Designing your own professional track lighting system in just 6 steps
Track lighting systems keep everything neatly on track: they are flexible, make it easy to align the spotlights themselves, and they are perfect for systematically lighting products in a way that shows them off to best effect. This is why many shops and retailers swear by them, and this applies fully across the board – from food to fashion, white goods retailers and so on.
Three-phase tracks are the most popular because they allow for three different circuits, which means that it is possible to control three groups of lights independently of one another. This will make it possible, for example, to switch on more lights in the morning and evening than at lunch depending on daylight levels, which in turn means that the light is used a lot more efficiently and systematically.
However, the question still is, how do you design a track lighting system for a retail space? And that's where our step-by-step guide comes in:
1. Create an outline drawing of your space
This is not about creating art but just a simple sketch. Enter the dimensions of your room. Next, mark the location of the power outlet. They are usually located in the ceiling. If in doubt, check your electrical diagram or ask an electrician.
2. Choose a layout for your track lighting system
Choose the layout for your track lighting system in line with the room's dimensions and interior fittings. A linear system is always the most straightforward and perfect for lighting, e.g. a shelf unit. Other popular layouts are L-, T- and U-shapes. It is also possible to combine a number of different layouts. In our example, we have opted for a combination of L- and U-layouts.
Add the tracks to your drawing and write their lengths next to them (1, 2 or 3 metres). If they don't quite fit in the end, it is always possible to shorten them and bend the conductors into the right shape with the aid of a bending tool.
3. Decide where to connect the track lighting system and the direction of the current flow
The location of your power outlet – i.e. whether it's at the end or in the centre of the track – will decide whether the power will be fed-in in the centre, at the end or using a T-feed, L-feed, X-feed. In our example, the outlet is located at the end, which means that we will be using an end feed.
4. Enter the number of connectors you will need
Before looking at the connectors, take note of the protective conductor on the feed. It's up to you whether to use a feed with a protective conductor on the left or right, but it's important to make sure that it can be routed as one continuous wire. Hence, we recommend adding the protective connector to your drawing as a thin coloured line.
In our example, we have decided to feed the power into the track on the right. The next coupling is a simple linear connector. This is followed by a branch, which requires the use of a T-feed. But, which one? It will have to be a T-connector with a protective conductor fitted on the outside. Next, you will have to choose between an “external left” or “external right” T-feed. We went for the “external left”. It will be important to take this into account when selecting the counterpart on the other side.
At the end of this side, we will need an L-feed with an external protective conductor. The same applies to the next wall. If you don't want your tracks to be fitted at an exact 90° angle, we recommend using the flexible corner connector, which – true to its name – can be adjusted to any angle you want.
In the centre of the room, we are now going to have to use an “external right” T-feed and you can then add all of the other connectors using the same principle. The last track needs to be sealed off with an end cap.
5. Nearly there! Finish your design by choosing how to mount the tracks
You can either mount it flush against the ceiling or suspended (it is also possible to install it inside the ceiling, although we will not discuss this option here). When is it a good idea to suspend your track lighting system? That depends on two factors: The height of the ceiling and how you want your ceiling to look. Ceilings that are higher than approx. 3 metres are definitely good candidates for suspending your tracks as doing so will make sure that the lighting at ground level will be sufficiently strong. However, it is also possible to suspend them from lower ceilings if the aim is to use the lighting track system as a design feature within the overall design of a retail space. Mounting the tracks straight on the ceiling will make them blend in more and can be done using track clamps.
If you decide to go for a suspended system, it must be fitted with ceiling attachment points every 1 metre and at the start and end of every track. The points where the individual tracks are connected to each other can be reinforced using a suspension support. The length of the wire rope can be individually adjusted.
6. Just one more important step to go – and that's choosing your lights!
Now that your track lighting system is in place, it can be fitted with spotlights, linear and pendant luminaries. Spots take care of effectively accenting your products, pendant luminaries make attractive eye catchers and/or can aid orientation e.g. at tills. However, do bear in mind that not every adaptor or accessory will be compatible with every lighting track system. Our preferred systems are the GLOBAL Trac tracks produced by Nordic Aluminium. These tracks can be used with all universal 3-phase track adapters.
And now it's your turn. Take a piece of paper and a pen and start drawing the outline of your room. Don't worry if it takes a couple of goes – you'll still have a finished design in no time at all.
Please note that the maximum total weight of your track lighting system depends on the number of luminaires and the condition of the ceiling.
If you still have any questions or find it difficult to come up with a design, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Creating a design can quickly become a rather complex task if you are dealing with a large space or complex structural features – and we are here to help.
We are more than happy to help you design your track lighting system. Simply write to us at: email@example.com.
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