behind the water pump that is used at home that sucks water from the main pipeline passing through the main road and brings it inside your home and then lifts it to the over head tank?

The working principle behind this pump is the impeller inside a casing that creates a sucking force that draws in liquid at a great force and diverts it to your overhead tank. An impeller is always inside a casing as its purpose is to draw the liquid inside as against a propeller that provides an outward thrust and is always open. An impeller, because of its rotation and especially designed blades, increases the pressure of the fluid and thus its flow. A centrifugal pump used to draw fluid is the best example of an impeller.

In brief:

Propeller vs Impeller

• Both propeller and impeller are specially designed blades with a motor.
• While a propeller is designed to covert rotational motion into forward thrust, an impeller is designed to use rotational motion to suck fluid in.
• A propeller has an open design while an impeller is always inside a casing or housing.

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