Maybe you have a case of trinkets, or your favorite reading chair is too far from an outlet to have a lamp next to it without running an extension cord across the room. Track lights 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 turn it on 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 lighting track, you need to consider how it’s 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 that you can replace, don’t worry. You still have two options. The easiest option is to mount the track light near an existing wall outlet and plug it in. If the outlet is controlled by a wall switch, all the better, however you can always use a power cord with a built in switch. There may be rare cases where you cannot install the lighting track 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’ve 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 directions. I prefer Molly bolts or EZ Anchor Toggle bolts as they provide the most strength, except they screw directly into the studs and are the easiest to install. You don’t even need to drill; just tap them through the drywall with a hammer at the locations you marked earlier. 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 side farthest from 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 are using existing power, drill a small hole in a plastic cover blank and insert a rubber grommet to protect the wires. If you are going to install your own light switch, drill a small hole in the drywall and push the power wires through the hole. With at least three or four anchors installed, hold the lighting track in place and install the bolts starting in the middle and working your way out. Unless you’re connecting a power cord to a wall outlet, don’t fully tighten the rail 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 matching 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 pull-out light fixture, run the power wires from the lighting track to the junction box through the cover grommet and connect the white-to-white wires, green to green and black to black using wire nuts. Holding the bare ends of the two (or three) wires together, place the wire nut over the wires and turn clockwise until the wires start 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. Once the connections are made, close the box using the blind plastic cover and tighten the anchor bolts just 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 houses have the electrical wiring running through the roof crawl space, so you’ll need to find the roof access door and climb up. Have a helper touch the ceiling of 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 finder, 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 track wires into a Handi-Box from the rear. Next, insert one end of a 14/2 Romex cable into the box and fasten the box to a stud or joist. Connect the cables as described above and close the box with a blind cover. Route the cable to the junction box identified above and push it into the box with the other cables. Exit the roof and connect the wires to the switched power as described. Reattach the fixture to the wall or ceiling and make 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’re ready to enjoy light where you want it, when you want it.

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