Definition Of Pendant Light Definition The Spruce

August 12, 2018 8:18 am by sandiego
The 8 best pendant lights to buy in 2018
The 8 best chandeliers to buy in 2018
Definition Of Pendant Light Definition The Spruce

Clean Lines. If you have a modern house, recessed lights are probably the way to go–they minimize obstructions and let you concentrate on other aspects of the home.

One way retailers make that easy: by selling pendant lights in packs of three or more to save on shipping costs and, therefore, your overall costs. This…MORE set of three clear glass lamps will display popular Edison-style bulbs, and you can space them as close together or far apart as you need to do get the lighting coverage you’re looking for.

Fixture Shown Here: Portfolio Satin Nickel Flush Mount from Lowe’s

A pendant light is any light fixture that is mounted to the ceiling and hangs down from the ceiling on a rod or chain or, sometimes, on three chains. It’s suspended like the pendant on a necklace, and that’s where it gets its name.

Recessed lights–also called canister or can lights–came of age in the 1970s and 1980s. It seems that every house built in the Eighties had recessed lights. Of course, their ubiquity meant that they would soon become roundly disliked.

Did you know you can turn just about anything into a pendant? A tin can, outdated globe and kitchen colander are just a few of the surprising objects that can be transformed with a simple pendant light kit. And before you worry that this is too big a project for a lay crafter, know that all you really need to know how to do is to drill a hole in whatever object you’re transforming, then screw it onto the lighting kit— it’s easy! This can be a great way to turn a memento into a decorative object…MORE or to give a space a truly unique look. The only real consideration is that the object you use not be too heavy (to pull out of the ceiling) or flammable (should the bulb get warm). Other than that, you’re imagination’s the limit! This pendant light kit is a simple plug-in option and has 14 different cord options to make a real style statement.

Costly. By virtue of the amount of materials used in chandeliers (more metal, more bulbs, etc.), chandeliers tend to be expensive. That’s one reason why you confine chandeliers to one place, instead of sprinkling them all around the house.

When most people think of chandeliers, they think of fancy fixtures dripping with sparkling glass.

Your options have expanded beyond the chandelier lights of old. Lights can be mounted within the ceiling or hung far down as pendants.

That’s…MORE why our pick for the best overall pendant light comes in a classic warehouse-style shape, a popular style that you can make your own through slight variations in shape, finish and size. This one has clean lines and comes in six different finishes — including kelly green and cherry red, alongside the classic neutral colors — to match just about any space.

The 8 Best Pendant Lights to Buy in 2018 Brighten up your space with these hanging lamps

A newer version of the track light. Rail or cable lights pull their power from a continuous, charged metal rail or thin cable (your choice). Unlike the track light’s track, which was meant to be camouflaged, rails and cables are meant to be seen: they are part of the style. Where to Install: Kitchen, bathroom, den, mancave, home theater.

In your kitchen, if you have an island or a peninsula base with no overhead cabinets as part of your counter space, one or more pendant lights can provide as much light as you need without interfering with your work area. At the same time, these lights can add to the general lighting in the room.

Fixture Shown Here: The Maxim MX 92320 from

Adjustable Height. Chandelier fixtures usually can be adjusted up or down to better accommodate the table below.

A pendant light fixture can be mounted as the central fixture in almost any room. Or one or more can be used to light a corridor or hallway. When a pendant light is used as a porch light, it is providing the general lighting for that porch.

Hung above the sink, a fabulous pendant can add a hint of glamour to a small space, and use the help of the vanity mirror to reflect light through the room. It’s a good alternative or supplement to vanity lighting, with fewer restrictions space-wise to choose a style you love. Especially in a powder room, where you don’t need bright light for everyday tasks like shaving or putting on makeup, pendant lighting is a guest-friendly way to light the room without being garishly bright. It can also be…MORE a place to play with a fun lighting style, like this vintage-inspired cage light with Art Deco roots.

Adjustable. Like the track light, you can slide the lights along the rail or cable to any spot.

Fixture Shown Here: The LBL Lighting Straight Rail Monorail System Kit from

They can run on thin cables or easy-to-install tracks. Let’s look at your basic ceiling light fixture options, except for a couple of the least popular (fluorescent and spot lights):

Recessed lights consist of the metal canister and the bulb. Both are housed within the ceiling itself, so that no part of the light protrudes below ceiling level.

Fixture Shown Here: allen + roth 18-Light Bronze Chandelier from Lowe’s.

In the kitchen, you need pendant lights not to just deliver on style, but to work as targeted surface lights for everything from cutting vegetables to paying bills at night. Because kitchen islands are typically long, wide areas, you will probably need more than just one light. Two large ones can typically do the trick, or a set of three or more smaller ones will work well, also. These can each be individually hung, or can all hang from one track to keep them perfectly aligned. Make sure the…MORE lights hang at least 28 to 34 inches above the countertop so that you have space to work​ and consider going slightly higher if you’re a taller person or have kids who might think those swinging lights are toys.

What if you wanted to provide good light over a sofa that set out in a room? A bright light hanging at each end might be nice for reading by, and some less intense lights hanging over the sofa itself might make it feel more comfortable, particularly if it’s a long piece.

Adjustable. Yes, in theory, you can endlessly move track lights along the track. Will you, in practice, do this? That’s the question. You might do this in a room with a lot of activity, such as a workshop or hobby room.

Difficult to Move. You would need to access the light from the attic, patch the existing hole, cut a new hole, and re-install.Fire Danger. Certain types of recessed lights can be covered in insulation in the attic.

Even so, some residential codes do not allow installation of recessed lights in such areas due to inherent fire hazards.

Fluorescent tube fixtures hung over the workbench in your garage are another example of pendant lights used as work lights. The same fluorescent fixtures, hung over the planting beds in your greenhouse, attic or basement, and fitted with ultraviolet bulbs (tubes), are also pendant lights that are lighting work, or helping you with a task

Check out our other reviews of the best kitchen lights available on the market today.

Or it can just bring the light down to a more effective height for the room — especially if you have a high ceiling. 

One appealing quality of a pendant lights, when they’re used for general lighting, is that many of these fixtures are designed to throw at least some of the light up, onto the ceiling. As that light spreads across across the ceiling and is reflected back down, it helps us see more of the room, or hallway, of course. But it also helps us see the room or hallway itself. It shows us the edges and corners of the space, giving us a better sense of where we are, and of the ways we might best fit into it and move through that space.

One of the valuable things about a pendant fixture is that it brings the light down from the ceiling and puts it closer to your counter or table or favorite chair, or wherever you’re going to need it. As this implies, pendant lights can be very useful for task lighting.

Unsightly Tracks. The tracks are large and difficult to disguise.

Where to Install: Kitchen, bathroom, den, mancave, home theater, hobby room, workshop.

Because the definition is so broad, there are a lot of different, and different-looking, light fixtures that are called pendant lights. The most basic ones have a single light bulb mounted base up, inside a globe or under an open shade or open reflector. But lanterns, fixtures that take bulbs mounted base down — such as chandeliers — and many of the different heads available for track lights are also part of the family.

Ceiling light fixtures are relatively new within the scheme of house lighting. Gas lighting near the ceiling gave way to the newer knob-and-tube method of running electrical wire. This meant that wires could be run between floors or in an attic with relative safety.

There are a lot of different ways we use pendant lights. Pendant fixtures are used for general lighting, area lighting and task lighting. We use them in our entry halls, stairwells, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and family rooms — even on our porches. We use pendant lights to light up narrow hallways, to highlight our photos, paintings and sculpture, and to add sparkle to a fountain. Pendant lights, in one form or another, often provide the lighting we need almost anywhere in our homes.​

For a time in the late 1990s, pendant lights were the hottest thing, the ultimate in urbanity. Now that their influence has spread, it’s their functionality that has remained. Pendant lights are a wonderful way to bring light closer to your work surface.

Quality of Light. These lights cast an overall-room brightness, without giving you enough light to concentrate on specific tasks. While a flush or semi-flush mount will not provide all of your kitchen ceiling lighting, it’s a good base-level light to start with.

The primary difference between area lighting and general lighting is that area lighting is only lights up part of a room. It can add to, or provide part of. the general lighting, but it isn’t doing the whole job by itself. One example is a light over a table that is off to the side of a room. Another is the “corner lights” that homeowners sometimes installed in some rooms in Victorian times, particularly if those rooms were large, or intended for entertaining,  These might be a pair of wall sconces, but they could also be pendant fixtures, mounted, say, three or four feet from each wall.

While many kitchen sinks have a window above them, many of us do our dishes in the dark after dinner instead of while the sun is shining. Enter the pendant light, an easy solution for adding illumination just where you need it without wasting the energy of having a whole roomful of lights on.

Very Noticeable. Yes, the rails and cables are part of the look. But in many cases, they draw too much attention–away from other room elements.

This unique star-shaped pendant is a new twist on the classic lantern shape that will work with a variety of decorating schemes. The popular pendant is on the smaller side for moderately-sized entryways and has more than 2,000 positive reviews on Wayfair. One key with entryway lights is to make sure you leave enough space beneath them for your guests to safely walk into your home, so make sure the one you choose can comfortably hang at least seven feet from the ground.

We’re accustomed to using pendant fixtures over counters and tables. But what if you have limited space on your bedside table, or just prefer to not have a table next to your bed? You can still have plenty of light for reading, or any other task, by installing a pendant light.

A bare bulb hanging from a peg on the wall can lend a boho, industrial look, while a ceiling-hung crystal fixture adds a layer of romance. This sparkly pendant can be plugged right into your existing outlet and has an in-line on-off switch so you don’t have to get out of bed to turn off the lights.

Overused. If you don’t mind being like the Joneses, buy a pendant light. But remember that the Joneses are probably buying the popular and overdone “capsule” style glass fixtures. Suggest: experiment with the fixture and try something different, like the one shown here (yes, this is still a pendant light).

But they’re also used for general lighting, usually in the center of the room.

If this is to your taste, that’s fine. But as long as the fixture both hangs and displays multiple bulbs, it’s a chandelier–so, any style is possible.

Ah, the familiar flush and semi-flush ceiling lights! They are found in literally every home. Builders will install these as “default” lights unless otherwise requested (electrical code requires every room to have lighting, so this is a way of taking care of that requirement).

While some pendant lights can spend upwards of several hundred dollars, there’s no reason to pay that much — especially if you anticipate buying multiple pendant lights to work over a larger area, like above a kitchen island or to hang over a dining table. In that case, look for less-expensive lights that add up to what you’re willing to spend.

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In terms of ubiquity, pendant lights are the new recessed lights (can you say “Starbucks”?).

Fixture Shown Here: From The Home Depot, this is just the baffle (trim) part of a 6″ Halo recessed light (I have selected this image because it is indicative of the way it will look when installed).

Spotlighting. As mentioned, pendants allow you to focus light on a particular area.

Typically, the pendant light you choose to go above your kitchen sink will work with other lighting in the kitchen, if you have statement-making lights over the island or a breakfast nook, but it doesn’t…MORE have to match exactly! While you make want to keep some elements the same, like the general style or the metallic finish you’re using, it can also be an opportunity for contrast or drama. Generally, a smaller-scale pendant will do, and especially if your sink is in front of a window, consider a light with a clear glass shade that won’t interfere with the view during the day. This small, clear globe comes in three metal finishes to seamlessly work with your other lighting and hardware.

Cheap. You can pick up a flush or semi-flush ceiling light for as little as $5-10, if you really want one that cheap. And that’s why many builders install them unless otherwise specified.Dependable. Unlike recessed, track, or cable lights, these are uncomplicated devices, the true workhorse of ceiling lighting.

Layers of lighting are key in the bedroom, where you want it to get dim at nighttime as you wind down — but not so dim that you can’t read a book in bed. Pendant lights are a fresh alternative to bedside lamps. Because they hang from the ceiling, they don’t take up nightstand space the way a tabletop lamp would, and especially in a small bedroom, can offer lighting even if you don’t have space for a bedside table. They can also a sense of structure and symmetry to the bed to make it a beautiful…MORE focal point. Depending on the style you choose, it can change the feel of the room:

Whether you have a two-story-high foyer or a simple vestibule, a well-chosen pendant light can set the tone for your home from the moment your guests walk into the door. Unless you’re working with a very small space, this is the place for drama: Use a larger-scale pendant light than you would elsewhere to create a statement. Often, lantern-style pendant lights are used in entryways since they cast light outward instead of downward to bathe the room in an overall glow, rather than pointing the…MORE light at a specific task.

This 3-light set combines classic farmhouse style with clear glass shades and is height adjustable up to 45 inches. It comes in a 4-light version, too, for larger kitchen islands.

Like our friend the recessed light, track lights had their heyday in the Seventies. Track lights freed up tables, floors, and other surfaces from merely being places to put a lamp. More importantly, track lights were adjustable…

The most versatile light will work for a variety of spaces, whether it’s above a kitchen island, hung from a breakfast nook or tucked into a powder room. The best pendant light for multiple spaces will send light down and outward, too, not directly down toward a single task, to work as both surface lighting and ambient lighting. And style-wise, the best pendant light for most folks will have a design that plays nicely with many decorating styles, including farmhouse, modern and industrial.

These lights hug close to the ceiling electrical box (which means that they also hug close to the ceiling) and typically drop down between 6″ and 15″. They are stationary.

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