8 Experts tips for installing track lighting at home
What's Track Lights?
Introduction (1): What are track lights? Track lighting is where single fixtures are installed onto a continuous track containing copper wires. Track lights can be adjusted to provide different angles and optical designs, to provide spatial flexibility and change the lighting field.
Introduction (2): The combination of track lights and tracks effectively liberates light and light fixtures from the limitations of traditional fixed and rigid installations. A track system can be installed on ceilings, walls, floors, and under beams, or suspended in any space. Track lights rely on the track system for flexible and diverse lighting to allow any architectural space to display a variety of styles and effects. In recent years, track lights have been widely used in architecture and interior design. The use of track lights can reduce the cost of renovating ceilings while achieving lighting purposes. Before choosing track lights, we recommended that you read our descriptions and recommendations, to more easily find the track lights that are best for your space.
Introduction (3): Do not select track lights based on wattage alone. When purchasing track lights, take into account factors such as color temperature, color rendition, the profile and dimensions of the light fixtures, and optical design. Consider also other factors such as the position of the installation (height and length), furniture arrangement in the space, artwork media (painting/photography/sculpture/ceramics/other), and the electrical load of the track system. Then use different track lights to coordinate, rather than installing a single type of track lights throughout the entire space.
Introduction (4): Many customers ask about the color of light that should be used in a space, and whether to opt for yellow light or natural light. For these kinds of questions, we recommend the following article: What is color temperature?
Tip 1. First, make sure the track light head matches the track system
We recommend that you first determine the type of track system. The track lights cannot be installed if the track has unique specifications. At present, all track lights sold by Lightinology support Lightolier track system (L-Type/LT), as known as 2-wire-narrow single circuit system. Below, we present the track specifications found on the market for your reference.
(1) 2-wire or 3-wire single circuit tracks: At present, most track systems available globally are 2-wire (LT type, HT type) or 3-wire (JT type) tracks. These can be purchased online or from a convenient DIY store.
(2) 4-wire-3-circuit tracks: Most high-end hotels and space, museums, galleries, etc use 4-wire 3-circit track systems to provide multiple circuits for the lights. This keeps the ceiling free of convoluted tracks and is more aesthetically pleasing.
(3) Magnetic tracks: Magnetic tracks are mostly used for low-voltage DC12V/24V/48V lights. We recommend that the base of the track lights and the track system be from the same manufacturer to avoid incompatibility issues. When using a magnetic track, note that magnetic tracks are usually used with a constant voltage power supply. One constant voltage power supply can power multiple track lights, and if it breaks down, multiple lights on the tracks will also simultaneously malfunction. If the power supply cannot be immediately replaced, it will disrupt operation space or important areas. If it is necessary to use a magnetic track, we recommend a backup power supply system, so that if the track lighting power supply breaks down, the backup system can still power the lights.
Tip 2. Use track lights to create a bright, uniformly lit environment
General lighting is a common lighting design for creating uniform and comfortable brightness in a space. Indoor spaces such as hallways, kitchens, and meeting rooms often require general lighting.
To use track lights for general lighting:
(1) A large number of lights is recommended, and they should be evenly arranged. Generally, household tracks are not arranged in a grid like those in art galleries or exhibitions. For example, in the living rooms of people's homes, there are two tracks at the most. One track is on the front of the TV wall, and the other is above the sofa area. Therefore, plan to have more lights, with some projecting onto the wall and some projecting onto the furniture and floor. In addition, complement track lights with other lights such as ceiling lights, wall sconces, and standing lamps to evenly distribute light from top to bottom.
(2) Be sure to choose track lights with a wattage that is appropriate to the installation height and brightness of the light fixtures, and avoid using track lights with a beam angle that is too small. For hallways, maintain illuminance at below 50-100 lux; for homes, 100-300 lux; for meeting rooms, around 300-500 lux; and for office space, around 700-1000 lux is recommended. Track lights with too large a wattage or small beam angles will cause glare and excessive brightness, which will not only fail to create a comfortable light environment, but also irritate the eyes.
Tip 3. Use track lights for accent lighting
Accent lighting and the abovementioned general lighting are common methods in lighting designs. They are often used in coordination with each other within the same space. Accent lighting refers to illuminating a certain object or area in the space through lights to emphasize the specific elements or furnishings of the space (such as products for sale, furniture, décor, art works, and cultural articles). Hence, there should not be too many accent lights.
Track lights are light fixtures often used for accent lighting and are commonly used in spaces such as museums, art museums, art galleries, trade shows, and hotel restaurants. To create accent lighting with track lights, be sure that the distance between the track and the target object is well controlled. If the distance is too close, the light will be overly strong, and the bright spot will be harsh. If the distance is too far, it will illuminate people's backs. Therefore, too far a distance or too close a distance will both greatly undermine the value of the target object.
However, if track lights must be installed close to the target object due to space limitations, we recommend choosing track lights with a small wattage.
Tip 3.1 Reference for selecting the beam angle of accent lighting
In addition, select the color temperature and beam angle of the track lights according to the size, material, and shape of the target object (goods/décor/artwork/furniture, etc.). Optical accessories are also important factors when using track lights for accent lighting. To choose the beam angle:
(1) Spot/Focus track lights: A narrow beam angle of less than 20 degrees can make the target object look very prominent and form a contrast ratio of 10:1 or even 50:1 with the background illuminance. However, with a small beam angle, the secondary light spot will also be obvious (field angle factor). Hence, installing diffuser woven lens to touch up the light is recommended. Focus track lights are suited to objects such as statues, potted flowers and plants, 3-dimensional art, and specific décor and furniture.
(2) Diffused track lights: A medium-angle beam angle of 20-40 degrees can give the target object a strong visual impact, and also bring out its lines and texture. Diffused track lights are suited to walls, paintings, photography and graphic art, general furniture, hallways, and other objects.
(3) Flood track lights: A wide beam angle greater than 50 degrees is considered a flood light source. Although it can also illuminate the target object, the target object and the background will be mixed by the light due to the excessive beam angle, and therefore cannot attract visual attention.
We recommend using Lightinology track lights to create accent lighting effects for spaces of different heights. In art museums or restaurants, accessories such as woven lens, oval spread lens, or honeycombs can be used in your spaces to soften the light, broaden the illumination, or avoid glare.
Tip 4. When to use parallel track lights
If the ceiling in an area is slightly higher or more brightness is needed to emphasize focal points, you might want to consider installing a larger wattage track light as the lighting fixture in that area. Alternatively, installing two sets of low-wattage track lights to simultaneously project onto an area can also achieve the same lighting effect. First, to install a parallel pair of track lights, be sure to refrain from mixing lights with large and small wattages, to avoid visual irregularity on the ceiling. Second, keep the track lights in the space to one style for easier, non-complicated future maintenance.
Tip 5. How to calculate the distance between track lights and walls
If you are a designer for a gallery or a commercial curator, or if you wish to project track lights onto paintings or family photos on a wall in your home, are you perplexed by how far the track lights should be from the wall or exhibits? If so, refer to the descriptions below.
Track lights are widely used in art galleries or museums for lighting. So the proper placement of track lights is key to ensuring a pleasant visitor experience. Track lights are critical for illuminating exhibits, description plates and wall texts in the space. Therefore, it is important to determine the projection angle of each light to prevent glares and shadows. Generally, the best angle between the lighted surface and the vertical surface is 30 degrees. This 30-degree angle produces the least amount of glare and allows visitors to see the artwork clearly without interference from shadows. However, the site might not have favorable conditions for projecting each light at a 30- degree angle. So, a projection angle between 30-45 degrees is also acceptable. Angles greater than 45 degrees are prone to result in glare, and the track lights will reflect off the object/glass/wall into the eyes of the visitors.
If you have the opportunity to design a new exhibition space, consider using a grid arrangement of the ceiling tracks to maximize lighting possibilities and optimality. Such a grid system allows the placement of your displays or platforms in any spot in the exhibition space without being subjected to shadows or glare. For your reference, the chart below shows the best installation distance between track light and wall for various ceiling heights, when the wall projection height is 152cm. However, the actual lighting position must be adjusted according to site requirements and the specifications of the light fixtures.
Tip 6. When installing track lights, take note of the track's long and short sides
If you look carefully at the design on the common type of tracks (for example, 2-wire L-type or 4-wire-3-circuit track rail), you will notice that on one end, there is a long side and a short. The long and short sides of the track is a fool-proof design that is similar to an USB plug to help consumers install track lights.
In addition, note that the track head of the track lights should also have a long side and short side design to help you align the orientation before fixing the installation. The long side of the track should be aligned with the short side of the track lights; and vice versa, the short side of the track should be aligned with the long side of the track lights.
Many people do not notice this kind of fool-proof design, and in most cases, the lights will still work. However, the light fixtures will be crooked because the long side of the track is aligned with the long side of the track lights, resulting in an unlevel interface. Whether installing the track on their own or having an electrician installing it for them, consumers should take note of this frequently neglected long side and short side design. Note: The design in some track light heads is more sophisticated, and the track head may be damaged if not properly aligned and forcefully snapped to gather.
Tip 7. Reminders for recessed track lighting
Many customers prefer recessed track lighting where the track is embedded into the wood ceiling. This requires coordination with a carpenter for the installation, and the cost is also correspondingly a lot more expensive than that of surface mounted track lights. However, the space will look more visually minimal and unique. Be sure to pay attention to the following two points when constructing the track grooves. First, reserve a margin in the width of the groove; and second, keep the depth of the groove shallower.
First, reserve a margin in the width of the groove: The reason is to avoid deformation of the track when pushing it into the groove, which will otherwise prevent the track lights from fitting into the track or causing the lights to be stuck in the tracks. Why is this so? Although the width of the track groove may be initially measured according to the track width, many factors such as paint, dust, and the different coefficient of thermal expansion of wood and track could result in the width of the track groove being different than its original width. Moreover, the groove is manually constructed rather than mechanically produced with CNC, hence resulting in engineering tolerance. Therefore, the best way to circumvent the above possible variables is to reserve a width margin. From a distance, the gap will not be very visible.
Second, keep the depth of the groove shallow: The depth of the groove should not be too deep. The recommendation is to allow the track to protrude slightly from the ceiling after installation instead of being flushed with the ceiling or embedded into the ceiling. The reason is to avoid scratching the ceiling paint when the track is being installed. Some track light installation methods require turning the light fixtures, and if the track is deeper into the ceiling, the ceiling paint will be damaged from the installation of the light fixtures. Although some lights are snap-type fixtures that do not require turning, if the track are embedded into the ceiling, the conductive sheet of the track head would not be parallel to the conductor wire of the track, and forcefully installing the lights will deform the light fixture chip. Hence, the best way to circumvent the above possible variables is to have a shallower groove. From a distance, the slight protrusion will not be very visible.
Tip 8. Effects of track lights on space aesthetics
Since track lights are exposed on the ceiling, it is impossible to achieve a minimal visual effect on the ceiling compared with recessed lights. That's why, in addition to keeping the things above in mind, we recommend taking into account the aesthetics of the track light fixture as an important factor when purchasing track lights.
The appearance and color of the track lights should match the style of your interior space to avoid obtrusive light fixtures affecting the visual perception of the space originally planned. You might browse through Pinterest and see many beautiful track lights, and wish to have such photogenic track lights in your own home. Well, we are confident that our Lightinology track lights, which offer both aesthetic and optical quality, are the perfect choice for you.