Buyer's Guide to Contemporary Track Lighting
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Whether you’re lighting a living room, jewelry display or recording studio mixing board, contemporary track lighting is the professional way to highlight specific objects or tasks. If you’ve never put a track lighting kit together, here is what you need to know. Basic Terminology of Contemporary Track Lighting Since the components of track lighting are sold separately ( unless you buy a kit ), matching a particular track head to its correct track can get confusing for an online buyer. Most OEMs will follow the standard track size model set by Juno Lighting and Lightolier But just to be safe, always match brand-to-brand. Finding the Right Track Heads As you search for different track heads , think application before style. Once you know the fixture's purpose, choose from a variety of designs including art glass , traditional , transitional and contemporary track lighting styles . Flood Lighting - Look for PAR-style or flared lighting heads that project a broad lighting cone perfect for illuminating large posters or paintings. Spot Lighting - Look for MR16, Mini GU10 and other narrow beam lamp heads, which are great for illuminating display items or desktops. Wall Wash - Look for models with a side shield that projects illumination to one side. Wall washers are perfect for accenting textured walls. Finding the Right Track Size Once you’ve found the brand and style of track head you like, read the product description and determine the family it falls under. Whether the track is 3/8", 7/8" or 1-3/8" wide, it will likely fit any type of head from that family. So, all you really have to determine is a standard track length that can be connected to cover the area you want. Standard straight tracks come in 2', 4', 6' and 8' lengths. You'll want to make sure there is a junction box or electrical outlet at the terminus of the track (or both ends for two-circuit tracks). Low Voltage and Line Voltage - What's the Difference In essence, your source of electricity will determine if your system is: Line Voltage – This type of track includes a 3-prong electrical cord and takes the raw 120V current coming from your house circuit. Line voltage track lighting works just like a lamp or vacuum cleaner that you plug into the wall. • PROS: No need for an electrician. • CONS: More energy consumption and a yellow (halogen) or blue (LED) tinted light. Low Voltage – This type is for 12V-rated track heads that includes little transformers, and is hard-wired to a 120V j-box. • PROS: Lower energy consumption and a much whiter light. • CONS: Per NEC (National Electrical Code) rules, only a licensed electrician is allowed to connect power via an electrical junction box. Let us hear some of your contemporary track lighting solutions. What type of application are you building a track system for? How did the location determine the track head designs and track type you chose?