How to use track lighting kits
How to use track lighting kits as a cost saving package that can be incorporated into a larger lighting system.
Photo Credit: malcolm romain
By Tara Gilbert
Track lighting kits provide lighting flexibility in a cost saving package. Usually cheaper than buying separate parts of a track lighting system, kits are a good way to begin a lighting project. Before you purchase such a kit, you will want to determine your lighting needs and how a track lighting kit will be a part of the solution.
Determine Lighting Needs
Begin by determining the lighting needs of the room you are working on. Track lighting is used to provide accent, task or wall lighting. Since track lighting provides focused light, general light is better added by a large ceiling fixture.
Look around your room and decide the number of spots you want the light to shine on. Track lighting kits usually come in 4 foot sections with three heads, but you can add sections and heads to these kits. However, do not plan on track lighting meeting all your lighting needs. It should be used with other types of lighting, like table lamps or under cabinet light fixtures.
Create An Installation Plan
Once you know how many heads you will need on your track lighting, you can create an installation plan for the track. If you are using the lights in a small room, install the track in the center of the room and wire it into the ceiling fixture already in place. Consider using a wavy track if you are planning on using more than three heads. A wavy track will give you enough room to add heads without looking crowded.
If you are planning on installing track lighting in a larger room, you can install the track along the border of the ceiling. With this plan you can either run a cord to an outlet or hardwire the fixture. Track lighting kits usually include a straight section of track, but you can buy connector and extension pieces that come in a variety of shapes. Depending on the manufacturer, you can pick from T-section, right angles or curved connectors.
With your plan in hand, begin shopping for a track lighting kit that will meet your needs. Plan on purchasing kits for the basic layout of your track lighting. For example, if you are only installing three heads in a small room, then buy one kit, which will provide you with three heads and a 4 foot section of track.
Also, purchase several kits if you are planning on bordering a large room with track lighting. The sections can be connected to provide one continuous track. However, you will want to plan on purchasing connector pieces for corners or turns in the track.
Before you purchase your lights, make sure that additional tracks, connectors and heads can be purchased to expand the lighting kit. One of the bonuses of track lighting is its flexibility to change as your lighting needs change with time.
Once your track lighting is installed, you can tweak the lighting heads to provide optimal light. Track lighting provides directional lighting that can be adjusted with a slight repositioning of the lighting head. The light beam can centered on an object to spotlight it, or you can direct the light to the base of the object to give it a general glow.
The types of bulbs also affect the quality of light. Halogen bulbs provide the best lighting to show the true colors around a room. They are also less damaging to artwork or collectibles than other types of lighting. Incandescent bulbs are also frequently used to give a soft glow to an area. Fluorescent bulbs are best reserved for task lighting when you want a bright area to work in.
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