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Which neon color is brightest?

Which neon color is brightest?

When it comes to neon colors, brightness is an important factor in determining visibility and impact. Neon colors are produced by passing electricity through tubes containing neon or other noble gases, causing them to glow with vibrant hues. But not all neon colors glow with the same intensity. In this article, we will explore which neon color is the brightest and why.

Some key questions we will answer:

– What exactly are neon colors and how are they produced?
– What factors determine the brightness of a neon color?
– How is brightness measured scientifically?
– Which gases produce the brightest neon colors?
– What are the brightest neon colors ranked by luminosity?

Understanding the science behind neon color brightness will help designers, artists, and architects choose the right shades for maximum visibility and dramatic effect. Read on as we shed some light on glowing neon color intensity.

What are Neon Colors?

Neon colors get their name from neon, one of the noble or inert gases found in small amounts in the earth’s atmosphere. When an electrical current is passed through a sealed glass tube containing neon or another noble gas, it causes the electrons in the gas atoms to jump to higher energy levels. When the electrons fall back down, they emit energy in the form of visible light, causing the tube to glow in a vibrant color.

Some key facts about neon colors:

– They are produced by the luminescence of noble gases including neon, argon, krypton, and xenon.
– Glass tubes containing these gases are bent into shapes like letters or decorative tubes.
– Color depends on the gas: neon glows red-orange, argon blue, krypton green, xenon lavender.
– Different colors can be made by coating the inside of tubes with phosphors.
– Widely used for neon signs, art, and architectural lighting.

So neon colors rely on the unique visible light spectrums emitted by excited noble gases when electricity is applied. The different gases produce signature glows, but some are brighter than others.

Factors That Determine Brightness

What makes one neon color appear brighter than another? There are a few key factors that determine the luminosity and intensity of neon colors.

– Gas used – The innate emission spectrum of the gas affects brightness. Neon and argon tend to glow more brightly than krypton or xenon.

– Gas pressure – Higher gas pressure in the tube creates more light collisions to produce brighter illumination.

– Tube diameter – Wider tube diameters allow higher voltages needed for brighter neon light.

– Power input – More electrical power (higher voltage and amperage) excites gas molecules for stronger neon glow.

– Impurities – Contaminants in the tube can inhibit neon glow by absorbing light output. Ultra pure gases ensure maximum brightness.

– Phosphor coatings – Phosphorescent compounds coated inside the glass can amplify specific wavelengths for brighter colored light.

So neon color brightness depends on both the gas properties and technical factors like pressure, tube size, voltage, and purity affecting the light emission intensity. But how exactly is the brightness quantified?

Measuring Neon Color Brightness

The brightness of a neon color refers to its luminous intensity – how much visible light is emitted in a certain direction. There are a few ways that neon color brightness can be measured scientifically:

Luminance – The amount of light emitted from a surface per unit area in a given direction, measured in candela per square meter (cd/m2).

Luminous intensity – The total amount of visible light emitted by a light source in a particular direction, measured in candela (cd).

Luminous flux – The total amount of visible light emitted by a source in all directions, measured in lumens (lm).

Lux – The amount of light illuminating a surface from a source, measured in lux (lx). One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter.

Specialized instruments like photometers, spectrometers, and luminance meters can quantify these light emission properties. But we can also rank relative neon color brightness just by visual perception.

Gases Producing the Brightest Neon

The gas used to produce a neon color has a major impact on its potential brightness. Here are the common gases used for colored neon lighting ranked from brightest to dimmest:

1. Neon – Emitting a red-orange light, neon allows the highest achievable luminance and glows very brightly.

2. Argon – Blue light emission from argon can produce very bright neon colors. Argon is often added to neon tubes.

3. Krypton – The green spectral line of krypton is not as bright as neon or argon, but brighter than xenon.

4. Xenon – As a violet-blue light emitter, xenon produces relatively dim neon effects compared to brighter gases.

5. Helium – While not a true neon gas, the orange-red light from excited helium can also produce bright illumination.

So for the most brilliantly glowing neon, neon and argon are the top gas choices. Krypton and xenon still yield attractive mid-range neon colors, while helium joins the mix for a bright orange-red effect.

Ranking the Brightest Neon Colors

Now that we know which factors make some neon colors brighter, and the gases that emit the most intense light, let’s rank the common neon colors from brightest to dimmest:

Rank Neon Color Gas Used
1 Neon red-orange Neon
2 Neon blue Argon + mercury
3 Helium orange Helium
4 Neon green Krypton
5 Neon yellow Neon + helium
6 Neon purple Argon + neon
7 Neon white Argon + krypton
8 Neon pink Neon + nitrogen
9 Neon blue-violet Xenon

So in terms of perceived brightness, pure neon red-orange tops the list for its hot, glowing luminosity. Neon blue comes in a close second for its piercing vividness. Efficient helium orange ranks high as well. Green, yellow, and purple neon colors produced with neon and argon mixtures have medium-high brightness. Bluish-white, pink, and violet neon hues round out the list with their lower light emission intensity.

But neon color brightness also depends on the specific lighting setup, voltage, tube size, and other factors. So luminance can vary across different neon signs and displays, although the relative brightness of the gases remains consistent.


When selecting neon colors for maximum visual impact, the orange-red light emitted by pure neon gas produces the brightest luminosity. Neon blue, helium orange, and neon green also have high brightness thanks to the intense light emission of neon and argon gases. Factors like gas purity, tube size, voltage, and phosphor coatings can all optimize the illumination. Measuring luminance, luminous intensity, and lux quantifies neon brightness numerically. But the glowing colors produced by neon, argon, and helium gases will always shine the most brilliantly. So choose your neon colors wisely and let them shine brightly in any lighting application.