Track Lighting Is Back!

Track Lighting is making a comeback with a modern and contemporary twist. Track lighting offers versatility that is enticing to both designers and homeowners. Traditionally used in kitchens, we are now seeing them installed in living rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms. They are often used indirectly by pointing/emphasizing an accent wall, artwork, or display cabinets. Track lighting systems are not limited to being mounted on ceilings. You can brighten up shadowy places in your home by adding track lighting to walls and exposed ceiling beams. They have quickly gained popularity as an unique way to add light to a room while creating a bold statement.

 

 

How does Track Lighting work?

 

Track lightning works by attaching light sources (luminaries) to a track/rail. These light sources can either be track heads or pendants. In this article we’ll be referencing the term “track heads” to encompass any style of luminary.

 

Electricity passes through the track and into the heads to power the lights.  The track heads can move along the track and swirl or tilt to direct light exactly where you want it.

 

There are 3 standard types of tracks. The shape of the track head connector has to match the shape of the track to be compatible. As seen in the picture below.

Image result for j type track lighting

Track heads typically pull 12 or 24 volts. Most commonly, the electrical current in a home is 120 volts, therefore the power is going need to be lowered. Depending on the type of track you choose, the transformer that lowers the power from 120V will either be a part of the rail or built directly into each individual track head.

An advantage of Track Lighting is the ability to easily and effortlessly change track heads. However, as mentioned before, not all track heads and rails are compatible. There are countless combinations of shapes, styles, and finishes. You can change up the look of your room just by taking trading out old heads and clipping on new ones. 

 

There are three types of track lighting (Linear, Monorail and Cable)

 

Linear track is the most common type, in which the track is mounted directly to a surface (i.e. Ceiling). An electrical conduit runs inside the entire length of the track. Therefore, you can place the track heads anywhere along the track. When the metal base comes in contact with the track it gets the power it needs to illuminate the track head. The energy transformer is built into each individual track head, therefore you don’t need a transformer to step decrease the energy in your system. 

Monorail lighting hangs down from the ceiling suspended by rods called “stand offs”. Unlike traditional track lighting, monorails can be flexible, bending and curving to whatever best suits your room’s needs. The electrical current runs through the exposed metal of the rail itself. The heads are attached to the outside of the track making the connection necessary to power the lights. The heads can be repositioned along the rail and swapped out when your style changes. Most monorail systems are low voltage and will require a transformer. 

There is also fixed rail lighting, which is a subcategory of monorail lighting. The heads are fixed directly to the track. In most cases the heads can be tilted or swirled but you cannot switch them out for another style, nor can they be moved along the track.

 

In cable light systems the cables are suspended from the ceiling or stretched from wall-to-wall. Track heads or pendants are then attached to the cable. The electricity runs through low voltage conductive cables and the heads typically require 12 or 24 volts. Cable lighting systems will require a transformer to decrease the standard 120 volt household current.

 

As always, we are happy to answer any questions you have about track lighting and look forward to seeing your unique touch on your track lighting home. Please contact us at lightingquestion@blackdiamondlighting.com