Outdoor Track Lighting – Add a Versatile and Stylish Touch to Your Landscape Lighting Design
The addition of outdoor track lighting adds a stylish and elegant touch to any landscape lighting design – when done right! Track lighting is something that has been used for years by discerning homeowners in kitchens, dens and anywhere else within the home where this attractive form of illumination complements the overall lighting theme of the room.
And the sad thing is that many people overlook one the best outdoor lighting ideas any homeowner can quickly and easily implement as a lovely and complementary light source to porches, patios, decks, and eves – just to name a few places where outdoor track lighting can help your home stand apart.
What Is Exterior Track Lighting?
First of all, outdoor rail lighting typically works best when the intention is to spotlight certain features or objects in a pleasant way. In other words, you just want to delicately bathe the objects in light. Accomplish this, and you’ll also have added an additional layer of outdoor security lighting as well!
And if your thoughts of track lighting are those of big halogen light bulbs encased in ugly-looking metal cans that glide along an equally unappealing metal track, you must have been out of the landscape lighting market for a while – quite a while! While this form of outside rail lighting may have done a pedestrian job of shedding adequate light on its intended objects, it won nothing for style points!
But today take a look online or any home-improvement store and what you will be pleasantly surprised to discover is that track lighting fixtures have evolved into a wide range of designs and styles – many of which feature LED lighting … and all the benefits that derive from using these outdoor light bulbs.
But, in the end, all outdoor track lighting works pretty much the same; and it doesn’t take a genius to guess that these lights run on track – which is most commonly ceiling-mounted, but wall-mounted fixtures can found as well.
Advantages of Outdoor Track Lighting
The reasons for incorporating exterior rail lighting may seem pretty obvious to those already already enjoying this form of outdoor accent lighting, but for those of you still unconvinced, I’ll list a few of the major reasons here:
(a) The light fixtures can easily be adjusted anytime you want.
If you want to change the light fixtures bulbs within the fixtures themselves to celebrate Christmas, Halloween or you just plain feel like doing so, this is easily accomplished with no trouble at all.
Want to change the direction of the light? Go ahead and do it! (This is a huge advantage exterior light tracking has over outdoor recessed lights. These lights are, by nature, more of a fixed nature – which means changing the direction of the light for one or more fixtures is going to take some work!. Want to changes the fixtures and/or bulbs? This is going to be an undertaking as well with outdoor recessed lighting!)
Want to add a few more light fixtures or perhaps subtract one or two? Go ahead and add or subtract until you get the lighting just as you like!
(b) The versatility of outdoor tack lighting makes it ideal to accomplish both ambient lighting and focal lighting.
This means you don’t necessarily have to install outdoor flood lights to highlight certain objects and incorporate something like solar garden lights for a softer, more subtle form of light. Outside track lighting is up to handling both of these jobs – and does them well!
(c) The installation of exterior track lighting is fast and easy!
When it comes to installation instructions, I always like to add the caveat that how fast and easy something is to install is going to depend, obviously, on how mechanically inclined you are. So, when I say that installing outdoor track lighting is fast and simple, please understand that I am speaking in relative terms. What may be fast and easy for you, may be a complete nightmare for the next guy!
With that said, the first piece of advice is to have the foresight to:
(i) purchase light fixtures designed to run on a low-voltage (12 volt) current (click the link for more information on low-voltage landscape lighting); and
(ii) buy track lights intended to be used as outdoor lights.
Making a mistake on either of these key points puts you at risk for shock and other safety hazards.
After you have purchased the appropriate light fixtures and track, it’s just a matter of mounting the track onto a base board, which you may have lying around your garage. If not, head over to Home Depot or Lowes and get yourself one there.
Once the track is mounted to the baseboard, simply mount the baseboard in the location where you want to receive the benefit of outdoor track lighting. Then affix the lighting fixtures onto the track and you’re pretty much all ready to go!
As stated earlier, what you’re going to find is that the vast majority of exterior track lighting is mounted on a roof’s undersides. But don’t let that stop you from wall mounting for some vertical illumination. This can work particularly well with outdoor deck lighting, outdoor patio lighting and even pond lighting.
Type of Outdoor Track Lighting
The three main styles of exterior track lighting are:
(1) straight track lighting;
(2) curved track lighting;
(3) flexible track lighting.
As stated above, it’s generally in your best interest to stick with low-voltage outside track lighting systems for 2 reasons:
(i) cost less to run;
(ii) safer because they operate on much less voltage (12 volts as opposed to the home’s main 120 volt system – high-intensity discharge lights).
Final Safety Tips
(A) When using a low-voltage outdoor track lighting system, take care to situate the transformer away from the ravages of mother nature as much as possible. In other words, place it in a place that is likely to stay as dry as possible.
(B) It’s always ideal to shield the light fixtures as much as possible (no matter how weather-resistant and/or water-proofed they may be). Mounted to the roof overhang of a porch or garage will help to keep your fixtures safely shielded against the wind, storms and ice of mother nature and prevent against light interruptions.
In my view, outdoor track lighting, when tastefully implemented, is one the best forms of landscape lighting. It’s easily adjustable, versatile and relatively painless to install. Why would any homeowner NOT want to including this type of light when brainstorming for outdoor lighting ideas?