How do I Install Track Lights?

Eric Tallberg

Track lights are an effective, versatile, and easy-to-install system to provide direct lighting to a particular area or on a specific object. Track lights, sometimes called ceiling lighting, are noted for the ease of adding or removing lamp, or bulb fixtures, as desired. As well the fixtures are adjustable to direct the fixtures exactly where needed.

A tape measure is needed to install track lights.
A tape measure is needed to install track lights.

Installing track lights can be done by the average homeowner. Tools needed include a tape measure, drill, wire cutters/strippers, wire nuts, electrical tape, proper gauge electric wiring, and, of course, the track light kit. Before starting, make sure the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the track light kit are also handy.

Wire cutters and strippers are among the tools needed to install track lights.
Wire cutters and strippers are among the tools needed to install track lights.

The first step when installing track lights is to determine where on the ceiling they are to be positioned. Track lights may be arranged in several configurations, from a straight piece, to cross-shaped, L-shaped, etc. Once the location and configuration for the track are determined, mark the ceiling at each end of the track.

Though some track lights are equipped with a power cord that is simply plugged into an outlet, in most cases they are “hard wired” to a junction box, preferably in line with the track. Before installing the wiring, make sure the power is turned off to the junction box. Remove the box cover plate, and attach the track-light wiring to either the box wiring, or to connectors in the box. If attaching to wiring in the box, the neutral white wires must be connected to each other, as do the black “hot” wires, and the ground wires. The ground wires may be sheathed in green, or they may be bare copper wires.

Once wired, the electrical adapter is simply mounted to the track with a twist. The adaptor, or connector may be mounted anywhere along the length of the track, The electrical adaptor, in conjunction with a polarity line running the length of the track, provides power to the bulb fixtures. This allows fixtures to be moved laterally along the track.

The track is now ready to be mounted along the ceiling marks. Once positioned, the track is attached using toggle bolts inserted through the holes in the track, and into pre-drilled holes in the ceiling. If solid wood ceiling joists are in line with the track, then regular wood screws can be used to attach the track.

Once the track is firmly attached to the ceiling, affix the bulb fixtures to the track, again with a simple twist. Turn on the power to the junction box. When the track lights are illuminated, they may be adjusted and directed as necessary.

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Track lights are painstakingly designed and carefully crafted.

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