Those flicker lamps that look like candles?


Benevolent Dictator
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So I went to my relatives house over Thanksgiving break, and they had a couple of those decorative electic luminaries in the window that are supposed to look like candles. The bulb had an large (metal?) plate oriented vertically that some sort of flickering orange light seemed to dance around. Anybody know how they do that? It bugged me all week that I couldn't figure it out!!
yea, i went up to my aunts and uncles, and they had one of those flicker bulbs that i was looking at...
All i could see was that it wasn't really a filliment, it was more of a large metal plate, and it looked like the electracity used the lower section of that metal plate all the time, but sometimes the light would jump up part of the way or all the way up the metal plate, to the tip. Besides that, though, i have no idea...

the metal plate is in the shape of a candle though....
it was confusing me all weekend as well...
Lots of companies make them, Abco/Westinghouse #03657, Osram/Sylvania #13496, Fiet amongst many others. I have at least 50 in stock myself in a medium 3w screw base. And this question is something I have never studied before but also wondered about. Perhaps going to the Osram website and clicking on the above part number will furnish you with more info. Otherwise contact one of the above companies and ask. Find out than tell me, it's a good question. Could be something like multiple filaments and something electronic switching between them. Remember that a filament does not have to be coiled up like a spring. It can be kind of flat or flame shaped on that metal plate. Perhaps it's some kind of arc jumping along that plate or something also.

Busy week for me I don't have time to find out.
Those are neon lamps. Neon is an inert gas which glows orange when ionized (electrically charged). The voltage needed to ionize it depends on the distance between the two electrodes (the two flame-shaped metal plates inside the bulb). How much of the gas gets ionized depends on the current - which is limited by a resistor built into the base of the bulb.

The plates are slightly closer at the bottom than at the top, so ionization starts there. Heat generated by the ionization causes the ionized gas to move up, and any slight vibration can change the place where the plates are closest together, causing the point of heaviest ionization to move around, making the lamps flicker.


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