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The Best Track, Monorail, Freejack & Cable Lighting in 2021

Looking for the best Track, Monorail, Freejack or Cable Lighting System for your project? We’ve put together our buying guide to help you understand their differences and decide upon which is best for you.

Table of Contents

Track vs Monorail vs Freejack vs Cable Lighting

Designers and architects adopt Track, Monorail, Freejack and Cable lighting systems into their projects as each type shares the ability to mix and match light fixtures combining both decorative and technical lighting all from a single platform. These modern lighting systems are often used to create a strong visual statement whilst providing adaptable solutions to bring light into even the most challenging of spaces.

Whilst sharing common functionality and versatility, each type has distinct differences that could be pertinent to your project.

Track Lighting System

A long standing tried and tested lighting solution that incorporates all kinds of lighting fixture, from a pendant light up to powerful spotlights and floodlights. Typically used in commercial and residential applications.

Track Lighting’s distinct features are the depth of choice of affordable light fixtures and unlimited installation lengths.

Monorail Lighting System

Monorail Systems are the newest in these linear lighting solutions, incorporating low voltage lighting onto a configurable rail that can be shaped with curves to create a decorative feature or to follow an architectural detail. This is the most contemporary choice can be installed from both ceilings and walls, particularly useful if your room has sloped apexed ceilings, arches or walls that are difficult to install lighting into.

Monorail’s distinct features are its unique aesthetics, creating a modern clean lined rail of suspended lighting.

Cable Lighting System

Cable lighting is a configurable linear suspension system that can span interior spaces, illuminating the room from a mixture of suspended decorative, accent and task lighting. It’s simplicity allows cable lighting to be used in contemporary and even traditional interiors, both commercial and residential.

The distinct features of cable lights are being able to suspend lighting from long lines of cables introducing lighting to even the most challenging of spaces whilst retaining an unobtrusive light and airy aesthetic.

We’ve done the hard work for you, check out: The Best Cable Lighting: Buying Guide and Reviews

Freejack Lighting System

Freejack Lighting is a singular derivative of the pendants and lighting heads that suspend from low voltage linear lighting systems, by adapting the connection to the ceiling and power between changeable Freejack Connectors and a Freejack Port or Freejack Canopy. A pendant with a Freejack Connector can also connect to a Monorail System.

The distinct features of Freejack lighting is the opportunity to share pendants and lighting heads with Monorail lighting. Use Freejack lighting for the quick and easy changing or removal of lighting that is hung from a single point, often in multiple arrangements for a strong repetitive statement.

How to Choose Between a Track, Monorail, Freejack or Cable Light Systems

Difficult Spaces To Light

Some spaces are just too difficult or expensive to cable power to every desired light fixture position. The more historic a property will create building fabric challenges, walls and ceilings not originally designed for or even protected against multiple lighting points. Where it’s prudent to bring the lighting power to as few a locations as possible, both track and cable lighting solutions can be extensive solutions fed from one entry point. 

Very high ceilings including sloped, vaulted trussed ceilings are notoriously difficult to light well. The multi point linear lighting solution of either suspended track lighting or particularly low voltage cable lights will span wide spaces and be adaptable to create turns and changes in height.

Where exposed solid concrete ceilings restrict recessed lighting, surface mount track systems can have the power fed from the closest wall and the track laid out across the ceiling to suit the most important lighting positions.

Scale

Track lighting is the most extendable of the 3 types when powered with line-voltage (120 volt mains powered in the US, 230V in Europe), limited only by the size of the circuit it is on.  

Monorail and Cable Lighting systems convert power to extra low voltage,  creating a safe to touch 12 volt system limited by the size of the transformer. 

Design

The Monorails offers the simplest and most unified of designs. The Monorail’s elegant ribbon shaped flexible linear track combines decorative and functional lighting in a contemporary style.

The interchangeable design of a Freejack connection to a Freejack port creates a flexible and easily adaptable lighting system from a single point.

Number of Circuits

The Monorail and Track offer multiple circuit options from the same track. Monorail offers 1 circuit and 2 circuit options 

Track Lighting can have up to 3 circuits, allowing the lighting connected on the same track to be independently controlled according to the circuit it’s chosen to be on. For example, a 2 circuit track can have a group of light fixtures one circuit dimmed to 50% and another group on the other circuit on full power.

How to Build a Track, Monorail, Freejack or Cable Light System

Lighting Kits

The easiest way to get started is to buy a kit, a predetermined design packaged as a singular product. The convenience of this simplified solution can be a good place to start and added to if the system allows.

However, these lighting systems were designed to adaptable, so be brave and create your own tailor made bespoke solution. You will need:

Track, Rail, Port or Cable

Each type has it’s own unique method of fixing and powering the lighting. Usually connected to the ceiling but sometimes the wall too.

Power Feed & Transformer

Monorail, Freejack and Cable lighting use a transformer to convert the power to 12V, usually hidden from view if possible but surface mounted options can be available. Track lighting can be 12V or 120V (230V Europe).

The power is connected to the system via a power feed, each system has it’s own method.

Light Fixtures

Each system will offer an array of options to connect pendants and lighting. Track lighting systems offer the greatest of pendant options as track pendant adaptors can be bought to connected to any cable.

Best Kits

Selection coming soon.

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.