What Is a Magneto Ignition System?

Combustion engines are recognized for their high speed and high internal compressions that require systems that produce very high ignitions from sparks plugs. In particular, ignition systems are one of the only systems that utilize spark plugs as their source of electrical energy. With this in mind, this blog will cover the magneto ignition system, a type of ignition system wherein a magento is used to generate electricity. 

A magneto is a compact electrical generator that is rotated by the engine and has the capacity to produce high voltages. Furthermore, it does not necessitate a battery as a source of external power. As magnetos contain both primary and secondary windings, they do not require a separate coil to increase the voltage to operate the spark plug.

While the primary winding’s main function is to draw the power from the energy source, the secondary winding is affixed to the rotor. The magneto also has a contact breaker which is regulated by a cam that is connected to the north and south magnet. When the breaker is open, current flows through the capacitor and charges it. Additionally, there is an ignition switch, distributor, and of course, a spark plug.

Magneto Ignition System and Its Components

To better understand the magneto ignition system, we will provide an overview of how it works and outline its various components. When the engine of a particular system starts, it helps the magneto rotate, producing a high voltage. Meanwhile, one end of the magneto is grounded through the contact breakers, and the ignition capacitor is connected to its parallel. It is important to note that the capacitor is typically made of a high quality insulating material.

As the capacitor acts as a charger, the primary current flow is lowered and the overall magnetic field is also reduced as a result. This increases the voltage in the capacitor, allowing it to act as an EMF to produce a spark at the right spark plug through the distributor. At this starting stage, the engine speed is low and the voltage generated by the magneto is also low. However, as the engine’s rotating speed increases, the voltage and current increases as well.

There are two types of magnetos, those of which are the rotating armature type and rotating magnet type.

In the first type, the armatures rotate between stationary magnets. In the second type, the armature is stationary while the magnets move around the armature. As there are two types of magnetos, there are also varying types of distributors.

Distributors keep the sparks in each spark plug in the correct order. There are two types, those of which are known as a carbon brush type and gap type. Carbon brush types serve as the most common type and are molded by a rotor arm slipping on the metallic segment in the distributor cap or insulating material. In gap type distributors, the distributor electrode of the rotor arm is near the distributor cap, but no contact is made, making it so the electrode does not face wear.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Magneto Ignition System

Magneto ignition systems are widely used in countless applications and provide various advantages. In most cases, they are used to generate electricity and drive two-wheeler vehicles. They are often the ignition systems of choice as they require less maintenance when compared to battery ignition systems. Since no battery is present, there is no problem with battery discharge.

In terms of disadvantages, during the starting phase, the quality of the spark is poor due to low speed. Furthermore, magnetic ignition systems are more expensive than their counterparts, making them costly systems for operations with rigid budgets.


Accelerating RFQs is a leading distributor of aircraft magneto ignition system components, aviation piston engine parts, electrical generator accessories, and more. With over 2 billion ready-to-purchase items, customers can easily navigate through our expansive catalogs. At Accelerating RFQs, we understand that purchasing top-quality aviation products for your operations is of the utmost importance. As such, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accreditation, ensuring that we only ship items you can depend on. With countless aircraft magneto ignition system parts in stock, explore at your leisure and take advantage of our optimized search engine to narrow down our listings with ease. Accelerating RFQs’ unparalleled inventory enables customers to find aviation products by part number, manufacturer, CAGE Code, and more. When you find an item that meets your operational requirements, fill out and submit an RFQ for your comparisons. Within 15 minutes of submitting a form, an Accelerating RFQs representative will reach out with a customized sourcing solution. Initiate the procurement process today, and see why customers rely on Accelerating RFQs as their go-to aircraft parts distributor. For additional questions, contact us directly; we are available 24/7x365!


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