The Ins and Outs of Track Lighting

The evolution of track lighting is undeniable. No longer stuck in the dark ages, the new lighting available will blow your mind. No longer the bulky and ugly fixtures of the 90’s, track lighting offers solutions for many lighting dilemmas!

Around 2000, lighting manufacturers began stepping up their game. Sleek, curving tracks emerged on the market, with high-intensity halogens that really did manage to illuminate kitchen work areas. Today many track heads and pendants are available in an LED version.

Imagine track lighting in the most glamorous home, the average person can now be part of sleek and trendy illumination. Still not convinced? Here are just a few of the reason why I love track lighting and incorporate it into most of my interior design projects:

  • Single Power Source: In most cases you only need one junction box for multiple fixtures! This is a great way to add lots of light with minimal invasive holes into your sheetrock.
  • Flexible:  Where track lighting really excels is in flexibility. Tracks can be mounted virtually anywhere you need light. This is especially helpful when you want to add task lighting but are not quite sure of the final placement.  For instance, on a kitchen island – install the track in the general area over the island and the track heads and or pendants can be placed anywhere along the track!
  • Adding More Light: As long as your power source can handle the load, you can add more track heads as desired. This is also a great way to work within a budget!
  • Energy-Savings:  Track lighting can actually be an energy saver. How? You only need to install as many lights on the tracks as you need. Also, tracks can be wired independently, so that one track can be left off or dimmed, while another one picks up the lighting duties. Additionally, most tracks are available as a two-circuit option, so even track heads on the same track could be powered to turn off and on separately!
  • Easy Access:  Some ceiling areas, especially vaulted ceilings, don’t have access from above, so track light offers an easy way to add multiple light sources from one power feed.
  • 2 for 1 Deals: I love to mix the types of track heads I am using because they offer different types of lighting functions. With track, I can mix spotlights with pendant lights for the ultimate in functionality!

Figuring out all the components involved in track lighting can be confusing. A professional lighting consultant, like myself, can really help make the best selection AND offer sage advice on which style of a track will best suit your needs. Here are some other things to consider when choosing track lighting:

  • Choose Kit or Pack:  Unless you specify "kit" or "pack" when looking for track lighting, you won't get all the components you need to install it.
  • Price Considerations: Line voltage versus low voltage or LED will have considerable cost differences. So look carefully at the fixtures available in each line.  
  • Mix and Match: Some manufacturers allow you to mix and match the track with the track heads, but most often you’ll need to stick with the same brand track as fixtures. (Some adapters may be available.)
  • Beware Of Your Power Draw:  You'll need to be aware of your power draw when adding lights to the tracks. The tracks are not infinitely scalable. Line voltage track versus low-voltage track has different specification needs. Be especially careful when selecting dimmers as they are rated for specific wattages. Of course, if you go for LED as a light source you can typically eliminate this issue altogether!
Carrie OesmannComment