With it’s popularity peaking in the 1980’s, track lighting is making its comeback with more modern and contemporary looks. Track lighting is used in residential and commercial spaces as a source of accent and task lighting. It offers a versatility that is enticing to designers and homeowners. Traditionally used in kitchens, it’s now being installed in living rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms where it’s being used indirectly by pointing the light source at an accent wall, artwork or display cabinets. Track lighting systems are not limited to being mounted to ceilings only. You can bring light to those shadowy places in your home by adding track lighting to walls and exposed ceiling beams. It’s a unique way to add light to a room and create a bold statement.
Track lighting is a series of pendants or track heads that are connected along a track that is most commonly mounted to a ceiling or wall. There are a few things to consider when designing your track lighting installation: track type, layout and power, and track head and bulb type.
First, choose a standard track style.
There are three different types of track – H-style, J-style and L-style, all of which are not compatible with each other. Also, if you choose a proprietary brand, meaning it’s made and sold only by that particular company, you are stuck with choosing lights from that brand only. It’s recommended to choose one of the three standard track systems that offer more options.
You can also choose from curved, flexible or straight track sections. Curved and flexible track systems are low voltage and straight track systems run off of line voltage, or the raw voltage coming from a standard outlet. Low voltage systems use less energy, offer a warmer and sharper light, and have more modern styles. They are more costly, as a transformer is needed to convert the standard 120V produced from the outlet to 12V. Line voltage systems are more affordable, as the transformer is not needed, but use more energy than low voltage systems.
A modern take on track lighting is using track suspension kits. These kits allow you to hang track from ceilings which looks great in exposed high ceilings life lofts or creative spaces.
Next, determine the layout and how you are going to power your system.
Track lighting is versatile in the sense that there are different lengths and shapes for track sections so you can create the perfect layout for your space. You can choose from curved and flexible track for a contemporary look or a straight section for long runs. When determining the placement of your track, install it about 18”-24” away from the wall you wish to light for the best illumination.
There are two ways to power your system – connecting the power supply to a junction box or using a power cord in a standard electrical outlet. A plug-in track light requires no wiring but may not have the cleanest look. The fixture must also be located near an outlet. Connecting to a junction box, or hard-wiring, offers a more finished look. However, if no junction box is available, you will need to install one which may require the services of an electrician.
Lastly, choose your track heads and bulbs.
You’ll first need to determine if the purpose of the light is to illuminate a task, such as food preparation, or to provide general lighting in a room. Track heads have a more focused light for tasks or drawing attention to artwork or displays. Whereas pendants offer a more general light, perfect for ambient lighting.
Once you’ve chosen your track head type, you’ll need to choose the bulb. Low voltage systems use halogen or LED MR16 and MR11 bulbs. Line voltage systems can use a wider variety, depending on the fixture recommendation, such as MR16, MR11 and PAR20 bulbs. Each of these types of bulbs also come in different beam angles – spot bulbs have a beam angle under 25 degrees and flood bulbs have beam angle of 25 degrees or higher. If you choose an LED bulb, this will also provide more options based on color temperature ranging from warm to cool white.
Track lighting can become overwhelming with a ton of options, requirements and planning involved. Give our Customer Service team a call at 877.231.2852 and they will be happy to assist you in finding the perfect system for your space. You can also email or leave a comment below.
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