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I have 20 year old track lights that I would like to replace. They are Lightolier brand which is now owned by Philips. The track heads have transformers in them that buzz loudly. New track heads are hard to come by and are about $100 each.

When they were installed, they were recessed to be flush with the ceiling. Can I replace the track without replacing the recessed fixture? I can't tell if the track and fixture are one piece, or if the track is a separated piece that fits inside the fixture.

The track part is 48 inches (4 feet) long and 1.25 inches wide. The recessed part is about 6 inches longer and wide enough that the track part appears to fit perfectly inside.

enter image description here

Here is one of the track heads that I took apart. It has a surprising amount of circuitry in it. I would have expected the wires to connect directly to the bulb without anything intervening.

enter image description here

  • Those are low voltage heads. That circuitry is the transformer to go from 120V to 12V and be dimmable. They use 12V lamps, likely MR-16 halogen. ....... If you have a dimmer and go with new heads then you need to confirm the type of dimmer it is and if it's compatible with the new heads. – Speedy Petey Mar 5 '16 at 1:31
  • I see, those are 12V bulbs. I have a new plan then. I'm going to retrofit the heads with 110v GU10 LED bulbs. I'll remove that circuit board, and wire them directly. It looks like I can buy GU10 sockets pretty cheaply. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 5 '16 at 3:17
  • ylighting.com also says that any WAC L-series heads will fit these Lytolier Lytespan tracks, so I can try to get new heads at a more reasonable price too. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 5 '16 at 3:21
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The track and the housing are apparently separate components, judging by the photo. The question is how well they're fastened together. I'll be surprised if anyone knows that particular fixture well enough to tell you offhand.

I wouldn't hesitate to investigate. Disconnect power and start disassembling. Use a rotary grinder if necessary to remove rivets, screw tips, or sheet metal tabs.

  • I've taken out all the screws I can see other than the ones holding on the electrical wire. If I investigate further, I will almost certainly break something in such a way that I won't be able to put it back. I'm hoping to get some advice before that point of no return. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 3 '16 at 18:04
  • I'm not sure why you'd want to put it back. Are the $100 lights still under consideration? Then get cracking! Literally! – isherwood Mar 3 '16 at 20:51
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    The ones I have work, but they have an annoying buzz. I'm still at the point where I could put everything back and live with the buzzing. But maybe you are right, I should just bite the bullet and break something. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 3 '16 at 20:56
  • I guess at the very least I should verify that I can get 4 foot tracks that are 1.25 inches wide before continuing. If I break something and I can't even get a replacement track that would fit.... – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 3 '16 at 20:57
  • Yes, I thought that was the plan. – isherwood Mar 3 '16 at 21:23
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These almost look custom made. The track inside looks like standard track though.

Have you tried some other kinds of track lights to see if it will fit into this track?

Full voltage track lights don't use the transformers but use 120 volt lamps.

I would just buy some cheap lights at the box store and try them if they don't fit return them for refund. Maybe even try a couple other brands or cheaper Phillips track lights.

Before you break it exhaust all your options. The tracks themselves are probably good for 100 years.

Good luck!

  • I haven't been out shopping with a ruler yet, so I'm not sure if I can get 1.25" wide tracks. I added a picture of the track head and circuitry to the question. My voltage meter shows that there is indeed 120v AC where the wires enter the track. I'm not sure what all the circuitry is for. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 4 '16 at 12:24
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That is Lightolier track. The track, recessed "housing" and heads are all separate.

You can likely replace just the track with a lesser brand as long as the width is the same, which it probably is.

Lightolier has an inexpensive line of track heads you may want to consider. Replacing the tracks just to get cheaper heads is quite a bit of work and you have the added cost of the tracks.

  • I haven't found that line of inexpensive track heads by searching online. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 4 '16 at 12:23
  • I kind of misspoke. It's not a line as such but they do have what I would call budget heads, at least for them. – Speedy Petey Mar 4 '16 at 12:25
  • You may also want to consider WAC lighting. Their heads are available in L series which is Lightolier compatible. waclighting.com/products/17 – Speedy Petey Mar 4 '16 at 12:37
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I managed to get the tracks out of the recessed housing without breaking anything. There are two holes in the track with screws behind them. Those screws accept a 1/8" allen wrench. The tracks have a flange mechanism to hold them into the housing:

The housing is Lightolier brand like the track and lamps. Once I removed the track, I found a sticker with information about it:

enter image description here

It would not be easy to find new tracks this fit in this recessed container:

  • Tracks are not typically exactly 1.25" wide
  • Tracks do not usually have this flange mechanism. You would have to jury rig some other method of attaching them in the housing.

http://www.ylighting.com/blog/track-lighting-installation-tips/ explains the history of track lighting. Lightolier pioneered a style of track and head that is now designed "L" (as in Lightolier). The tracks are "LT" (Lightolier Tracks) and the heads that fit have "L" style connectors to the track. All the WAC brand heads can be ordered in "L" style. Those heads will fit Lightolier track.


(source: ylighting.com)

Rather than replace the tracks, I have found some $30 track heads with "L" connectors that I am happy with. I ordered one to test it and it did fit the track. It turns on an everything.

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