How Do You Install Track Lighting?
Track lighting systems are a practical option for illuminating a large space such as a garage or basement. They're also visually appealing, and if you choose LEDs or other energy-efficient bulbs, these fixtures can have low running costs.
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Track lighting installation can be slightly intimidating if you're not an experienced electrician. But — if the existing wiring is up to it — it’s a doable DIY job. Just follow these step-by-step instructions.
Installing Track Lighting
If you want to install or replace track lighting, the first thing to consider is the existing wiring. Here are the steps to follow:
- Measure the area where the light will go so you can purchase the correct size of light.
- Purchase a track light and connectors for each end of the track.
- Cut the track to size, if necessary. (See more in-depth instructions below.)
- Insert a connector into each end of the track.
- Turn off the power to the light circuit at the breaker box.
- Remove the existing light fixture to expose the circuit.
- Wire the floating feed and the power end adapter to the electrical box, which is a small, white box that fits into the lighting track.
- Mark the spots where the mounting holes will go on the ceiling.
- Drill mounting holes where you will attach the box to the ceiling. Then, use toggle bolts and screws to secure the ceiling-mounted track.
- Insert the floating feed into the track.
- Put the light fixtures into the track.
- Turn on the power to the circuit.
- Test the lights by turning on the light switch.
Work slowly and methodically. Pay particular attention to Step 5; do not attempt to work with the lighting system's wiring until you're certain that the power to the circuit is off at the circuit breaker.
How to Change Track Lighting Bulbs
Changing a bulb in suspended track lighting can be slightly more involved than changing a simple pendant light bulb. However, there are some precautions you should follow.
Before you go to replace a track light, make sure the light is off. Turn the power off, and if necessary, wait for 5 to 10 minutes for the light to cool. It should be safe to touch LEDs immediately, but CFL and halogen bulbs become hot to the touch very quickly when in use.
With some types of suspended track lighting, you'll need to remove the track so that you can detach the cover to get at the bulb. Other mounted tracks make it easy to access the bulb while the track is ceiling mounted.
Once you have access to the existing bulb, unscrew or unclip it, then insert the replacement bulb. Make sure that any replacement bulb you choose is the correct wattage because installing the wrong type of bulb could cause damage. If you're working with outdoor lighting, make sure the bulb is suitable for this purpose.
Reinsert the light into the track, turning it 90 degrees so that it's securely in place. After doing this, test the lights by turning them back on.
If the new light works, dispose of the old light safely. In most cases, it's safe to throw LEDs in the trash, but CFL lights should be disposed of at a proper recycling center.
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Do You Need a Junction Box for Track Lighting?
If you're installing plug-in track lighting, there's no need for a connection to be made at a junction box, but the light must be near a socket. For hardwired track lighting, however, you will need to connect the light to a junction box. If there isn't an accessible junction box, contact a qualified electrician to have them install one.
Can You Cut Track Lighting Strips?
In most cases, it is possible to trim a track lighting strip to size. However, you'll need to cut back the copper conductors as well. Make sure you're familiar with how to do this safely before starting work.