Published In August 2000
With great interior design, less is often more. Smaller is often better than bigger. Designers and end-users want lighting fixtures that are diminutive and unobtrusive, but they do not want to sacrifice the strength or efficiency of lighting sources. Following the direction of today’s designers and specifiers, electrical contractors increasingly seek lighting that is smaller, but which also delivers the same quality and efficiency as larger fixtures. Through the 1990s and into the new century, the number of track and recessed lighting installations has grown tremendously, mainly due to the evolution of the halogen light bulb. This surge in the use of halogen bulbs has enabled leading lighting manufacturers to create miniature fixtures with state-of-the-art technology and innovative designs. Now—through track or recessed lighting—manufacturers can provide exceptional quality, a brighter and whiter energy-efficient light source, and better clarity of color and texture on home and commercial furnishings. Tremendously versatile for lighting, miniature fixtures use the smaller MR-11 and MR-16 bulbs in hard-to-light locations without compromising quality and efficiency. In fact, miniature halogen lamps—in many cases—offer the same amount of light as their larger counterparts, but with improved quality. Halogen is not only used for new lighting systems, but also as retrofit fixtures—designed to replace older, less-efficient light bulbs in existing tracks. The introduction of the halogen PAR lamp bulb—ranging from 20 to 90 watts—has injected new life into existing track systems. Whether suspended from overhead systems or attached to wall brackets, track units are effective at highlighting wall art, decorative accessories, and plants. In addition to wall brackets, track extensions, and suspension kits, swivel adapters are available to mount track units to accommodate sloped ceilings. These accessories enable electrical contractors to get the most out of these miniature fixtures. Miniature recessed fixtures can be installed to wash a wall with an even light and graze textured walls to highlight specific areas—adding drama by creating focal points of interest. Functional and unobtrusive, miniature recessed lighting offers a clean look and complements the architecture and design of a home, office, or commercial facility. In the kitchen, miniature recessed fixtures give luster to dinnerware, serving accessories, and collectibles in cabinets and hutches. Adjustable recessed fixtures make glass shelves and glassware sparkle, providing added illumination for serving and cleanup. In other residential installations, miniaturized recessed fixtures are ideal for spotlighting objects on walls, tabletops, counters, and floors. The smaller size of these light sources makes them very adaptable for inside and above cabinets, on shelving, under counters, and virtually anywhere a small light source is needed. Miniature recessed trims can be easily installed on a finished ceiling employing a variety of housings, or often without housings in other applications. Miniature recessed, track, and linear fixtures offer a broad range of applications for hard-to-light areas. Here are some common examples: Under cabinets and countertops, fixtures provide shadow-free, even illumination at any desired level; Inside cabinets, breakfronts, and etageres, fixtures spotlight keepsakes, ornaments, and dinnerware with a warm, even light that enhances any room or display; For toe-space lighting, smooth, soft light makes a dramatic design statement. Fixtures are installed under kitchen and bath cabinets, at the bottom shelf of bookcases and etageres, or behind a fascia on steps; Fixtures can be built into a cove near the top of a wall; lamp wattage and the number of lampholders along the linear strip will determine the amount of light; Fixtures can be installed surface-mounted, regressed on ceilings, or under cabinets for a smooth, even presentation; The miniature track can be regressed for a “built-in look” in shelves and countertops, over and under cabinets, and in other hard-to-light areas where indirect or track lighting is needed in very small spaces; A miniature track can be suspended from the ceiling by a suspension kit, which accommodates sloped ceilings common in today’s modern homes; and Linear fixtures also can be attached to tracks mounted to the wall by available brackets, to spotlight objects. What was not possible a decade ago is now a lighting reality. Miniature lighting provides electrical contractors with versatile, unobtrusive solutions to various lighting needs. Advances in halogen bulb technology have given birth to a host of lighting applications, limited only by the creativeness of lighting manufacturers, designers, specifiers, and electrical contractors. SCHWARTZ, a seasoned executive of the lighting industry, is vice president of sales and marketing for W.A.C. Lighting in Garden City, N.Y. He can be reached by telephone at (800) 526-2588, by fax at (800) 526-2585, or via e-mail at email@example.com.