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Installing Dimmable Track Lighting Without House Wiring

I recently renovated my home office to go to a standing desk configuration and simultaneously change the look, which I’d had for almost 12 years.

One of the items I wanted was track lighting so I could could have the flexibility to point task lighting exactly where I wanted it and add or subtract lighting to suit me.

My home office (a converted bedroom) doesn’t have pre-installed lighting fixtures on the walls where I wanted my track lights, and installing them would be expensive and too permanent should I want to sell the house, so I decided to create my own.

An added plus would be the ability to place dimmer switches exactly where I wanted them rather than having to walk over to the door every time I wanted to adjust lighting levels.

Following is a description of how I made my own outlet-powered custom dimmable track lighting.

Materials:

  • track lighting kit   (or purchase track, lights, track power connector and wire nuts separately)
  • light bulbs suitable for selected lights (don’t use CFL bulbs unless the package specifically notes it’s OK for dimmer use)
  • 16 gauge 3-conductor extension cord (15′ will work for most)
  • dimmer (I chose a sliding dimmer in black which also has an on\off switch)
  • “handy box” electrical box (1/2″ knockouts)
  • 1/2″ screw-in connector for flexible metal conduit (You can also use the kind that clamp the wires, but I liked the appearance of this one better)
  • toggle bolts or drywall anchors
  • switch cover plate
  • mineral spirits
  • paper towels
  • spray paint

Power notes:

  • Track lighting kit selected here is has no stated rating but a quick web search found recommendation of no more than one light per foot of track up to 38 lights per circuit – almost 20 amps – standard household lighting breaker size
  • 16 gauge 3-conductor cord selected here is rated for up to 13 amps
  • Dimmer selected here is rated for 600 watts – about 5.45 amps at 110VAC. In other words the dimmer is the main limiting factor here and household dimmers have built-in overload protection so we’re safe in this regard

Tools:

  • level
  • #2 Philips screwdriver
  • pencil
  • wire stripper
  • wire cutters
  • ladder or step stool