Time: 1½ hours
Cost: $85 per set (we used 2)
These quiet, cold weeks of January are the perfect time to make improvements around the house, so we finally took one off our list that we've been talking about for over a year: we replaced the two dim ceiling fixtures with two tracks that direct all the light down where we are working. I've installed track lighting strips a few times, but I'm always impressed at how easy it is. This is a great affordable, DIY upgrade. If you feel comfortable with this type of DIY project, but would like some help, have the salesperson at your local lighting or building supply store walk you through the installation process when you buy the pieces. It's very simple.
I installed two of the following sets:
- 4' Single Circuit Track
- Floating Canopy Connector
- 2 Line Voltage Track Light Fixtures
- 2 Par20 light bulbs
- Cordless drill with screw bit
- Wire nuts
- Electrical tape
- 1" Drywall screws
Remember, that when working with lighting level electricity, it is super important to be careful. First, always find your fusebox and turn off the line that is powering where you are working. To make sure you've got the right fuse, leave the light you're working on "on" and then turn off the fuse. If you've got the right fuse, your light will now be "off." In addition, when you get to the wiring step, pay attention to the way in which the lamp you're removing is wired and replicate that setup with your new fixture.
- Turn on ceiling lamp and turn off fuse so that lamp is fully "off"
- Remove ceiling fixture by carefully unscrewing each piece
- Undo wiring, but pay close attention to the wiring pattern. It usually is black to black and white to white. You will mimic this setup when you reinstall your new track.
- Attach floating canopy connector to center of track with black and white wires exposed
- Lift up track assembly and attach black and white wires to ceiling fixture wires (black to black, white to white).
- Secure wires tightly with wire nuts and electrical tape (make sure that your wires are firmly attached and not exposed. Use tape to cover any exposed areas)
- Push up wires and screw floating canopy and track into ceiling fixture (make sure it's pointed in the right direction before final tighten)
- Screw track to ceiling at each end to secure
- Install track light fixtures with a simple twist
- Install bulbs
- Turn on at fuse and lights should come on exactly as you left them (sometimes the track light fixtures don't seat properly. Check these if light is not on.)
Final things to watch for: with light on or off, watch for any flickering or smoke smell. If wires were left exposed it can cause this to happen. Anything really bad should cause the fuse to shut off the fixture. If you are ever in doubt, turn off fuse and check all your work.
Images: Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan