How to mount track lighting to a suspended t-bar ceiling

Written by tom raley
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How to mount track lighting to a suspended t-bar ceiling
(Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Adding track light to a room with a drop or suspended ceiling should not pose any major obstacles. It will require some planning, preparation and a bit of do-it-yourself know-how, but the project should be completed within a couple of hours. If possible, purchase a track-light kit intended for use with a drop ceiling. The brackets for these units will mount directly to the grid work already in place and make installation far faster and easier.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Stepladder
  • Anchor bolts
  • Hanger wire
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Determine the best location for the track lighting. Mark each location; then remove the ceiling tile on each side of the bracket to which the light will be installed. To remove the tiles, gently raise them up and tilt them slightly. The tile should slide easily out of place and will be fine to reuse after the project is completed.

  2. 2

    Mark the location for the overhead anchor points. These locations should be directly over the bracket that will be used to support the light fixtures. The brackets themselves will not support the weight, and you will need to add additional hanger wires to handle the weight. Install two eyebolts into the overhead ceiling joists.

  3. 3

    Install hanger wires, firmly attaching one end to the overhead eyebolt. Allow the hanger wire to hang down approximately 6 inches past the bracket. Insert the wire into the holes along the back of the bracket, twisting each wire until it is tight. Use the level to be certain the bracket remains level as you remove any slack from the hanger wire. If there are no pre-drilled holes in the bracket, you will need to drill 1/8-inch holes. Attach a minimum of two hanger wires, one at each end of the bracket. Add an additional hanger wire every 2 to 3 feet of bracket which will be supporting a light fixture.

  4. 4

    Route your electrical wiring to the appropriate locations. You must remember electrical codes do not allow for any splices or junctions to be made above the ceiling. The electrical wires may not lay atop the ceiling grid and cannot be support by the same hanger wires used to support the ceiling grid. Additional hanger wires will need to be installed to support all electrical work in the area.

  5. 5

    Attach the light fixture to the ceiling grid bracket. If the light is made for a suspended ceiling, it will come with clips which will easily clip onto the "T" bracket. The light will then be fitted onto these clips for easy installation. If no clips are included, you will need to drill holes in the bracket in order to mount the light fixtures. Use screws or pop rivets to secure the light fixture to the bracket.

  6. 6

    Make all electrical connections to the light fixtures. Be certain the power is turned off at the breaker panel. Be certain to test the power supply to be certain the power is indeed turned off. Make certain to properly connect all ground wires and that no bare wires are exposed. Once all connections are made, turn the power back on and test the light fixtures. When all are working properly, replace the ceiling tiles and your task is complete.

Tips and warnings

  • Never work on electrical wiring unless you are certain the power is off.

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