Glossary of Terms


The length of time required for a lamp to stabilize. This length of time varies widely from lamp to lamp.

A process in which glass is heated and then slowly cooled to eliminate internal strains. It is commonly used by glass manufacturers.

The American National Standards Institute, a private, not-for-profit, membership organization that acts primarily as a standards coordinating and approval body.

A device that conditions the mains voltage and current allowing a fluorescent lamp to run at its rated level.

In a neon sign shop, this is the air source used for torches and burners.

  1. A very large transformer, usually in 7,000- to 15,000-volt models, used to process neon electrodes.
  2. A radio-frequency power supply also used by some sign shops.

The act of processing neon electrodes using a bombarder.

The seal at the end of a gas flask or bulb used to release gas as it is connected to a neon processing manifold.

The measurement of temperature in the metric system, convertible to Fahrenheit by multiplying to 1.8 and adding 32.

A lamp or sign with neon electrodes. Usually refers to Neon lamps with tubing diameters larger than 15 mm. Very energy-efficient due to the use of high voltage and low current.

The temperature to which a true black body would have to be heated to produce a specific “white” light color.

A fluorescent lamp that has been bent, folded or coiled in order to reduce it’s dimensions to those similar to an incandescent lamp.

A strain in which the outside of the glass pushes on the inside of the glass. Compression strain is essential in making good quality seals.

Color Rendering Index; The manner in which an artificial light source shifts the location of eight specified colors on a version of the C.I.E. color space, as compared to the same colors lighted by a reference source of the same Color Temperature. Color rendering is a general expression for the effect of a light source on the color appearance of objects in conscious or subconscious comparison with their color appearance under another (reference) light source. Methods of measuring and specifying color rendering properties of light sources depend on the color appearance of objects under a reference, or standard, light source compared with the appearance of the same objects under the test source.  The color rendering properties of a light source can not be assessed by visual inspection of the source or by knowledge of its color.
The IESNA lighting handbook : reference & application  9th ed.  Mark S. Rea, editor-in-chief.

The flow of electric charge through a conductor.

A unit of measure for describing a lamp’s color temperature.

A copper-clad material used for electrode lead wires because of its compatibility with the expansion of glass.

The metal cylinder inside the glass envelope of the electrode, and the source of the electric discharge in the neon lamp.

Coating applied to the tungsten coil electrodes in a hot-cathode fluorescent lamp to boost the electron flow. A coating is also applied to the inside of cold-cathode shells for the same purpose.

The pressure of inert gas put in a neon lamp after processing.

The light emission given off by excitation of phosphors with ultraviolet light.

A valve on a vacuum pump used to admit air in the compression stage of pumping. Useful in removing air and moisture trapped in the vacuum oil, the gas ballast valve should be closed during normal pump operation.

The system of valves and tubing that delivers inert gas from large gas cylinders or tanks to a connection on the neon processing manifold.

A common valve used in place of a needle valve, although its adjustment capability is not as fine as the needle valve, and it can be opened in fewer turns.

Cable that carries the high-voltage power associated with a neon transformer.

A hand burner used in the working of neon tubing.

A type of electromagnetic interference that can propagate back from the primary side of a sign ballast or transformer into the power line.

Lamps that use a tungsten filament typically covered with an emissive layer, which emits electrons more easily than bare tungsten metal, reducing the necessary temperature and lowering the emission of metal ions and heated to orange-hot.

Also known as noble or rare gases, a gas that does not readily react with other substances, such as neon, argon and helium.

A visual effect sometimes seen in neon signs where the discharge appears to have broken up into short glowing “beans.”

Wires that suspend the electrode in the glass envelope and supply the electricity from the power source.

A lumen is a unit of standard measurement used to describe how much light is contained in a certain area. This group also includes such units as the candela, which measures luminance, and the lux, which measures illuminance.

Lumens per watt represent a measure of the efficacy of a light source in terms of the light produced for the power consumed. For example, a 100-watt lamp producing 1750 lumens gives 17.5 lumens per watt.

The Standard International unit of measure of the illuminance of light.

A small mechanical device, often used to measure the amount of tubing footage need to complete a sign, that can measure the total length of a curved irregular line.

When all the mercury in a lamp congregates in a particular spot, resulting in dimming everywhere else.