When you want your car or truck to do its best work, chances are you want the best types of ignition systems. Of course, that means understanding the different types of ignition systems and determining which one may be best for your project. Whether you choose an SBC Holley Sniper or another type of system, use this information to help you.
Magneto Ignition System
The simplest form of ignition system is the magneto system. Also known as an inductive discharge system, this type is most common in two-stroke engines but inconsistent in four-stroke engines. Magneto systems are commonly used in lightweight tools, small aircraft, and go-karts.
The inductive discharge system uses a magnet on a flywheel. It passes through an electrical coil that is connected to spark plugs. A transformer is typically used to boost the voltage. The magnet passes the coil and generates a voltage. Because the system doesn’t require batteries and is so light, it’s a perfect option for smaller engines.
Conventional Distributor Ignition System
Also known as a Kettering engine, the conventional distributor ignition system has been used on boats, trucks, cars, and aircraft for more than 50 years. The system, which is much more complicated than the magneto one, consists of a battery, an ignition coil, a current-limiting resistor, a distributor, spark plugs, a contactor switch, and a contact breaker switch. Although much more complicated, the Kettering system is also much more efficient, especially when used on four-stroke engines. They often are compatible with a range of fuel injection kits as well.
Capacitive Discharge Ignition System
Very common in the automotive aftermarket is the capacitive discharge ignition system. The CDI system was invented by Nikola Tesla in the 1890s and has the ability to create large peak voltages, which is what makes it so popular.
The system relies on a capacitor, switch, and transformer to store, boost, and release the energy through the spark plugs. The charge is sourced from a generator like what the magneto has, but it includes a battery as well. It then discharges through a transformer with the help of a transistor. Keep in mind, though, that despite the high peak voltage, the more important factors to consider when choosing this type of ignition system is the spark energy that the ignition coil dictates.
Coil and Plug Systems
There are two types of systems that rely on coils and plugs: coil-on-plug systems and coil-near-plug systems. COP and CNP systems are both electronically controlled and known by a wide variety of names. Invented in the late 1930s in the United Kingdom, they were first produced for vehicles in the 1970s.
COP and CNP ignitions are much like distributor systems, although they reverse the order of the voltage transformer and the distributor. The coil of a COP system is right above or behind the spark plug while the spark plug in a CNP system uses a short, high-voltage wire.
COP and CNP systems are beneficial because they are electrically efficient and always produce predictable and consistent sparks. They also allow the ECU or ECM to perform variable ignition timing. Finally, they have computer control that allows for advanced engine diagnostics and efficiency features like those available in the Holley Sniper Ignition System.
Always research thoroughly before buying a new ignition system for your car, truck, or any other item you own that relies on an ignition system. Ask a professional for help if you need to.