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What is a Pendant Light?

What is a Pendant Light?

If you’ve built a home or remodeled your kitchen recently, you probably ran across pendant lights in your search for new light fixtures.  Read on for a quick primer on pendants and how to use them…

A pendant light is one that hangs from the ceiling, much like a pendant hangs from a chain around your neck.  Often, they are smaller light fixtures, and they usually direct light down on to a surface below, but not always.

Pendants are often used in groups above kitchen islands, eating bars, wet bars and other built-in cabinetry.  While they do add light to a space, they are also chosen for their decorative flair.  From blown glass to bamboo, there is a pendant available for homes of every style and budget.

Bellacor pendants

Bellacor.com currently has more than 32,000 pendants on their site, in all styles and prices.

Pendants typically hang from their own junction box in the ceiling, but can also be installed with a track system, allowing for flexibility in the location of the fixture.

When choosing pendants, be sure that you have enough ceiling height to use them effectively.  And, choosing the size of the pendants is equally important.

A pendant should be installed about 36″ above the surface under it; so, for a pendant above a standard kitchen countertop (36″ high), your pendant will be installed with the bottom of the fixture no lower than 6′ above the floor.  If your ceiling height is only 8′, the maximum length of your pendant can only be 24″.

However, say that you installed a soffit over your kitchen island, and now you wish to add pendants above the countertop.  If the soffit extends down from the ceiling 12″, your ceiling height in that area becomes just 7′, leaving only 12″ of length for a pendant.  While you may be able to find a pendant that short, it may look odd with such a short stem or chain.  A recessed light fixture may be a better option in this case.

glass pendants

These pendants were hand-blown by a local artist, offering the space a unique look.

If you have very high ceilings, be sure the pendant you choose offers extra chain or extra-long stem lengths so you can bring the fixture down to the proper height.  Most pendants offer additional chain or stem lengths as an option.

You must also look at the width of the fixture.  Pendants come in mini sizes (4″ wide, give or take), and more standard sizes (6″-10″ wide).  Some pendants are very large, such as drum pendants with an 18″ diameter.  Choose fixtures that fit the space properly; smaller pendants work well over smaller kitchen islands or peninsulas, while very large pendants are more at home over a kitchen table.  If you choose mini-pendants, consider adding one or two extra fixtures to fill the space properly.  While you don’t want the space to feel crowded with fixtures, you also don’t want it to feel empty.

Kitchen pendants

In this large kitchen, we used 5 mini-pendants to fill the space properly.

Pendants come in a wide variety of materials, from glass to fabric, metal to wood.  Choose something to either blend in with your current decor or something that will make an accent with a pop of color or pattern.  The choices are endless!

There are thousands of pendant light options on the market.  Choose a size and material that works best for your space for the best result.

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