Track Lighting

Track lighting was created in the early 1960s by Lightolier, an innovative and sophisticated lighting company. By 1968, millions of feet of track lighting had been installed in art galleries, museums and stores across America.

Track lighting is a light or group of lights that can be moved or repositioned anywhere along the length of an electrified track which is mounted on a wall or ceiling. Not to be confused with recessed lighting, which can be arranged in any pattern throughout a ceiling or floor, track lights can only be arranged and adjusted along the length of the track. Today, track lighting is still popular and it's more accessible than ever.

Track Lighting Components

Track lighting is made up of:

The dimmers are built into the wall and they are used to adjust the intensity of the light. Track heads are basically light fixtures. They are available in pendant and floodlight styles and they can be adjusted to cast light in any direction. Tracks are available in a wide variety of sizes, lengths and colors and most tracks are strong enough to hold a variety of track head weights. Tracks are also available in adhesive designs that will work well in corners or with unique or odd configurations.

Track Lighting Uses

Track lighting is used in commercial, residential and industrial environments. While track lighting is considered functional, most homeowners choose track lighting for its style and beauty. Track lighting is commonly used as an accent, not the primary lighting source for a space. It can be used for "wall washing," an effect where an entire wall is lit to highlight decorative wall coverings, paintings or murals. Track lights may also be used to highlight different areas or objects in a room such as plants or sitting areas.

Track Lighting Fixtures

There are two basic types of track fixtures:

  • Line voltage - the raw voltage found in junction boxes and standard outlets

  • Low voltage - uses 12-volt power; consumes less electricity and provides a brighter light than line voltage fixtures.

The three standard track lighting systems are Halo, Juno and Lightolier. Because these three manufacturers have the largest market share, most stores only carry accessories and fixtures that are compatible with the these three basic track standards. According to professionals, anything outside of these standards may be questionable.