Neon Signs Los Angeles
The discovery of neon in 1898 included the observation of a brilliant red glow in Geissler tubes. Immediately following neon’s discovery, neon tubes were used as scientific instruments and novelties. A sign created by Perley G. Nutting and displaying the word “neon” may have been shown at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, although this claim has been disputed. In any event, the scarcity of neon would have precluded the development of a lighting product. However, after 1902, Georges Claude’s company in France, Air Liquide began producing industrial quantities of neon, essentially as a byproduct of their air liquefaction business.
In 1923, Georges Claude and his French company Claude Neon introduced neon gas signs to the United Sates by selling to a Packcard car dealership in Los Angeles. Earl C. Anthony purchased the two signs reading “Packard” for $1,250 apiece. Neon Signs in Los Angeles lighting quickly became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising. Visible even in daylight, people would stop and stare at the first neon signs for hours, dubbed “liquid fire.
Fabrication of Neon Signs
Neon tube signs are produced by the craft of bending glass tubing into shapes. A worker skilled in this craft is known as a glass bender, neon bender or tube bender. The neon tube is made out of 4–5′ straight sticks of hollow glass sold by sign suppliers to neon shops worldwide where they are manually assembled into individual custom designed and fabricated lamps. There are many dozens of colors available, determined by the type of glass tubing and the composition of the gas filling.
Tubing in external diameters ranging from about 8–15 mm with a 1 mm wall thickness is most commonly used, although 6 mm tubing is now commercially available in colored glass tubes. The tube is heated in sections using several types of burners that are selected according to the amount of glass to be heated for each bend. These burners include ribbon, cannon, or crossfires, as well as a variety of gas torches. Ribbon burners are strips of fire that make the gradual bends while crossfires, when used, make the sharp bends.
Electrical wiring of neon signs
The finished glass pieces are illuminated by either a neon sign transformer or a switch mode power supply usually running at voltages ranging between 2–15 kV and currents between 18 and 30 mA (higher currents available on special order.) These power supplies operate as constant-current sources (a high voltage supply with a very high internal impedance), since the tube has a negative characteristic . Standard tube tables established in the early days of neon are still used that specify the gas fill pressures, in either Ne or Hg/Ar, as a function of tube length in feet, tube diameter and transformer voltage.
The standard traditional neon transformer, a magnetic shunt transformer, is a special non-linear type designed to keep the voltage across the tube raised to whatever level is necessary to produce the fixed current needed. The voltage drop of a tube is proportional to length and so the maximum voltage and length of tubing fed from a given transformer is limited. Generally, the loaded voltage drops to about 800 VAC at full current. The short-circuit current is about the same.
Application of Neon Signs
Light-emitting tubes form colored lines with which a text can be written or a picture drawn, including various decorations, especially in advertising and commercial signage. By programming sequences of switching parts on and off, there are many possibilities for dynamic light patterns that form animated images. In some applications, neon tubes are increasingly being replaced with LED’sgiven the steady advance in LED luminosity and decreasing cost of high-intensity LEDs. However, proponents of neon technology maintain that they still have significant advantages over LEDs.
Neon illumination is valuable to invoke 1940s or 1950s nostalgia in marketing and in historic restoration of architectural landmarks from the neon era. Architecture in the streamline modern era often deployed neon to accent structural pigmented glass built into the façade of a 1930s or 1940s structure; many of these buildings now qualify for inclusion on historic registers such as the US National Register of Historic Places if their historic integrity is faithfully maintained.