Lighting 101: Track Lighting Types | Wayfair (2023)

Get your home’s lighting on the right track.

Lighting 101: Track Lighting Types | Wayfair (1)

If you’re in the market for new ceiling light fixtures, consider track lighting. Track lighting is perfect for areas with specific tasks or for highlighting artwork or unique architectural elements in your home. We’re here to walk you through the different types of track lighting so that you can choose the best track lighting for your home.

Track Lighting Considerations
Track Lighting System Types
Track Lighting Head Types
Track Lighting Track Types
Track Lighting Voltage
Track Lighting Features

Lighting 101: Track Lighting Types | Wayfair (2)

Track lighting is a type of ceiling light that uses a track, or rail, to connect individual light fixtures. Track lighting lies close to the ceiling and out of the line of sight. The individual lights can be placed anywhere along the track and pointed in almost any direction to create a customizable look. This makes track lighting ideal for adding task lighting to a kitchen island or showing off your favorite artwork.

Track lighting fixtures allow you to position up to 10 individual lights along a track or rail, so you can customize your room’s lighting to your preferences. The positioning of the lights isn’t the only thing you can customize – there are several types of lighting tracks and head styles to choose from as well. Read on for an overview of all the types of track lighting.

Types of Track Lighting

Lighting 101: Track Lighting Types | Wayfair (3)

When choosing a track lighting system, there are four main track shapes to choose from. Key considerations, such as how tall your ceiling is or how you want to use the track lighting, will help you pick the right type of track lighting for your home.

Fixed Track: The lightbulb heads on fixed track lighting can’t be moved along the track, but they can still be angled to direct light where you want it. The light track or bar hangs from a ceiling standoff and is available straight or curved.

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Swing Arm Track: Swing arm track lighting fixtures are equipped with one or more fixed track lighting “arms” that swivel on a joint. Like fixed track lighting fixtures, the lights cannot be moved along the track, but with their swinging arms and angling capabilities, they have a full range of motion.

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Standard Track: Also called linear tracks, standard track lighting fixtures include a straight strip of track and a set of lights that can slide along the track as desired. They mount directly on the ceiling and are one of the easiest track lighting fixtures to install.

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Monorail Track: The signature feature of a monorail track lighting fixture is the flexibility of its track. Not only do its lightbulb heads slide along a track, but the track itself can also be curved and shaped to look however you want. Monorail tracks, like fixed and swing arm tracks, hang from a single ceiling mount.

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Tip!

To maximize the lighting capabilities of your track lighting fixture, make sure to space the lights at least 1’ apart.

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Track Lighting Head Types

If you’ve got the perfect track in mind and are looking to equip it with some lights, look no further.

Heads: Heads are the most common type of track lighting. Track lighting heads resemble spotlights and can be angled to highlight specific areas. Because of the way they focus light, track lighting heads are optimal for illuminating wall art or personal workstations. They are best for living room track lighting fixtures because they can be focused on seating arrangements, which creates an ambient conversation space. Track lighting heads come in a wide variety of materials, colors, and styles, so you’re sure to find a set that will match your track and your room design.

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Pendants: Elegant and stylish, pendant lights hang down from a cord to illuminate the area below them. Though pendant lights can’t be positioned like heads, their bulbs are typically surrounded by a glass or metal shade that can add a decorative element to your space. They are one of the best types of track lighting options for a kitchen island or kitchen table.

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Track Lighting Track Types

All track lighting is on one of three types of tracks: H, J, or L. Rather than the shape of the track, these types describe the way the tracks are wired. Each track type is named after its manufacturer: Halo, Juno, and Lightolier.

Though all three types have the same features, each type doesn't work with parts from other manufacturers, such as light bases that connect the lights to the track. For example, H tracks only work with other H-track parts and not with any J or L parts.

Because the track types aren't interchangeable, it's important to remember which type you chose in case you need to replace a part or repair the track lighting system. It can be tricky to tell which type is which, so we suggest looking at the number of wires the track has. H-style tracks have three wires while J and L tracks have two.

Shop Halo (H) Track Lighting

Shop Juno (J) Track Lighting

Shop Lightolier (L) Track Lighting

Track Lighting Voltage

Like most types of ceiling lights, track lighting needs to be wired into the electrical system of your home so that you can use a light switch to turn the lights on and off. Track lighting can operate using either line-voltage systems or low-voltage systems. Since the two types function similarly, consider the initial cost of installation compared to the long-term cost of operation as you’re making your decision.

Line-Voltage Systems: Line-voltage systems use the standard electrical wires to connect to the electrical current of your home, which provides 120 volts. These systems often have larger bulbs than low-voltage systems and don't require a transformer to be installed, which makes line-voltage systems easier and less expensive to install.

Low-Voltage Systems: Low-voltage systems feature a small transformer that lowers the required voltage to 12 or 24 volts. The lower voltage systems use smaller bulbs and less energy. These low-voltage systems allow you to use a wider variety of light fixtures and often last longer than line voltage systems. It's important to not mix voltage – don't pair a 12-volt fixture with a 24-volt system, and vice versa. Though low-voltage systems typically cost more to install, they tend to be more cost-effective over time.

Track Lighting Features

Low Voltage System: Low voltage systems include a small transformer that connects to the home electricity and the track lighting fixture and downgrades the voltage reaching the track lighting fixture from 120V to 12V. The lower voltage means that the lightbulbs can be smaller and more focused.

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Shop Transformers for Track Lighting

Dimmable: Dimmable track lighting fixtures allow the brightness to be adjusted to accommodate all ambiences.

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Two Circuit: Standard track lighting fixtures operate on a single circuit system, which means that every light is controlled by the same switch. Two-circuit systems can be set up so that some lights correspond to one switch and others correspond to a different switch, so you can control different sections of your track lights separately.

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LED-Integrated: LED-integrated track lighting contains LED lights built into the fixture, rather than using separate screw-in lightbulbs. The integrated LED lights last for a longer time and offer more control over the brightness than incandescent bulbs.

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LED-Compatible: This feature allows you to use LED bulbs in an existing track lighting fixture.

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Sloped-Ceiling Adaptable: These track lighting systems have anchor hardware designed to be compatible with sloped ceilings.

Shop Sloped Ceiling Adaptable Track Lighting

Tracks, Rails, & Accessories: For more customization options, you can buy all the parts of a track lighting fixture separately. By doing so, you can design the shape and functionality of your light fixture with little to no limitations. Tracks, rails, mounts, supports, track caps, and power connectors are all available in multiple colors and styles.

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Whether you’re looking to update the lighting in your kitchen, living room, or any other space, there are several types of track lighting to choose from. Check out all of our track lighting options to find the best style for your home.

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