Electricity: Track Lighting

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If you want to transform the look and feel of a room with minimum effort, installing a track lighting system is a good place to start. Focused halogen bulbs allow you to strategically light a room by placing emphasis on particular objects or spaces. Individual fixtures can be easily moved to accommodate changing needs, and halogen bulbs provide sunlike light.

Plan your project with lighting goals and potential problems in mind. Rigid track systems come in a variety of lengths and are joined with fittings to form L-shapes, U-shapes, V-shapes or crosses. Some systems even use flexible or cable-type tracks.

Pay attention to clearance issues, such as rooms with low ceilings or doors that might interfere with the lights. In general, keep the track at least 2 ft. (60 cm) away from walls or doors.

Key Installation Steps

You can easily install track lighting by removing an old fixture and connecting the new track. The tracks are pre-wired and a mounting plate or canopy covers the connection. Use drywall anchors and screws for securing the track. Shut off power at panel while working.

1. Pay close attention to a track fixture's polarity. Hot and neutral wires must go to correct terminals. Keep the hot and neutral wires separate and consistent throughout the track system.

2. Mark the track’s layout plan on the ceiling using masking tape. Next, mark locations for fasteners to connect the track to the ceiling. Use at least one fastener for every 4 ft. (1.3 m) of track.

3. Push a fixture into the track; turn and lock it into place. Contact prongs in the fixture base will carry current to the bulb. Adjust bulb direction and fixture location as desired.


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Shopping Smart: High or Low Voltage?

Track-lighting systems can be either low or high voltage. Some systems can accommodate both fixture types by use of lights with individual built-in transformers. A system with all low-voltage fixtures can operate from a single transformer.

Line voltage heads use standard 120-volt current and work well for general lighting because their wider beam provides softer light.

Low-voltage fixtures with built- in transformers provide focused accent lighting in systems that also provide general lighting.

Low-voltage fixtures powered through a single transformer are available. Some have flexible track for more layout options.

Last modified: Friday, 2020-02-28 15:20 PST