Line voltage monorail lighting systems share a striking, shapeable metallic
rail stucture with the more common low voltage monorail
systems, but they do not require the use of a transformer. This allows line voltage monorail systems to
power fixtures with higher light output in larger quantities. Line voltage monorail often makes sense in commercial applications where quantity of light
takes precedence over the compact design of low voltage systems.
- TIP: Easily make a complete line voltage monorail kit from any fixture by clicking the 'Make it a Kit' button on any line voltage monorail fixture detail page.
Line Voltage Monorail Lighting Basics
When monorail lighting systems first emerged, they were an instant hit. Finally, design-concious consumers had a long-sought alternative to
the functional, but often clunky, traditional track systems. Unfortunately, due to their dependence on a shared transformer, low voltage systems were best suited
for smaller installations...typically of a residential scale. For commercial, gallery, office and larger-scale
residential applications, a transformerless solution was needed. Enter line voltage monorail.
Like low voltage systems, line voltage rail is:
- shapeable during installation to create attractive shapes and contour patterns
- available in several different metallic finishes to complement most spaces
Unlike low voltage systems, line voltage rail:
- may be used to power a large number of light fixtures (heads, pendants or some combination)
from a single point of power
- can power higher-wattage heads including commercial / retail-grade ceramic metal halide heads
- can easily have heads and pendants reconfigured without much concern of 'overloading' the system
Line voltage monorail systems do not carry power through the outer exposed metallic surface, they use wires
hidden inside the rail itself. Consequently, the rail, fixtures and support hardware for these systems is somewhat larger than low voltage systems. Beyond this,
the two systems are assembled using many of the same types of components (with the notable exception of the
transformer which is not needed in line voltage systems). Typical line voltage monorail systems are made up of some combination of:
Sometimes referred to simply as ‘rail’ (or, confusingly, even 'track'), this is the long, slim component that holds the
fixtures and carries the power. Rail usually comes in 4, 6 or 8 foot lengths which may be cut or joined
together to form longer runs.
Standoff hardware physically supports the rail below the ceiling or away from a wall. Rigid standoffs
are commonly used to support systems mounted close to a flat ceiling. With adapters, rigid supports may accomodate systems
mounted under vaulted ceilings as well. For more difficult installations (including those attached to very high ceilings) adjustable
standoffs comprised of thin cable affixed to the ceiling and the rail are available and may be more practical. Some standoffs for line voltage
systems are 'connecting' meaning they both support the rail and connect two pieces together.
Line voltage monorail powerfeeds carry power directly from the building wiring to the rail itself. Typically they mount
over a standard four-inch junction box. These components usually act as a standoff as well.
Line voltage rail will have exposed conductive wires at the end of each section of rail, so protective end-caps are
used to cover these wires before installation of the system is complete. Line voltage track is typically shipped with end caps included.