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Question DetailsAsked on 6/29/2017

i have a low voltage Tech Lighting Monorail and want to replace it with 120 v light fixture. can I do it?

it hasn't worked correctly from installation. I have 3 pendants that flicker and eventually burned through the metal connector piece that attaches to the monorail. It gets too hot to touch. Currently I have only one pendant that works. I would like to get rid of the low voltage and replace with a standard light fixture 120V. Can i do this?

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On the gets too hot to touch - WAYYYY too many pieces of junk are being certified as UL rated which should not be - ones using 12V circuit boards for 120V service, transformers or bulbs which get way too hot in use, high-temperature halogen lights in close proximity to wiring or transformers which then get fried, way too light duty or poorly or totally unprotected contacts in track lights, powered feeds in tracks which are only a small fraction of an inch from contacting bare metal with no insulation in between, even totally exposed 120V feed buses in tracks, etc. If you had seen some of the burnouts and shorting I have you would never consider low voltage lighting again.

You would need to go back to where the 120V wiring connects to the low-voltage transformer for your lighting - actually three common possibilities and one (case 2) rare one:

1) if it uses a remote transformer (commonly right in or next to the switch box), then you would have to replace the low voltage wiring from the switch (and possibly the switch, depending on whether wired to current code or not so the 120V rather than the 12V goes through the switch) to the pendants - this is the most severe case and might involve some tearing into the walls to run the 120V wiring to the pendants. (Though some architects think ahead and specify 120V wiring to the fixtures even for the 12V runs to accomodate this sort of change in the future).

2) a variation on above - a rarity but likely to become more common, is a 12V adapter breaker in the breaker panel, which is both a circuit breaker and has a 12V transformer built into it as well, so the outgoing circuit is 12V all the way from the breaker box - obviously, if wired with 12V rated wiring, would mean rewiring all the way back to the breaker box - or tapping another circuit for the replacement 120V lights. Personally I think these adapters are an invitation to disaster, because if the transformer burns out (as they commonly do) you then have a potential fire or at least overheating of adjacent breakers in the panel - plus the risk that the breaker for that circuit will not work correctly due to the overheating from the failed transformer. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anything in the NEC prohibiting putting a transformer in a breaker panel or junction box.

3) if it uses a termination point transformer, generally mounted in the ceiling at one of the pendant electrical boxes, then has low voltage wiring (or track) to each of the three pendants from there, you would have to remove the transformer and run 120V wiring from there to each pendant - again commonly some finish surface damage might be needed if not accessible from above, say from an attic. If the current pendants are connected by track or cable race that would have to be replaced either by conventional in-ceiling wiring, or by surface-mount 120V wiring rated architectural cable race and compatible (likely THHN) wire between the 3 pendants. [Note normal NM or Romex cable is NOT legal in a race or conduit - you need a higher temperature rated wire, normally THHN or THWN (which is the outdoor version)].

4) if each pendant has 120V incoming wiring and fixture-mounted transformers (a lot more common on low voltage recessed lighting and track lighting than on pendants) where there is a mini transformear for each light fixture, then you just remove the transformers with the existing pendants (which is sometimes part of or built into the fixture) and hook the new 120V fixtures into the 120V wiring at each pendant box.


If you find the system is wired 12V (or 24V or whatever your low voltage system uses) from the light switch, sometimes (especially if pendant locations are readily accessible from attic or such) it is easier on the finished surfaces to just abandon that wiring and run new wiring to the pendants and to a switch - either the original switch location or abandon the old switch and put new one at a more convenient location which requires less interior surface damage to run the wiring. The presence of special interior finishes like wood surfaces or textured surfaces which are hard to match might also factor into where wiring is run - I have done some pretty circuitous (even to another story of the building) wiring to avoid tearing into high-quality, very expensive, or hard to match surfaces on this sort of rewiring job.

Obviously, unless you are at least moderately experienced and competent at interior wiring, case 4) is likely the only DIY case for you - or the other cases IF the wiring runs were all with 120V rated wiring regardless of being used for low voltage. Obviously, you woiuld at a minimum have to be able to see some cable to determine its rating, and use a volt-ohm meter to determine where you are getting 12 or 20V and where 120V power. Otherwise an Electrical contractor is the Search the List category you want to use to find a well-rated and reviewed contractor to assess your situation and do the necessary rewiring - plus maybe Handyman for plater/drywall repair and repainting.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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