How to Install Juno Trac 12 UCL

texaskitchentooMay 31, 2010

Like many on here I searched for under cabinet lighting. I initially wanted LED but my top requirement was dimmable and color quality. Not many LED UCL are dimmable but a growing number are. Color quality on the LEDs was still too blueish and cool for us, so Xenon was the choice. Then as I looked for which fixtures to buy I came across Juno Trac 12. This is a low profile track system that can accept a variety of fixtures from low profile Xenon to MR11's and even LED fixtures. The LED fixtures are pretty expensive though. There are other makers of linear lighting (Seagull and Kitchler to name two) but these use a wire and piercing scheme, I thought the track system by Juno was a better design.

Part of what led me to the track system was the ability to place the fixtures anywhere along the track I wanted. I could also place as many as I wanted as long as I didn't exceed the transformer's limit (240W). If you get tired of what you have you can easily order new fixtures and replace them at will. I'm hoping that in a few years Juno will have better cheaper LED fixtures and I can uprade them with minimal effort. But if not we are very happy with the Xenon fixtures.

Instructions on how to design and install a system are not described anywhere on Juno's site. There is actually little information out there. I managed to figure it out but for others I'm going to document what I did if you are interested in the same sort of system. The same concepts will apply to any of the low voltage linear lighting products out there.

So the first step is to design your system....

Here is a link that might be useful: Juno Trac 12

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First design your lighting scheme. For me I wanted one run of under cabinet lights on one side of the kitchen. An independent and shorter run on the other side, and an over-cabinet run on top of the cabinets that ran to both sides of the kitchen.

This meant I needed three independent circuits. Each circuit needs a transformer of the appropriate size, track that is long enough (it can be easily cut to size), and the proper number of fixtures and bulbs. I knew I wanted 10w frosted bulbs in each fixture. I used blue painters tape to mark each location where I wanted a bulb. I placed them about 8" to 10" apart but you could opt for 5w bulbs spaced closer, or space the 10w bulbs farther apart. When I added up each circuit I had one that had only 5 bulbs, one with 12, and one with 20. Do the math, that is 50w, 120w, and 200w. So the closet transformers were 75W, 150W, and 240W. 240W is the largest run you can make before you max out the track capacity. If you need more on a circuit you need to split it up.

For the track length, just count the number of cabinets you are placing them under. The track comes in 4 foot lengths and you can cut it shorter.

Determine the number and type of fixtures you need.

Map this out on a piece of paper and then determine what connectors you need. Each section of track comes with an end feed connector and a terminal block. The end feed connector can take 12 gauge copper wire (as in 12/2 romex). The wire that runs inside the track is also 12 gauge copper. Right angle connectors and flexible angle connector are available. But if you are using Romex, and the system isn't readily visable you can just run the Romex right into the end feed connector. Each run simply ends and the end does not have to be returned to the transformer. I ordered a few right angle connectors where the feed came out of the cabinets and some additional straight end feed connectors to connect sections of track together from cabinet to cabinet.

You need either a switch or a dimmer. Dimmer is the preference. You are taking the 120v source and running it either through the switch or dimmer to the transformer. Then the transformer steps the voltage down and this feeds the track. In this case the dimmer is reducing the 120v to the transformer and the transformer then puts our 12v max to 0v (off). The fixtures get their power from the track. Since the transformers are magnetic, you need to specify dimmers for Magentic Low Voltage, not incandecent or Electronic transformers. These are usually not available in the Big Box store so order then on-line. Juno has a list of compatible dimmers but the list is not current. The Lutron Meastro is supported by Juno (I asked) and is a great dimmer to use. You need one dimmer per circuit.

Now you should have a list of all the components you need.

Now the parts...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 3:54AM
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Here are some of the parts and how they work together.

The track is a hard plastic track with two slots that has 12 guage copper running down each side. There is an end feed and a terminal on each track. The end feed has a metal block with small set screws. The copper wire runs inside this metal block and is retained by the set screw. The end feed block is held in place by a wood screw that drives into the plastic track. This picture shows a right angle connectors and the cosmetic cover. There is no difference in the terminal block in the end feed or right angle feed. The right angle feed is just two end feeds with 12 guage wire connecting them. If you aren't worried about looks you don't really need the right angle feed. Just bend the Romex. From GW Album From GW Album

The Track can be cut with a hacksaw. Before it is cut you need to back out the copper wire since the wire needs to be 1/4" longer than the track so you can re-attach the end feed. When you measure for length make sure to subtract the length of the connector. back out the wire past you mark, cut at your mark, reinsert the wires, secure, and then cut the wires 1/4" from the end. From GW Album

The transformers are a bit on the large side. They are the same physical size no matter what the power. I would have preferred a smaller transformer. You can probably get any transformer you want. If you do make sure it is potted to help reduce hum. These are potted but do hum slightly. I guess they don't kwow the words (lol). The transformer has a circuit breaker / off switch. This is required by some building codes but even if not it is a good idea to get one that has this.
From GW Album

This is the fixture for ridgid loop wire bulbs. These bulbs were the only ones that were frosted. You can probably find frosted bulbs that fit thier other fixtures. I wanted frosted not clear. The fixtrure fits in the track at a 90 degree angle then you twist it to lock it in. It is a solid connection. The bulb is not shown here. From GW Album

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 4:12AM
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Now the hard part. Installation.

Start with a power source. Since I had already torn out my backsplash I was able to tap into a circuit in the wall. I put all three runs on separate circuits. Since I was running the wires in the walls I used 12/2 Romex for everything. People get too comfortable with "low voltage" thinking there is not much power behind it. But remember, the transformer steps DOWN the voltage by '10' but steps UP the current by '10.' So you are dealing with higher currents than your normal house hold wiring. 12 guage romex works well for Trac 12 and is rated to be installed in a wall. Check your local codes or the National code if you are not sure. I would not run the low volatage wire you see in the big box stores for landscape lighting in the walls. First of all it is not rated for that and it is probably a code violation.

You want to run your source wire to the outlet location where your dimmer is placed. From this box location run your wire to the transformer location. It is kind of large but it needs to be placed in an accessible location. You can't bury it in the wall. I put them on top of the cabinets and ran the wire inside the wall up to the top of the cabinets and back out of the wall through a box. Then you need another run from the transformer (the low voltage run) to the start point of your lighting circuit.

In this picture the empty location has the source wire (with the electrical tape on it) and the wire that runs up to the transformer. The Maestro dimmer is next to two other maestro dimmers, both of these are for incandecent lights. I marked these with a "I" and the others "MLV" so I didn't get confused. The wire that comes out from the bottom of the cabinet runs from the transformer location to here where the first circuit starts. From GW Album

Connect the dimmer by joining the grounds, and white neutral wires. The black (hot) source wire connects to one end of the dimmer, the hot to the transformer goes to the other. The Meastro can operate with a companion dimmer but I'm not using it here. Hint, when you buy your boxes pay a few cents exra to get the deeper boxes, the dimmer are big and you need to stuff this all back in the box. From GW Album

The Transformer has two knock out for conduit clamps. They don't come with these clamps but they are cheap at the big box store. The 120V input is on the right, the 12V output is on the left. On the input side you connect ground to ground, neutral to neutral, hot to hot. On the output side there is only 12v and neutral. I kept the ground wire for future use, but just bent it over. It is also bent over on the track end. There is a tap for installations with higher voltage drop but I don't think this is really needed. Make the connections, secure them and replace the lid. From GW Album

The instructions say to mount this verticle but I don't think it really matters. This is for heat rejection but in this location heat is not a problem. In hindsight I would have placed these in the attic above the kitchen. I waws concerend in the Texas summer heat the attic would be too hot so I placed them in the air conditioned space, but they hum slightly (if everything is really really quiet I can hear it) and it is so big it casts a shadow which you will see later. I probably could have placed it in the vent hood cabinet instead. Oh well... lesson learned for you. I also didn't like this box and replaced it after this pic was taken. From GW Album

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 4:42AM
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Now that the hard part of the installtion is done it is all down hill from here.

I forgot to mention above but obviously turn off the power while you are doing this work!

The track installs pretty easily. I already explaned how to cut the track. I mounted the track about 1" from the inside of the front of the cabinet. This is to allow the fixture to rotate 90 deg and later I will install a light rail and this gives me a little room for that also.

The romex in this picture from the right is coming from the transformer. I bent the ground wire back and covered the romex in white duct tape to hide the yellow color. The black wire goes to one connector, the white to the other. Since the lights work on voltage differential I'm not sure it matters if you keep the blak and white wires consistent through the circuit. I did it anyway because I'm anal. But I don't think it matters. Screw the track into the underside and twist in your fixtures. Connect sections of track together with more romex and the extra end feeds you bought based on your design in step one above. The last section of track just ends. if you had a really long run of wire you might have a voltage drop by the time you get to the end that would result in dimmer lights at that end. You could loop the end back to the transformer to correct this problem but I seriously don't think this is needed. In my 200 watt run I can't see any difference in the run and that run has an extra 20' of romex in the middle of the run. From GW Album

In this photo the run goes behind the cooktop backsplash and over to the other side of the countertop area. From GW Album

So the finished product is really nice. We really like the dimmers and the ramp-up, ramp-down action. It remembers the last setting. The light color is very nice, much better then the blueish color of CFLs and LED. It does tend to yellow when you dim it. In this picture you can see the shadow cast by the transformer. You only notice this from a distance, but it annoys me. Oh well, I'll get used to it. Someday I may replace the Xenons with LEDs which may reqire a different/smaller transformer. In this case I'll get a smaller one.

At night we can light the kitchen with just the track lighting and not use the cans. When we work on the countertops we can crank up the lights and they are nicely bright. we are replacing the countertops and then once the backsplash is in I will install a light rail. The lights slightly protrude from under the counters when viwed at a low angle.

Pardon our mess while we work on the kitchen! From GW Album

That's it. I hope this was helpful.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 5:04AM
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Helpful is an understatement. Thank you so much. Will bookmark and come back to this again and again.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 6:51AM
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Nice job.

The color temperature and CRI of LED is not going to be as nice of a look as the Xenon but Philips Color Kinetics/Alkco 2700K looks pretty good and is dimmable with ELV dimmer. It's modular with built in driver in each section so easy to wire for.

It is OK to use a different brand of transformer as long as it is properly listed for the task. Q-Tran tends to make very quiet ones with a toroidal design instead of stacked plate cores. Toroidal are also more efficient putting out less heat and mountable in more positions. They even have recessed models available. Finding a source and ordering them can be more complicated. Many of the lighting companies don't make their transformers and are not selling us the best available but rather a low to middle range quality transformer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Color Kinetics

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 4:01PM
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Those transformers look nice... but expensive. I actually found an open box item for sale, 150w which could replace the transformer making the shadow in the picture. It is $164 marked down from $324. Yikes. But maybe I can sell the Juno transofrmer on eBay.

The Juno transformers were made in India. I looks like they saved a few bucks by mixing pebbles in the potting material. If I had thought more about the size of the Juno transformer I may have picked a different brand. But I got a good price on the sizes I needed so I just went with that. The Q-Tran, which I've never heard of, look like the BMW of transformers.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 4:33PM
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Hi Texaskitchen,
We are very interested in using Juno Trac 12 in our kitchen. Thank you so much for all the information and wonderful steps to installing them. My Father and Father In-law will be doing it with my Husband the weekend of July 4th and your information will be very very helpful!

I am having trouble finding the dimmable xenon lights. Would you mind telling me where you got yours?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 1:06PM
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Do you mean the actual bulbs? It depends on the type of fixture you order. Juno actually sells the bulbs but you can find them at other places. The type of bulb for the fixtures I bought are called "rigid loop" bulbs. Just do a google search on "Rigid Loop" Sometimes they are called "T3 1/4" just make sure to get the proper voltage and frosted or clear. I really like the frosted and 10W bulbs are pretty bright. Rigid loop is not the same as festoon. They are not interchangeable.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 3:25AM
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