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Monorail Lighting
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 wizard 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:

monorail lighting diagram 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.

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