Track lighting is extremely versatile and easy to install, which makes it perfect for remodelling or redecorating a room. If you want to highlight certain objects with illumination or add lighting for work, track lights will provide the directional task lighting you need. Here are some basic tips on what you need to consider when buying track lights.
Consider Your Lighting Needs
Before buying a track system, you will have to consider the specific lighting needs to be addressed. General or ambient lighting, accent or wall wash lighting, and task lighting all serve different purposes and will entail different positioning and placement.
General or Ambient Lighting – While track lighting is sufficient to provide ambient illumination for entryways or halls, it is generally not enough to light an entire room by itself. For larger areas, track lights would perform better as complementary illumination along other light fixtures in a room.
Accent or Wall Wash Lighting – Track lights may function to highlight pictures, book cases, and other decorative pieces on walls. For wall washing, less track heads are required to provide non-focused spread of light. Another advantage of wall wash track heads is their energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs. If you want more focused accent lighting, adjustable spot light track heads are recommended. These light fixtures are able to provide a higher level of illumination on a specific area.
Task Lighting – Where light is needed for various activities such as reading and food preparation, low voltage spot lighting is an ideal option for task lighting, because of its energy efficiency.
Choose Your Track Type
There are several styles and variations of track lighting systems available in the market however, these are the most commonly found:
Standard Track – The standard track is a user-friendly system that is directly secured to the ceiling with screws. This “straight track” system can be configured into “L”, “T”, and “H” shaped patterns with 90° angles.
Monorail Track – The monorail track is hung from the ceiling using standoffs and has a consistent height all throughout. This type of track is flexible, also coming in hand-bendable designs. When bending flexible tracks, remember to bend the track at one foot increments no more than a 30° angle.
Two-Circuit Monorail Track – Two-circuit monorail tracks are basically two tracks built into one. They provide greater lighting customization, allowing separate fixtures on a single track to be connected to two different switches.
Cable – A cable system is comprised of two strands of conductive wire with light fixtures hung between them. Because it utilizes turnbuckles mounted into the walls, this type of track lighting is great for rooms where track cannot be installed to the ceiling.
Line Voltage or Low Voltage
Line voltage track systems operate at 120 volts and are usually priced lower compared to low voltage systems. They are also easy to install and expand, do not require a transformer, and can hold more light fixtures because they are not constrained by wattage limitations.
Low voltage systems, on the other hand, will involve a higher costs at the outset, but these are a good investment long term because they are more energy efficient although they do give off the same amount of light output as their line voltage counterparts. Low voltage directional heads generally come with 12 volt MR16 halogen lamps, which are perfect for task lighting in kitchens, over home office desks, and in living rooms. Note that low voltage systems require a transformer for operation.