Kitchen track lighting is no longer stuck in the Dark Ages. Time was, if you wanted to install it in your kitchen, you were relegated to the world of bulky tracks and ugly light fixtures. Imagine the kind of lighting you'd find in a Wendy's or McDonald's and you get the picture.
But around 2000, lighting manufacturers began stepping up their game. Sleek, curving tracks emerged on the market, with high-intensity halogens that really did manage to illuminate kitchen work areas.
Before we look at a few representative products, let's review some of the key points of track lighting for your kitchen:
- Flexible: Where track lighting really excels is in its flexibility. Tracks can be mounted virtually anywhere you need light.
- Energy-saving: Track lighting can actually be an energy saver. How? You only need to install as many lights on the tracks as you need. Also, tracks can be wired independently, so that one track can be left off or dimmed, while another one picks up the lighting duties.
- Choose kit or pack: Unless you specify "kit" or "pack" when looking for track lighting, you won't get all the components you need to install it.
- Can go on drywall: Tracks are generally not so heavy that they need to be screwed into joists (wood). They can be mounted on a hollow surface with molly bolts.
- Beware of your power draw: You'll need to be aware of your power draw when adding lights to the tracks. The tracks are not infinitely scalable. Carefully read product instructions to see how many lights you can add.
- Halogens: Factor the cost of expensive halogen bulbs into your purchase. They can often rival the cost of the track lighting kit itself.
Basic Track Lighting
Before we get fancy, we need to cover your basic, off-the-shelf variety kitchen track lighting kit, and this product from Satco is the best example.
It comes with three mounting heads, a four-foot track, and all the mounting hardware. Available colors: black, white, or brushed nickel.
The important thing to note is that this is a square track lighting kit. "Elbows" are available that will shoot off more tracks in other directions―but only at 90-degree angles.
This is about as basic―and cheap―as it gets. Continue the product tour for fancier kitchen track lighting.
Flexible Track Lighting
Flexible kitchen track lighting can be curved in any number of ways to accommodate dark areas―or simply because it looks cool to have curved tracks! This is an increasingly popular style of track lighting.
This flexible track lighting kit comes with a 12 ft. track and four 50-watt heads.
This is called line voltage track lighting, which means that a separate transformer is not needed. Because there is no transformer, the base of the track lighting is smaller and sleeker.
Switching and Swapping the Fixtures
The real fun of installing kitchen track lighting is not so much the tracks―it's the fixtures. Once you have the tracks installed, you can swap out the fixtures to your heart's content.
Want to go from contemporary to traditional? Witness this antique bronze Murano glass fixture from Hampton Bay (yes, that Hampton Bay―the one found at all Home Depot stores, as well as Amazon) to see how you can tweak your kitchen track lighting for a more classic look.
You will probably want to pair this fixture with a compatible antique bronze flex track. We're not sure that you need this from a functional standpoint, but in terms of aesthetics, it's probably something you would want.