How Do Neon Lights Work?

Heather Clouse
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So How Do Neon Lights Work?

Neon lights are filled with neon gas. When electrical power is delivered to the tube, the gas becomes energized and gives off a brilliant red light.

The gas inside the tube is highly pressurized at about 1000 times greater than the air pressure in a regular car tire. This high pressure and the electrical charge by the electrical current combined are responsible for the glow.

Neon lights always bear the letters “Ne”. This stands for the element neon. They come in a variety of different styles, sizes and shapes but all use the same principle to glow.

How Do Neon Signs Have Different Colors?

Neon lights are made up of a mixture of gas and electricity. The gas tubes are about six inches long and filled with various amounts of neon, argon, mercury, or krypton.

The difference in the colors is in the percentage of each gas mixed in the tube.

The different amounts of gas are responsible for the different colors of neon signs. The most common color of sign is red, which is created from neon sign uses an ionized blend of neon and argon gases.

Neon signs also come in a green version, which is actually made of hydrogen blue and mercury combined with a small amount of neon. The green color neon comes from ionized mercury and neon in the tube.

You can also get blue neon, which is a combination of mercury, neon, and argon. Yellow has a blend of neon and mercury, while orange is created from neon and krypton.

Pink is created with a mixture of neon, mercury, and argon. The color white is created with a combination of neon, krypton, and argon. Many companies use a mixture of argon, mercury, and sodium to create signs that produce an amber color.

Neon signs have a variety of uses. One of the most popular uses is indoor signage. Store signage, bars, restaurants, dance clubs, and businesses are all good places to put neon signs. Another common use is on clothing.

Neon Lights vs. LED Lights… Which one is better?

Let’s face it … that neon lamp right outside your local convenience store or shopping mall is extremely cool, well… red, to be more precise.

Entering the store it looks so good that you even want to buy some of that juicy fruit that is sitting in there. And then, when you walk out, the name of the store is blinking in red above your head. …Wow! Is this the future or what?

Neon lights are probably the oldest form of electric lights in the world and are still the most common on signs. They are the quintessential example of getting attention.

However, today’s sign shop is dominated by LED lights. A lot has been said about the advantages of LEDs over neon and I’m sure you are familiar with that.

But why? Why do LEDs defeat neon? Why are they so much better?

Let’s take a look.