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How to install a rail mounted lighting system

Last modified: 2021-09-27 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

The lighting in a home can completely transform the space, and its importance should not be overlooked. Track lighting is a wonderful option for homeowners who want versatility in their light fixture, as this type of light incorporates several bulbs that can be aimed to face various directions.

The foundation of track lighting comes down to the track itself. Attached to the ceiling or wall, the track holds individual lamps which illuminate with depth and sophistication. Track lighting comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and lengths so depending on your home décor, you can pick and choose which is right for you. Whatever the case, we’ll teach you to install track lighting in your home!

How to install rail-mounted lights


Once you have chosen the style of track lights you desire, it is important to make sure that your new lights do not exceed the circuit capacity of your home. Often, the use of incandescent lights creates the possibility of overloading the circuit. Check that the track is not overloaded, looking specifically for the maximum electrical capacity per circuit which could depend on the wiring in your home.

Also, as with any form of electrical wiring, it is important to check with local code requirements. This is especially important if you live in an apartment. Once, you have made all of the necessary arrangements, you can move forward with the installation process. 

Out with the old

The first step to installing new lighting is to shut off the electricity to the circuit, and most homeowners will do this by accessing the main electrical panel. Next, if there is a cover over the existing ceiling bulb, now is the time to remove it. The removal process will depend on the style of light, as some covers will have a screw that sits right in the center of the cover, while others are a bit more complicated and may have several screws located around the edges.

Following the removal of the cover, remove the bulb from the inside of the fixture. Next, unscrew screws holding the fixture base to the ceiling box, and be careful when disconnecting the old fixture. After disconnecting the old fixture, make sure that wires are still in decent shape to connect a new fixture. If wires need to be repaired, take the necessary steps to complete this job before moving on.

Pull wires through the ceiling box, and remove the electrical tape or wire nuts from the black, white and green wire, if the last of the three is present. The black wire is the hot wire, while the white wire is neutral and the green is the ground wire. Keep all wire nuts in a safe and contained place with the rest of the nuts and bolts you remove during the process. 

Begin track installation

luminaire_comment installer un système de luminaire sur rail_Soumission Rénovation

After the area has been prepped, and before installing the new track, touch up the ceiling with paint if necessary. Depending on where the hole sits in the existing electrical box, homeowners may need to get an adapter to modify the hole spacing to match the new bracket.

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Once homeowners have determined whether they need an adapter, move on to attach the mounting plate to the ceiling box with the screws you previously saved. Following this, using a hacksaw, cut the track before mounting it to the ceiling. Some experts suggest that you should cut the track 1/8 inch shorter in length than the size required.

For the next step, you may need a little bit of help from a friend or loved one, having them hold the track up in place while homeowners mark the location of the mounting holes from the track onto the ceiling. This will offer homeowners the exact location of each mounting bolt.

Mount Track

Now it’s time for the fun to begin! Homeowners will start mounting the track by installing toggle bolts into the holes which were previously marked. Most manufacturers should supply these toggles, but if they haven’t been included in your kit, check the instructions for the system's weight and purchase some accordingly. These will not be difficult to install in your ceiling, and will simply involve drilling holes or screwing pilot holes in place.

The track can also be installed directly into solid wood, if this is a possibility for your home, then you can skip the toggle installation step altogether. Check manufacturer's instructions for securing the track to the ceiling. This step will likely involve screwing through the mounting hole on the track, then reinstalling the toggle directly on the screw. The toggle works by unfolding inside the ceiling to hold the track securely in place. Make sure the screws are tight and the track has been fully pulled into the ceiling. 

Install Light Fixtures For Your Rail Mounted Lights

ampoule_comment installer un système de luminaire sur rail_Soumission Rénovation

Before installing lamp holders or the power supply, it is important to note that track lighting incorporates a polarity line that runs along its length, and each individual holder also has a referencing polarity line. For this reason, each fixture and transformer should be installed so that its polarity line aligns with the line in the track. If necessary, pull wires through to the end of the track and attach them to their complementary screw terminals.

Once the wiring is complete, homeowners can go ahead and insert the track's cover plate, and this will hide the wiring. Finally, follow the individual instructions to mount and install light fixtures. Many track lights will slide into place and slip into the center of the track. The fixture will need to connect to the internal wiring, so make sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Lastly, do not install too many lights, as overloading the circuit or breakers can easily destroy all the existing bulbs. Once homeowners can confirm that everything is in its rightful place, switch that breaker back on!

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