Track Lighting vs Recessed Lighting

September 29, 2022

The lighting and lighting fixtures you choose in each room are important. With more lighting options available than ever before, it can be hard to decide what mix of lighting is right for you. One of the most popular approaches is to have a combination of more traditional fixtures and track lighting or recessed lighting. Here’s what you need to know about track lighting vs recessed lighting in your home:

Track Lighting

Track lighting can offer some benefits to a room, but it also isn’t necessarily the right fit for every room or situation. Here’s what to know about track lighting and how you can use it in your home:

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.

2 Big Benefits of Track Lighting

Here are a few benefits of track lighting:

1. Flexible Placement

Unlike many traditional lighting options, track lighting is not restricted to just the ceiling or to where it was initially installed. Because the electric conductors are housed within the track and not installed directly into the wall, you can place the track wherever you need to and then you can move it without requiring remodeling in most cases.

2. Highly Adjustable

In addition to flexible placement and the ability to move the structure if you need to with minimal effort, track lighting is also highly adjustable. You can use a stem and power extender to drop or raise the track to whatever height you would like.

Plus, you can rotate track lighting and angle individual lighting fixtures. This allows you to change the lighting, mood, and feeling of a room regularly. All of this gives you 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. Plus, there are plenty of modern track lighting ideas to help you get a lighting aesthetic that always looks current.

How to Use Track Lighting in Your Home

Track lighting is perfect for rooms that have high ceilings and require large amounts of light 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. This is something to consider when planning bedroom lighting design. You can also run a track around the entire perimeter of the room to fully illuminate the room.

If you have a tray ceiling in your bedroom, running lights around the perimeter is one of the tips for decorating tray ceilings. Dimmers and switches to control different tracks allow you to set up a lighting system in your bedroom that works for you.

Living Room

Getting the lighting wrong is one of the common living room design mistakes to avoid. Depending on the layout and how you plan to use it, track lighting could help you get the lighting you need in your 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. Multi-level brightness and flexible lighting are also living room design trends. 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. This is also one of the ways you can define spaces in an open concept floor plan.


Good lighting is one of the kitchen must-haves, which means 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

Recessed lighting can also offer some benefits to a room and there are plenty of ways to use it in your home. Here’s what to know about recessed lighting:

What is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting is installed into the ceiling. Hollow openings are created in the ceiling where the metal light housings 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.

Recessed lights 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.

2 Big Benefits of Recessed Lighting

Looking at the benefits of track lighting vs recessed lighting and comparing the potential drawbacks can help you determine what might work best for you. Here are a few benefits of recessed lighting:

1. More Free Space

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. This is also one of the reasons why recessed lighting is one of the functional hallway lighting ideas.

2. Wide Range of Use

Unlike hanging lights, recessed lights do not tend to collect dust as the trim and casing protect it, which makes them easier to keep clean. They can also be installed on the front porch or around walkways to brighten up these areas and upgrade your home’s exterior.

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. This is one of the reasons why adding recessed lights is one of the popular pool design trends year after year.

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. One of the walk-in closet design ideas is to install recessed lighting 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. Getting creative with lighting like this is one of the great room design ideas that can help you define spaces, get the lighting you need, and elevate the atmosphere of the room.


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. These are just some of the reasons why recessed lighting is popular and is one of the modern kitchen design ideas.

Track Lighting vs Recessed Lighting – Which is Right For Your Custom Home?

When it comes to track lighting vs recessed lighting in your home, what will work best for you 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.

Working with a reputable, experienced custom home builder, especially one with an in-house design/build process, can help you work through the details and choose the right options that will work for your needs. If you’re ready to start bringing your dream home to life, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090!