Monorail lighting systems are characterized by their eye-catching, shapeable metallic
rails which are used to both power and suspend light fixtures. For this reason,
monorail lighting is occasionally referred to as ‘flexible track lighting’,
'curved track lighting' or 'flex track lighting'.
Although often lumped into the same category, monorail lighting should not be confused with
traditional track lighting
or cable lighting
systems as each has unique characteristics.
- TIP: Easily make a complete monorail lighting kit from any monorail compatible fixture by clicking the 'Make it a Kit' button on the fixture detail page.
Monorail Lighting Basics
Designers, architects and homeowners alike have embraced monorail lighting as a
highly stylish, yet practical alternative to traditional track lighting. Monorail design advantages:
- Monorail may be shaped in the field (typically by bending it around any gently
curved surface) to form striking contour patterns.
- Monorail is available in a variety of premium finishes (brushed nickel, chrome,
antique bronze or even gold) to match existing home décor.
- Monorail may be mounted in almost any location (under irregular ceilings etc.)
- Monorail systems are more compact than their predecessors.
The combination of these factors allows the metallic support rail of these lighting systems
to become a design element itself rather than a clunky required component to be hidden as
much as possible.
Most monorail lighting systems use low voltage power. Low voltage power may be safely carried
through un-insulated surfaces allowing fixture designs that were previously impossible. The
result is an enormous number of new, stylish, unobtrusive fixtures.
Monorail lighting system limitations (Low Voltage Monorail vs. Line Voltage Monorail)
Most monorail lighting systems are low voltage. One significant limitation of these systems
is that the total wattage of all fixtures on the system is limited to 300 watts (at 12 volts
or 600 watts at 24 volts). With the emergence of LED fixtures, this limitation is rarely an issue
as the total wattage consumption of each fixture is very small.
Line voltage monorail systems (which do not carry power through exposed components)
have recently been developed to overcome this. These systems offer a great deal of
flexibility when configuring larger lighting systems, but the pendants and heads used
on these systems suffer from the same design restrictions common to older traditional
track lighting systems.
Monorail lighting systems have historically been challenging to configure. Each
manufacturer had a proprietary standard and unique components. To overcome this,
Brilliant Lighting offers a unique, manufacturer-neutral build your own monorail lighting system
which allows monorail 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 monorail lighting components:
Sometimes referred to simply as ‘rail’, monorail is the metallic track which supports the
fixtures. Monorail typically comes in 4, 6 or 8 foot lengths which may be cut or joined
together to form any length necessary.
Standoffs are hardware used to physically support the monorail lighting system below
the ceiling or away from a wall. Rigid standoffs are commonly used to support systems
mounted close to a flat ceiling. With special hardware rigid supports may be used to mount
monorail systems to vaulted ceilings as well. Adjustable standoffs are vertical supports
comprised of thin aircraft cable attached to both the ceiling and the rail. Adjustable
standoffs are commonly used for irregular ceilings or in situations requiring the
monorail lighting system to be suspended a significant distance from the ceiling.
Powerfeeds carry power from the transformer or power source to the rail itself. For a
clean look, these components are typically designed to look exactly like a standoff or,
when using adjustable standoffs, they are discreet flexible power cables.
Stems are optional extensions (typically 2 to 24 inches) attached to monorail fixtures
that allow them to hang below the monorail to fine-tune their height.
Surface mount transformer
Transformers housed in finished enclosures designed to be attached directly to a power
junction box in the ceiling are referred to as surface mount transformers. These transformers
are more common than remote transformers due to their ease of installation in remodeling projects.
Remote mount transformer
Transformers housed in unfinished fire-code housings designed to be mounted in remote locations
away from the monorail system (typically a nearby closet or within the wall itself) are called
remote transformers. Remote mount transformers offer a very clean look but are typically used
only in new construction projects where access to the area behind walls is available.
Lamp is just another word for a light bulb. The intensity and beam spread of monorail
fixture lamps may be varied to more precisely control how light hits the target surface.