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Install Track Lighting

Track lighting can provide ambient, accent or task lighting. Achieve the mood you want by simply pointing the light where you want it.

Track light lighting paintings on a wall.

Tools & Materials

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Planning Your Track Lighting

There are essentially two basic types of track lighting: plug-in and hardwired.

A plug-in track light requires no electrical wiring, but must be located near an outlet.

Hardwired track lights require electrical connections be made at a junction box (an electrical box in the ceiling or wall) during installation. If no junction box is available along the proposed path of the lighting track, you will need to install one or have it installed by a qualified electrician. This article assumes that a junction box is already available.

Decide Track Location

Identify the area or object in the room you wish to light—remember to factor in the location of the junction box. One way to determine track placement is to install the track approximately 18 inches to 24 inches from the wall you want to light. Mark along the ceiling to indicate the placement of the track. You can ensure that the track runs parallel to the wall by measuring out from each end of the proposed track placement. The two measurements should be equal.

Caution

Do not place track within 6 inches of curtains or other flammable materials.

Install Track Lighting

When working with electricity always:

  • Turn OFF electricity at the main fuse box (or the circuit breaker box) that controls the power to the fixture or the room you’re working on.
  • Test the wires to ensure the power is OFF.
  • Place the wall switch in the OFF position.
  • All electrical connections must be in agreement with local codes. Check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.
  • If in doubt, consult a qualified electrician.
  • Do not use bulbs with wattage greater than specified for this fixture.

Electrical Connections

Step 1

Before you disconnect any wires, make a sketch or take a picture with your phone of how the fixture is wired. Index the sketch by wire color or mark the wires themselves with masking tape and a pencil so you know how to put them back.

Step 2

Remove the existing light fixture from the junction box you plan to use. Your new lighting track will be wired the same as the previous fixture.

Step 3

Depending on the track lighting system, electrical connections to the track may be made in one of two ways: join the wires with plastic connectors or screw the wires directly to terminals located on the track connector.

For screw terminal connections with multiple wires, it will be necessary to attach pigtails to the track terminals, and then attach the wires to the pigtails with wire connectors. Install the connector by twisting it onto the wires.

Step 4

If the new fixture includes a ground wire (bare or green insulated wire), it should be connected to any other ground wires that may already be in place and to grounding screws in metal electrical boxes when metal boxes are used to support the fixture.

Install Track

Step 1

Tuck any circuit and fixture wires into the junction box, and install the mounting plate firmly on the box.

Step 2

Following the manufacturer's instructions, snap the track into place on the junction box and align the track with your positioning marks. Once in position, tighten the track locking screws on the mounting plate.

Step 3

Secure the track along its length with either toggle bolts or screws. Toggle bolts must be used in areas where access to the ceiling joists is not possible. Screws installed into drywall or plaster will not hold.

Step 4

Attach any angle, T-connectors or straight fittings along with additional track sections to achieve the track layout you desire. Also insert any end covers to the completed track.

Good to Know

Before purchasing your track lighting system, make sure the manufacturer offers all the fittings you are going to need for your installation, and for any modifications you may be considering for the future.

Step 5

Insert the track light heads into the track and twist them to secure.

Good to Know

Mix mini pendant lights in with the track head lights for a customized look.

Step 6

Screw in light bulbs. Install only bulbs recommended by the manufacturer, and follow all of the manufacturer's safety guidelines.

Step 7

Turn the power back on and test the lights. If they fail to work, turn the power off again and test once more. Double check your work for incomplete connections.