When to use track lighting

24 July 2019 / News, Track Lighting

Author: Steve Dean


Versatile, stylish and convenient, track lighting is now a popular choice for residential, commercial, galleries, hospitality and of course retail interiors. But is it right for your project?

Here we’ll examine track lighting in detail, including the possibilities it opens-up for your design, alongside its advantages over conventional lighting. In a later post, we will examine compatibility between manufactures and our view on the future of track systems.

Which track type should you specify, low voltage or mains voltage, DALI or non DALI?

Low voltage track:

  • 48V low voltage track
  • Requires a driver at the end of each section of track.
  • General use varies from residential right through to boutique lighting in retail.
  • The fittings are the smallest on track as they do not require integral drivers.
  •  Most of these tracks run around 20 amps, but this can change dependent on which country they are being used in and the codes of practice adopted. As an example, if the track was being used in France, ENEC applies and the amp rating would be 25 amps. However, in America with UL approval, the same track can only have a 20-amp rating.
  • In the UK 48 Volt track has a 20 amp rating.
  • Can be suspended, recessed or surface mounted. Some can even be rolled for bespoke radius’s around corners or shaped into structures using joining pieces otherwise known as couplers
  • One limiting factor on low voltage tracks is the length you can run before you need another driver. The 48 Volt track is the most favoured as it will allow the furthest run and is the most flexible.
LV Euro DALI Track Version
LV Euro DALI Track Version
LV Stucchi track mounting options
LV Stucchi track mounting options

The Single Circuit track:

  • Runs at 230 volts and has two conductors (of which most run at a maximum load of 16 amps).
  • Low profile and discreet.
  • Can be utilised for most projects, particularly domestic, where a simple solution is required.
  • Some are round in section, but rectangle and “D” shapes also exist depending on the style you require.
  • Can be suspended, surface and recessed.
  • Predominantly the track fittings are a little bigger than the low voltage as they house their own driver if they are LED.
Mains Voltage single circuit track
Mains Voltage single circuit track

Mains Voltage Euro track, also with DALI control:

  • There are many companies who make their version of this track such as Global, Lytespan three from Concord, Stucchi, etc. This is often referred to as Euro Track.
  • Commonly used for Retail and commercial applications.
  • Available in surface suspended and recessed
  • Has the ability to have three switched circuits, all adopting the same neutral so 16amp rated.
  • Can take up to 3,680 watts of fittings (16 amp x 230 volt = 3680 watts), again depending on world location. In today’s world, this power capacity is ample for most LED fixtures.
  • Simple scenes can be switched on this track due to the number of conductors running down the track.
  • If utilising this track, make sure you use the same kit supplied by only one manufacturer as slight differences in the specification can cause connection problems.
  • Please note not all track adapters will be interchangeable. We will cover this in more detail in part 2.
Euro DALI Track
Euro DALI Track

Is track lighting the best choice for your project?

Track lighting is an ideal choice if you’re looking to:

  • Provide flexibility
  • Illuminate spaces with undulating ceilings or no ceiling suspended.
  • Create different lighting solutions from one system.
  • ( Pendants can even be hung from a track.)
  • ( Create lines of light recessed in the ceiling following the architecture of the space.)

There are practical benefits to track lighting, too. Track fittings power along its length, so it is especially useful when you need to reach across a room or where it is not possible to recess any lighting. It’s also extremely cost-effective as the power only needs to be provided at one end, resulting in a lot less car-casing than downlighters’ electrical points.

Considerations

The art is to then decide on the type of product to specify that will create the effect you are looking for.

You’ll need to consider factors such as:

  • The use of the space and its occupants.
  • The finishes on the walls, ceiling and floor (these will affect your lighting and how it interacts with its surroundings).
  • The type of ceiling you’re working with – solid or suspended.
  • How the track can be placed in the room, lighting the perimeter, offset and setting out.

Which spotlights to specify?

With the advent of LED lighting, there’s now a huge variety of fittings available for track lighting – opening up the possibilities for your interior design. These range from accent fittings through to ambient lighting and can be recessed into the track for a discreet look.

Track lighting used in Marks & Spencer store
Track lighting used in clothing store
Track lighting used in Berry Bros & Rudd store

Take your lighting design to the next level

Experienced lighting consultants such as the LAPD team can help you to make the right decisions.

Contact us on 01707 290010 or email [email protected] for expert track specification advice.

Steve Dean

Steve co-founded LAPD in 2000, following an already successful career with a leading lighting manufacturer and a string of prestigious projects to his name.

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