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Small glow lamps

Lightgraphix 120VAC Neon "Flicker Flame" Bulb
(Added 10-28-03)
I bought this light bulb from
American Science and Surplus while getting a transformer for another light on this website. It's not uncommon or anything, but it lights up, so here ya go. :-)

This light bulb has a medium screw base, and uses 3-5 watts at 120VAC. It fits in any standard household lamp receptacle. The gas fill appears to be the classic Penning mixture, of 99.5% neon and 0.5% argon. It gives off the classic "neon orange" color. And it needs the classic 120VAC to light up. I wonder how many more times I can use the word "classic" on this page... ;-)

The flame-shaped electrodes do "flicker" as the neon glow partially envelops them. I don't know exactly what causes the flickering, but it does so quite well.

Neon indicator lamps (these lamps are probably not made anymore)
(Added 10-12-03)
A fan of the website sent me these two bulbs along with several others in mid-2003.

Bulbs compared in size with a Ray-O-Vac AAA cell.

Top of the two bulbs.

The larger bulb is an Osram neon indicator lamp (looks like a "Magic Eye" bulb) which probably went in a radio or something. On the wrapper, there's a faded stamp that reads "28 m/m B.C." if that means anything. It runs on 240 volts, and has no internal resistor in it, so it would be up to the end user to install a series resistor or be sure the application it's used in has this resistor in it. It would pop and go "boom" without it. And you don't want busted glass or hot neon everywhere. :/
I don't know if you need to run this lamp on AC or DC.

(Update 08-07-05)
A fan of the website who's an electrician wrote in and had this to say about the larger bulb:

The Osram neon indicator lamp is what we called a neon "pilot lamp." These were most common here in Australia (in the '50's & '60's?) when the standard style switches were a round bakelite switch where the cover either directly screwed on (very early days) or later was held on by two screws to prevent people unscrewing it & getting a shock. Power points consted of one of the round switches with the round socket outlet below it. The neon pilot lamp was used as an indicator that a power circuit was on. It was mounted on the same style double gang wooden mounting block in a black bakelite cover with a large hole on top so that the light could be seen through.

These neon pilot lamps did not require a dropping resistor at all. The BC stands for Bayonet Cap - the style of connection. Common abbreviations were BC - Bayonet Cap, SBC - Small Bayonet Cap, ES - Edison Screw - screw in - not often used in Australia in earlier times, & SES - Small Edison Screw. The abbreviations are still in use. I think you will find the 28 m/m may even be the diameter - strange to see it in metric but without looking at one, that seems about the right diameter.

The smaller bulb has a spiral arrangement of its electrodes; I'm not sure what it was originally used for. I don't know if it has an internal resistor or not. On the bulb base, it reads 230-240 volts, with an AC sinewave after that and the number 26 after that. So the bulb should be run on AC so that both spiral electrodes light. I don't know who made this bulb, as it doesn't say either on the blub itself or on the wrapper it came in. Both lamps have double contact B22 bayonet bases, but the Osram "Magic Eye" bulb base is a little larger than the other.

From Chris M. in the UK:
The smaller one is probably an indicator lamp, used in industrial instrumentation panel lamps. They are more vibration-resistant and longer lived than filament lamps so made a good choice. Nowadays we use LEDs of course! I *think* it would have its own integral resistor given the fact that the base is marked 230-240 volts - but don`t hold me to that. Neon lamps with bayonet bases, at least those made by GE in the States, don`t have the resistors in them. European/British ones that came with bayonet bases often did, because the bayonet lamp base is very common here and also a good choice on machinery where vibration is present. I don`t know whether that one of yours is an American or European lamp so be careful if you try to light it!

The larger light bulb with its special flat electrode shape could have also been used simply as a pilot lamp. Possibly also stroboscopic applications with a focussing lens to project a beam of light. I don`t know what the writing on the faded stamp means, sorry!

BTW the small lamp has a B14D base, and the larger one has a B22D base.

I haven't tried connecting these lamps to line voltage yet (and I probably can't, since they need 230 volts), but I did bring them close to an energized plasma globe, and both light bulbs emitted that characteristic "neon orange" color. So I've at least verified that both are neon lamps, and that they both work - at least the gas fill is intact.

I should thank Scott T. of Kentucky for these bulbs, too.
Thank you, Scott!!!

Yellow and "Purple" Neon Glow Lamps (Price/availability for these two lamps not available)
(Added 08-30-02)
A fan of the website recently sent me this unusual pair of glow lamps. On the outside, they look like NE-2 bulbs with a white fluorescent coating on the inside surface of the glass. But when you connect them to 110VAC with the appropriate resistor, one glows a rich golden yellow color; while the other glows with a pastel lavender color. The color of the yellow glow lamp is less orangish than the photograph depicts.

The glow discharge inside both lamps appears to be similar to that of a standard orange NE2 bulb; though it wouldn't surprise me if there was just a touch more argon or other gas to juice up the UVC output a little to trigger the phosphors on the inner surface of the envelope.

Lumex sells colored neon indicator lamps like this; though I did not see the lavender one on their site.

Radio Shack cat. # 272-708A, 120VAC Green Neon Lamp Assembly
This is a pre-made "cartridge" containing a variant of the green neon lamp and a dropping resistor, already wired for 120 volts.
Green neon variant
According to world renowned bulb guru Don Klipstein, these green neons use a different gas fill than the type shown below. With this lamp, that mixture is neon and krypton, rather than neon and xenon as found in the NE-2G below. Don also recommends adding an extra resistor to this lamp so the combined total is 110K ohms, even though it already has a resistor inside. The samples of this cartridge I purchased today (03-07-02) have a resistor with stripes of green-blue-orange, which is 56K ohms.

Safety lesson

Note the *very safe* way in which these were tested.
I would sincerely hope you would use solder and shrink tubing or tape; or use other insulated wire fasteners rather than just sticking the wires into the slots of an energized cord! :-)

green neon bulbsgreen neon bulbs NE-2G GREEN NEON LIGHT BULBS

These neon lamps are generally much less common than ordinary orange neons. The green glow is a result of a phosphor covering the inner surface of the bulb; when the gas inside is ionized, it emits UV, which the phosphor converts to visible light.

These bulbs are often used in small household appliances (I've seen them in hot lather dispensors) and in lighted switches in industrial electrical equipment. They make particularly good night lights.

The gas fill is probably a mixture of neon and xenon; almost none of the visible glow comes from neon because the xenon has a lower electron excitation threshold and ionizes more readily under these conditions, so almost no orange "neon" glow is produced.


These extremely expensive and hard-to-find blue neon bulbs are neat. What else can I say?
They run on ordinary 110 volt AC with a ballast resistor.

In these photos, you can see the nice blue glow. They work in a manner similar to green neons, in that a gas inside is excited electrically, and emits ultraviolet light which in turn excites the phosphor on the inside of the bulb.

The spectrum is very broad and continuous; but I can detect a strong blue/amber line from the electrode glow; this could be argon or krypton. Since I also see weak orange-red and stronger green & blue lines, one of these gases is the likely culprit.
The second picture shows the electrode discharge - instead of the familiar orange neon, it is a violetish color.

Thanks to Chris Millinship for hunting down this rare bulb & sending it 11,000 miles here.


This unusual bulb is often sold as a "miniature fluorescent tube", and it really does function in a similar manner.

Like most neons, they can also run on ordinary 110 volt AC with a ballast resistor.

Like the green neon lamp above, this one uses a mixture of xenon and neon but the glow is the familiar orange neon color. Apparently the porportion of gas fill is more neon and comparatively little xenon. The phosphor inside the bulb glows white; through the spectroscope it is divided into three distinct bands like many ordinary household "triphosphor" fluorescents.

This lamp is available from Jameco Electronics in two different color temperatures - warm white and cool white. You can use this URL to go directly to this lamp's page.

None of these lamps are particularly bright, but they are bright enough to use as low ambient indicators, power indicators & pilot lights for indoor equipment, or night lights.

WHITE 5500-6500K InGaN+phosphor 
ULTRAVIOLET 370-390nm GaN 
BLUE 430nm GaN+SiC
BLUE 450 and 473nm InGaN
BLUE Silicon Carbide
TURQUOISE 495-505nm InGaN
GREEN 525nm InGaN 
YELLOW-GREEN 555-575mn GaAsP & related
YELLOW 585-595nm
AMBER 595-605nm
ORANGE 605-620nm
ORANGISH-RED 620-635nm
RED 640-700nm
INFRARED 700-1300nm
True RGB Full Color LED
Spider (Pirrahna) LEDs
True violet (400-418nm) LEDs
Agilent Barracuda & Prometheus LEDs
Oddball & Miscellaneous LEDs
Programmable RGB LED modules / fixtures
Where to buy these LEDs 
Links to other LED-related websites
The World's First Virtual LED Museum
The Punishment Zone - Where Flashlights Go to Die
Legal horse puckey, etc.
LEDSaurus (on-site LED Mini Mart)

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