What is track lighting?

Track lighting is often found in lighting units of homes and businesses due to a variety of sizes, colors, and prices. Track lighting also offers benefits of design, functionality, and architectural lighting.

Using these lights allows you to position the light’s direction and redirect it easily. This allows you to eliminate specific areas such as a sitting area, table, or kitchen counter, with the option to change the lighting area later.

There are many types of track lighting to choose from, and with such unique types and options available it can be confusing to select the correct lights.

Knowing just what you need from your lights will help you pick the perfect lights.

How does track lighting work?

Rather than being standard lights that route electrical wiring to a set source, track lighting offers fixtures attached to a continuous track, or rail, with electrical conductors. These conductors power various lights on the track rather than powering a single bulb.

Track lighting can be mounted onto your ceilings or walls. The track can be designed to curve or lay straight.

Tracks are close to the ceiling and out of sight.

The lights, also known as heads, can be repositioned to directly control the direction the light is being projected to your needs.

This makes track lights unique as it’s easily customizable to your needs, even if those needs change over time.

More directional light is generated with bright and clear results compared to a common ceiling light.

Plug-in versus hardwired

Plug-in track lights do not need an electrical wire to function but do need to be placed near an electrical outlet.

Hardwired track lights must have an electrical connection with an electrical box found in the wall or ceiling near the light fixture by a professional electrician.

Track types

Different tracks include standard linear track, cable, and monorail.

Cable and monorail track lighting is often grouped with track lighting, yet their tracks offer users differences that cause them to be separated from the track lighting.

Both monorail and cable lighting are considered types of track lighting though there are unique differences between the three.

All three types of lights are designed to suit your home or business to customize your room’s layout and provide rail-based lighting. Their design separates the three.

Rail lighting

Tracks are meant to blend with modern architectural designs.

Rail tracks are flexible and able to be adjusted with your hands to produce more curved and customizable layouts of lights.

The heads of rail tracks are suspended down from the track by rods.

Currents from exposed metal featured on the rail generate power. This requires a transform to lower the voltage.

Cable lighting

Cable lighting is presented as more industrial with anchors connecting it to the walls or ceiling to reach difficult spaces.

The light heads are held up by exposed cables and mounted with visible hardware.

Cable lighting has cables with low voltage conductivity which are versatile with different architectural styles.

Cables can be anchored to walls, ceilings, and other fixtures.

This type is limited, as it must operate on a single circuit so each track will need its switch. Transformers are used to lower voltage and surface transformers deliver power to cables. The amount of power depends on the number of lights.

Standard linear lighting tracks

Standard linear track lighting is easy to install through a few screws and connect to electrical circuits that previously existed.

The tracks are square-shaped bars with light fixtures between the tracks and heads to secure the light to the bar ledge.

Exposed electrical currents run inside the track with the metal base to conduct electrical currents.

There are three main types of standard linear tracks: Halo, Juno, and Lightolier styles. These styles are named for their manufacturing companies.

All three have similar features but are not compatible.

The H-track has three wires and the L- and J-tracks have only two.

H-tracks could only be with other H-track pieces while L- and J-tracks are compatible.

The light bases twist and lock into the track and act as a conduit to power the lights.

Types of track lighting bulbs

LED track lighting is also available. LEDs can be used in H track lighting if the bulb base matches the LED to produce an ideal fit. These bulbs last the longest but are more expensive.

Halogen track light bulbs provide more heat and are a great choice for tracks that are not low wattage. H track lighting bulbs are very bright.

Incandescent track lights are smaller in size which can make them challenging to find. They are less energy-efficient than many other alternatives.

Fluorescent lights often fit with industrial design as compact, smaller lights. These are less expensive than LED bulbs.

Unique track lighting features

Your track lighting can be even more customizable than adjusting the light position and tracks. You can also find features that make your track light unique to your space.

Dimmer switches can help to adjust the brightness level and provide ideal light settings.

For different ceiling shapes like vaulted or lofted ceilings, suspension kits can be found to extend the track from the ceiling in a safe way. This is commonly used with cable tracks.

Extra track connectors can provide extra length or curve your track to fit a specific shape.

Lenses can be added to bulbs to change the color and shape of lights.