In this guide we break down the basics of track lighting, from the tracks to the lights, to help you determine if track lighting is a match for your home. Here are some of the pros of track lighting:
Track lighting is an energy-efficient and budget-friendly lighting choice.
It works as task, ambient, and accent lighting, making it ideal for many spaces throughout the home, from the hallways to the kitchen.
It's highly customizable and can be easily adjusted to match changing decor.
Track lighting is easier to install than several ceiling lights, since it can use just one junction box or transformer. Other ceiling lighting options, such as pendants or flush mounted lights, require their own individual junction box or power source.
If you've determined track lighting will work for your home, the next step is to consider which kind of lighting you need. Do you need lights to illuminate the entire room (ambient lighting) or to light a specific part of the room (task or accent lighting)? All of the above can be done with track lighting; you will just need to customize it to your needs. Learn how below:
Ambient and General Lighting
When used as a main light source, track lighting is best suited to small rooms, such as hallways or entries.
Track lights can be used alongside other lighting elements in larger rooms, such as living rooms and bedrooms.
Accent and Wall Wash Lighting
Adjustable spot lights on a track lighting rail can be used to highlight a piece of art, bookshelf, or any accent on a wall. Spot lights direct lots of light at a specific area.
For a broad sheet of light, wall washing is ideal. Wall washing requires fewer lights, and the lights can often be energy-efficient. The track and light fixtures should be placed far enough from the wall to avoid unwanted shadows.
Task lighting consists of a configuration of lights that illuminates a small area meant for doing a specific activity, such as cooking, reading, or crafting.
Energy-efficient or low voltage lights are ideal for task lighting.
When using spot lights to highlight an accent, such as artwork, adjust the heads to a 30 degree angle. This minimizes glare and reflection.
Common Track Types
This easy-to-install system screws directly to the ceiling. The common track shapes are straight, L, T, and H.
A monorail track is a sleek rail suspended from the ceiling by poles, called standoffs. The track is uniform in height, and is often flexible.
Two-Circuit Monorail Track
Essentially two tracks built into one, two-circuit tracks allow separate fixtures to be mounted on one track but to be connected to separate switches. This is ideal for those who wish to have custom lighting.
If you have a room where tracks can't be mounted to the ceiling, a cable track that attaches to turnbuckles on the walls is ideal. A cable track features light fixtures suspended between two strands of conductive wire.
Common Light Types
Track heads include directional lights, spot lights, wall wash fixtures, and ambient fixtures. This type of light is ideal for task or accent lighting.
A more decorative option, track pendants provide down lighting, which is especially important in work areas, such as kitchens. They can also provide ambient lighting for rooms.
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