How to Install Track Lighting

How to Install Track Lighting

Lights on a track are a solution to many lighting problems. Here's directions about how to install a track system with a materials and tools list to get you started.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required

  • Drill and 5/8-inch spade bit
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Neon voltage tester
  • Toggle bolts
  • Screwdriver
  • Ladder

Materials Required

  • Track
  • Live end connector
  • Heads
  • Ceiling outlet adapter

Before You Begin

Take the time to read the instructions that came with the track system. Most manufacturers provide comprehensive directions and it's important to familiarize yourself with the different parts and components. Remove the parts from the packaging and study them to see how they relate to those directions. The lights, called heads, are often sold as part of a kit that includes a track with end caps, cover plate, receptacle and toggle bolt.

  • Step 1 : Turn off the power

    Turn off power source to fixture

    Turn off the power to the ceiling fixture and use a neon tester to make sure it is not live. You don't want to work on live wires. Find the circuit breaker or fuse for the fixture and cut the power.

    Remove the old fixture carefully, being caution not to drop the glass globe. When it's removed, disconnect the wires making sure that the wire ends do not touch each other.

  • Step 2 : Secure the wires

    Secure the wires

    Insert the live end of the wire into the track and tighten the setscrew to secure it. Next, attach the mounting bracket to the live end. Secure the wires: fasten the short black wire to the brass screw, the white wire to the silver screw and the green or bare wire to the green grounding screw.

  • Step 3 : Find the track's mounting holes

    Position the track and mark the mounting holes on the ceiling, then drill 5/8-inch holes for the toggle bolts used to secure it. Hold the track in position so that its holes line up with the holes in the ceiling.

  • Step 4 : Secure the track to the ceiling

    Secure the track to the ceiling

    Use toggle bolts in the mounting holes of the track and insert the wings of the bolts into the ceiling mounting holes. Tighten them loosely so they can be adjusted later.

  • Step 5 : Connect the wires and install the heads

    Connect the wires and install the heads

    Match up the colored wires in the ceiling with those in the fixture and then twist the wire connectors together. Fasten the mounting plate to the ceiling box with the screws. Then tighten down the toggle bolts.

    With the track firmly in place, snap or twist the track heads into it, according to the manufacturer's directions. Find the groove in the head that corresponds to a ridge on one side to ensure that the wires are hooked up correctly.

    Restore the power and adjust the track heads so they direct light where you want it. It helps to have someone on the ladder adjusting the heads while someone else give adjustment directions.