Track lighting is the most versatile and interesting way to light any room. It provides for changing moods and usages at different times of the day. An average track lighting strip consists of the basic tracking plus multiple lamps, all with the ability to focus on different areas. Consider your existing lighting design. If it does not fulfill the room’s needs, and adding several lamps or wall sconces will result in a cluttered feel, unique track lighting solutions may be a clean and efficient design idea to really change the atmosphere, in the most economical manner.
What is Track Lighting?
Track lighting is an idea adopted from photography studio lighting, where several different levels and kinds of lights are used to illuminate different areas on a photographer’s subject. Names of the bulbs, such as “Spots” and Floods” reflect the system’s history. Like lights in a sound stage, this system offers the choice to move light units up and down the tack as needed. It became popular with studio and loft style apartments, where large areas needed lighting, because it offered more choices than the regular central fittings and lamps combinations, plus the first generation of lofts typically housed artists how wished to illuminate their works, which were often housed in the same area in which they lived.
Choosing a System
The original tracks for lighting came in three basic varieties, Lightolier brand, Halo and Juno brands. These are named after the companies that produced the systems and known as L, H and J systems, respectively. Many more systems are now available in DIY stores and buy online shopping methods. When choosing any particular style of system, it is important to know you will be limited their range of track lighting accessories from now one, so it is worth choosing one with sufficient variety and strong built to avoid accessory limitations and problems with the instillation.
How Many Lights can I Add?
Wattage available limits the number of lights any one track can support. These track lights typically use a lot of electricity if they consist of many very bright bulbs, so a quick check of what any particular room will support tells you the overall amount available. The general decorating rule of “keeping it simple” will avoid over illumination in small rooms and spaces, but larger ones can accommodate many different lamps pointing in different directions. It is important to keep in mind the direction of lights may be changed on track lightning systems installed within reach, that is, not those high up in rooms with high ceilings.
Types of Tracks for Lighting
Imagination is the only limitation on tracks for the lighting units. Round, square, curved or star shaped tracks are only some of the options currently available. Unless decorating a very large room, with areas such as alcoves, one tack is usually enough, per room. Choosing a longer tack than you may think is originally needed gives decorators the choice to adjust lighting at a later date, if more features are added to the area, or usage changes.
Fitting Track Lighting Sections Together
Tracks sections are bought separately, at lighting shops or large box stores. They may also be ordered from online vendors. The shapes depending on the designs and fit together rather like Lego blocks, usually with a type of snap connector. The whole of the tack will have electricity running along its length, so it is vital to close any connections safely and carefully. If this is not an area of expertise, its advised to seek the help of a professional electrician, since there are dangers involved in installing any kind of fittings that use electricity.
Choosing Your Power Supply and Lamps
The decision to use either a 120V or 12V track will depend on your power supply and the room’s use. The lower voltage saves on electricity bills but may be too little illumination for tasks performed in the area. The more yellow toned lighting offered by 120V systems can be modified with the use of colored filters placed over bulbs. Lamps will usually need to be from one system, 12V or 210V, or the other. Mixed voltages can be used, but are unusual in home décor.
Types of Bulbs for Lighting Tracks
The two main types of bulbs, spot and flood, each serve a different function. A spot bulb is generally used to highlight an object, where a flood bulb is more likely to be targeted at an area. There are no hard and fast rules, so it is really the individual decorator’s taste which dictates how bright and where the light will fall. Before finishing an installation, especially ones high up in the ceiling, make sure to test the effects and carry out any adjustments. Adding colored filters in front of the bulbs produced effects such as a more tightly directed beam or subtle color variations, great tools for a home decorator.
Advantages of Track Lighting
Track lighting combinations offer a cheaper and more versatile solution to lighting issues. Desks areas may have more light, by fitting bulbs with a higher wattage, while cozy chairs and sofas can receive kinder, softer lighting, all on the same fitting.
To give a less “vault-like” feeling to any room with very high ceilings, try installing a suspended track lighting, which hangs on thin metal bars, to give an illusion the room is less “tall.”
Different degrees and colors of light can be used in separate areas, all on the same tack. An example of this would be using a strong spot bulb for a featured décor item, such as a large wall mounted painting, a flood bulb of medium intensity in the seating area, if reading, rather than TV, video or other entertainments are the purpose in that area, and a soft rose or pink filter on a pearly toned bulb in any seating areas where less illumination and a more intimate atmosphere is required.
Expanding your Track Lighting use.
After experiencing the versatility in lighting potions track lighting systems offer, experiment with other areas of the house, the stairs, for example, where the difficult turns can be safely lit.