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There are countless varieties of low voltage art lighting fixtures on the market, and an almost infinite number of fixtures styles available within each individual type.

Low voltage over the picture lights

These lighting fixtures are also called picture lights because they attach directly to the frame and extend over the top of the picture. The most popular over the picture art lights are low voltage LED units that either operate with a concealed low voltage transformer or eliminate wiring altogether with internal battery power. They are remarkably inexpensive, safe, and easy to install and transport.


Although they do not create the most formal presentations, they often prove invaluably convenient in temporary settings such as picture lighting public art sales, lighting exhibitions and lighting municipal displays where local art or classroom art from public schools is showcased.

Low voltage art lighting with recessed fixtures

Recessed picture lights are so named because they resided in a recessed fixture that is either partially or completely embedded in the ceiling. They can be equipped with dimmers to allow the user direct control over lighting levels. Lenses can also be covered with filters to eliminate UV and IR radiation, placing only the desired portions of the spectrum over the piece.

The primary advantage of recessed accent lights is a concealed light source that can be projected at a precise angle toward a picture(s) on display.

The disadvantage of low voltage recessed art lights is that multiple fixtures must be used to light an entire row of pictures, or a large number of pieces along a wall. If there are too many works in the collection, it becomes impractical to install an equivalently large number of recessed lights in the ceiling.

Low voltage art lighting with track lights

Track lights are so called because they hang suspended from a track that runs parallel to a wall. They offer an advantage in number over recessed lights. In a gallery where a wall may be full of paintings or photographs from a specific genre, any number of track light installation techniques can be installed to provide an individual light source for each individual work. Mono-point surface mount accent lights are also a viable alternate.

The obvious disadvantage to track lighting is lack of concealment. Track lights are impossible to hide and are clearly visible to the viewing audience.

Low voltage lighting with Art projectors

Recessed Framing Projector lights represent the highest level of sophistication in low voltage art lighting. They hang suspended from the ceiling on inverted pedestals. Capable of rotating a full 360 degrees, art projectors can be aimed at any point in the room to illuminate a two dimensional image or three dimensional sculpture.

Most contain some sort of filtration technology as well that strips the light beam of IR and UV wavelengths prior to the light ever passing through the lens. However, many art lighting manufactures are limited by fixed optical systems that prohibit fine-tuning adjustments known as “key stoning”—a technique lighting designers use to eliminate glare and frame shadows. Others are bulky and clearly visible hanging from the ceiling and present an inconvenient challenge to rotate and fine tune. This can result in a “fuzzy” lighting effect, or it can create light “spillage” beyond the boundaries of the frame.

To achieve the level of precision adjustment necessary to completely shape the light to the exact dimensions of the artwork itself, it is necessary to use a projector such as the Phantom Contour projector with a variable optical design that will allow the shutter blade system to be locked into a specific position and fine tuned using custom templates and internal filters. This then allows the light beam to shape itself to the piece, making it look lighted from within.

Give the team at Phantom Lighting a call toll-free at 800-863-1184 when you’re ready to discuss an LED art lighting products or to start the design process of upgrading your existing Halogen projectors to LEDs. You can also fill out our online request form for more information.

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