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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Cable Lighting in 2021

Looking for the best Cable Lighting System for your project? We’ve put together our cable light component buying guide and simplified the process to help you choose and build your own solution.

Let’s get started. 

Table of Contents

How to Choose Cable Lighting

Cable lighting can be purchased and installed right out of the box with a pre-selected kit or as a modular bespoke solution to tailor your choices.

For a predetermined quick solution see: The Best Cable Lighting Kits

To build your own bespoke solution, use our simplified step by step guide to build your own system from our list of best selling recommendations from quality manufacturers.

Calculate the Length

Step 1: Feel free to choose your line of cables almost anywhere you want as these systems are very accommodating. Measure the length of the space you want to provide lighting in, this can be between two chosen positions in a straight line or a combination of directions. The cable length you need to buy will be the span length doubled as there will be two cables which run in parallel to each other, plus add some extra for turns and other tolerances. 

Kable Lite Uninsulated Cable

Tin plated copper cable

order by the foot

Kable Lite Insulated Cable

For locations near the coast or if stipulated by local codes, use an insulated cable.

order by the foot

Suspension Considerations

Step 2: Now your chosen run length needs the conductive cable to be suspended between your choice of surfaces and tightened to create tensioned straight cabling.

Wall to Wall

The cable begins and ends with an anchor point fixed strongly enough to build some tension into the cables between each point.

For short straight runs under 20’ start with these:

Kable Lite Slimline Anchors

Kable Lite Slimline Turn Buckles

And finish with these slimline turnbuckle anchors that tighten to secure the cables and provide the tension needed to support the lighting within minimal sagging.

Wall to Ceiling & Sloping Ceilings

For locations where the cables runs at an angle between surfaces, use an adjustable anchor point that also allows for cable tensioning.

Kable Lite Universal Turn Buckles

Tip: To create tension anywhere along the cable add inline Turnbuckles:

Kable Lite Inline Turnbuckles

Cable Supports

Step 3: Long run lengths of over 20’ will need additional cable supports along the runs to prevent sagging. If you choose heavy glass pendants or spotlights even on shorter runs then extra support may also be required.

Kable Lite Adjustable Standoff

The most discrete of the supports comes in various sizes and finish

Kable Lite 8” Ceiling Standoff

Power

Step 4: A transformer reduces the normal mains power voltage down to a safe to touch 12V extra low voltage that is fed into the steel cables to power the lighting. The power can be fed into the cable from one of the ends but if more appropriate if can also be fed anywhere along the length of the cable.

The capacity of the transformer will determine the load from your chosen quantity of light fittings. These remote transformers will need to hidden from view near to the beginning of the cable run.

150W Remote transformer: Check Current Price

300W Remote Transformer: Check Current Price

12V Cable Lighting Transformer

Cable Light Heads

Step 5: Directional lamps suspended from the cable on minimally designed spotlight heads are a visually appealing method to introduce task, ambient and accent lighting.

There is a wide range of Compatible Heads

Kable Lite Pivot Head 5.5″

Kable Lite Corum LED

7.2W LED Spotlight Head, sold individually. Neat high end spotlight offering 550 lumens output with a general wide beam good for ambient lighting.

Cable Light Pendants

Step 6: Decorative pendants can be suspended over tables and kitchen islands from a cable light system to add a wonderful layer of accent lighting.

There is a wide range of Compatible Pendants

Kable Lite 700KLMEZCS-LED930 Pendant

Dedicated 3000K LED glass pendant

LED Cable Light Systems

Step 7: With the system complete it’s now time to select the light sources:

MR16 LED Lamp

MR16 LED Lamps: for the heads and pendants that take your choice of lamp. An advantage of choosing lamps is the flexibility to swap over color temperatures, 2700K and 3000K are popular choices.

Dedicated LED Cable Light Head

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! You do not need to purchase LED lamps for this type.

Dimming LED Cable Lighting

Be aware that 12V Cable lighting was originally designed for higher wattage low voltage halogen lamps. LED will work but dimming can be problematic without some tweaks.

If you are choosing to dim your LED Cable Light System then be aware that an arrangement of low wattage LED lamps may not have a large enough load for the dimmer switch you are using to provide a smooth flicker free dim. Be prepared to replace some of the lamps to halogen to increase the load or find a compatible dimmer switch. This is a characteristic of all 12V transformers, not just this system.

For lots more on suspended lighting choices check out: The Best Track, Monorail, Freejack & Cable-Lighting

Andrew Orange , the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.