Los Angeles Neon + Cathode

447 San Vicente Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Phone 310.392.1743
E-Fax 310.427.6764

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Cold Cathode Lighting or Neon Lighting?

We at Los Angeles Neon and Cathode are often asked to explain in greater detail the differences between cold cathode lighting and neon lighting as it applies to architectural illumination. We will try to address the question in this article.

To begin, cold cathode lighting and neon lighting share the same technology. Both are hollow, inert gas filled tubes that can be formed into nearly any shape. They both share the quality of extended lamp life (up to 75,000 hours). Cold cathode lighting lamps are, however, larger in diameter, produce more lumens per foot and most frequently are used for cove lighting. Cold cathode lighting, because of its larger diameter, produces a greater light throw arc and a softer, more pleasing illuminated cove.

Cold cathode lighting was developed for architectural applications. The important advantages that are equally attractive to specifiers and end users, include: It is a light source that is nearly maintenance free, a cost saving light source that uses as little as 3.5 watts per linear foot, and it produces a beautiful quality of light that is also dimmable.

Cold cathode lighting is readily available in a wide array of colors. However, most often sought after and specified by lighting engineers, lighting designers, and architects are whites in nine ranges of 2,500 to 7,200 Kelvin warm rich whites.

On the subject of reliability, cold cathode lighting has few components. The system consists of the lamps, wiring, and a small transformer (8” x 6” x 10”). Few components means few problems.

The cold cathode lighting system is elegantly simple. The lamps have no fixtures or additional parts to produce shadows or dark spots. Cold cathode lighting produces the seamless line of light that is so desirable in cove illumination applications. And unlike fluorescents or L.E.D. light sources, there are no flickering, buzzing or light gap issues to deal with.

What about neon lighting for architectural applications? Neon lighting is a thinner lamp, usually 1/2” in diameter, as opposed to the 1-1/8” diameter of cold cathode lamps. This thinner line of light lends itself most readily to exposed lamp architectural highlighting—often seen outlining the exterior of high rise buildings to accentuate and illuminate the building. In the case of neon lighting, colors (over 104 are available) are often used for dramatic aesthetic effect. Neon lighting has a magical quality unmatched by any other light source. Its nostalgic reference is prized by many architects as a way to achieve architectural outlines that follow the contours of a building.

Cold cathode lighting or neon lighting? Please do not hesitate to contact Los Angeles Neon + Cathode for further information, specifications, or recommendations.


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