This is a long page with at least 21 images on it; dial-up users please allow sufficient time
for the page to load before pissing & moaning to the webmaster about busted images.
You have no chance to survive make your time.

Antique GE AR-1 Argon Glow Bub, retail $67.00* (URL not found; product is an antique)
Manufactured by General Electric (
Last updated 01-27-11

argon glow bulb

This is the AR-1 argon glow bulb, once manufactured by GE (General Electric).

It is very similar to neon glow bulbs, but instead of glowing orange, the AR-1 glows purple and even generates useful amounts of UVA (ultraviolet type-A or longwave ultraviolet) radiation -- thus making it useful for examining UVA-sensitive minerals, viewing "blacklight" posters, etc.

This bulb screws into any convenient 120 volts AC or DC female medium screw-base (E26 or even E27) light receptacle -- or even "light socket" if you prefer. I believe it is kosher to operate this lamp in any physical orientation (even upside-down).

* Although this lamp has ben discontinued, you can still find them available at places like {link opens the page the AR-1 bulb is found on} if you're willing to pay.

 Size of product w/hand to show scale SIZE

To use this bulb, just replace the old incandescent bulb in a household lamp or other light fixture with an E26 or E27 medium screw base with this bub.

When used on a DC circuit, only one of the semicircular electrodes will glow; this is perfectly normal and does not in any way indicate a problem with the lamp.
"Not no way, not no how" as they say.

This product is designed to be operated from "house current" (110 volts to 130 volts AC or DC), not batteries of any type, so I do not have to tell you which part to remove, huck down the basement stairs into the room crawling with thousands of hungry goliath beetle grubs (larvae), and then rather emphatically tell you not to.

This is a glow bulb made of glass, not a flashlight designed to be thrashed, trashed, and abused. So I won't throw it against the wall, stomp on it, try to drown it in the toylet bowl or the cistern, run over it, swing it against the concrete floor of a patio, use a small sledgehammer in order to bash it open to check it for candiosity, fire it from the cannoņata, drop it down the top of Mt. Erupto (I guess I've been watching the TV program "Viva Piņata" too much again - candiosity is usually checked with a laser-type device on a platform with a large readout (located at Piņata Central), with a handheld wand that Langston Lickatoad uses, or with a pack-of-cards-sized device that Fergy Fudgehog uses; the cannoņata (also located at Piņata Central) is only used to shoot piņatas to piņata parties away from picturesque Piņata Island, and Mt. Erupto is an active volcano on Piņata Island {In the episode "Les Saves the Day...Again", Paulie Preztail says "Hey, ever wonder why this park's called 'Mount Erupto' anyway?", then Franklin Fizzlybear says "I think its an old native term. Means 'very safe.'"}), send it to the Daystrom Institute for additional analysis, or inflict upon it punishments that a flashlight might have to have performed on it. So this section of the web page will be ***SIGNIFICANTLY*** more bare than this section of the web page on a page about a flashlight.

A resistor sealed inside the stem press (that glass "column" inside the bulb itself) enables this bulb to be operated directly from mains power; e.g. you can screw it into a socket once occupied by a regular household incandescent "lite" "belb" and it won't just summarily blow up as soon as power is applied to the socket.

This lamp (all AR-1 glow lamps, actually!) exhibits what is known in the industry as an "abnormal glow", in which the drive current is somewhat higher than is optimum for this type of lamp -- this gives a stronger UVA emission but at the cost of bulb life -- typically no more than 1,000 hours!

The reason for this is the sputtering of electrodes by impinging ions accelerated by the strong E-field present in front of the cathode. In other words, the relatively "heavy" argon atoms smashing into the electrodes cause tiny bits of metal to come off the electrodes and evenually darken the inside of the envelope (glass bulb) and queer the gas fill -- causing the bulb to become very dim over time.

Photograph of the bulb, illuminated of course (from the side).

Photograph of the bulb, illuminated (from the top).
Those colorful rectangles on the bulb in both of the above photographs is merely a reflection of my LED ''SIGNS'' Sign on the wall, and may safely be ignored.

argon glow bulb
This picture shows the lamp glowing in a rusted out safety socket. :)

argon glow bulb
And this is what happens when you set the bare bulb next to a source of high frequency, high voltage AC (such as from a nearby plasma globe) and then reach for it. The discharge column (the glow occurring in the free space between the electrode pair and the very top of the bulb glass where my finger rests) actually has a purplish dark salmon color to it, not the pure argon purple as this picture shows.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this bub.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this bulb; slightly different spectrometer software settings used.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of this bulb; deliberately "overexposed" to show weaker spectral lines.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this blub.
Spectrometer's response narrowed to a range between 175nm and 379nm to show UV emission lines.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of this "lite" "belb", showing NIR spectral features.

USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

Test unit was sent by a fan of this website sometime in 2000 or 2001.

UPDATE: 00-00-00

    PRODUCT TYPE: Glow lamp bulb
    LAMP TYPE: Argon gas fill glow discharge
    No. OF LAMPS: 1
    BEAM TYPE: Toroidal; 360° X-axis, ~280° Y-axis
    CASE MATERIAL: Glass & metal
    BEZEL: None
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unable to measure (known to use 2― watts)
    WATER- AND URANATION-RESISTANT: When in use: very light splatter-resistance at maximum
    SUBMERSIBLE: When removed from the socket, yes, to shallow depths and for brief periods (e.g., it can be washed if necessary)
    SIZE: 46mm D x 88.90mm H
    WEIGHT: Unknown/not equipped to weigh
    COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Not stated; though presumably the United States
    WARRANTY: Unknown/not stated


    Product is an antique (it has been discontinued for many,
    MANY years now!), so a "star" rating will not be furnished.

Antique GE AR-1 Argon Glow Blub *

Do you manufacture or sell an LED flashlight, task light, utility light, or module of some kind? Want to see it tested by a real person, under real working conditions? Do you then want to see how your light did? If you have a sample available for this type of real-world, real-time testing, please contact me at

Please visit this web page for contact information.

Unsolicited flashlights, LEDs, and other products appearing in the mail are welcome, and it will automatically be assumed that you sent it in order to have it tested and evaluated for this site.
Be sure to include contact info or your company website's URL so visitors here will know where to purchase your product.

This page is a frame from a website.
If you arrived on this page through an outside link,you can get the "full meal deal" by clicking here.