Ignition System: Types, Difference, Battery Ignition System and Magneto Ignition System [PDF]

What is an Ignition System?

The ignition system is employed in specific types of internal combustion engines. It generates a spark that triggers the combustion of the fuel-air mixture, mainly in gasoline engines. However, compression ignition diesel engines utilize the heat from compression to ignite the fuel-air mixture, eliminating the requirement for a spark plug in the process.

Function of Ignition System

Let’s dive into the role of an ignition system:

  1. Creating the Spark: The ignition system’s main task is to generate an electric spark within the engine’s combustion chamber precisely when needed. This spark is crucial as it ignites the mixture of petrol and air, initiating the combustion process.
  2. Generating High Voltage: The ignition system produces an impressive 30,000 volts of electricity across the spark plug. This high voltage is necessary to ensure a strong and reliable spark.
  3. Sequential Spark Supply: Each spark plug receives a powerful spark in the correct sequence. This precise timing ensures smooth engine operation and efficient combustion.
  4. Variable Spark Timing: Spark timing varies based on factors such as engine load, speed, and other conditions. Adjusting the spark timing optimizes performance, fuel efficiency, and overall engine operation.
  5. Timing at the Right Moment: The spark is timed to occur when the piston is nearing the top dead center of its upward motion. This strategic timing maximizes the power generated from the fuel-air mixture, enhancing engine performance.
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Applications of Ignition System

Following are the applications of Ignition System:

  1. Automotive Sector: The ignition system is extensively employed in spark-ignition engines, like those found in cars and motorcycles. Its main purpose is to ignite the fuel-air mixture, initiating the combustion process and powering the engine.
  2. Small Engines: Ignition systems are utilized in compact engines, such as those used in lawn mowers, chainsaws, and portable generators. These systems ensure efficient ignition for smooth operation.
  3. Marine Engines: Both inboard and outboard boat engines rely on ignition systems to ignite the fuel-air mixture, providing reliable power for marine applications.
  4. Aviation: Aircraft engines, particularly those with spark-ignition systems, rely on ignition systems to initiate combustion and generate power for flight.
  5. Industrial and Power Generation: Ignition systems are also integrated into industrial equipment and power generators, ensuring reliable ignition and consistent power supply.

What is a Battery Ignition System?

Battery-powered ignition systems are commonly utilized in automobiles to generate sparks through spark plugs with the assistance of a battery. While traditionally found in four-wheeler vehicles, these systems are now also employed in two-wheeler vehicles. The ignition coil draws current from a 6-volt or 12-volt battery, enabling the generation of sparks for ignition.

Working of battery Ignition System

In the Battery ignition system when the ignition switch is on, the current from the battery starts flowing through the primary circuit & through ballast register, primary winding and contact breaker. Then the current which is flowing through the primary winding induces a magnetic field around it. More the current, the stronger will be its magnetic field.

What is a Magneto Ignition System?

The magneto ignition system is an ignition system in which we use magneto for the generation of electricity. A rotating magnet produces high voltage. Further that electricity is used in several applications such as : 

  • Tractors, Outboard Motors, etc.
  • Washing Machines
  • Buses
  • Power Units, Marine Engines, and Natural Gas Engines.
  • To run the vehicles. Generally this is used in two-wheeler vehicles (SI Engine) nowadays.

Working of Magneto Ignition System

The working principle of the magneto ignition system is similar to battery ignition system. In a magneto system, it is used to produce energy. The Following is the procedure of working of a magneto ignition system:

  • When the engine of the system starts, it helps magneto to rotate and thus produce the energy in the form of high voltage.
  • One end of the magneto is grounded through contact breaker, and the ignition capacitor is connected to its parallel.
  • The contact breaker is regulated by the cam and when the breaker is open, current flows through the condenser and charges it.

Difference Between Battery Ignition System and Magneto Ignition System

Difference Between Battery Ignition System and Magneto Ignition System, PDF
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Battery Ignition System Magneto Ignition System
It is difficult to start the engine when the battery is discharged.No battery is needed, so no problem of battery discharge.
Maintenance problems are more due to the battery.Maintenance problems are less because of no battery.
Current for the primary circuit is obtained from the battery.The electric circuit is generated by the magneto.
Occupies more space.Occupies less space.
Commonly used in cars and light commercial vehicle.Mainly used in racing cars and two-wheelers.
Efficiency decreased with a reduction in spark intensity.Efficiency improves due to high-intensity spark.
A Good spark available.During starting, quality of spark is poor due to low speed.
In battery ignition system current for a primary circuit is obtained by a battery.In the magneto ignition system, the required electric current is generated by the magneto, which is an electric generator.

Advantages of Ignition System

Following are the main advantages of Ignition System:

  1. Reliable Ignition: The ignition system ensures consistent and dependable ignition of the fuel-air mixture in internal combustion engines, guaranteeing smooth combustion.
  2. Enhanced Fuel Efficiency: By precisely controlling ignition timing, the ignition system contributes to improved fuel efficiency by maximizing the energy extracted from the fuel and reducing consumption.
  3. Improved Engine Performance: The ignition system plays a vital role in overall engine performance, delivering efficient combustion for increased power output, acceleration, and overall functionality.
  4. Easy Engine Starting: With a high-voltage spark at the spark plug, the ignition system facilitates easy engine starting, even in challenging conditions or during cold weather.
  5. Versatility: The versatility of ignition systems allows their application in a wide range of industries and machinery, from automobiles and motorcycles to small engines and power generators, where controlled combustion is necessary.
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Disadvantages of Ignition System

Following are the disadvantages of Ignition System:

  1. Cost: Some ignition systems, particularly electronic types, can be expensive to install or replace. This cost factor may pose a challenge for vehicle owners or individuals seeking ignition system upgrades.
  2. Space Occupation: Certain ignition systems, such as those requiring a battery for power, can occupy a significant amount of space within the engine compartment. This can be a concern, especially in compact engine designs or applications with limited space availability.
  3. Maintenance: Ignition systems that rely on batteries or other components may require periodic maintenance. This includes tasks such as battery checks, replacements, or upkeep of other ignition system components. Failure to perform proper maintenance can lead to performance issues or even ignition system failure.
  4. Reduced Efficiency: In some cases, the efficiency of an ignition system may be compromised. For example, electronic ignition systems may experience a decrease in spark intensity over time, leading to suboptimal combustion and reduced engine performance.
  5. Initial Start and Low-Speed Performance: Certain ignition systems, such as magneto types, may exhibit poor spark quality during the initial start or at low speeds. This can result in issues like misfiring or difficulty in starting the engine smoothly.

Video on Working of Ignition System

Credits: Automotive System


How is the battery part of the ignition system?

The battery is not directly part of the ignition system. It plays a crucial role by providing electrical power to components involved in ignition. It also ensures the necessary energy for the ignition process. It powers the starter motor, ignition switch, ignition coil, and engine control unit.

When does a magneto ignition system produce a spark?

A spark is produced in a magneto ignition system when the ignition coil generates a high-voltage current. The collapse of the coil’s magnetic field, triggered by mechanical means, induces the spark at the spark plug. This ignites the fuel-air mixture for combustion in the engine’s cylinders.

When is an ignition interlock system used?

Ignition interlock systems are used to prevent drunk driving by requiring drivers to pass a breathalyzer test before starting a vehicle.



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