We are all familiar with neon in its most widely used form, neon signs. However, what do we really know about it? It is the purpose of this article to present a wider view of neon through some commonly asked questions about neon, neon light signs, and other forms of neon usage that are not so well known.
Let’s start with a question that voices a safety concern.
Does neon get hot and can I get burned if I touch it?
No, to both parts. The lit neon tubing is cool to the touch. It does not give off heat in any way. The transformer does give off some slight heat, but this is minimal and safe.
What is a transformer?
A transformer is a device used to step up, or step down, or transform voltages by magnetic means.
How long will a neon sign last?
Many factors are involved in the life span of a luminous tube, including the environment in which it is placed, the quality of the power feeding the transformer, quality of installation, and acts of GOD(lightning, storms,.etc.). Luminous tubes may last for decades in the perfect environment, but in more realistic terms most luminous tube signage should last from eight to fifteen years.
Can neon tubes be repaired?
Yes, neon tubing can be repaired and/or recharged.
Are the gases in neon tubes dangerous?
Neon and argon are inert gases and are not, by themselves. a threat to persons or the environment. Argon/mercury filled tubing contains a small amount of mercury, which creates no danger as long as the tubing is intact. EPA approved disposal methods must be followed for the disposal of argon/mercury filled tubing. You should check with the Environmental Protection Agency on the proper disposal of tubing containing mercury.
How does a new neon tube produce light?
The idea behind a neon light is easy to understand. Inside the glass tube there is a gas like neon, argon. or krypton which is kept at low pressure. Both ends of the tube have metal electrodes. When a high voltage is applied to the electrodes the neon gas ignites, and electrons flow through the gas. These electrons activate the neon atoms and cause them to emit light that we can see. Neon emits red light when energized in this way. Other gases emit other colors.
How is a neon tube lighted?
A tube of glass, containing a small amount of neon(or other inert gas) is sealed tight with electrodes at each end. An electric arc is struck through the tube using a transformer to activate the molecules causing them to emit light.
What are some of the other uses of neon besides neon signs and neon lighting?
It is used in vacuum tubes, television tubes, high voltage indicators, lightning arrestors(devices that protect pieces of electrical equipment from damages by lightning or some other electrical source by diverting the electricity to the ground), and water meter tubes. Neon, combined with helium, makes a gas laser. Neon is also used in the medical world. Liquefied is used as a cryogenic refrigerant in certain cases, such as when the use of the more expensive liquid helium can be avoided. Ionized neon can serve as a propellant in space, when used with an Ion Engine. Neon can also be used as a chemical weapon, which is not done because it is highly toxic. Neon lighting is used to enhance home and business decor. It is even used on the inside and outside of cars and trucks. It is widely used in theme parks, amusement places, and arcades(in electronic games that test in dealing with real and imaginary adventurous and dangerous situations.