Author Topic: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps.  (Read 476 times)
Lumex120
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Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « on: September 29, 2019, 12:19:32 PM » Author: Lumex120
So I had a unique idea in which I could make a Christmas light string using a bunch of these neon glow lamps. I have no idea how I could do that safely though. Would anyone be able to give me some advice here?
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #1 on: September 29, 2019, 02:24:25 PM » Author: Medved
Making a "lamp" assembly from each resistor plus bulb combo and then connect them parallel, with the same wiring construction as common on the Christmass lights. Plus I would add some small, yet mains voltage incandescent in series with the phase input and place that to some safe space as a fuse, just to prevent fire in case some of the wiring gets damaged.
But all that is easier said than done in a DYI environment, so better to use it only enclosed behind some cover (as part of a theme picture,...)...
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #2 on: September 29, 2019, 05:12:34 PM » Author: HomeBrewLamps
I recommend only using the orange and yellow lamps if you are worried about the lamps lasting a long time. the greens blues and whites tend to fade pretty fast.


If i were you I'd re-use an old set of Christmas lights. what you'll need to do is cut off the individual light sockets with a decently long length of wire coming off them, solder a resistor in series with the socket shrink tube it, then connect all the Christmas light sockets in parallel.


since you'll be reusing Christmas light sockets all you'll need to do to the lamps themselves is feed their leads through the bases of the original incandescent lamps and cut them to the correct length than bent them up.
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #3 on: September 29, 2019, 06:26:20 PM » Author: Lumex120
Hmm, I like that idea of reusing an old light set since I have plenty of those. I just wasn't sure if they are wired in series or parallel.

Also, in your experience, how long do the green/white/blue lamps last and how dim do they get? This would probably just be used for Christmas decorations and that's it. I was thinking of just using the yellow, white, blue, and green lamps.
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #4 on: October 03, 2019, 04:41:55 PM » Author: HomeBrewLamps
Hmm, I like that idea of reusing an old light set since I have plenty of those. I just wasn't sure if they are wired in series or parallel.

Also, in your experience, how long do the green/white/blue lamps last and how dim do they get? This would probably just be used for Christmas decorations and that's it. I was thinking of just using the yellow, white, blue, and green lamps.

I've had greens blues and whites fade and dim within a matter of months. The reds and yellows last for a long time though.
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #5 on: October 04, 2019, 03:51:46 AM » Author: Medved
All glow lamps use to be formally rated for 1000hours, but the real Neon (so yellow, red, orange - those using just Ne discharge plus filter) use to last higher 10k hours.
The Argon filled ones tend to blacken, the ones using phosphor suffer from phosphor wear (probably accelerated by the sputtered material).

Plus it is beneficial to drive the lamps at lower than rated current (mainly to keep the electrode temperature low, so pulsed operation with low duty ratio works as well, if you want the peak current to remain sufficient to ensure even discharge along the electrode surfaces). literature says the life is proportional to I^(-4) (so halving the current means 16x longer life), so really small current reduction compare to the formal rating means way longer life.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 03:55:51 AM by Medved » Logged

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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #6 on: October 28, 2019, 05:08:54 AM » Author: 589
Funny I was thinking of making the same thing, though it is difficult to figure out what the proper resistors are supposed to be since reading around listings on eBay gives you wildly varying information. It would be nice to know how it should be calculated in the first place so I could figure it out myself.
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #7 on: October 28, 2019, 02:52:30 PM » Author: Ash
High brightness versions of NE-2 at maximum brightness = 150Kohm on 230V. That is about 1mA. I think it would be about right with 500K..1M on 230V or 220K..500K on 120V

You could also use glow lamps from starters as long as you keep the current down enough that the lamp won't heat up (probably about the same resistor values)

Choose resistor of power rating that can handle the power

230V^2 / 150K = 353mW (In reality there are few 10's V drop on the Neon discharge so 1/4W resistor will handle this, as it does in most indicators in red switches.. ) For 120V or higher value resistors you will suffice with 1/8W ("standard" 400 mil through hole resistor size) but do observe voltage ratings
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #8 on: October 28, 2019, 10:28:37 PM » Author: xmaslightguy
As a kid I always thought it'd be cool to make a set of those little orange neon NE-2 bulbs...
I did a couple..um (unsuccessful) 'tests':
* One was putting the neon in place of a normal mini bulb (it lit, but the rest of the set didn't..it also got so hot it melted the socket .lol. )
* another was I made a '1-bulb' mini set with a single neon (no resistors)...it lit a nice bright orange, then turned blue-ish Shocked then -POP- it was done.
* I also tries putting 2 in place of normal mini bulbs in the same set, but never could get it to light.

------------
Out of curiosity(not something I actually plan to do), lets say you did take standard a mini-light set of say 50, and filled it with NE-2's ... what sort of voltage would you need to make it light?
Maybe something like a CCFL ballast would do??
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Re: Making a Christmas light string from neon glow lamps. « Reply #9 on: November 08, 2019, 12:01:01 AM » Author: ace100w120v
What about some of the currently-popular S14 string lights with the negtive-glow argon or neon S14 lamps?
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