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Thread: Making Neon Energy efficient

  1. #1
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Buffalo, New York, United States

    Making Neon Energy efficient

    Anything to save a buck.

    Making Neon Energy efficient. Electronic ballast vs iron core type transformer.

    I have neon in our windows that must be 20 to 25 years old. The neon transformers are very old. I accidentally broke one word which turned into let us clean them up and upgrade what we can.

    Older NSTs are simply iron-cored transformers, usually embedded in asphalt to reduce noise. The core either has a magnetic shunt, or a gap in the iron core, both of which serve to current-limit the output, allowing them to run indefinitely in short-circuit conditions. They can also run indefinitely with no load. Iron cored varieties are quite heavy, for example a 15 kV, 60 mA device may weigh up to 20 kg (44 lb). Some newer manufactured iron cored NSTs include a large capacitor in parallel with the output for PFC (power factor correction). This serves to correct the shift in the phase of voltage and current caused by the large inductance of the transformer.
    Since the 1990s, manufacturers have been producing switch mode power supplies to power neon signs. These generate the same voltage and current ranges as iron cored transformers, but in much smaller, lighter designs at high frequency (not the common 50–60 Hz). They are gradually replacing iron cored transformers in neon signs.[2]
    All NSTs are designed to produce a high voltage starting pulse to a tube, then limit the current through the tube when it has started. This is opposite of most line transformers, which will produce full voltage to a load even if overloaded, unless the resistance of windings is too great to allow the excess current or until a winding burns out.

    The neon glass bender told me what to order.

    Old transformer New transformer
    • Indoor Hanger Type
    • The Allanson Indoor Hanger type can be mounted with traditional hanging bracket or baseplate mount and it is Ground Fault Protected.
    • Recommended for window frame Neon Signs and indoor neon lighting applications.
    • Hanging bracket, enabling easier installation and dual mounting methods in indoor applications.
    • Secondary circuit ground fault protection, interrupting transformer output to eliminate the danger of a fire in case of an arc to ground.
    • Supplied with cord and plug, primary switch and secondary GTO leads, saving wiring costs during installation of your neon signs.
    • Sleeveless GTO # 16 AWG 15 kV, eliminates the need for additional sleeving, thus minimizes loses while operating the electrical sign.
    • PowRPak Solid State Power Supply
      Aluma-Pak™ Outdoor
      Packed in metal to work on metal, Aluma-Pak™, in its extruded aluminum case with solid fill, provides for maximum water resistance.

      11/2 inch height ensures fit under any neon tube letter application. Combine that with the most advanced SGFI technology available including Auto reset bypass, LED display and 36" sleevless GTO leads, Aluma-Pak™ is your channel letter solution.

      UL listed and CSA approved . Available through your local sign supply distributor.

      Features & Benefits of Aluma-Pak™
      • Packed in metal to work on metal
      • Extruded case and solid fill provide maximum water resistance
      • The most advanced GFI technology available
      • Auto reset bypass and LED display
      • 1.5” height ensures EZ-fit for under neon tube letter applications
      • 90% lighter than equivalent
      • 12KV Standard PBKM
      • 36” leads, sleeveless GT015
      • UL listed, CSA approved

      The first high-frequency, solid state neon power supply for outdoor and indoor use.

    I pulled out my handy watt matter and took measurements

    What a difference.

    152 watts versus 92 watts. Just about a 39.5% savings in electricity.

    The transformer was $55 dollars. I won't see savings for 24 months. Maybe I'll see a savings sooner because I am also eliminating the heat the older transformer was generating. That adds BTUs to the room which the A/C removes. In the the winter the added BTUs lowered heating cost. Go figure.

  2. #2
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Buffalo, New York, United States

    Pieces are coming along. Just waiting for 2 pieces that were broken. One group of letters had a crack and the upper piece had a bad electrode. The two unbroken pieces have cleaned and rewired. That old iron core transformer will be upgraded to electronic. We'll see what the savings in electricity will be. I think this sign is from the 80's

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