How to Hang a Pendant Light

A trio of modern silver pendant lights hanging over a counter in a kitchen.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-200
What You'll Need
Phillips screwdriver
Orange wire connector nuts
Tape measure

As a single bulb fixture, pendant lights are often used as a source of task lighting. These lights hang from the ceiling by a rope or chain. The globe that holds the light bulb is attached at the bottom. They are generally installed in kitchens over islands and tables. This type of fixture focuses light onto a specific work space and adds character to your room. There are many pendant lights to fit all kinds of styles, colors and budgets. Once you have the hanging fixture you want, it’s easy to connect it by following these simple steps.

Step 1 - Disconnect the Power

Turn off the power to your kitchen at the breaker in the electrical panel for your home. Many panels are located in the basement. Breakers within the panel are typically labeled. Look for the breaker labeled "kitchen." There may be two breakers connected to the electrical system in your kitchen; in that case, shut off both of them.

Step 2 - Remove Your Existing Fixture

Position your ladder under the existing fixture that you want to replace. Use the ladder to reach and remove the light bulb from the ceiling fixture. Once you've placed the light bulb in a safe spot you will need to unscrew the collar of the fixture. You'll need to take your screwdriver up the ladder with you to get this done. After you've unscrewed the collar, disconnect the wires running from the fixture to the electrical box. Most boxes have three wires that need to be detached: black, white, and copper. Carefully place the fixture you removed on a flat surface along with all of the connection screws that go with it. Lastly, remove the mounting bracket that held the fixture into place. Once the fixture and the bracket are removed, you should be able to clearly see the electrical box that powers your light fixtures.

Step 3 - Assemble Your Pendant Light

lime green couch and decor in modern room

While many pendant lamps are available preassembled, there are some that require assembly. If you have a fixture that needs to be put together, be sure to get all of the information before you start. Read the assembly instructions provided by the manufacturer of your pendant lamp. Following the instructions, assemble all of the pieces including the mounting bracket, the collar, the globe, the chain or cord, and the wiring. The wiring for the lamp should run through the cord which is connected to collar. The collar hides the electrical mechanisms that enable the fixture to function.

Step 4 - Attach the New Fixture

Attach the mounting bracket for your new pendant light to the electrical box. Use the screws provided by the manufacturer. Next, find the white, black, and copper wires within the electrical box. Connect the copper wire around the green screw of your new fixture and tighten the screw into place. Connect the black wires from the electrical box and the light fixture using an orange connecting nut. Take the ends of both wires so the tops are together and screw the connecting nut over them. Do the same with the white wires. Position all of the wires inside the box and then secure the pendant light collar over the box and secure it in place.

Step 5 - Check the Height

Check to see that your light is hanging at the proper height. You'll need a family member or friend to help you with this part. Pendant lights are usually positioned to hang about 30 inches from a work space. Use your tape measure to determine the distance 30 inches up from your work surface. If you prefer a different height, make the changes you would like. To adjust the height of your fixture, pull up on the cord and tuck it under the mounting bracket. Keep in mind that if you hang your pendant too high it will not be as effective and if you hang it too low, it can easily get in the way and become broken.

Step 6 - Secure the Light Bulb

white kitchen

You can use the light bulb from your old light fixture in your new pendant unless you want to take this time to replace it with a bulb that is more efficient. There are many new types of light bulbs that last longer than ever. These bulbs are more effective for pendant lights since you won’t have to change them as often. You might also want to reconsider the bulb wattage and color you want to use. Bulbs with higher watts produce a more powerful light. Be sure you check with the manufacturer guidelines when choosing a new bulb for your fixture.

Step 7 - Reconnect the Power

Once your new pendant light is hanging properly, reconnect the electricity to your kitchen. Go back to the electrical panel and turn the switch to the "on" position. Turn the light switch on in the kitchen to ensure that your light is operating as it should.