When you’re designing a room in your home, you have to take every piece of it into consideration. This includes colors, furniture placement, wall decor, lighting, and more. Whether you place it in your dining room over the dining table or use it to replace a ceiling fan, in many rooms, a beautiful chandelier can act as a centerpiece, bringing the design of the entire room together.
However, many people are intimidated by the idea of installing a large, elegant chandelier. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as you may think making it a great DIY task. In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about how to hang a chandelier the right way.
First, you need to determine what kind of chandelier you will be working with. Think about the ceiling height of your home and the type of ceiling lights in the room. There are three primary categories of chandelier that you may have, so we’ll start by looking at each of these in detail.
No matter what style of hanging systems you use, you will have a canopy at the top that connects the chandelier to the electrical system in your ceiling. We will talk about this in more detail below.
One of the most common types of chandelier is chain-hung chandelier. If you have seen a really large, elegant chandelier it is likely that it was chain-hung. All that means is that the material used to hang the chandelier down from the ceiling is a metal chain.
These systems should include a chain, electrical wire, and a canopy to cover the electrical box in the ceiling. These are common for a few reasons:
The Jefferson Chandelier from Groms is a great example of a chain-hung piece. The chain is classic, timeless, and beautiful.
Another common hanging system is the cord-hung chandelier. These are similar to chain-hung fixtures, but with one difference. Instead of using a metal chain, they will use some kind of flexible cord or wire nuts.
These have a few advantages over chain systems, primarily in regards to pricing. It is cheaper to manufacture a cord-hung chandelier than to produce a full-metal chain.
This style typically suits small, lightweight fixtures, as the cord does not provide as much support as a chain does, However, there is another style of hanging system that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Downrod hanging systems are a great option for anyone who wants to purchase a chandelier. Rather than dangle by a chain or cord, these models feature sections of metal rod that screw into each other and into the canopy on your ceiling. A screwdriver isn't even needed!
These are the sturdiest option you can purchase, as the part attached to the chandelier functions as one large piece of metal. These don’t swing around at all, as it is screwed straight into the canopy rather than hanging from it.
The Mador Chandelier is a perfect example of this style. It provides a clean, modern look with the elegance you would typically expect from a chandelier. However, even this system does have its drawbacks.
You can only adjust the length by removing entire sections of the downrod. This leaves you with much less customization than you would have with a traditional chain system.
You may see some smaller lighting fixtures hung with downrods called “pendant lights” or “pendants.” The hanging systems are identical to the larger chandeliers, but the smaller fixtures are called by this name. Pendants usually have only 1-2 light bulbs, and you would typically use more than of them in a room.
In some cases, you may find that your chandelier or pendant has a transformer in the canopy. This means that the light is low voltage. You should be able to directly connect the transformer in the canopy to the electrical box in the ceiling. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s installation instructions for any details specific to your light fixture. When in doubt, call an electrician to help you out.
Before discussing how a chandelier is hung, you want to make sure you get a chandelier that’s the appropriate height for wherever it’s being hung. Whether it’s in the dining room or over a coffee table, here’s a quick cheat sheet for standard chandelier heights measuring from the bottom of the chandelier:
Dining Room Table: 30”-36”
Forer/Entrance: 84” minimum
Coffee Table: 35”
Of course the exact height depends on the room, ceiling height, and type of chandelier, but this is a good start. Now let’s get into the specifics!
Chain and cord-hung chandeliers can be installed the same way, so we will discuss them in tandem. Many of the steps in this process will apply to downrods chandeliers as well.
This is the first and by far the most important step in the process. Working with live electricity is just asking for trouble.
It's more than turning off a light switch, make sure you turn off both the switch that controls the electrical box you’ll be working with as well as the corresponding breaker. You want to be sure that there is no chance of electricity getting to the wires that you’ll be working with.
This may be slightly different depending on your home, but in general, there should be an electrical box in your ceiling that was attached to the previous light fixture. In some cases, this will protrude out, but in some homes, up in the ceiling behind a covering.
Either way, you want to be sure that everything is screwed in and secure. In addition, ensure that your wires are ready to be attached to your chandelier canopy. You should see a black, white, and copper wire. We will need all three of these in a few minutes.
Your chandelier should have come with a new mounting bar. You will need to screw this onto the electrical box in the ceiling to prepare to mount your new chandelier. This may differ slightly depending on your fixture.
To that mounting bar, you can then attach your chandelier’s canopy. This will both hide the electrical wires and help to hold up the chandelier.
Once the ceiling is ready, it’s time to start putting the chandelier together. Make sure to follow the instructions that came with your chandelier in order to put it together correctly.
This is also a good time to measure the length of your chain or cord. Most systems will come with far more chain than you actually need, so you will need to use some type of cutting implement to remove the excess links.
You can either use a tape measurer to place it at the height you want, or you can put the chain on the canopy and hold up your chandelier at different points along it. This can give you a visual representation of what your setup will look like when it is complete.
Once you’ve hung up the chandelier, it’s now time to attach all of your electrical wires. Similarly to the chain, you should have more wire than you need. Attach it to the chandelier and hold it up against the ceiling to see how much you need. You typically want to leave at least 1-2 feet of extra wire.
You’ll also need to use your wire cutters to strip the ends of the insulation, revealing the actual wire underneath. About a ½ inch of revealed wire should be enough.
After it’s measured and cut, you can begin attaching it to the junction box in the ceiling. To give it a cleaner look, you can thread the wire through your chain as you head up towards the ceiling.
There should be some twist connectors on each of the wires in the ceiling. You’ll need to remove them first before you can attach the new wires. If you don’t see these, you can purchase them from a local hardware store and feel free to use pliers if you wish. You will need at least three.
Take the ground wire from the junction box and wrap it around the screw, called the grounding screw, in the box. You should tighten that up, and then you need to connect it to the copper wire coming from your chandelier. Make sure you do this first.
After that, you can use the twist connectors to attach the other two wires. Moreover, make sure you connect the white wire from the chandelier to the white wire coming from the junction box and then do the same with the black wires.
At this point, you’re basically done! Be sure to tuck the wires away in the junction box and re-attach the canopy to the ceiling. And voila! You have your own chandelier that you just installed yourself.
Installing a downrod chandelier is nearly the same, but there are a couple of differences. Your canopy may look slightly different than usual, depending on your specific chandelier. See the manufacturer’s instructions if this is the case.
In addition, as we stated earlier, you may have trouble getting the chandelier to the length that you want. Just make sure that you don’t cut any of the downrod stems, as these will all need to stay in one piece. You will just have to adjust the length by larger amounts at a time.