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How neon lights differ from fluorescent lights?

February 1st, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Ever wondered about the difference between neon lights and florescent lights? It is common mistake among people to confuse between the neon sign and florescent light. Basically the neon light is the sort of light that has been widely used in advertising signs. They are made of long narrow glass tubes and these tubes are very flexible. They can be bent to form all sorts of shapes. Thus the tube of a neon light is used to spell out words like the names of shops and products. These neon signs emit lights in different colors. On the other hand, a fluorescent light is often a long straight tube that produces white light. They are widely used in offices, stores and even at homes.

The neon light may look like a wonder but the working principle is relatively simple. There would be a gas like neon, argon or krypton at low pressure inside the glass tube. There would be metal electrodes at both end of the tube. The neon gas inside the tube ionizes as you apply a high voltage to the electrodes. The electrons excite the neon atoms and as a result light is been emitted that is visible to us.

Now the idea behind the working of fluorescent lights is almost the same but with an extra step in it. There is a low pressure mercury vapor inside the fluorescent lamps. This mercury vapor would emit ultra violet light when it is ionized. The ultra violet rays are not visible for human eyes. Hence the inside of the lamp is coated with a phosphor which is capable of accepting energy in any form and emitting it in the form of visible light. Thus in a fluorescent light, the phosphor accepts energy and emits visible photons.

About phosphor

February 1st, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

The inner side of a fluorescent light is coated with phosphor. As phosphor receives energy in one form it emits it back in the form of visible light. Fluorescent lights consume greater electrical current, but they produce the bright illumination needed for many different applications.


Neon tubes as well as fluorescent tubes use low pressure and inert gas fill but the striking difference between fluorescent lights and neon lights is – the light from a fluorescent tube is the light emitted by the internal phosphor coating while the neon light sign is the colored light that the neon atoms send out directly. It can be said that neon lights use only one step whereas the fluorescent lights use two steps to produce light.

It is believed that Georges Claude, the French scientist, wanted neon to be implemented worldwide as a lighting system as he considered neon lights as lot more efficient than an incandescent bulb. But that did not happen and the fluorescent dominates the lighting system everywhere and neon lights continue to be used only for ornamental and other publicity purposes.