Types of Track Lights For Kitchens

Kitchen lighting is an important design element that serves both form and function. The right lighting can make a kitchen feel warm, inviting and highlight the beauty of the space. Track lighting is a popular choice for many kitchens because it offers directed task lighting over key areas like the countertops, sinks, and cooking surfaces. Track lights come in a variety of styles and configurations to match any kitchen’s needs and aesthetic.

Linear Track Lighting

Linear track lighting provides continuous, uniform light distribution along the entire length of the track. The track heads can be positioned and angled anywhere along the track to highlight specific areas. Linear kitchen track lighting works well over islands, peninsulas, countertops, and sinks.


  • Provides even, consistent lighting over extended areas
  • Fully adjustable track heads can be pointed to illuminated task areas
  • Simple and clean, streamlined look
  • Often comes as complete kits that are easy to install


  • Light spread can be limited on very long runs
  • More expensive than monorail or cable systems
  • Generally provides more ambient vs. task lighting

Monorail Track Lighting

Monorail track lighting consists of single rail tracks with multiple adjustable spotlights. The lights can be aimed independently to focus bright task lighting onto specific work zones like food prep areas, stovetops, and sinks.


  • Very versatile – spotlights can be precisely positioned and aimed
  • Provides both task and accent lighting
  • Spotlights come in a range of beam spreads and lighting styles
  • Easy to update spotlights over time


  • Can give a busier, less uniform look than linear lighting
  • Individual adjustable spotlights can be bumped out of alignment over time

Two-Circuit Monorail Lighting

Two-circuit monorail systems use two separate circuits in the same track, allowing for independent control over specific lights. For example, task lights over food prep areas can be kept on while accent lights over the kitchen table are turned off.


  • Allows for more customizable control over lighting
  • Maintains flexibility of monorail spotlights
  • Permits zoning of lighting for both function and ambience


  • Requires more complex initial installation
  • Operation is less intuitive with multiple switches

Low Voltage Cable Lighting

Low voltage cable lighting uses slender cables with attached spotlights. The cables can be mounted to the ceiling or hidden away for an ultra-minimalist look. The spotlights provide accent, task, and ambient lighting.


  • Very discreet, unobtrusive system
  • Easy to install, modify, and expand over time
  • Variety of mounting options: ceilings, under cabinets, racks, etc.
  • Wide selection of low voltage spotlight styles and finishes


  • Cables can sag over time and require re-tensioning
  • Less durability than track systems in high activity areas
  • Generally better suited for accent lighting than primary task lighting

LED Tape Lighting

LED tape lights consist of thin, flexible LED strips that can be mounted just about anywhere. Often used for indirect lighting or undercabinet lighting, LED tape casts uniform, glare-free illumination.


  • Very slim profile, installs easily in tight spaces
  • Diffuses soft, even lighting without hot spots
  • Durable and energy efficient
  • Many control options available like dimmers and motion sensors


  • Not suitable as primary ceiling or task lighting
  • Can experience issues with LED tape detaching from surface over time
  • Difficult to repair, usually needs full replacement when failures occur

Hardwired Track Heads

Hardwired track heads are permanently attached to electrical junction boxes. This provides a simpler, more integrated look than removable track heads. The lights are adjustable but limited to the fixed junction box locations.


  • Clean, integrated appearance
  • Allows aiming of lights after installation is complete
  • No issues with track voltage or removable parts over time


  • Less flexible than removable track spotlights
  • Junction boxes must be precisely positioned during initial install
  • Replacing or adding additional fixtures requires hardwiring

Smart Track Lighting

Smart track lighting incorporates LED fixtures with integrated wireless connectivity. This enables remote control and automation capabilities via smartphone apps, voice control, and home automation systems.


  • Adjust lighting scenes and schedules remotely
  • Integrates with other smart home devices and security systems
  • Voice control compatibility through systems like Alexa
  • Energy efficient LED technology


  • Requires hub or interface for automation control
  • Smart fixtures typically cost more than standard track lighting
  • Subject to connectivity disruptions that can impact functionality


The wide range of track lighting types provides solutions suitable for just about any kitchen. Key factors to consider are the amount of flexibility desired, primary lighting goals like task vs. accent lighting, and aesthetic preferences. Smart track lighting adds convenience plus energy efficiency. For many kitchens, a combination of track lighting types can deliver the perfect balance of form, function, and style. The key is evaluating the lighting needs of the specific space and selecting track systems to best fulfill the kitchen’s unique lighting requirements. With so many track lighting options available today, it is easier than ever to design a kitchen illuminated in a way that is truly fitting.


Here are some frequently asked questions about types of track lights for kitchens:

What are the main types of track lighting?

The most common types of track lighting are linear track, monorail track, two-circuit monorail, low voltage cable, LED tape, and hardwired track heads. They provide different options for task, accent, ambient and directional lighting.

Which is better, xenon or LED track lighting?

LED track lighting is better in most cases. LED fixtures are more energy efficient, longer lasting, and come in more customizable beam spreads and color temperatures. They also emit less heat.

Where should track lighting be placed in a kitchen?

Track lighting works well over countertops, islands, sinks, and other task areas where directed lighting is needed. Also use over dining spaces or as accent lighting.

How do I choose the right number of track light heads?

As a general rule, plan for 3-5 track heads per task area for adequate illumination. Space the track heads evenly based on the size of the area and the heads’ beam spread.

Should I get monorail or two-circuit track lighting?

It depends on your needs. Two-circuit allows more zoning and control, while single circuit monorail is simpler. Two-circuit works well if you want to control task vs. accent lighting separately.

Is track lighting difficult to install?

Track lighting is relatively easy to install compared to many other lighting fixtures. Be sure to follow all safety precautions and consider hiring an electrician if you have any uncertainties.

How do I clean track lighting?

Use a soft dry cloth or duster to gently wipe down track fixture exteriors. Dampen cloth mildly with glass cleaner for glass or plastic parts. Avoid harsh cleaners or excessive moisture near wiring or tracks.

Can I use smart switches with track lighting?

Certain smart switches designed for multi-head track lighting allow for voice control, automation and zoning. Upgrade your existing track lighting to take advantage of smart functionality.

What is the best color temperature for kitchen lighting?

Lighting between 3000K-4000K color temperature provides the bright, natural light ideal for kitchen tasks and food preparation areas. Use warmer lights like 2700K over dining spaces.

How do I get replacements for old track lighting?

Many manufacturers offer replacement spotlights and compatible new fixtures for old track systems. Visit a lighting specialty store for help finding suitable modern replacements parts.


With the variety of track lighting types and technologies available today, you are sure to find options that will enhance both the beauty and function of your kitchen. Consider your specific lighting needs, kitchen layout, design taste and budget. A lighting professional can also provide valuable guidance on selecting the perfect track lighting system to highlight your culinary workspace. With strategic lighting design, your kitchen can not only facilitate cooking and entertaining, but also provide a signature design element that makes a statement.