Tips for Designing a Track Lighting Installation
Pick a Track Standard
The foundation of any track lighting system is the track itself. The track is the part that attaches to the ceiling or wall and it’s what the light fixtures are affixed to. It’s important to keep in mind that not all track lights (fixtures) fit all track types. There are 3 standards and a bunch of proprietary systems. The three standards were developed by the early manufacturers of track lighting (Halo, Juno and Lightolier). Each track is referred to by the first letter of each company’s name: H, J and L. There are other track methods out there that are not compatible with the above standards; these tend to be the cheap systems of flimsy construction that are carried by the home improvement chains. Besides the low quality of the manufacturing, these track lighting systems defeat the purpose of track lighting by taking away the elasticity: once you buy a proprietary system, you are forever restricted to track light fixtures made by the same company. To avoid problems, it is recommended that you pick one of the standards, H, J, or L, and stick with it. You will ALWAYS need to buy fixtures and accessories that are of the same standard.
Layout and Power
After you’ve decided where you want to install track lighting, there are a range of track lengths and connectors at your disposal to let you create the ideal layout (see more information on connectors below); once you have the parts, you’ll find that they connect smoothly, kind of like an erector set.
One of the most important considerations is the need to bring electrical power to your track lighting. There are two main methods: a power supply attached to a junction box or a power cord from the track to a standard electrical outlet. For attaching the track to the junction box with a connector, you can either use a Floating Canopy Connector (if you need power anywhere along the length of the track, excluding the ends) or a Live End Connector (if you need power at an end of the track). You may need to utilize a Canopy Plate to completely cover the junction box underneath the Live End Connector. Using either a Floating Canopy Connector or a Live End Connector will create the finished designer look that you seek in professionally designed interiors. However, if you do not have an existing junction box in ceiling then you will need the services of an electrician to position one for you.
If you want an easier approach, you can also use a Plug and Cord Set [for L-series][for H- and J-series] to connect a Live End Connector to a plug on a wall. Make sure that you utilize the right Plug Set and remember that you will still need a Live End Connector. The corded solution may not look as clean as a junction box connection, but you will not need an electrician to install it.