US 20020011790 A1
The invention concerns the configuration of a fluorescent lamp, which consists only of a single, straight glass tube as gas discharge vessel, which is modified to a “compact fluorescent lamp” with integrated ballast by one-sided mounting by means of electrical connections applied to the glass tube.
Additional application examples are presented.
1. Straight fluorescent lamp with ballast, consisting of a single, straight glass tube as gas discharge vessel, which has electrodes on both ends and is connected to an electronic ballast to generate the required operating voltages, characterized by the fact that all terminals of the gas discharge vessel relative to the ballast are situated on one end of the gas discharge vessel in the region of the first electrode and at least one outer electrical connection to the second electrode on the other end of the glass tube is present on the glass tube.
2. Straight fluorescent lamp according to
3. Straight fluorescent lamp according to one of the preceding claims, characterized by the fact that at least one of the outer connections is applied as a metal coating on the glass tube.
4. Straight fluorescent lamp according to one of the preceding claims, characterized by the fact that at least one of the outer connections is embedded in a longitudinal groove of the glass tube.
5. Straight fluorescent lamp according to one of the preceding claims, characterized by the fact that at least one of the outer connections is separated from the potential of the ballast by a capacitor.
6. Straight fluorescent lamp according to one of the preceding claims, characterized by the fact that means to mount or support the glass tube are present in the region of the second electrode.
7. Straight fluorescent lamp according to one of the preceding claims, characterized by the fact that the housing of the electronic ballast is provided with a base for connection to a lamp socket.
8. Straight fluorescent lamp according to one of the preceding claims, characterized by the fact that the gas discharge vessel has a plug-in base and is connected separably to the ballast via this base.
 Although long, straight fluorescent lamps have the largest market share in lighting technology and have gained acceptance worldwide for many years, only a few significant improvements have been made in the further development of these lamps. These include the switch to electronic ballasts, a certain improvement in fluorescent material and a reduction in the diameter of the glass tube.
 The high cost in the manufacture of lamps and light strips was perceived as a necessary evil and attempts were made to reduce the manufacturing costs by using terribly expensive robots. This primarily concerns the laying of millions of kilometers of connection lines in the lamps, whose electrodes must each be connected with two wires over the entire length of the lamps.
 The task of the invention is to radically reduce this expense, and not only to save costs, but also to devise additional lamp designs and applications of these energy-saving fluorescent lamps.
 This objective is achieved by equipping these long, straight glass tubes, that serve as gas discharge vessels, on one end in the region of the first electrode with all required connections for connection to the electronic ballast and running the required connections to the second electrode outside of the glass tube. For example, this would also be possible with wires that are inserted in a longitudinal groove, in order to protect them from damage.
 It is technologically much simpler to apply conductive coatings to the glass tube as connection lines, which are additionally covered with a protective layer.
 The solution is simplified in that the number of required connection lines is reduced. This can be achieved according to the invention in that the second electrode is not heated, both ends of the coiled electrode then being simply connected to each other. This method is feasible, but, among other things, leads to a shortening of the lifetime of the lamp. It is better to use so-called “unheated, cold electrodes”, which are equipped with a large amount of emitter paste and were deliberately developed with other measures for an unheated, cold start.
 In order to make possible contact with the metal coatings nonhazardous, it is recommended according to the invention that these be made potential-free by a protective capacitor. Since transmission of the lamp current occurs with a high frequency to 100 kHz, only small capacitance values are required, which entail no contact hazard for a low line frequency of 50 or 60 Hz, especially if additional insulation protects against contact.
 It is expedient to equip the lamps in the region of the second electrode, i.e., on the “free” end, with means to mount or support the lamp.
 A significant additional improvement consists of providing the housing of the electronics with a base for insertion in a light socket. This produces a “compact” fluorescent lamp with integrated electronics, as are present in large numbers on the market in the small lamps for household use with a base on one side. In these lamps, the one-sided base is achieved in that the gas discharge vessel, i.e., the glass tube, is either bent in a U-shape or melted together from two individual glass tubes, a method that cannot be rationally used in long glass tubes.
 The following description provides practical examples of the invention. The same functional parts are given the same reference numbers in all figures.
 The gas discharge lamp (1) depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 is equipped with two heated electrodes (8), which require, in principle, two terminals. Two outer connection lines (8) are therefore schematically shown in FIG. 1, which supply the second electrode (6) without indicating how these run along gas tube (1). In the enlarged, also schematically depicted section of FIG. 1a, the connection lines (8) are shown as vapor-deposited or printed conductor paths, which are covered by an insulation layer (16).
 The ballast (2) is accommodated in the housing (17), having a pin base (4), and can be plugged into a socket (3). The spring contacts (12) are on line voltage (13) and supply the lamp with the required voltage. On the other end, a glass tube (1) is protected from damage with an end cap (15). This end cap (15) can be designed in the usual shape as a combined metal-plastic part. The arrangement of a mount (11) to support the free end of the lamp is important. The mount (11) can be molded onto the plastic part of the end cap (15) or the otherwise common mass produced end caps with contact pins can also be used as mount.
FIG. 2 shows two additional details. The second electrode is initially simply shorted, in order to save outer connection (8). The remaining single outer connection (18) is shown as a wire embedded in a longitudinal groove of glass tube (1). The enlarged schematic section of FIG. 2 shows this.
 The depicted longitudinal groove is not a special feature of this lamp, but has been provided by individual companies for many years to improve the ignition and burning properties of the gas discharge. This technology requires no special development.
 The problem of the 2nd electrode is solved in the example of FIG. 3, essentially in that two unheated electrodes (7) are provided, which withstand the more severe starting conditions without difficult when properly dimensioned.
 The outer connection (8) in this example, as shown in FIG. 3a, is depicted as a vapor-deposited or printed conducting path, which requires no additional contact protection if the capacitor (10) arranged in ballast (2) meets the safety provisions of the corresponding regional authorities.
 An additional effect of the applied conducting path consists of the fact that a reduction of ignition voltage is obtained, as has been used already for many years by such ignition strips. This is primarily highly desirable at the otherwise increased ignition voltage in cold electrodes.
 The example of FIG. 4 represents an expansion in principle. By arranging a base that can be inserted into the lamp sockets, the lamp becomes a compact fluorescent lamp with integrated ballast, a true market gap that can finally be filled. The shown Edison screw socket was chosen because it is well known. However, a protected-type socket system, for example, according to German Examined Patent Application D 197 07 048 A1, is prescribed because of the present strict regulations.
FIG. 5 shows another example of how a lamp according to the invention can be used cost effectively. The gas discharge vessel (1) is equipped with a 3-pole pin base (4), which permits mechanical and electrical separation of the electronic ballast (2). Should the lamp become unusable, the ballast (2), which normally has a much longer lifetime, can be reused and only the lamp part need be replaced.
 The basic idea of further developing a fluorescent lamp, consisting merely of a single, straight gas discharge to a lamp mounted on one side, offers a wide variety of application possibilities, as shown in the cited examples. As an additional example, the possibility can merely be mentioned of using the gas discharge lamp according to FIG. 5 in a base (3), in which an electronic ballast (2) is incorporated, a solution that appears to be both cost-effective and unbeatable, in terms of space requirements and service. A lamp that is equipped with such a combination requires almost no internal wiring.
 The cited examples offer many additional hints that build on the invention and its indirect scope of protection. Any combination of properties shown in the examples is naturally possible. The examples in this respect are not to be interpreted as restrictive.
 The subsequent figures serve for understanding of the inventive concept and its progressiveness. They cannot describe all the details of the invention, since there are numerous manufacturing variants and design possibilities that permit application of the invention. In the figures:
FIG. 1 and FIG. 1a show a fluorescent lamp mounted on one side with integrated ballast.
FIG. 2 and FIG. 2a show a lamp with a longitudinal groove mounted on one side.
FIG. 3 and FIG. 3a show a lamp with an unheated, cold electrode mounted on one side.
FIG. 4 shows a compact fluorescent lamp with an Edison screw base.
FIG. 5 shows a compact fluorescent lamp with a separable ballast.
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