One thing that makes track lighting confusing is that it has a lot of components. On top of that, components are rarely interchangeable between different lighting manufacturers. Because of the high wattages involved and potential for fire, installation of track lighting has got to be absolutely right. Not that it isn't a great DIY job. It is. But it just takes a little know-how before tackling this one (maybe two) weekend job!
Define Track LightingTrack lighting is a type of illumination system where the long "track" is charged with electricity, and interchangeable fixtures or track heads can be inserted at any point on that track.
Track Lighting Isn't For EverybodyNo matter how you cut it, track lighting is a fairly invasive way of illuminating your kitchen or bathroom: it's there, it's obvious. The most common type of track lighting seeks to blend in with the ceiling, but it doesn't do a very good job of it.
By contrast, a newer style of track lighting calls attention to itself with curvy, stainless steel tracks and drop-down pendant fixtures.
It's all a personal choice. But don't even think that track lighting is a wallflower.
Why Do Some People Love Track Lighting?
- Flexible - You can endlessly mix and match tracks to reach any part of a room.
- Tracks Flexible, Too - Newer tracks can be curved in different directions, in addition to the "mixing and matching" mentioned above.
- Add or Subtract Lights - It's easy to pop in another track head or fixture where you need extra light; or take out lights to save energy.
- Linear Track - Straight tracks with enclosed electrical contacts that come in lengths up to 96 inches.
- Flexible Track - Monorail tracks with exposed contacts; can be curved.
Track Heads or FixturesTrack heads have expanded beyond the old "gooseneck" style. One significant development has been the pendant light. By dropping the light on a cord (up to 42"), greater illumination and pinpointing of the beam is achieved.
BulbsBulbs depend on the fixtures, but common wattages are 35W, 50W, and even up to 90W
Low Voltage vs. Line Voltage Track LightingLine voltage systems are the most common type of track lighting. They draw directly from a 120 volt feed. Low voltage systems draw their power from a transformer, and this transformer must be mounted near the track system.
Features of Line Voltage Track Lighting Systems
- Direct feed
- Usually cheaper than low voltage
- Avoid problems of having transformer in view
Features of Low Voltage Track Lighting Systems
- Better energy consumption
- Brighter light
- Requires transformer
Track Lighting Components You Will Need
- Connector - "T", "L", and straight connectors serve to connect separate tracks.
- Transformer - Transformers are used for low voltage systems.
- Pendant Adaptor - Attaches pendant lights to tracks.
- Accordion Flexible Track Joiner - These connectors let you send tracks off in directions other than straight or perpendicular.