Track Lighting vs. Recessed Lighting in Your Home

January 20, 2015

One of the most important but largely overlooked features of your home is, of course, the lighting that you choose for each room. People may not often admire your choice of lighting fixtures when they enter the room, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. In fact, that makes it even more important, as the choice of lighting exists in the background of a room’s aesthetic, informing one’s initial impression of a room as well as how comfortable one is there, how capable you are of accomplishing particular tasks there, and so on. These days, your choices for lighting go beyond lamps and sconces and other more traditional methods of lighting. Instead, track lighting and recessed lighting are coming into the home at a breakneck pace. Here’s what you need to know about tracking lighting vs recessed lighting in your home:

Track Lighting

What is Track Lighting?

Track lighting is a specialized lighting system where the light fixtures are attached to a continuous track or railing. Instead of routing electricity to each individual lighting fixture, electrical conductors are placed within the track device, which then feeds electricity to the lighting fixtures attached to it. It can be mounted to a ceiling or a wall to provide light to a room.

Benefits of Track Lighting

Track lighting offers several benefits. First and foremost, track lighting is not as restricted by the ceiling and initial placement. Because the electric conductors are housed within the track, it can be easily placed and moved about as you see fit. In fact, track lighting is highly adjustable, and can be dropped or raised using a stem and power extender; this allows you to change the lighting, mood, and feeling of a room regularly. The ability to rotate track lighting and to angle the individual lighting fixtures allows for even greater flexibility and customization in your lighting! You can also vary the shape and style of the track you use for a unique look.

How to Use Track Lighting in Your Home

Track lighting is perfect for rooms that have high ceilings and require large amounts of light to be shed from certain angles. It’s also a great fit for areas where you need to be able to create maximum light in targeted spaces.


Track lighting can be a great way to highlight a vanity, workspace, or reading area in a bedroom. You can also run a track around the entire perimeter of the room to fully illuminate the room. Dimmers and switches to control different tracks allow you to set up a lighting system in your bedroom that works for you.

Living Room

Similar to the bedroom, you can use track lighting to spotlight certain areas of the room or run tracks along the perimeter to provide plenty of light. If your living room is set up to have multiple functional areas, like a space for the TV and a separate reading area, you can use track lighting to adjust the lighting of the room for those areas. People who want to watch TV can dim or turn off the track handling their lights while anyone in the reading area can leave theirs on for plenty of illumination. 


The kitchen is another great fit for track lighting. If you have a kitchen island, you can install track lighting above it to illuminate a prep space, the bar while entertaining, or the countertop where children are doing homework or you are trying to get work done. A track in the center of the kitchen allows you to angle individual fixtures to spotlight and illuminate previously shadowed workspaces.

Recessed Lighting

What is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting is installed into the ceiling. Hollow openings are created in the ceiling where the metal light housing are installed above the ceiling line. No part of the light hangs down from the ceiling and the only visible parts of the fixture are the trim and part of the inner baffle. They require extensive ceiling wiring and cannot be easily moved after initial placement, but they are often well worth the effort. Recessed lights, also sometimes called can lights or downlights, concentrate light downward. They can be a broad floodlight or a narrow spotlight, which gives you flexibility in how you need to illuminate a room.

Benefits of Recessed Lighting

Because recessed lights are installed above the ceiling line, there is nothing hanging down to interrupt the space. Not only does this free up space in a room with lower ceilings, but it also makes a room feel bigger because there are no fixtures taking up visual space. Unlike hanging lights, recessed lights do not tend to collect dust as the trim and casing protect it. If you choose sealed units, they are waterproof, which allows you to install recessed lighting in water-sensitive environments, like a shower stall or pool area.

How to Use Recessed Lighting in Your Home

Recessed lighting is often more ideal for areas where you want to spotlight an area or provide a ton of light without having lighting fixtures take up space. They’re a good fit for rooms with both low and high ceilings.


Recessed lights can be used to highlight specific parts of a room or can be used to provide a maximum amount of light. They can be installed in a walk-in closet for illumination that doesn’t take up extra space. Much like track lighting, recessed lighting is also a good fit for spaces above vanities, dressers, or workspaces.

Living Room

The living room is a room often used for hanging out day-to-day and also for entertaining, so it needs the right atmosphere. Recessed lighting provides a clean look to this room with just the right amount of light for relaxing or socializing. It also lets you highlight certain areas for aesthetic reasons, like a set of bookshelves, a cabinet of collectibles, or art.


With a lot of foot traffic in and out of the kitchen, things moving about, and food being prepared, recessed lighting provides plenty of light for these activities without any fixtures getting in the way. Plus, recessed lights are directional, which makes them perfect task lights for the kitchen. You can also install recessed lighting above a kitchen island to illuminate the area while keeping the ceiling clear of potential obstructions.

When it comes to track lighting vs recessed lighting in your home, it all depends on the style and function you want. Both options can provide full light or spotlights depending on their installation and angles. Each option has its own benefits and preferred uses, so it’s all up to the look you want in a room and how much flexibility you need to change lighting placement.