Do you need to illuminate something? A track lighting installation may be what you need

Maybe you have a case of knick-knacks, or your favorite reading chair is too far from an electrical outlet to have a lamp next to it without running an extension cord across the room. Track lighting will allow you to elegantly display those collectibles or trophies in the colors you choose to enhance them. Or maybe that favorite chair sits in the middle of the room where the only way to power it up is with a dangerous extension cord that everyone trips over. This easy do-it-yourself track lighting installation will place your light exactly where you want it in less than an afternoon.

Decide where you want to put the lighting track?

When deciding where to place your track lighting, you need to consider how you are going to get power. The easiest way is to replace an existing accessory that you don’t need. This can be on the ceiling or on a wall. If you don’t have an existing light you can replace, don’t worry. You still have two options. The easiest option is to mount the track lighting near an existing wall outlet and plug it in. If the outlet is controlled by a wall switch so much the better, however you can always use a power cord with a built in switch. There may be rare cases where you cannot install track lighting near an existing power source. If this is the case, you will need to install your own, which will be described at the end. Once you have decided where the lighting track will go, hold it in place and using a pencil, mark the mounting holes.

Mounting of the track lighting unit

Install wall/ceiling anchors per package instructions. I prefer Molly bolts or EZ Anchor Toggle bolts as they provide the most strength, except they screw right into the studs and are the easiest to install. You don’t even need to drill; just hit them through the drywall with a hammer at the locations you previously marked. The Molly bolt will require you to insert the supplied bolt and tighten it as far as it will go, collapsing the wings of the bolt on the far side of the drywall. With EZ Anchor Bolts, you will need to turn the anchor one full turn with a Phillips screwdriver to anchor it. If you’re using existing power, drill a small hole in a blank plastic cover and insert a rubber grommet to protect the wires. If you are installing your own light switch, drill a small hole in the drywall and push the power leads through the hole. With at least three or four anchors installed, hold the track lighting in place and install the bolts starting in the middle and working out. Unless you’re connecting a power cord to a wall outlet, don’t fully tighten the track to the ceiling yet.

Track connection to power

For those installations where you will be using a power cord to a wall outlet, I prefer a 3/8 to ½-inch staple with a color-matched piece of plastic to protect the power cord. You could also use a product called WireMold. This protects and hides the cord. For those installations where you will be using an existing power source, such as a pulled light fixture, route the power wires from the track lighting to the junction box through the grommet in the cover and connect the wires from white to white, from green to green. and black to black using wire nuts. Holding the stripped ends of the two (or three) wires together, place the wire nut over the wires and turn clockwise until the wires begin to twist. Repeat this for all three wires. Some tracks will not be equipped with ground wires, so you will only have two wires to connect to. Once the connections are made, close the box using the blank plastic cover and tighten the anchor bolts enough to prevent the track from moving.

Connection to an existing light switch.

Decide which light and switch you want to control the track lighting and carefully remove it, exposing the wires behind the light. Most homes have electrical wiring running through the mezzanine of the roof, so you’ll need to find the access door to the roof and climb up. Have a helper feel to the ceiling in the room where the new track lighting is being installed to help you locate it. Locate a light that is controlled by a switch using a tool called a tick tracker, have your helper turn the light on and off to help you verify that you have the correct light. Turn off the switch that supplies power. Insert the track wires into a Handi-Box from the back. Then, insert one end of a 14/2 Romex wire into the box and attach the box to a stud or joist. Connect the cables as described above and close the box with a blind cover. Route the wire to the junction box identified above and push it into the box with the other wires. Exit the roof and connect the wires to switched power as described. Reattach the fixture to the wall or ceiling, making sure all mounting bolts are tight.

The last step is to install the light fixtures where you want them and orient them according to the instructions provided with the light kit. Now you are ready to enjoy light where you want it, when you want it.

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