A definitive guide to track lighting

Track lighting is hugely popular, offering a flexible way to highlight featured objects in residential and commercial settings.

In this blog, we’re going to delve into its origins, workings and benefits to give you a definitive guide to track lighting.

When was track lighting first used?

Track lighting systems have been around for some time. In fact, track lighting dates back to the early 1960s, when a company called Lightolier, a division of Signify, previously known as Philips Lighting, designed and produced the first track.

A decade later, track lighting was redesigned and updated, being used through the 1970s, by incorporating some key improvements on the initial version.

By the 1980s, track lighting had become the lighting system of choice to provide accent lighting within interior design applications. It was emerging as highly popular within the retail sector at that time.

More recently, with the development of LED spotlights, track lighting is enjoying another resurgence as an optimum solution within the specification arena.

How is track lighting most commonly used?

Track lighting is extremely popular in many types of residential, commercial and retail applications.

In the retail sector, track lighting is a common way to showcase the range of items on sale, from small, delicate pieces like jewellery, right up to large-scale products like cars and motorbikes.

What are the benefits of track lighting?

Now, let’s explore the many benefits of track lighting.

Track lighting is flexible

One significant benefit of installing track lighting is its flexibility. It offers a highly flexible solution, as once the track is correctly installed and positioned, you can add or remove luminaires as required. Plus, you can also position, direct and orientate spotlights where required, allowing for a bespoke solution for each application.

Track mounted lighting fittings can be, very easily, adjusted or remodelled to suit any changes within the environment or changes in emphasis within the space. They can be moved, repositioned and orientated to meet any new requirements. What’s more, the number of fittings can be adjusted, either by increasing or decreasing the number, resulting in a different level of illuminance or a re-focus of the light within the space.

Track lighting is cost-effective

The installation of track lighting, either surface mounted, suspended or recessed, offers a cost-effective lighting solution. Once installed, users can make their own changes to the track lighting system, which reduces the need for costly electrical works and/or replacement equipment.

Track lighting is adaptable

Track lighting offers the adaptability to meet the customer’s specific needs at any time without having to call an electrical contractor to undertake any installation work.

LED track fittings are long-lasting and energy-saving

The added benefit of LED spotlights is that they are long-lasting and reduce your energy usage, creating an optimum and environmentally friendly energy-efficient solution for many years to come. Crucially, LED track lighting also enables you to include emergency fittings as part of an emergency lighting solution allowing people to leave the building safely.

What are the different types of track lighting?

There are generally two options of track-based lighting systems, each based upon supply voltage.

Option one is a mains voltage (230Volt) track system with the supply being installed directly into the Live End of the track.

Option two is a low voltage track system that has a reduced voltage supply to the track, for instance at 24 Volts, where the electrical supply from the mains is installed to a 24-Volt Constant Voltage Non-Dimmable LED Driver positioned remotely before connection to the track Live End.

Let’s look a little more closely into each of these track systems.

The Low voltage track lighting - How does this system work?

The low voltage track system is ideal for projects where it is easy to position and install the LED driver within proximity of the track live end whilst also hiding it from view. If that is not possible for the application, a mains track offers an alternative solution.

What’s the benefit of a low voltage track lighting system?

A significant advantage of low voltage track systems is that the fittings are, in the main, much smaller and more compact. This makes it an ideal solution where space (such as ceiling height) is at a premium. It also lends itself to applications where fittings are adjacent to the object being illuminated, such as in many retail applications.

The Mains voltage track system - Are there different options?

There are two main types of mains voltage track systems.

The Single-circuit track, sometimes referred to as ‘single-phase track’, uses two conductors: ‘live’ and ‘neutral’. This is usually the most cost-effective solution for track lighting and is often used in residential applications where all fittings placed upon the track are operated together on a single circuit.

Alternatively, there’s a Three-circuit track, sometimes referred to as ‘three-phase track’ and this uses four conductors: ‘live 1’, ‘live 2’, ‘live 3’ and ‘neutral’.

In each case, the track casing is used as the earth.