The modern system of cable lighting provides a useful and versatile lighting solution that can be used in almost any space. Combining a wide variety of techy lighting choices with beautiful pendants suspended from discrete cables that can span wide spaces, this is the right choice for even the most difficult of spaces to light.
However, despite their simplicity in looks, with so many choices and considerations to make, choosing the right kit can be a little daunting. We’ve put together reviews of our favourite brands and models plus an in-depth buying guide with everything you need to look for when purchasing a new cable lighting system.
Let’s get started.
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If you are in a hurry for a quick solution, check out our best buy recommendation and for more Cable Lighting Kits keep scrolling down.
In our opinion the best cable lighting kit is the Tiella 800 suspended cable lighting entry level kit from the quality Tech Lighting brand, an offshoot of the highly successful Visual Comfort & Co. Keeping scrolling down for the complete review.
Cable lighting is a clean lined linear suspension system, utilizing two high tensile steel cables to span interior spaces and suspend a wide variety of lighting choices from. It’s simplicity allows cable lights to be used in contemporary and even traditional interiors, both commercial and residential.
Cable lighting is similar to monorail or track systems which can all adopt accent, ambient and decorative lighting fixtures, but its ability to span wide spaces between two vertical surfaces or from a ceiling that does not necessarily have to be flat, means light can be introduced into otherwise impossible positions.
The adoption of cable lighting by Architects & Designers for many years has been for good reason. This is why cable lighting is so useful:
Style: Firstly the style of a slender line of cables cleverly supporting lamps and lighting heads remains impressive despite these systems being around for decades. So they are a great statement of lighting intent that can elevate the design of any room, so use cable lights as a design tool.
Practicality: The potential to suspend lighting over areas that would otherwise be too difficult or impossible to do so, makes cable lighting the lighting saviour of many interiors.
Apex Roof Spaces: Sloping ceilings have always been difficult to light from as the glare from a recessed light in an angled ceiling is intensified when it cannot be sent straight downwards. Cable lights reduce glare by allowing light to illuminate downwards even on pitched ceilings.
High Ceilings: A cable light system is best suited for spaces with ceilings high enough to give at least 20″ of clearance between the lowest hanging lamp and someone’s head. They particularly work best in a room with a higher ceiling height as the cables can be positioned to be physically lower than recessed lights would need to be, lowering the starting point of where light is distributed from.
Pre-selected popular combinations of cable lighting are packaged as kits to satisfy the most general of uses. It can be the most cost effective and least confusing place to start and potentially can be added to later if the manufacturer offers individual fixtures alongside.
The full potential of cable suspension lighting can only be realised by tailoring your choices and building a bespoke solution to suit your taste and the rooms requirements. Each system is tailored to your requirements by building it in component form. There is a huge array of choices of hardware to install your system into virtually any space, complemented by many choices of light fixture.
A kit is a good place to start as long as the length of the cable run will not be over 20′ as that is usually the maximum length a kit will go. It will give you the items you need to install a run without further supports and sometimes a number of lighting fixtures too. You will be able to add light fixtures to your kit as long as you buy the accessories from the same manufacturer.
If your room requires lighting to be delivered to it in areas that cannot be reach from a single straight line from a kit, then a component build will offer opportunities to turn corners, create various drop heights from the ceiling, allow the power to enter in different methods and more.
Even if you are not installing the system yourself, you may have to provide the parts for an installer to do so on your behalf ,so it’s important for you to understand how to choose the component parts.
This may sound somewhat daunting but you can choose your own Cable Lighting System’s component parts with our easy to follow step by step guide: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Cable Lighting in 2021
Of course, always have a qualified electrician install your lighting, connect the power and certify the system to your local code’s standards.
Cable lights can run with LED sources of light.
The power in the system is running at a low voltage which can accommodate these lamps types:
MR16 LED Lamps: for the heads and pendants that take your choice of lamp. You can choose 2700K extra warm white or maybe 3000K for a clean warm white color temperature. This is the lamp with 2 tiny pins at the base.
Dedicated LED: Many heads and pendants will have an LED source of light built inside of them. It is not usually a changeable LED source but it will last a VERY long time!
An economical and helpful place to start is with a kit. Packed with cable, anchor points, transformer and sometimes the light fittings too, check out our best rated models.
The Tiella 800 is an entry level kit from the reliable Tech Lighting brand, an offshoot of the Visual Comfort Lighting Group of companies.
Pro: Low cost and easy to install allowing you to suspend a pair of tensioned cables between 2 points up to 20′ apart from a good brand.
Con: This kit was originally designed for halogen lighting with the 100W capacity of transformer requiring at least a 50%-60% load to allow for a smooth dim. For this reason the manufacturer recommends halogen lamps still, but LED lamps will work but may need a combination of halogen lamps if you want to dim them.
This is an economical kit to build a basic straight run of cables and add your own choice of pendants and spotlight heads from the Tech Lighting range (see above for our recommendations). There is often no ideal place to hide a transformer, such as in a ceiling void above the plasterboard, so a surface mounted transformer is required.
Comes with 4 qty Slimline Turnbuckles, 45′ of cable and transformer.
Pro: Visually acceptable surface mounted transformer opens opportunities for cable lighting to be installed
Con: LED dimming still needs care – see #1 above.
This is a great kit to build a basic good quality straight run with the power connected to the cables from a remote transformer fed via power feed canopy. You see from the image above that the ceiling rose hides the hole to allows the pair of cables to enter the room and connect to the system.
Comes with 4 qty Slimline Turnbuckles, 45′ of cable, remote transformer and power feed canopy.
This cable system only option allows you to add your own choice of pendants and spotlight heads from the Tech Lighting range (see above for our recommendations).
Pro: Large capacity, neat connection of power from the remote transformer. An economical way to get started with a great quality system.
Con: The larger the transformer the more load will be required for a smoother dim when using LED lamps.
Arguably cable lighting whilst visually more appealing than standard suspended track lighting, does not have the finesse of Monorail Lighting. The simplicity of a slender rail to support heads and pendants, creates a lighter touch than the parallel cable run.
The cable that carries the power has it’s limits. Usually rated for a 300 watts load at 12 volts. When using LED light sources this is a huge capacity. Voltage drops occur after 30′, meaning the systems with a single power feed of over that length will run with light sources that are not running at their full output.
For lots more on suspended lighting choices check out: The Best Track, Monorail, Freejack & Cable-Lighting
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