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How to Choose Cable Lighting

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Cable lighting is a low-voltage system that uses conductive tensioned cable to offer an infinite variety of high-tech lighting arrangements. The cables, which are hung with accent, ambient, or decorative fixtures, run in parallel lines below the ceiling. This makes cable lighting an ideal choice when you can’t access an electric power source in the ceiling due to exposed ductwork or vaulted or cathedral ceilings. The cables are capable of direction changes and can be mounted wall to wall, ceiling to wall, or ceiling to ceiling.


Cable lighting is a dynamic low voltage, single-circuit system that uses conductive cable, supports, connectors, rerouters, power supplies, and adapters to provide lighting in unique spaces. Different systems have different methods for determining the amount of cable required. Typically, you multiply the length of the run by two (for each cable) and add some extra for turns and adjustments.



The cable needs to be suspended. Depending on the length of the run and whether you’re mounting from wall to wall, wall to ceiling, or ceiling to ceiling, will determine the type and number of ceiling supports you will need. Based on your design, you will need either rigid or flexible supports. Runs more than 20 feet or using heavier fixtures may require extra supports. Does the run have to overcome major differences in height? If so, this will need to be accounted for when selecting suspensions. Re-routers can be used to change the angle or direction of your cable run.


Cable systems, like monorail, are low-voltage and will therefore require transformers to step down the voltage to 24 or 12 volts. Choose from electronic or magnetic transformers; the transformers can be surface mounted or installed remotely. Power feeds deliver the power from the transformer to the cables. To determine the wattage required for the transformer add up the wattage of the lamps connected to the system. If the sum of the wattages exceeds 300 watts at 12 volts or 600 watts at 24 volts, a second transformer is needed.

Light Source

When choosing fixtures for your cable system, consider the total wattage you can work with and what you need to illuminate. Pendants, spots, and heads can all be used with cable systems. Cable systems can be a great solution for providing decorative ambient lighting, direct lighting, or accent lighting.

Similar to cable lighting, track lighting can be another way to add lights when a ceiling can’t accommodate recessed lighting, because of beams. For instance, track lighting enables you to position fixtures close to the ceiling, keeping sightlines clear. “Learn about track lighting here: How to Choose Track Lighting


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Jerry Bolton

Jerry likes to keep up with the latest trends and technical changes of the ever changing lighting and LED business. Jerry enjoys going wine tasting with his wife Evelyn and watching his daughter and son excel in soccer and basketball.