Battery Ignition System: Definition, Parts, Working Principle, Applications, Advantages, and Disadvantages [Notes with PDF]

What is Battery Ignition System?

Battery ignition system is a type of ignition system that is commonly used in most modern engines. The system uses a battery to generate an electrical charge that is used to ignite the fuel mixture in the engine. Understanding how the battery ignition system works is essential for any vehicle owner. Not only does it help you troubleshoot any issues, but it also allows you to appreciate the engineering that goes into starting a car. In this article, we’ll dive into the workings of the battery ignition system, the different components involved, and how they all work together to start your engine.

Components of Battery Ignition System

The main components of Battery Ignition system are listed below:

  1. Ignition switch
  2. Battery
  3. Ignition coil
  4. Ballast resistor
  5. Contact breaker
  6. Distributor
  7. Capacitor
  8. Spark Plug
Diagram of Battery Ignition System
Diagram of Battery Ignition System,

Ignition Switch

It is used to turn ON or OFF the engine. One end of the switch is connected with the Primary Winding of the Ignition Coil via the Ballast Resistor, and another end is connected to the Battery. Basically when the key is put inside it and turned the switch in ON position then the circuit is completed (Close Circuit). When moved towards the OFF position then it works as an open circuit. Nowadays, this switch is replaced by the Push Button, and this system is called a keyless system.


The battery is used to supply the initial current to the ignition system more specifically ignition coil. Generally, the voltage of the battery is 6V or 12V, or 24 V. In an automobile there are two types of Battery used widely, one is a lead-acid battery and another one is an alkaline battery. Although there are also Zinc Acid batteries and Lithium-Ion batteries used in modern vehicles.

Ignition coil

It is the main junction or you can say it is the main part of Battery Ignition System. The main purpose of it is to step up battery voltage so that it is sufficient to generate the spark. It works as a step-up transformer, and have two winds, one is primary which have a lesser turn, and the other one is secondary which have higher number of turn.

Ballast resistor

This is used to limit the current in the ignition circuit and generally made up of Iron. It is placed in series between the Ignition Switch and Ignition Coil. However, it is used in old automobile vehicles.

Contact Breaker

The contact breaker is an essential component of the battery ignition system in vehicles. It is responsible for regulating the flow of electrical current from the battery to the spark plugs, which in turn ignites the fuel in the engine. The contact breaker consists of a set of points that open and close at specific intervals, allowing the current to flow through the ignition coil and create the spark needed to start the engine. It is vital to maintain the contact breaker for optimal engine performance. Regular cleaning and adjustment of the points will ensure that the electrical current is flowing smoothly and efficiently, resulting in a smoother running engine.


When it comes to ensuring that your vehicle’s ignition system is working efficiently, having a reliable distributor is key. The distributor in a battery ignition system is responsible for distributing electrical power to the spark plugs, which then ignite the air/fuel mixture in the engine. This process is essential for the proper functioning of your vehicle, and a faulty distributor can cause a host of issues, including misfires, poor fuel economy, and even engine damage. That’s why it’s important to invest in a high-quality distributor that is built to last.

There are two types of distributors.

  • Carbon Brush Type
  • Gap Type

Carbon Brush Type

The carbon brushes are made up of a conductive material that rubs against the contacts on the distributor cap. This creates a circuit that allows the electricity to flow from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. The carbon brushes in the distributor are designed to wear down over time, which can lead to poor performance and misfires. Regular maintenance and replacement of the carbon brushes can help ensure that your ignition system is working at its best.

Gap Type

The gas type distributor is designed to rotate and deliver a spark to each spark plug at the correct time. This ensures that the fuel mixture is ignited properly, resulting in optimal engine performance. It is important to ensure that the gas type distributor is well-maintained and functioning correctly, as any issues with it can cause misfires, engine stalling or poor performance.


A capacitor stores an electrical charge and releases it when required to provide the necessary spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the engine. The capacitor helps to smooth out the voltage fluctuations in the system and ensures a consistent spark every time. It is also responsible for reducing radio frequency noise that can affect other electronic components in the vehicle. Without a functioning capacitor, the battery ignition system would not work efficiently and could lead to misfires, stalling, or even complete engine failure. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the capacitor is in good condition and replaced if necessary to maintain the smooth running of the vehicle.

Spark Plug

A spark plug is a tiny component that may seem insignificant, but it has a significant impact on your vehicle’s performance. A faulty spark plug can cause misfires, decrease fuel efficiency, and even damage your engine over time. As a result, it’s important to ensure that your spark plugs are in good working condition and replaced regularly. By doing so, you can improve your engine’s performance, increase fuel efficiency, and extend the lifespan of your vehicle. So, if you notice any issues with your engine’s performance or fuel efficiency, it’s worth checking your spark plugs to see if they need replacing.

Read more: Magneto Ignition System

Working Principle of Battery Ignition System

In Battery Ignition System, when the Ignition Switch is turned on, the current will flow to the primary circuit through ballast register, primary winding and contact breaker The flowing current induce a magnetic field around the primary winding, the more current we supply the more magnetic filed will generate. At a certain time, the contact breaker opens the circuit through the primary winding and fall. This sudden fall of current generates very high voltage around 300 V in the primary winding section.

Due to this immense amount of voltage the capacitor comes into the charging state. When the capacitor is fully charged then it starts delivering the current towards the battery. Due to this reverse flow of the current and already induced magnetic field in the primary winding, a very high voltage of 15000 V to 30000 V is generated in the secondary winding.

Source :

This high voltage current is then transferred to the distributor via high tension cable, where already a rotor rotates inside the distributor cap and has metallic segments embedded on it. So when it starts rotating then at a certain stage it opens the contact breaker point which allows the high voltage current to transferred to the spark plugs through the metallic segments. So when the high voltage current reaches the spark plug then its generates a high intensity of spark inside the engine cylinder, which allows the combustion fuel to burn.

Read more: Electronic Ignition System

Advantages of Battery Ignition System

Following are the advantages of Battery Ignition System:

  • The intensity of spark is high
  • High concentration of spark even at low engine speed
  • Less maintenance required
  • Easy to install, maintain and repair
  • Reliable source of ignition
  • Smooth and efficient engine operation
  • More environmental friendly

Disadvantages of Battery Ignition System

Following are the disadvantages of Battery Ignition System:

  • Efficiency decreases with a reduction in spark intensity.
  • Occupies more space.
  • Periodic maintenance is needed for Battery.
  • Limited power output
  • Prone to failure in extreme condition

Applications of Battery Ignition System

Following are the applications of Battery Ignition System:

  • Used in generators in lawnmowers
  • Aviation industry for Aircraft
  • Marine industry for Boats and Ships

Read more: Difference Between Battery Ignition System and Magneto Ignition System

Video on Battery Ignition System

Credits : Magic Marks


When is an ignition interlock system used?

An ignition interlock system is a device that is installed in a vehicle, which requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the car can be started. This system is typically used as a requirement for individuals who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. In some states, the use of an ignition interlock system is mandatory for all DUI offenders, while in others it is only required for repeat offenders or those with a particularly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of their arrest. The purpose of the system is to prevent drivers from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and to keep them and others on the road safe. The driver must provide a clean breath sample in order to start the car, and in some cases, will also be required to provide additional samples while driving to ensure they remain sober.

What is the purpose of the ignition system?

The ignition system is an essential component of any vehicle’s engine. It is responsible for providing the necessary spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. This process generates the energy required to power the engine and move the vehicle. The ignition system comprises several parts, including the spark plugs, ignition coil, distributor, and ignition control module. The purpose of the ignition system is to ensure that the engine starts and runs smoothly, with maximum efficiency and minimal emissions. The proper functioning of the ignition system is critical to the overall performance of the engine and the vehicle. So, if you want your vehicle to run smoothly and efficiently, make sure that your ignition system is in good working condition.

What component in the ignition system steps up voltage?

The ignition system in a vehicle is responsible for starting the engine and powering various components in the car. One of the key components of the ignition system is the ignition coil, which is responsible for stepping up the voltage from the battery to the level required to create a spark in the spark plugs. This spark is what ignites the fuel in the engine and allows it to start. The ignition coil works by using a magnetic field to induce a high voltage in the secondary winding of the coil, which is then sent to the spark plugs. Without the ignition coil, the engine would not be able to start, and the car would be unable to run. It is a critical component that must be functioning properly for the vehicle to operate correctly.


In conclusion, the battery ignition system is an essential component of modern engines. It provides a reliable and efficient way to start the engine and keep it running smoothly. The system consists of several parts, including the battery, ignition coil, distributor, and spark plugs. Each of these components plays a crucial role in the ignition process, and any malfunction can cause the engine to stop working. So, it is essential to maintain and repair the system regularly to ensure maximum performance and longevity.


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