Every spark plug has a side and central electrode. Traditionally, these electrodes were made of copper. Eventually, other materials were used to make the spark plug more efficient, such as platinum and iridium.
What's more, the center electrodes of spark plugs nowadays are much smaller than what they used to be the same way computers nowadays are much smaller than they used to be.
Advancements have allowed the spark plug's design and size to be smaller, more efficient, and more dependable. This also means that less voltage is needed to generate the electricity required for the combustion chamber to combust then start the vehicle.
The Different Spark Plug Types
- Copper: Copper-based spark plugs require more voltage in order to generate the spark needed to start your vehicle compared to the other, more expensive spark plug types. Nickel alloy that used along with copper tend to be not durable and soft, so expect more failures from copper-type spark plugs. Most of the older or vintage vehicles out there require spark plugs of this type because they don't have high electrical needs.
- Platinum and Double Platinum: Platinum spark plugs are better than copper spark plugs but still not as efficient as their iridium counterpart. It's a spark plug type in between the two other types that's the current standard for modern cars. Meanwhile, the double platinum variety of spark plug is recommended to what's known as the waste spark system type of distributor ignition system.
This system makes plugs fire twice, first for the compression stroke cylinder and second for the exhaust stroke cylinder. It's called a waste spark system because the second spark is wasted since there's no ignition there although it's a good spark to have for good measure. Its benefit is that it's more dependable at producing a spark and can resist environmental conditions like dampness or rain.
- Iridium: As for iridium spark plugs, they use fewer volts to create the electric current thanks to their small center electrode. More and more car manufacturers are making iridium plugs as their new standard for the new line of computer-enabled cars. If you have these spark plugs included with your car and you require new ones, don't downgrade to copper or platinum plugs because they'll diminish vehicle performance when push comes to shove.
Less voltage will be needed to generate electric current for spark plugs that use fewer materials because the materials use is much more efficient at conducting electricity. Copper is the most inefficient one, thus require loads of the material plus nickel alloy in order to get that much-needed spark to jumpstart your vehicle.
Spark plugs using the rare metals of platinum and iridium have better conductivity so less is more in this case when generating that current for the combustion chamber of your vehicle.