5 interesting facts you may (or may not have known) about Neon

There is only one type of neon. Glass tubes that are hand bent to a design, offering a unique way to create both art pieces or neon signs, fully recyclable, long lasting and versatile, neon offers an unrivalled way to liven up any space

Neon was first discovered in its elemental form in 1898. In less than 20 years it was used not just as a scientific tool, but as a product. The first demonstration of neon in a modern form was in December 1910, by a man called Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show, who displayed two 12 metre long tubes filled with the gas.

From that point, the world has been fascinated with neon and its popularity and uses have evolved over the many years.

At A1deSIGNS, we sure do love our neon so we thought we’d put together a list of 5 interesting facts about neon (at least to us, anyway).

Hope you enjoy…

1. REAL NEON LIGHTS ARE ONLY REDDISH-ORANGE COLOURS

One of the lesser known neon facts is that there is only one colour for neon. When you fill a clear tube with pure neon gas, it lights up a reddish-orange colour and is that warm glow that is often thought of when neon is mentioned. To obtain other colours, there are a variety of methods used that include powder coated tubes, combining neon with other noble gases such as Argon, or even using coloured glass tubes. In some cases, all of the above are done to achieve some of the most vibrant colours you will see.

2. A NEON SIGN ONCE SOLD FOR $48,300!

Earlier this year, in January 2017, a neon sign sold for $48,300 at a auction night in Maine, USA, the sign was from the legendary Los Angeles rock club, ‘Whisky a Go Go’ and 13ft long.

3. NEON IS USED IN TELEVISION SETS AND LASERS

Having unique properties means that neon has many uses in everyday life, it’s used in advertising signs, vacuum tubes, wave meter tubes, lighting arrestors, high voltage indicators, television tubes, plasma tubes and helium-neon lasers. Nowadays liquid neon is commercially available and used as cryogenic refrigerant, so it’s not just common on the streets of Las Vegas, it’s in your home as well!

4. NEON IS A GREEK WORD

Neon gets its name from the Greek word ‘neos’ which means new.

5. ALL NEON LIGHTING IS HANDMADE

Even though electrodes and most glass tubes are prefabricated, neon lighting is still a handmade art and creators use blow torches to heat glass tubes before bending them into place and sealing them together.


We hope you found this post helpful? Check out more of our neon articles here. And please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about any of the details we’ve covered or to find out more about how our variety of neon signs can help your business.

Neon Signs for Home use

As specialists in neon manufacture we get many enquiries in regards to neon signs for people’s homes. Neon can be a great feature in a home, providing a warm glow that can create a perfect atmosphere in a living room, or look great in a kitchen, hall way or bedroom.

There are a few things to note in regards to neon signs in general:

  • It is a handmade product, it can take many hours of someone stood over a hot flame and so the cost final product does reflect the time and skill that goes into its creation
  • It is an electrical product made of glass, not a toy and so while a neon sign might look great in a child’s bedroom, care should be taken so that young children cannot play with the sign or potentially damage it.

With that being said, Neon signs can be an incredible feature for your home. We have made and installed many signs for use in the home, below are a few examples.

Neon Signs for a Kitchen

Customers ask for a variety of different signs for their kitchen; some want a particular phrase that they like, others want something a single word to do with food or eating. One of the stranger but more fun projects we have worked on for a kitchen though was an amalgamation of the London skyline.

Using a variety of colours, we made a sign that had the London Eye, the gherkin, Big Ben and some other well-known landmarks. We mounted directly to the wall, and particular care had to be taken as it was positioned around an existing TV.

We spend a lot of time in our kitchens, with many also serving as dining rooms and a good-looking neon sign is a great addition to that environment.

Neon Signs for the bedroom

Bedrooms are ideal locations for neon signs. The warm glow of a neon, added with the capability for dimming, allows for great mood lighting when needed and a unique piece of decoration during the day.

With Bedrooms used for more than just sleeping in this modern age, a neon sign can really make the room feel like your space. Perhaps you stream inside your bedroom, why not have a neon sign of your handle? If your bedroom is used as your primary living area, for example if you live in a rented room in a larger house, then a neon sign can help make that change from ‘bedroom’ space to ‘entertaining space’.

Ways to mount a Neon Sign

As a standard, a neon sign for inside your house is made to be put up on the wall and left alone. Whether this is a tray panel, or clear acrylic case with keyholes that sits flush to the wall, a flat acrylic panel that stands off the wall with peg fixings, or even neon mounted directly onto the wall using tube supports.

However, a neon sign to hang on a wall is not the only option. We can also make your neon sign freestanding, so you can move it from room to room. If the situation calls for it, we can even make the sign so that it is suspended from a ceiling.

All in all, a neon sign for the home is a great piece to invest in. It can help bring new life to a room, transforming it with a vibrant but warm glow that helps really make a house a home.


We hope you found this post helpful? Check out more of our neon articles here. And please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about any of the details we’ve covered or to find out more about how our variety of neon signs can help your business.

Can Neon be used outside?

N.B. – All references to Neon within this document unless stated otherwise are in regards to the real glass neon product, not any LED alternatives.

One topic people ask us about a lot when enquiring about neon signs is their use externally. Questions such as:

  • Can Neon signs be outside/outdoors?
  • Can Neon signs be in the cold?
  • Will Neon signs freeze?
  • Can Neon get too hot?
  • Can Neon signs get wet?

The versatility of neon means that the answers to these questions are often the opposite of what people believe when asking. Below is a comprehensive Q&A that should shed some light on the potential of Neon signs.

Can Neon signs be outside?

This is quite an open question with various different points to consider, based on your specific needs. However, the short answer is yes, neon signs can be used outside as long as you have been provided with the right transformer. All neon glass is suitable for use outside, if you live in a particularly cold area (North Scotland for example) then you may need your tubes pumped with a certain mixture of gas, but generally the only thing deciding the sign’s use is the transformer it comes with.

Can Neon signs be in the cold?

Neon signs are usually pumped with either pure Neon, pure Argon or a mixture of the two. These give you all the different colours you normally in a neon sign.

When a sign is going outside, it would be pumped with either pure Neon or a mixture of Argon and neon. This mixture allows for the sign to operate in the majority of temperatures here in the UK.

If your sign is going to be exposed to particularly harsh weather, then it will need to be pumped with a different combination of gas, with a higher ratio of Neon to Argon.

Put simply though, your neon sign will withstand anything the Great British weather throws at it.

Will Neon signs freeze?

The gas inside a Neon sign will not freeze. If water is on the outside of a tube and is exposed to a cold enough temperature, then this can freeze and can potentially damage / break the sign.

However, provided a sign is kept running it should generate enough heat at the electrodes to keep the gas ignited and should help prevent the tubes from becoming cold enough to allow ice to form.

Can Neon get too hot?

Provided a neon sign is manufactured and installed correctly, there is no reason why your neon sign would get too hot from being on.

There is not any ambient temperature, under normal weather circumstances, that would cause a neon tube to stop working. The temperature they reach when being made and bombarded far exceeds their operating temperature and the temperature that they are placed in.

In fact, the main part of a Neon sign that affected by excessive heat is the transformer. It is recommended to keep transformer(s) away from direct sunlight where possible and with as much airflow as possible, to prevent the temperature around them building up.

Provided the transformer is functioning, there should be no temperature, especially not in the UK, that is too high for a neon sign.

Can Neon signs get wet?

As with any electrical item, it is better to keep it away from water where possible. Neon is also high voltage which means that extra care should be taken around it. However despite what many people believe and despite the picture the first two statements paint, Neon signs are perfectly safe to be used outside in the rain, provided they are supplied with the correct equipment and installed correctly.

The glass itself is safe to touch when wet, even when on, but you should not touch any connection between glass and wire, whether wet or not.

If the sign is being made for external use, then the glass bender will usually make it so that the electrodes point up. This then means that when the electrode sleeves are placed over the glass -> cable connection, the sleeve sits over the top and water would not be able to gather inside and damage the connection over time.


We hope this answers some of your questions. If you’d like to chat about any of the details we’ve covered or to find out more about how our variety of neon solutions can help your business, please drop us a line.

Check out more of our neon articles here.

 

Neon Safety Practices: When does a neon sign need to have a fire-fighters switch?

Firstly, let us say that neon signage is incredibly safe to use – providing it is well looked after and treated with respect. For more than 100 years neon has been a go-to signage and is now more reliable and safe than ever before.

In the past few weeks the topic of whether a neon sign requires a fire-fighters switch has popped up several times from new customers – so let us give a technical answer…

Any permanent, non-portable, high voltage neon sign over 100w (e.g max 8kv/18ma), will require a fire-fighters switch or connecting to a fire circuit.

Fire-fighter switches are not always required. When considering the requirement, we need to look at the relevant regulations and
these are found in the IET Electrical Regulations.

A Fire-fighter’s switch shall be provided in the low voltage circuit supplying:

1: Outdoor lighting installations operating at a voltage exceeding low voltage and…

2: Indoor discharge lighting installations operating at a voltage exceeding low voltage.

For the purposes of this regulation an installation in a covered market, arcade or shopping mall is considered to be an
outdoor installation. A temporary installation in a permanent building used for exhibitions is considered not to be an exterior
installation.

This requirement does not apply to a portable discharge luminaire or to a sign of a rating not exceeding 100w and fed
fro a readily accessible socket-outlet.

A “portable” luminaire (e.g. an art piece) can be of any wattage or voltage and does not require a fire-fighter’s switch.

  • A sign powered by multiple low voltage transformers (990v)
    does not require a fire-fighter’s switch.
  • A sign of less than 100w fed from a readily accessible socket
    does not require a fire-fighter’s switch.
  • A non-portable sign over 100w requires a fire-fighter’s switch.

So what does 100w allow us to have?

This is dependent on the amount of mA (Milliamps) being passed through the tubes and the voltage required for the installation.
When working out wattage there are two methods, one is the apparent power (expressed as Volt Ampere) and the other is the
Real power (Watts).

Volt Ampere is worked out with the following equation from Ohm’s Law:
P(Watts) = V(Volts) x I(Amps)

However this is not the Real power in watts that is obtained, it is actually Volt-Ampere’s which is not the same thing.

Real power is worked out by multiplying VA (Volta-Ampere) x Power Factor (cosφ) which for wire wound transformers is 0.5, this
results in a much lower wattage. With this in mind anything up to and including the following transformers should be able to be
used, as their Real power is less than 100w when running:

Wire Wound Transformer:
6kV 25mA running at 95 watts.
8kV 18mA running at 95 watts.

Electronic Transformer:
8kV/ 20mA running at around 95% of full capacity. Less load uses less power. Installations should be individually checked when
running, as cabling and other factors can affect the efficiency. When a fire-fighter’s switch is required the regulations state:

537.6.2 – Every exterior installation covered by regulation 537.6.1 in each single premises shall wherever practicable be controlled by a single fire-fighter’s switch. Similarly, every internal installation covered by Regulation 537.6.1 in each single premises shall be controlled by a single fire-fighter’s switch independent of the switch for any exterior installation.

537.6.3 Every fire-fighters switch provided for compliance with Regulation 537.6.1 shall comply with all the relevant
requirements of the following items (i) to (iv) and any requirements of the local authority:

(i). For an exterior installation, the switch shall be outside the
building and adjacent to the equipment, or alternatively a
notice indicating the position of the switch shall be placed
adjacent to the equipment and a notice shall be fixed near
the switch so as to render it clearly distinguishable.

(ii). For an interior installation, the switch shall be in the main
entrance to the building or in another position to be agreed
with the local fire authority.

(iii). The switch shall be placed in a conspicuous position,
reasonably accessible to fire-fighters and, except where
otherwise agreed with the local fire authority, at not more than
2.75m from the ground or the standing beneath the switch.

(iv). Where more than one switch is installed on any one building,
each switch shall be clearly marked to indicate the installation
or part of the installation which it controls.

In short, internal and external neon signs should have separate fire-fighter switches, these should be ideally placed next to the sign that it controls or in the main entrance of the building, if not then a sign saying where the switch is should be provided along with a label for the switch. The switch should be no higher than 2.75m from the floor. Due to the age of the regulation and the fact is has not been updated for quite some time, It is also possible to connect into an alarm circuit that switches off when a fire is detected, this should be confirmed as acceptable by the local fire authority.

The reason fire-fighter switches are required is that when spraying water over high-voltage installations it allows the voltage to travel up the water being sprayed, it is a safety feature for the fire-fighters should they ever be required. It is not the fact that a neon sign is more likely to cause a fire, as when installed correctly a neon sign is just as safe as any other electrical installation or appliance.


If you have any further questions related to this topic or any other around neon, please take the time to get in touch and we can talk to you about any type of project you have in mind.

Neon Safety Concerns Answered: High Voltage

Neon signage is incredibly safe to use, providing it is well looked after and treated with respect.

A common concern regarding neon that we get asked here at A1DeSIGNS relates to the fact that because neon is high voltage… it might be dangerous.

Let us look into this and explain that in fact – WHEN INSTALLED CORRECTLY, IT IS NO MORE DANGEROUS THAN OTHER HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES. Here’s why…

When installed correctly the voltage from a neon sign is insulated from being touched. If contact is made with a live connection, transformers generally have protection devices that switch the unit off.

Neon is generally classed as high voltage (above 990v), but the current is low on a neon transformer, in the milliamp (mA) range usually around 18-20mA. The socket in your house although only 240v can be as high as 30amps 30,000mA of current.

Voltage makes less of a difference in the case of an electric shock, whereas current makes a massive difference, for example static electricity is in the range of 25,000 – 35,000 Volts, but the current (measured in mJoules) is extremely low and not constant.

Current has the following effect on the body At 20-75mA of current someone would receive a painful jolt and loss of muscle control.

At 75-100mA of current, ventricular fibrillation of the heart can occur (uncoordinated twitching of ventricles).

At 100-200mA of current, ventricular fibrillation occurs, often resulting in death. At over 200mA of current, severe burns and severe muscle contractions occur and internal organs can be damaged and the heart can stop due to chest muscles applying pressure. However, this clamping effect can prevent ventricular fibrillation, greatly improving the chances of survival if the victim is removed from the electrical circuit.


We hope you found this post helpful? Check out more of our neon articles here. And please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about any of the details we’ve covered or to find out more about how our variety of neon signs can help your business.

Does neon use a lot of power?

There is only one type of neon. Glass tubes that are hand bent to a design, offering a unique way to create both art pieces or neon signs, Fully recyclable, long lasting and versatile, neon offers an unrivalled way to liven up any space.

Here at A1deSIGNS – as experts in all things neon – we’re inundated with questions about our specialist subject.

One of the most asked relates to whether neon uses lots of power. So, here’s a technical explainer…

Q. Does Neon use a lot of power?

A. No, power consumption is low, less than your washing machine for the same amount of time.

Let us explain…

The amount of power that is used by a neon sign is relative to the size of the sign, the diameter of the tubing and how many sections the neon is broken up into.

Depending on required light output a single transformer can have a power requirement of between 0.2A @1-2.5kV and 0.93A @10kv for 18ma and [email protected] and 1.22A @10kv from 25mA transformers, this is the tube striking current that is required which drops dramatically once running.

To work out tube transformer requirements, a calibration process is carried out. To estimate the power requirements the process requires; measuring the linear length of tubing, allowing for the number of electrodes in the circuit and then choosing the correct mA output for the diameter of glass and electrodes being used.

The following is true when calibrating a neon sign:

The thinner the tube diameter the less meterage you can run.
The thinner the tube diameter the more intense the light is (brighter).

Electrode shells can only be run at certain milliamps, less mA can be passed through smaller diameter tubes as follows:
10mm (25mA)
13mm (50mA)
16mm (80mA)
18mm (150mA & 250mA)

External influences such as cable lengths can have an effect on power consumption, power consumption of wire wound transformers can be improved greatly (up to 40% reduction) with the use of capacitors.

We hope this answers your question. If you’d like to chat about any of the details we’ve covered or to find out more about how our variety of neon solutions can help your business, please drop us a line.

Check out more of our neon articles here.