Neon lamps are recommended for 110 volt AC, 220 volt AC, and DC applications in excess of 90 volts. The lamps are available in miniature and sub-miniature sizes.
A neon lamp is constructed by mounting two electrodes within a small glass envelope. Two wire leads made of tin plated Dumet metal are brought out of the lamp to make electrical connections to the electrodes. Standard brightness lamps are filled with a neon/argon gas mixture, and high brightness lamps are filled with pure neon gas. When a starting voltage (usually 55-110 volts AC, or 90-140 volts DC) is applied, the gas ionizes and starts to glow permitting a very small current to travel from one electrode to the other. Once ionized, a lower voltage will maintain the operation of the lamp. The maintaining voltage is usually 10-20 volts below the starting voltage, depending on the lamp and the operating current. For lamps operating on AC voltages of 60 Hz or higher frequency, the light output will appear to the eye as continuous.
When the gas ionizes it becomes a conductor, and an external series resistor is required to limit the current. To calculate the value of the series resistor, subtract the maintaining voltage from the supply voltage to obtain the voltage across the resistor, then use Ohm's Law and desired current level to determine resistance value.
source : https://www.intl-lighttech.com/specialty-light-sources/neon-lamps
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