A Monorail Lighting "How-To"

Monorail replaces conventional indoor track lighting systems. It is a flexible and dynamic ceiling-mounted lighting solution that accommodates both accent lighting spot heads and beautiful decorative pendants. The hand-bendable rail can be shaped in a variety of linear or curvilinear configurations for functional flexibility and decorative appeal.

What are the advantages of monorail over track lighting?

Lightolier designed track lighting in the 1960's. While it was revolutionary in its time and remained popular for decades, monorail systems are technically advanced, more visually appealing, and offer many more design possibilities.

Monorail allows for smaller package lamps that are more attractive with better beam control. Track lighting fixtures are big and bulky because each fixture head houses its own transformer, but monorail uses surface mount or remote transformers.

Furthermore, monorail's sleek, low profile and decorative finish options — satin nickel, polished nickel, and antique bronze — give it a more architectural look than bulky, box track lighting, which typically only comes in black, white, and sometimes cream.

Finally, while track lighting is straight and rigid, monorail is hand bendable. This allows for interesting curved, circular, or square shaped systems.

Monorail 2 Circuit 2x250W

What types of fixtures can I use with monorail?

Today, many lighting manufacturers make "fastjack" or "freejack" pendants and monorail spot heads with halogen or LED MR16 bulbs. Each one uses a universal connector that attaches to a standard monorail connector. Possible fixtures include adjustable spot or flood accent heads to highlight artwork or architectural features, mini pendants, and special light channel suspensions. Cirrus Float LED for Monorail is an example of such a fixture.

Should I use halogen or LED fixtures?

Monorail works well with either. In the past, most monorail fixtures used halogen bulbs, but LED technology and design has taken off, and more LED fixture options are available. LEDs are five times more energy efficient, which not only saves money and energy but also expands design possibilities. Because they operate at 1/5 the wattage of halogen lamps, you can fit more LED fixtures on a monorail system.

LED fixtures and LED MR16 bulbs are dimmable, cool to the touch, look more like standard incandescent lighting than halogens. While halogen bulbs have a color temperature of 3000K, LEDs are available in 2700K - the same color temperature as a standard incandescent bulb. The LED Scope is a great fixture with an adjustable beam spread that ranges from 20° to 50°.


Soraa LED Outdoor Lights

We now sell Soraa LED MR16 bulbs. An excellent upgrade from halogen MR16 lamps, these bulbs work with most fixture heads. Soraa bulbs under 10 watts are safe for use in enclosed fixtures while bulbs over 10 watts should be used with open-backed monorail heads only.

How do I know which components to buy for my setup?

Your specific component choices are determined by your particular configuration. For simple configurations, we sell Easy Monorail Kits with all required hardware. Just add fixtures. For more elaborate setups and custom jobs, send us your drawings and one of our lighting consultants will help plan your configuration to ensure that you have all the necessary components for a beautiful monorail setup.

What should I think about when configuring a monorail system?

First, consider whether you want a remote or surface mount transformer. Is this a new construction project, or does the ceiling exist with electricity already in place? If this is new construction, you can choose monorail with a remote transformer that installs in a nearby closet or cabinet. This version offers the cleanest, sleekest look. If the ceiling is already in place and you cannot access the area above, choose a surface mount transformer. The main reason we like Edge Lighting Monorail best? Their surface mount transformers are the smallest and nicest looking.

Second, consider what you are trying to light. What types of fixtures and how many do you want in your system? Think about what you'll be doing in the room and the architectural or decorative features you want to highlight.

Third, do you want to mount the monorail close to the ceiling or suspend it? If you have tall ceilings you can achieve spectacular designs with suspended monorail. Once you know, select the corresponding standoffs. A good rule of thumb is to suspend monorail no lower than 7'6" from the floor. Call us at Lightology for help with suspended systems.

Finally, how do you want the monorail itself to appear? Consider finish options, as well as the shape and layout of the rail. Straight monorail looks great, but you can also hand-bend the rail to create interesting curves.

The simplest thing you can do is send us your drawing. We will lay out a complete plan for your system, even down to the correct beam spread for your accent lighting heads.

What is the difference between 1 circuit and 2 circuit monorail?

1-circuit monorail means all fixtures are on the same electrical circuit. They all turn on and off at the same time and dim at the same level. 2-circuit monorail offers a second electrical circuit that can be controlled separately from the first, allowing for more dynamic lighting layers. This is useful when you have pendants and accent heads on the same monorail system. For example, you can light art on the walls with the MR16 heads, light your dining table with pendants, and control both types of lighting separately.

How many fixtures can I put on a monorail lighting system?

Monorail systems are expandable, so you can scale them to any size that fits your needs. Ultimately, the number of fixtures that can go on one system is determined by both the fixtures' wattage and the total wattage that your transformer is capable of handling.

An average monorail system uses a transformer of either 75W, 150W, or 300W. A 300W transformer will allow for 6 50W fixtures or approximately 24 LED fixtures (which typically range between 8 and 16 watts each).

Fixtures with
Fixtures with 35W
IR Lamp
Fixtures with 50W
75W 5 (15 watt) 2 1
150W 12 (11 watt) 4 3
300W 24 (12.5 watt) 8 6

Looking for more information?
Our lighting experts would love to further discuss monorail lighting with you.

Contact us at (866) 954-4489

Aris Goorji

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