Need to Shine a Light on Something? A Track Lighting Installation May Be What You Need

Need to Shine a Light on Something? A Track Lighting Installation May Be What You Need


Maybe you’ve got a knick knack case, or your favorite reading chair is too far away from an outlet to have a lamp next to it without stringing an extension cord across the room. Track lights will allow you to showcase those collectibles or trophies elegantly in your choice of colors to enhance them. Or maybe that favorite chair sits in the middle of the room where the only way to get a light to it is with a dangerous extension cord that everyone trips over. This easy do it yourself track lighting installation will put light exactly where you want it in less than an afternoon.

Decide Where You Want To Put the Lighting Track?

When deciding where to put the lighting track, you need to consider how you’re going to get power to it. The easiest way is to replace an existing fixture that you don’t need. This can be either on the ceiling or on a wall. If you don’t have an existing light that you’re able to replace, don’t worry. You still have two options. The easiest option is to mount the lighting track near an existing wall outlet and plug into it. If the outlet is controlled by a wall switch, so much the better, however you can always use a power cord with a built in switch. There may be rare instances where you can’t install the lighting track near an existing source of power. If this is the case, you’ll need to install your own, which will be described last. Once you’ve decided where the lighting track will go, hold it in place and, using a pencil, mark the mounting holes.

Mounting the Track Lighting Unit

Install wall/ceiling anchors per package directions. I prefer either molly bolts or E-Z Anchor Toggle bolts, as they give the most strength except screwing directly into studs and they’re the easiest to install. You don’t even need to drill; just tap them through the drywall with a hammer at the locations you marked above. The molly bolt will then require you to insert the supplied bolt and tighten it as much as possible, collapsing the wings on the bolt on the far side of the drywall. With the E-Z Anchor bolts, you’ll need to turn the anchor one full turn with a Phillips screwdriver to anchor it. If you’re using existing power, drill a small hole in a blank plastic cover and insert a rubber grommet to protect the wires. If you’ll be installing your own light switch, drill a small hole in the drywall and push the power leads through the hole. With at least three or four anchors installed, hold the lighting track in place and install the bolts starting in the middle and working your way to the outside. Unless you’ll be running a power cord to a wall outlet, don’t completely tighten the track to the ceiling yet.

Connecting the Track to Power

For those installations in which you’ll use a power cord to a wall outlet, I prefer a 3/8 to ½ inch staple with a piece of matching colored plastic to protect the power cord. You could also use a product called WireMold. This protects and hides the cord. For those installations where you’ll be using an existing power source, such as a removed lamp fixture, pass the power leads for the lighting track into the junction box through the grommet in the cover and attach the wires white to white, green to green and black to black using wire nuts. Hold the stripped ends of the two (or three) wires together, place the wire nut over the wires and twist the nut clockwise until the wires begin to twist. Repeat this for all three wires. Some tracks won’t be equipped with ground leads, so will only have two wires to connect. Once the connections are made, close the box, using the blank plastic cover and tighten the anchor bolts sufficiently to keep the track from moving.

Connecting to an Existing Light Switch.

Decide which light and switch you want controlling the track lighting and carefully remove it, exposing the wires behind the light. Most houses have their electrical wiring running through the ceiling crawlspace, so you’ll need to find the access door to your ceiling and climb up. Have a helper tap on the ceiling in the room where the new track lighting installation is being performed to help you locate it. Locate a light that is switch-controlled using a tool called a tick tracer, having your helper turn the light on and off to help you verify you have the correct light. Turn off the switch supplying power. Insert the wires from the track into a Handi-Box from the back. Next, insert one end of a length of 14/2 Romex wire into the box and attach the box to a stud or beam. Connect the wires as described above and close the box using a blank cover. Route the wire to the junction box identified above and push the wire into the box with the other wires. Come out of the ceiling and connect the wires to the switched power as described. Reattach the light fixture to the wall or ceiling and make sure all the mounting bolts are tight.

The last step is to install the light fixtures where you want them and aim them per the instructions supplied with the lighting kit. You’re now ready to enjoy light where you want it, when you want it.



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