I got one of those orange colored neon night lights in my bathroom.
When the bathroom light is off, this neon light flickers all the time
(which usually means the neon bulb is getting weak). However, when I
turn on the bathroom ceiling light, the night light stops flickering.
WHAT THE HECK?????? This makes no sense at all.
Note: (There is not any photo cell on the night light).
I believe that is because the ceiling light reduces the
ionization potential of the neon just enough to allow it
to go ahead and break down. It isn't enough to actually
ionize the neon, it just adds that tiny bit of energy to
make it ready to go.
Don't ask me to explain that fully, it has been a long
time since I studied that in physics class.
And it reminded me that back in the '50s, during the "duck and cover"
cold war daze I follewd plans in a copy of Radio & Electronics magazine
and built a psuedo Geiger counter out of an NE51 neon bulb, some "B"
batteries, headphones and a couple of other components.
The bulb was shielded from light and biased just below ionization
potential. Energetic particles from radioactivity were supposed to make
it fire and create a "click" in the headphones.
Thanks for the mammaries,
You are correct. Even one of those small LED flashlights or the light
from a bic lighter make it stop flashing. WEIRD !!!!
On 25 Jun 2006 07:37:23 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
It is common for aging "high intensity" neon glow lamps to do this -
flicker and work better with light.
("High intensity" ones are ones with pure neon rather than the "standard
intensity" with the dimmer neon-argon mixture and lower current design
electrodes. Night lights with neon glow lamps usually have a "high
intensity" type such as C2A/"NE-2H" or A1C/"mini NE-2H".)
What you see is the photoelectric effect. Light helps electrons leave
the electrode surface and enter the neon. When a "high intensity" neon
glow lamp gets old, the coating on the electrodes gets worn out and the
photoelectric effect makes a noticeable difference in performance.
"Standard Intensity" neon glow lamps (like A1A/"NE-2" and A1B/"NE-2H"
and NE-51) tend to just fade from the bulb being blackened and are less
likely to flicker.
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Same theory used on the "neon on a stick" microwave oven
If you can get to the resistor that's in series with the
neon lamp, try this trick. Bypass (parallel) the existing
resistor with a 1K 2-5W resistor. Apply power for a few
seconds, everything will get hot, you will see the
electrodes seem to "burn off the impurities" and glow solid,
top to bottom. Remove power, remove 1K resistor, should give
you another 5yrs.
Danger! You are working with live AC line, a bulb that can
burst, and bulb and resistor that will be hot. Take all
safety precautions for shock, flying glass, and burns! A
long extension cord, lamp one end, you at other is good.
A new lamp is a $1 ;-)
DON - thanks for your great reference on gaseous
illuminators, use it all the time!
Had exactly the same thing on a neon pilot light on a chest freezer. When
the room light was on it glowed solid, in the dark the neon flickered. This
pilot light had run for about 20 years continuous before this started, then
finally the freezer quit and had to be replaced.
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