How To Replace Kitchen Fluorescent Lights With Track Lighting
Track lighting is an increasingly popular, modern method for providing beautiful lighting in your home. Their flexibility and energy efficiency make it a perfect choice for the kitchen, where you use a lot of light.
To remove the fluorescent lights, you will have to remove the cover on the existing light fixture, remove the bulbs and light fixture, then disconnect any wires. To install the track lights, connect a floating feed to the wires, secure the track, and then attach the lights to the track.
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of switching to track lighting and guide you through the whole process.
Why Should I Stop Using Fluorescent Lights?
Fluorescent lights have been around for over 100 years. While they are inexpensive and long-lasting, many homeowners are moving away from them for various reasons.
- Toxic Materials – Florescent light bulbs contain phosphorus and mercury. When a bulb is broken, it can release a small amount of mercury. Mercury is hazardous to the environment, along with the phosphorus that remains in the glass.
- Health Issues – Studies have shown that individuals that have autism or suffer from chronic migraines are more likely to have light sensitivity. For these people, florescent lights can cause problems like headaches, nausea, difficulty focusing, and anxiety.
- Durability – While the light bulbs last a long time if the fixture is turned on and off frequently it can lead to a shorter lifespan.
- Buzzing sound – Electromagnetic ballasts that are used to run the lights can produce an annoying buzzing noise. This is especially prevalent with older fluorescent lamps.
- Flickering – Fluorescent lights are more likely to flicker, which can be annoying.
Why Use Track Lighting?
There are many advantages to track light systems:
- Energy Efficient: Most track light fixtures use LED lights. These require significantly less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs. You can expect to save up to 80% less electricity with LED lights.
- Customizable: Track lighting systems are fully customizable. You will be able to choose the size, color, and style of the track as well as the light fixtures. Some people use a combination of different kinds of styles of lights on a single track.
- Flexible Use – Most track lights can rotate, so you’ll be able to point them in any direction you want in the room. You can focus on certain tasks such as spotlighting the area you’re cooking in.
How to Remove a Fluorescent Light Fixture
Before you do anything, turn off the power supply that provides electricity to the fixture. If the light has been on for any length of time, wait for it to cool down before you touch the bulbs.
Put a stepladder in place beneath the light fixture.
Remove the cover on the light fixture. This process will vary depending on the model of the lamp. Some will have metal fixings holding the cover in place, and some flat panels can simply be tilted up and slid out of place.
If you can’t figure it out and don’t have the owner’s manual, sometimes you can find instructions via Google search to remove the cover.
Remove the bulbs by rotating them until you’re able to slide the bulbs out of place. Handle the bulbs gently and put them in a safe place.
Remove the cover that’s holding the wiring in place. If screws are holding it in place, use a screwdriver to loosen them.
Use a voltage detector to test the wires before handling them. It’s important to make sure there’s no electrical current running through the wires before touching them, so don’t skip this step.
Disconnect the wires from the light fixture. Consider taking a picture of the wire configuration first to reference while you’re connecting the wires to the new lighting.
How to Install a Track Light System
Now that you’ve got the old light fixture down and unhooked, you can start installing the track lighting. Before you purchase your lighting system, decide where you want your track to go on the ceiling.
Since you can customize the size of your track, this is when you’ll decide how big you want the track to be. While you’re looking at the ceiling, also consider how many lights you might want to purchase to fit onto the track.
Here’s the fun part – shopping. There are two basic types of track lighting fixtures to choose from. You can buy plug-in track lights or hardwired track lights.
Plug-in lights hook up to any standard outlet. Hardwired lights hook up to your electrical box in the ceiling.
Here’s what you’ll need to purchase:
- Connectors – if you want multiple pieces of track that connect, you’ll need connectors to attach them.
- Floating Feed – this is what connects to your house wiring to supply power to the lights.
Measure and mark the ceiling to make it so that the track will be parallel to the wall. If it’s a plug-in light, make sure the plug will reach an outlet.
Install the floating feed according to the instructions that came with the kit.
If the track you purchased is longer than what you need for your kitchen, cut the track to your desired length with a hacksaw.
If you’re using multiple tracks, install the connectors now into your preferred configuration before you attach it to the ceiling.
Secure the track to the ceiling using either screws or toggle bolts. If a joist is available (use a stud finder to determine this), you can drive screws into the joists. If not, install the toggle bolts first since your ceiling alone won’t support the track.
Attach the connector containing the wires to the track and rotate it 90 degrees into position. Cover the connector up with the cover that came with the feed.
Install your lights into the desired positions on the track. Now admire your brand-new, modern lighting system!
How should I dispose of my fluorescent lights?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you should take advantage of local options available for recycling fluorescent bulbs. Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment and allows for other materials in the bulb to be reused. Perform a Google search to find hazardous waste recycling options in your area.
Are track lighting components interchangeable?
Unfortunately, no. There are a few different types of tracks: H, J, and L. However, the components are mostly interchangeable within their track categories.
How can I cut a track?
The track is fairly easy to cut. Just mark where you want to cut with a pencil and position a hacksaw over the pencil mark. Holding the track tightly with one hand, saw through the marked line until it splits.
Replacing a light fixture may seem like a daunting task, but many people are surprised by how easy track lighting is to install. To make the process simpler, many companies make kits so that you won’t have to worry about picking the different components. Whether you’re using a kit or picking out a custom lighting system, it will all be worth the effort for this major upgrade.
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