We Know: All About Track Lighting

What is track lighting?

Track lighting is a group of light fixtures mounted on a track which is typically attached to the ceiling or wall. The track contains the electrical wiring, and the light fixtures are encased in cans.

What are the different components of track lighting?

Track lighting is composed of several different parts.

  • Tracks: May come in metal or adhesive form. Tracks come in all different sizes and colors and can hold most line or low voltage track heads. Metal tracks are more suited for straight areas, while the more flexible adhesive type is better suited for corners or other complicated areas.
  • Track Heads: Available in both flood light and pendant styles, track heads are the actual light fixtures themselves. These lamps are movable so light can be cast in any direction you wish. Low voltage systems are best for those who wish to install themselves without any hardwiring.
  • Dimmer: Avoid dimmers that emit a buzzing noise when in use, and those that continue to use electricity even though the lights are dimmed. Choose a dimmer with short protection that can dim the lighted area to the level of brightness you prefer.

Where is track lighting primarily used?

Track lighting is used in a variety of places, from offices to museums. They are especially effective in hallways, dim corners of rooms and kitchens. Track lighting produces some particular effects when used correctly. For instance, a technique called "wall washing" involves mounting the track about two feet from the wall, with the fixtures facing the wall. The wall is then washed in the glow of the lights. Track lighting can also be used as accent lighting, wherein the lights are angled to reflect on an object, like a prized painting. This way, the item is highlighted, but no one will be blinded by reflective glare.

How is track lighting installed?

Track lighting can be installed by either you or a professional electrician. If you wish to have someone install it for you, most hardware stores offer installation services for a fee. If you opt to take the project on yourself, a basic knowledge of electrical work should be acquired before attempting to install track lights. A few basic things to keep in mind when working with electricity include:

  • Always turn off the power before working with electrical wiring.
  • Check with your city hall to see if installing track lighting requires a permit.
  • Once you complete the job, call an inspector and request they look over your handy work.
  • When installing track lighting, avoid placing the tracks or track heads within 6 inches of flammable materials like curtains.

How much does track lighting cost?

A track lighting set can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on the materials used, size of the track and the complexity of the fixtures.

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