3 Easy Ways to Shorten Light Fixtures

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Replacement chain
Two screwdrivers
Pliers

Finding the perfect light fixtures to suit your home can pose a challenge. In many cases, you may already have fixtures that match your desired aesthetic. However, as you reorganize furniture and lighting elements in your home, these fixtures may end up too long to function properly.

Alternatively, you may decide to move fixtures from one spot to another, resulting in the fixtures being too long. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you have to buy new fixtures—there are easy ways to shorten the ones you have so they pair perfectly with your favorite furniture layout.

Safety Note: Before adjusting electronic connections, always make sure the breaker that powers the elements you're working with is switched off.

Swap Out the Down Rod

If you have a light fixture that's too long positioned on a downrod, there's a simple fix for shortening it to the desired length—change out the downrod for a chain. This same method also works for shortening a fixture already on a chain that's too long.

light with downrod

First, head to your local hardware store. It’s usually easy to find a chain in the finish you’re looking for if your fixture didn’t come with one.

Once you have the chain, turn off the breaker that controls the light, and remove the electrical wiring from the fixture. Then, use a tape measure to figure out how long you want your fixture to hang down. Lay the chain flat on an even surface and measure it against the desired length, determining how many links must be removed to achieve this.

Next, use a screwdriver to take down your light fixture (if needed) and remove the rod.

Now remove the links from the chain until it’s the length you’re aiming for. Few people know how easy this actually is. Use either two screwdrivers or one screwdriver and one pair of pliers, and push in opposite directions against the inside of a link to open it up and remove it. Do this as many times as needed.

Next, close the links by using pliers to squeeze the ends back together. Now, connect the electrical wires back to the fixture, installing wire nuts as needed. Turn your breaker back on and test that the light is in working condition. It’s as easy as that!

light with chain

Create Your Own Connector

Another simple way to shorten a light fixture to accommodate a low ceiling (or tall people) is to create your own connector, negating the need for a chain link or down rod altogether. This allows you to just connect the light fixture’s top to the ceiling, which makes it a perfect choice for head-bumping spaces.

Start by measuring the height you want your fixture to be at the end of the project. Next, turn off the light's breaker, and remove whatever connector is currently holding your light fixture, whether it's a chain or down rod. Push the excess electrical wire through the loop with a quick link or heavy gauge wire, attaching the fixture directly. Once it's secured, turn the breaker on and test your light to ensure it’s in working order.

Replace the Part

If you know who the manufacturer of your light fixture is, another option for making it shorter is to contact them. In many cases, the manufacturer can send you (for a cost) a shorter downrod or connector to accommodate your fixture.

Direct replacement makes adjusting fixture height simple, as long as the piece is available and you’re willing to pay. Going to the company for an alternate part is convenient, and it guarantees the piece will match your fixture.