How To Install Track Lighting

 How To Install Track LightingTrack lighting has gone in and out of fashion and is currently in use again in a very different way than those 1980s era track lights you may remember. Tracks are not clunky anymore and come in a variety of sizes and styles.

Putting in tracks is easy and is a common DIY home renovation. Whether it is a new space, or a remodel or redecoration, you can still do it yourself. They are very nice for accenting objects and are nice in contemporary homes. There is a lot of flexibility in sizing, placement and fixture styles, as well. The tracks can be pointed at artwork, countertops, walls or features in the room and can be moved around easily. White fixture heads are a good choice to blend in with the ceiling or you can use black or silver heads to make a more bold statement, if that is your particular style.

Tracks are handy in rooms that don’t have enough light, but do have an electrical box in the ceiling. You can put a track into an older room in your home so that better lighting is there without new electrical work.


  • doing a U shaped configuration such as over a kitchen island or to point lights at countertops on two sides of a kitchen.
  • running a straight track down a hallway and aim lights at art on either wall. You want to put track twenty to forty inches out from the walls in the room.
  • highlighting a large collection of artwork on a wall since the heads can be adjusted to point at specific areas of the display.
  • adding a track to a closet so that you can point the heads at clothes or shelves.

In the case of higher ceilings, you can drop track units from a central electrical box location. Make sure the track heads won’t interfere with opening doors or other items in the room. You can get them in mini, small or large and you can get lengths pre-manufactured in four or eight foot sections. They are also easily connected using connectors in an L shape or T shape.

It is important to buy all of your parts from one manufacturer to ensure your components are interchangeable.

The types of bulbs vary and you may want to choose the bulbs you want before you choose the heads and track. PAR lamps or line voltage halogen lamps are good for most applications. Another option is low voltage halogen and this is best for accent lighting. Transformers are needed on each fixture head or installed into the ceiling.

Track lighting is not good in rooms with low ceilings since the heads will dangle from the ceiling. Traditional or formal rooms may not look good with track lighting because it is a more contemporary style.

For installation, first choose where you are going to install. In the case of an existing light fixture, just use the wiring. First use a stud sensor to place the ceiling joists above the installation location. Then drill holes in the joists and put the track on the framing using wood screws. If you can’t screw into the joists then use toggle bolts.

If you are not experienced in electrical work, then consider only completing the track installation and have a professional electrician come in and wire the lights for you.

Insert the individual lights on the track so that the three prongs are fully lined up with the electrical wiring inside the track. Most of the time, the fixtures will snap right into place.

The track system you purchased may very well come with instructions. If they do, look at the parts that come with your system. Once your old fixture is removed, turn off the power and disconnect the wires from the connector. Secure the track to the ceiling. Plug the wire-in connector into the end of the track, then hold it in position on the ceiling and mark the ceiling with mounting holes so you know the positions. Drill holes and fasten the track in with toggle bolts and wait until they snap open inside the ceiling. If you hit a stud with one or more of your mounting holes, use 1 1/2-inch flat-head wood screws to anchor the track at that point. Then you can put the connector cover on and install the heads. You snap the cover in place on top of the wire-in connector and on the track end. Put each lighting head on the track and align the contact blades so they are parallel to the track. Now you can turn the power on.

Bob Jenkins AuthorWritten By:

Budget My Build
P.O. Box 72987
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Office: (602) 579-9660

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