Although you might associate track lighting with stores and offices, installing track lighting in your home can be really effective in kitchens and bathrooms. It can also add a modern/contemporary feeling to the main living spaces.
In any rooms that are used for study or work, it will provide you with the opportunity to adjust the lighting pattern in the room with ease. Installing track lighting is a job most DIY/home enthusiasts can tackle, but do be sure to check your local regulations on working with electrical fittings.
The lighting track is in effect the foundation of the new lighting system you want to install, whether it is to be fitted on a ceiling or a wall.
Choosing a Lighting Track
When you visit your DIY store, you’ll find lots of different track designs to choose from, before setting your mind on any one particular track you need to check that the lamps you want to use will work on that design of track. Put another way, not all light fittings work on all lighting tracks.
There are three standard types of lighting track that you’re recommended to make your choice from, the reason for this is that a non-standard one could go out of production – meaning you’ll have trouble extending your track lighting without having non-matching pieces.
The three standards are Halo, Juno and Lightolier, usually just referred to as H, J or L. Should you wish to you can also get track lighting that is suspended from the ceiling.
Installing the Light Tracking System
Having determined the design that you want the lighting track to follow, buy the appropriate length(s) of the tracking that you decide will be the best one to use; needless to say buy the track accessories like the power connectors and the lamps for the track at the same time.
The trickiest part of installing track lighting is getting the electrical power to where tracking is to be positioned. You have two options here, either fit a junction box or run a power cord from the nearest available standard electrical power outlet, of the two fixing a junction box will reduce, if not remove entirely, the need for having any unsightly cables being on show.
Connecting to a junction box you’ll need a floating canopy connector if power is needed along the length of the track, except the ends, but a live end connector, if power is needed at the ends of the track, this method might also need a canopy plate to cover the junction box at the live end connectors.
Track lighting can come in line and low voltage options, so a low voltage option will also require you to fit a transformer somewhere. To use an existing power outlet plug a cord into a live end connector, but make sure you buy the correct cord and plug for your track.
With the power supply ready the tracking itself is easily screwed into place and connected to the power supply. If you are not familiar with installing electrical components and resisdential electricity wiring, then you should have a professional electrician handle this part of the installation.
Lamps and Bulbs
Once the track is fitted the lamps themselves just slide into position. With so many different styles of lamps to choose from for track lighting, it is inconceivable that you won’t be able to find the lamps that you want to fit in with the décor of the room that your fitted the lighting track into – just make sure the lamps are designed for the track you bought. The bulbs you buy can have as much bearing on the lighting design as the lamps and their lenses.
Generally the bulbs will supply you with a lighting spread either above or below an angle of 25 degrees. So, again it’s matter of personal preference as to whether you have narrow beams of light or a wide spread of light from the track lighting lamps and bulbs.
Photo by Jeremy Burgin, Creative Commons Attribution License