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Depending on how the ignition process is controlled, a distinction is made between contact, contactless (transistor) and electronic (microprocessor) ignition systems:
- In the contact ignition system, electrical energy is stored and distributed between the cylinders, controlled by a mechanical device, the distributor. A further evolution of the contact ignition system is the contact transistor ignition system, where the transistor commutator is used in the primary ignition coil circuit.
- In contrast to the contactless ignition system, a transistor commutator, which communicates with a contactless pulse encoder, is used to control the energy storage. The transistor commutator in this system acts as the interrupter. The distribution of the high-voltage current is carried out by a mechanical distributor.
- The electronic ignition system uses an electronic control unit, which is responsible for controlling the accumulation and distribution of electrical energy. In the early designs of the electronic ignition system, the electronic unit controlled both the ignition system and the fuel injection system (so-called combined ignition and injection system) at the same time. Nowadays, ignition control is integrated into the engine management system.
The operating principle of the ignition system is to accumulate and transform the low voltage (12V) of the car electrical system into a high voltage (up to 30,000V), distribute and transmit the high voltage to the appropriate spark plug and the formation of a spark at the right time on the spark plug.
The ignition system can be divided into the following stages: accumulation of electrical energy, energy conversion, energy distribution to the spark plugs, spark formation, ignition of the fuel-air mixture.
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