Cable lighting systems have emerged as a contemporary design
favorite due to their sleek, unobtrusive styling as well their
extraordinary ability to be installed in even the most challenging of spaces.
Although often lumped into the same category, cable lighting systems should not be
confused with traditional track lighting
or monorail lighting
- TIP: Easily make a complete cable lighting kit from any cable lighting compatible fixture by clicking the 'Make it a Kit' button on the fixture detail page.
Cable Lighting Basics
When should I use cable lighting?
Cable lighting systems are most commonly used in spaces with challenging mounting surfaces.
Consider them in rooms with very high ceilings, cathedral or vaulted ceilings and ceilings
interrupted by soffits, beams or exposed ductwork. In these situations, short runs (under
twenty feet) may typically be installed from wall to wall without any vertical support at
all. In situations requiring cable runs longer than twenty feet, additional vertical support
is recommended to prevent excessive tension from stressing the mounting points on the wall.
In spaces with standard, flat ceilings, the use of cable lighting is largely a matter of
design preference over other linear lighting systems such as monorail or traditional
Although cable lighting systems are relatively simple in theory, each manufacturer
has a proprietary configuration process for their components. Brilliant Lighting offers
a unique, manufacturer-neutral build your own cable lighting system
wizard which allows
customized cable lighting systems to be easily configured in just a few minutes.
If you would prefer to assemble a system manually you should read the brief overview
below which discusses common cable lighting components:
The primary support and conductive wire used in cable lighting systems is Kevlar-reinforced,
tin-plated 10 gauge cable. Note that some support components for cable systems use thinner
aircraft cable. Aircraft cable should never be used in place of standard cable lighting system
Although lighting system cable is usually bare, insulated cable is available as well for
applications where the cable will pass through a wall and may contact something it shouldn’t.
Turnbuckles serve several purposes. Specifically, they:
- attach the cable to a wall or ceiling mount point
- expand and contract via a screw motion to apply and release tension on the cable run.
- may also serve as a powerfeed for the system by carrying power through the mounting wall to the system itself
Anchors are similar to turnbuckles in that they attach the cable to a wall mount point. Anchors
do not allow additional tension to be applied to a system.
Surface Mount Transformers
Transformers which are housed in finished enclosures designed to be attached over a power junction
box in the wall or ceiling are referred to as surface mount transformers. These transformers are
more common than remote transformers due to their ease of installation when remodeling.
Remote Mount Transformers
Remote mount transformers are enclosed in crude fire-code housings which are designed to be mounted in remote
locations away from the cable lighting system (typically a nearby closet or within the wall itself.)
Remote mount transformers offer a very clean look but are typically practical only in new
construction projects where access to the area behind walls is available. When installing
cable systems under irregular ceilings with exposed beams, it may be acceptable to tuck a
remote mount transformer behind a beam rather than within the wall itself.
Isolating connectors physically connect two lengths of cable while interrupting the flow
of current between them. Since cable lighting systems may only carry 300 watts of power
along any part of a run, isolating connectors allow continuous long cable runs with
multiple, independently-powered segments.
Vertical supports should be used on cable runs over 20 feet or whenever a cable system
will be used to support heavy pendant fixtures. Vertical stem supports are rigid pieces of
metal (from 2” to 24” long) that mount directly to flat ceilings. More challenging installations
will likely require flexible cable supports which may be any length and are easily installed
on practically any irregularly shaped ceiling surface.
Turn kits are used to change the direction of a cable lighting run. Turn kits are comprised
of a pair of rigid stem supports attached to a cantilevered horizontal support cable. These
kits only work for systems suspended two feet or less below a ceiling. Systems suspended
further than this from the ceiling may be turned using a floating re-router…please call for