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Magneto Ignition System – Parts, Working Principle, Advantages, and Disadvantages with Application

A combustion engine which has some vivid characteristic like high speed and high internal compression requires a system that produces very high ignition from the spark plug which is used as the source.

The ignition system is the system which uses the spark plug as their source where electrical energy is
input given to the spark plug.

There are three types of the ignition system

Electronic Ignition System

The Magneto Ignition System is a unique kind of Ignition System that has its own source to generate the necessary amount of energy for an automobile or a vehicle to work.

  • Main Parts
  • Magneto Ignition System
  • Image Source

Here is the list of parts that are used in it

  • Magneto
  • Distributor
  • Spark Plug
  • Capacitor

Also, read – How to make spark plug wires


The source that generates energy in the Magneto Ignition System is the Magneto.
Generally speaking, a magneto is a small electric generator. When the magnet is rotated by the motor, the voltage is produced.

The higher the rotation, the greater will be the amount of voltage produced by the system.

The magneto does not need any external power source such as a battery to kick start it as it is a source for
Generating energy.

There are two types of winding in it. It has a primary binding and a secondary binding.

In addition to this, magneto has 3 types based on its engine rotation

  • Armature rotating type
  • Magnet rotating type
  • Polar inductor type

In the armature rotating type, an armature rotates between the stationary magnet whereas in the magnet rotating type armature is stationary and the magnets are rotating around the armature.

In the polar inductor type both the magnet and the windings remain stationary, But the voltage is generated by reversing the flux field with the help of soft iron polar projections, called inductors.


The distributor that is used in the Magneto Ignition System is used in the multi-cylinder engine.

The multi-cylinder engine is used for the regulation Of spark in a correct sequence in the spark plug.

The surge of the ignition is distributed uniformly among the spark plugs.

There are two types of distributors

  • Carbon brush type distributor
  • Gap type distributor

In the carbon brush type rotor arm sliding over the metallic segment carries the carbon brush which is embedded inside the distributor cap or molded insulating material.

This helps to provide an electric connection with the spark plug.

In gap type, the distributor electrode of the rotor arm is close to the distributor cap, but no contact is made leading to no wear for the electrode.


The spark plug used in this Ignition System has two electrodes are parted from each other.

A high voltage flows through it which causes the generation of the spark and used to ignite cylinders’ combustion mixture like oil.

The electrode used in it is a steel shell and an insulator.

The central electrode is connected to the supply of the ignition coil and outer steel shell which is grounded insulating both of them.

There is a small air gap that is left between the central electrode and the steel shell where the spark is generated.

The central electrode is closed when the spark is generated and hence it is made of a high nickel alloy that can withstand high temperature and resistance.


The capacitor used in the Magneto Ignition System is a simple electrical capacitor in which two metal plates are separated by an insulating material with a distance.

Commonly, the air is used as the insulating material but for a particular technical requirement, some high-quality insulating material is used.

Working Principle Of Magneto Ignition System

The working principle of the ignition system is similar to the working principle of coil or battery ignition system except.

That is it magneto is used to produce energy but not the battery.

Here are the following scenarios that occur in it.

The one end of the magneto is grounded through a contact breaker and the ignition capacitor is connected to it parallel.

The contact breaker is regulated by the cam and when the breaker is open, Current flows through the condenser and charges it.

This increases the voltage in the condenser.

This increased high voltage in the condenser will act as an EMF thereby producing the spark at the right spark plug through the distributor.

At the initial stage, the speed of the engine is low and hence the voltage generated by the magneto is low but as the rotating speed Of the engine increases, It also increases the voltage generated by the magneto and the flow of the current is also increased.

  • At medium and high speed, it is more efficient.
  • It’s more convenient because there’s no battery.
  • It requires less maintenance.

The main advantage of the magneto ignition system over other ignition system is it doesn’t require any external source to generate energy.

It was managed at low tension and high tension.

In the high tension, a huge amount of voltage is generated using a step-up transformer which can be used for engines like the aeroplane engine and low tension can manage this voltage letting it flow in the smallest part of the wiring and this avoid leakage too.


  • – It has a starting problem due to the low rotating speed at the starting of the engine.
  • – It is more expensive when compared to a battery ignition system.
  • – There is a possibility of misfire due to leakage because the variation of voltage in the wiring can occur.


Here is the partial list of the applications of engines equipped with magneto ignition system.

  • – Tractors, Oil Burners, and Outboard Motors
  • – Washing Machines
  • – Trucks and Cement Mixers
  • – Buses
  • – Airplane Engines
  • – Power Units, Marine Engines and Natural Gas Engines

Also, read:

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  1. Autocurious August 3, 2020 Reply

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