Everything you need to know about ignition system

With the vast variety of automotive applications, the ignition system has a vital role as it generates a spark. It heats an electrode to a high temperature so that the fuel-air mixture can be ignited in all spark-ignition internal combustion engines. other automobiles including stationary and movable applications are also designed with the system, which may include gas-fired and oil-fired boilers, rocket engines, etc. This is the reason why various types of ignition systems have been in existence.

However, spark-ignition petrol (gasoline) internal combustion engine is the most dependent on the system of both car and motor motorcycles. Today we’ll be looking at the definition, function, applications, components, diagram, types, and working of the ignition system in internal combustion engines. We’ll also be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the ignition system in their various types.

ignition system

Read: Understanding transistorized ignition system


Ignition system definition

An ignition system is a system used in some types of an internal combustion engine, often a petrol engine to ignite the fuel-air mixture. This ignition is purposely performed so that the explosion in the combustion chamber can be accomplished. This is to say, the spark that occurs in the ignition system (spark plug) causes the fuel-air mixture to burn.

Just as earlier mentioned, the ignition system is featured in spark-ignition internal combustion engines, although it’s also employed in some other mechanical applications. But it’s quite popular on the gasoline engine. well, the process is different in compression ignition diesel engines as the fuel-air mixture is ignited by the compression heat which causes the elimination of the spark plug. This is another topic of discussion you can check out below.

The function of the ignition system

Below is the function of an ignition system in spark-ignition internal combustion engines:

  • The primary function of an ignition system is to create an electric spark in the engine combustion chamber at the proper time so that the petrol and air mixture can ignite.
  • It produces 30,000 volts across the spark plug.
  • A high spark voltage spark is supplied to each spark plug in the correct sequence.
  • There is different spark timing with load, speed, and other conditions.
  • The spark is timed so it can occur as the piston is approaching the top dead center.

Read: Understanding the working of the electronic ignition system

Applications of the ignition system

Below are the applications of the various types of ignitions system in automotive engines:

  • The system is used in two-wheeler vehicles (SI engines.
  • Just as the battery is used to generate power in the battery ignition system, magneto is used for the generation of electricity.
  • Finally, the ignition system is widely used in applications such as tractors, outboard motors, washing machines, marine engines, power units, and natural gas engines.

Read: Understanding the working of the Battery ignition system

Types of ignition system

Below are the three basic types of ignition systems used in spark-ignition internal combustion engines:

Magneto ignition system:

In the magneto types of the ignition system. magneto serves as the major component used for creating the energy of high voltage. This high voltage is then used for the generation of electricity which is further used to run vehicles. The system is a combination of a distributor and a generator built as one unit. This makes it different from the conventional distributor that creates spark energy without external voltage.

Electronic ignition system:

The electronic types of ignition system are fully controlled electronically and are powered by a battery, unlike the previous one that uses magneto. It has negative and positive terminals; the negative terminal is grounded while the positive is connected to the ignition switch. So, when the switch is on, power is supplied to the electronic ignition module through the wires. The power is then sent to the ignition coil that has two winding; primary winding and secondary winding. These windings are insulated and the primary is thicker than the secondary winding. There is a rod between the windings that generate a magnetic field. Finally,

Battery ignition system:

The battery types of an ignition system are widely used in automobiles to produce sparks using spark plugs with the aid of a battery. It’s often found in 4-wheeler vehicles but is now used in two-wheeler vehicles that obtain current from a 6-volt or 12-volt battery in the ignition coil. Read the full article below!

Components of the ignition system

Below are the components of the different types of the ignition system and their functions:

Magneto ignition system

The components of the magneto ignition system include a magneto, distributor, capacitor, cam, contact breaker, and ignition switch. Their function has been explained in the full article.

Battery ignition system

The components of the battery ignition system battery, are the ignition switch, the ignition coil, and the ballast resistor. Its components also contain a contact breaker, distributor, capacitor, and spark plug. Check the full article to see their function. Finally,

Electronic ignition system

Components of the electronic ignition system also include a battery, distributor, capacitor, ignition control module, armature, ignition coil, and spark plug.

Diagram of the various ignition system:

ignition system diagram

Working principle

The working of an ignition system is less complex and can be easily understood. It is obvious with the above explanation of the above sections you are now familiar with the functional parts and the operation of the system. Most of the types of ignition systems work with batteries but few are able to generate power themselves. However, with the video below you will learn the working of the various types of ignition systems.

Video on ignition system working:

Read: Understanding the working of the magneto ignition system

Advantages and disadvantages of ignition system


Below are the advantages of the ignition system:

  • Less maintenance is required in magneto ignition systems, it’s less expensive, occupies less space, and does not require a battery. It has high working efficiency due to high-intensity spark and is less prone to error as the battery is not used
  • Another advantage of ignition systems is that the choice of electronic types has fewer parts and also required low maintenance. Its efficiency is also good and it generates less emission. Another advantage of the electronic ignition system is that it increases fuel efficiency. Finally,
  • The advantage of battery types of ignition systems is that there is good intensity of spark. It also provides a high concentration of spark even when the engine speed is low or at first starting. It also has less maintenance just like other types of ignition systems.


Despite the great advantages of the ignition system. some limitations still occur. the following are the disadvantages of the ignition system:

  • The disadvantage of the magneto type of ignition system is that there is a poor quality of spark at first start of low speed. Misfiring might also occur due to leakage and the cost of the system is high.
  • Disadvantages of the electronic types of ignition systems are that the cost of the system is dramatically high and can occupy much space as a battery must be used to power the system.
  • In the battery the disadvantages include periodic maintenance for the battery alone, more space occupied and efficiency decreased with a reduction in spark intensity.

All for the day

In conclusion, the ignition system is popular on automotive devices to help the spark plug in igniting the fuel-air mixture. Well, in this article we’ve covered a lot about the system. we unveil the definition, function, components, and various types of ignition systems. we’ve also covered its working as well as the advantages and the disadvantages of the types of ignition system. I hope you enjoyed the reading, if so, kindly comment on your fav part of the article and you can check some other interesting posts here on StudentLesson. Thanks!

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