There is a tremendous range of decorative ceiling lights from which to choose.

Normally they replace an existing rose and pendant fitting. They’re not difficult to install but they may require some modification to the existing wiring.

Lighting in a room has become more sophisticated. Whereas a central light was once the only form of lighting, giving uneven illumination and shadowy corners, you can now use spotlights, concealed lighting, wall-washers and downlighters, as well as table and standard lamps, to create more interesting lighting effects.

But the central light still has an important role to play. The tendency is for it to be more decorative and less functional; to be an attractive feature in a room even when turned off. You can, of course, always change lampshades to transform an ordinary pendant fitting, but there is now an ever-increasing number of decorative fittings which replace the pendant ceiling rose entirely. Whether they are ornate chandeliers, glass and brass lanterns or modern designs in multi-coloured acrylics, the choice is so large there is something to match the decoration in any room.

These fittings either hang down from the ceiling on a rod, chain or cord, or are close-mounted on the surface.

Close-mounted fittings are the answer to many lighting problems in smaller houses and flats, or in houses with low ceilings, because they give a good general spread of light and are unobtrusive.

As general room lights, ceiling-mounted spotlights can make a room look rather bare and cold. However, you can use other lights to supplement them. You can also use lighting track to enable more than one spotlight to be used from the same lighting point. Sometimes, particularly in smaller houses, bulky lighting track can look obtrusive. You can remedy this by recessing it into the ceiling, but you’ll have to make sure that the track you buy is suitable.

Rise-and-fall pendants enable you to adjust the height of a light simply by pulling it down to the required level. They have particular uses other than over a dining table. Breakfast bars and through-room conversions from kitchen to dining room are becoming increasingly popular, and rise-and-fall pendants are ideal here because they can be pushed out of the way when the meal is finished.

Even a lampshade ring, then it must be earthed and so it should have a three-core flex. This is particularly necessary for pendants, which are suspended from a flat, metal ceiling-plate by a chain, and for the type where the flex runs down a hollow rod to the lights, as in some stem spotlights.

Making the connection

In all probability, your fitting will not connect directly to a ceiling rose and so you’ll first have to remove the rose. But remember that before you carry out any electrical work you must turn off the power first. If you’ve got lighting track you can connect the flex from an existing ceiling rose into it, but this isn’t a very neat method.

Once you’ve unscrewed the rose cover you’ll be able to tell what type of wiring you’ve got – junction (joint) box or loop-in.


Otherwise known as terminal conduit boxes. Install them where there is no room behind the base plate of the fitting to join the circuit cable to the flex. They are made of metal or tough PVC.


The box must be recessed into the ceiling and screwed to a joist or fixing batten.


With loop-in wiring you will usually have to remove the loop-in rose and install a BESA box. Connect the mains and switch cables to the flex from the fitting using terminal connectors as shown (A). With junction-box wiring you may not need a BESA box unless the fitting is suspended from one; connect the single feed cable either directly to the terminals on the fitting, or use terminal connectors (B).

How to Fit Track Lighting

If you want a really versatile way of lighting I a room, a spotlight track fitted to a lighting point on the ceiling is the answer. All you have to do to reposition a light is to slide it along the track and if you want to change the direction of the beam then you simply twist the fitting on its mounting. The system can be made even more flexible if the track is connected to a dimmer switch.

There are several different makes of lighting track and, although they are not interchangeable, they all work on the same principle. The metal track is sold in units about a metre long and these can be coupled together to extend the length of track so more lights can be run from it. The track conceals the electrical conductors which run along its length, and it’s impossible to touch these when attaching a spotlight. On some systems there are fixed outlet points along the track and a coiled flex enables the lights to be slid to their required positions.

Fitting the track

Installing a track lighting system is virtually the same as installing a fluorescent fitting. The bar has no facilities for dealing with loop-in wiring, so you’ll have to install a junction box and then run a single cable to it if you have this system. Alternatively you can fix the bar next to the ceiling rose and connect it to the three-core flex from the rose, but this is not a neat method.

The spotlights themselves come in a range of designs and for practical reasons. it’s best to fit a maximum of three per track. Check, when doing so, that you’re not overloading your lighting circuit.

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