How to Choose Monorail Lighting
Monorail systems are state-of-the-art configurable lighting solutions that allow custom styling with minimalist appeal. Monorail can be formed by hand into configurations suitable for a wide range of both residential and commercial settings. It can be installed in straight runs, field-bent to create organic shapes, or arranged to follow architectural details.
Consider monorail if your ceiling is sloped, arched, or has paneling that can’t house lighting. Because monorail lighting hangs from suspension rods, it’s also a good option if you have a particularly high ceiling and want to bring fixtures closer to the living area, explains San Francisco-based architect Lorissa Kim. The fixtures features a slimmer profile and the rail is smaller so it can blend in more than a standard track system.
Monorail is a low-voltage, two-conductor rail available in different lengths and in single-or two-circuit configurations. The rail can be cut in the field to custom lengths, and sections may be joined together using connectors to provide longer runs. Monorail is bendable by hand to a minimum radius of 12 inches. Straight and geometric shapes are also possible using connectors. To determine the length of monorail needed, make a scale drawing (e.g., ¼” = 1 foot). Use a piece of string to trace the layout. Measure the length of string and use this figure to calculate the length of rail.
Determine the amount of drop below the ceiling the monorail needs to be suspended. Monorail can be suspended at various heights using either rigid or flexible standoffs. The rail should be supported at least every 42 inches, with more frequent suspension on tight curves. Rail should be bent by hand (using round forms if needed) such that it maintains its shape before being suspended, since suspension features are meant to suspend the track rather than hold it in a particular configuration. Power supplies also provide support to the rail.
Rail systems are low-voltage and will therefore require transformers to step down the voltage to 24 or 12 volts. If the sum of the wattages of the lamps that are to be connected to the monorail is less than the wattage of the transformer, only one transformer is required. However, if the sum of the wattages of the lamps to be connected exceeds the wattage of the transformer, a second transformer is needed, and the runs of monorail to be powered by each transformer need to be separated. This can be done either physically or with a non-conductive connector. Electronic or magnetic transformers, which are surface-mounted or installed remotely, supply power to the rails.
Low voltage heads or low voltage pendants can be connected to the monorail, using the required adapters. Some lighting fixtures include lamps, and these are 12V, so if a 24V transformer is used, it is necessary to purchase 24V lamps separately.