DIY Network

How to Install Suspended-Rail Halogen Track-Lights

This low-cost lighting system will give a home office a smart facelift.

More in Electrical

install a suspended rail halogen track light
  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Remove the Old Fixture

Installation is easier when you replace an existing ceiling fixture (Image 1), which already has the needed electrical wiring installed. For new installations, route 12-gauge NM cable to the new fixture location. Different types of suspended-rail track-light systems are available. This system’s rails are not attached to the ceiling but are suspended by posts. At the main electrical panel, shut off the power to the circuit you are working on. Use a circuit tester to be sure that the power is off to all wires in the ceiling fixture junction box (Image 2).

Step 2: Wire the Transformer

The new system's transformer has three wires (Image 1): a black or "hot" power wire; a white or "neutral" return wire; and a green (or bare copper) ground wire. Connect the transformer wires to the electrical box wires. Connect black to black and white to white, and secure each connection with a wire nut. Use a barrel clamp to attach the transformer’s ground wire to the ground wire connection in the junction box (Image 2).

Step 3: Install the Track Rails

Prepare the rail sections for installation. This system allows the pieces to be custom bent to suit the layout of the room and the desired lighting plan. A cylindrical wastebasket or any other handy “template” can be used to bend rounded curves into the rails (Image 1). Once the pieces are bent to the desired shapes, connect the pieces using the supplied rail-joiners. An Allan wrench was required to tighten the hex-head fasteners supplied with this system. With the rails connected, determine the locations along the rails where the ceiling posts that suspend the rails will be installed. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement, and mark the locations for your posts. Attach the posts to the ceiling (Image 2) (methods used for installing the posts may vary according to the type of ceiling where the system is being installed).

Step 4: Connect the Track Rails to the Transformer

Attach the rails to the transformer and ceiling posts according to the manufacturer's instructions. On this system, the rails slide onto the posts and are secured with cap-style fasteners. It is important to note that the tip on the stem of the incoming power line (Image 1) must be installed against the bottom of the rail. If the tip does not make contact, the lights will not function. Install the fixtures to the track by first removing the cap from each fixture, then slide the fixture onto the rail and replace the fixture cap (Image 2). Again, it is critical that the stem of the cap is flush with the rail and tightened down securely.

Step 5: Install the Halogen Bulbs and Test the System

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the bulbs. There are many types of halogen bulbs, and there may be specific wattage recommendations or requirements with your track system. This system required bulbs of 20 watts maximum. With the installation complete, restore the power to the lighting circuit and turn on the wall switch to test the lights. Leave the lights on for five minutes, then turn off the system and check the connections. If any connections are too hot to touch, the connection is loose and must be retightened. Halogen bulbs burn very hot, so make sure they are positioned away from curtains or other flammable materials.

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