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how to test neon transformers?

i got 4 neon transformers on a dumpster dive. 2 are rated 6000v and 2 are rated 7500v. my multimeter only goes to 750v ac. i have insulated tools (im and electrician) can i just arc the output wires? if anybody is interested in them to build something cool i might be persuaded to give them to you for shipping costs.

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I have tried this before, so I think you can just arc the output wires, without it instantly killing the transformer, provided you have some pretty serious insulation between you and the wires. I think the last time I tried this I taped each of the output leads to an approximately 1 foot (30 cm) length of PVC pipe, and then used the pieces of pipe to move the leads close together to start an arc.

If I recall it made some big scary arcs too:  thick, and white, and noisy with heat that made the gasses in the arc flow upward, almost like a candle flame!

Not sure how good this is for the transformer though.  I am guessing that just a few seconds of abuse like this will not permanently hurt the transformer.

I suppose if you have some power measuring equipment, like one of those little Kil-a-Watt(tm) gizmos, or even just an ammeter, you could put that on the primary side, and measure if the transformer is drawing more power than the numbers printed on it say it should. That might be a positive indicator that you're doing something bad to it, if you really need to confirm such a hunch.
dannemillerd (author)  Jack A Lopez5 years ago
thanks both of the ones on the right pull nice 1-2" arcs. i couldnt get the other 2 to do anything. so the big question is sell them on ebay or build something cool
It should be safe (for the transformer that is) to just space the electrodes a short distance apart and power up the transformer and see if you ge a healthy arc between the wires. Neon sign transformers are protected from direct shorts to the output because they have "magnetic shunts" that limit the current.
Hiyadudez5 years ago
I really dont know, but Google might be your best bet.

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