Fluorescent Tube Basics Schematic Diagram

  
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While they have been with us for many years, fluorescent lamps remain somewhat mysterious to most people. This isn`t really surprising, since their operation isn`t simple. The tube itself contains a mixture of gases, but the active ingredient is mercury. When operated as an arc, mercury vapour emits a vast amount of short-wave ultraviolet light. T
Fluorescent Tube Basics Schematic Diagram - schematic

his is invisible, but phosphors on the inside of the tube itself fluoresce when struck by UV, and are designed to emit visible light. Most of the remaining UV light is absorbed by the glass, which is opaque to ultraviolet (this is why you can`t get a suntan from behind a glass window). Refer to Figure 1 to follow the explanation. This also shows a representation of the fitting that was used for the illumination tests. For all tests, only the centre tube was installed, with the others removed to ensure that each lamp was operating under near identical conditions. In order to start the arc inside the tube, a starter is used. This is a small neon lamp, with a bimetallic strip contact mechanism built in. When power is first applied, the neon conducts a small current - enough to heat the bimetallic strip, and this causes the switch to close. Once closed, current flows through the filaments at each end of the tube via the ballast, bringing them to working temperature. The ballast limits the current to a safe value. The filaments themselves are fairly rugged, and are typically around 2 Ohms resistance each. While the switch in the starter is closed, there is no current flow through the neon gas in the starter. The bimetal strip cools and the contacts open. When current drawn through an inductor is suddenly interrupted, a high voltage is generated as the magnetic field collapses. This high voltage will (hopefully) strike the arc in...



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