How Electronic Ignition System Works?

Electronic Ignition System is developed to improve reliability, improve mileage and decrease emission.

“From a little spark may burst a flame” by Dante Alighieri, rightly said that a spark is required to start a flame and in an automobile, since there is a conversion of chemical energy (i.e. air-fuel mixture) into mechanical energy i.e. (crankshaft rotation) spark is essential which is responsible for the combustion, but from where does this spark comes? How does the timing of spark and the prepared air-fuel mixture is managed? Let’s just dig it out.

In an internal combustion engine, combustion is a continuous cycle and occurs thousands of times in a minute so an effective and accurate source of ignition is required. The idea of spark ignition came from a toy electric pistol that used electric spark to ignite a mixture of hydrogen and air to shoot a cork.

The electronic ignition system is the type of ignition system that uses electronic circuits, usually by transistors controlled by sensors to generate electric pulses which in turn generate a better spark that can even burn the lean mixture and provide a better economy and lower emission.

Types of Ignition System:

Various types of ignition systems were used lately that are

  1. Glow plug ignition system,
  2. Magneto ignition system
  3. Electric coil or Battery ignition system,

But all these systems have their own limitations that are:

Glow plug ignition system

Glow plug ignition system is the oldest of all and is obsolete because of its many limitations:

It has a problem of causing uncontrolled combustion due to the use of electrode as an ignition source, which is solved later after the introduction of the Magneto ignition system in which electrodes are replaced by a spark plug. Unlike magneto ignition, the Glow plug produces high exhaust emission due to the incomplete combustion.

Magneto ignition system

It is the system introduce to overcome the limitations of old Magneto ignition systems, but it has its own limitations:

  • It depends on the engine speed, so shows starting problem due to low speed at the starting of the engine, which is later solved with the introduction of Battery coil ignition system in which battery becomes the energy source for the system.
  • Expensive than the electric coil ignition system.
  • Wear and tear are more than battery coil ignition because of the greater number of mechanical moving parts than a battery coil systems.
  • Can cause misfire due to leakage.

Electric coil ignition or Battery ignition system

System is the latest of all above and is being used from long time due to its better efficiency and accuracy but it also shows some limitations:

  • Less efficient with the high-speed engines
  • High maintenance required due to mechanical and electrical wear of the contact breaker points

So, Since in the modern automobile new technologies are introduced and it is found that use of sensors and electronic component gives more effective and accurate outputs than that of mechanical components so the use of sensors with electronic controlled unit becomes essential to fulfill the needs of modern high power and high speed automobiles or hyper series of automobiles, so to fulfill the need for high performance, high mileage and greater reliability has led to the development of Electronic ignition system.

Electronic Ignition System Definition:

As the name indicates “Electronic ” the system is fully controlled electronically and that is why we called it an Electronic ignition system.

Electronic Ignition System Parts:

An Electronic ignition system consists of the following parts:

  1. Battery
  2. Ignition switch
  3. Electronic control module
  4. Armature
  5. Ignition coil
  6. Distributor
  7. Sparkplug
  8. Electronic Ignition System Parts
Electronic Ignition System

Let’s understand one by one,


A battery is an electrochemical system, it stores energy and whenever require it gives.

Battery plays an important role here. It is having two terminals positive (+) and negative (-).

The positive terminal is connected to the key (Ignition switch). The negative terminal is connected to the ground.

Ignition switch:

It is connected just after Battery.

Ignition switch works like on and of the system. When it turns ON the power supplied from battery and when it is off, the power not supplying.

Electronic control module:

Here the work starts electronically. It is used to ON and OFF the primary current.

The ignition control module performs the same operation as that contact point performs in another ignition system.

It manages the dwell period (remains in a given state) on its own.


It plays an important role in generating the magnetic field. Here armature is used instead of contact breaker point in a conventional ignition system.

Ignition coil:

It is a pulse-type transformer, that is capable of producing short fire of high volt for beginning combustion.

It produces high voltage required to make pass the current in the gap at the spark plug.

An ignition coil is set of two sets of winding:

  1. Primary Winding (Outer winding).
  2. Secondary winding (Inner winding).


From the primary winding the current flows, Distributor controls on and of the cycle of the current flow.

The distributor makes spark occurs at each of the spark plugs and distributes high voltage to it.

Spark plugs:

It uses ignition coil high voltages to ignites the fuel.

Working Principle of Electronic Ignition System:

To understand the working of the electronic ignition system in which all the components are connected in their working order.

When the driver switches ON the ignition switch in order to start a vehicle the current starts flowing from the battery through the ignition switch to the coil primary winding, which in turn starts the armature pick up coil to receive and send the voltages signals from the armature to the ignition module.

When the tooth of the rotating reductor comes in front of the pickup coil, the voltage signal from pickup coil is sent to the electronics module which in turn senses the signals & steps the current to flow form. primary coil.

When the tooth of the rotating reductor goes away from the pickup coil, the change in voltage signal is sent by pickup coil to the ignition module & a timing circuit inside ignition module turns ON the current flow.

A magnetic field is generated in the ignition coil due to this continuous make & break of the circuit. Which induced an EME in secondary winding which increases the voltage upto 50,000 volts.

The high voltage is them sent to the distributor, which has the rotating rotor & distributor points which is set according to the ignition timing.

When the rotor comes in front of any of the distributor points the jumping of the voltage through the air gap from the rotor to the distributor point take place which is then sent to the adjacent spark plug through the high tension cable & a voltage difference is generated between the central electorade & ground electrode which is responsible for generating a spark at the tip of the spark plug & finally the combustion takes place.

Applications of Electronic Ignition System

These are the applications of the Electronic Ignition System:

  • This system used in aircraft engines.
  • It also used in modern bikes and cars.

Advantages of Electronic Ignition System:

These are some advantages of Electronic Ignition System:

  • It has fewer moving parts.
  • Low maintenance required.
  • Less emission generates.
  • Efficiency is good.
  • It also increases fuel efficiency.

Disadvantages of Electronic Ignition System:

Also, there are some disadvantages Electronic Ignition System and those are:

  • The cost of this system is high it means expensive in cost.

So, this is all about Electronic Ignition System, I hope you like this resource, feel free to comment down below your doubts or thoughts, I will happy to help you furthermore.

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