What are pendant lights? Pendants are light fixtures that hang from your ceiling to light a room. Pendants come in many different shapes and styles. Some popular shapes include Globe, Square, Linear, Teardrop, Bell Jar, Cylinder, and even Morovian Star! Additionally, pendants can come in a multidude of materials and finishes, such as glass, metal, slate, and even concrete!

When choosing the correct ceiling lighting for your kitchen island, front porch, foyer, dining room, living room, or bedroom, the size and placement are the two largest factors. Although personal preference is paramount in the decision-making process, some general best practices that can be followed to help guide your decisions.

In this guide, we will take you through the process of determining whether you need a chandelier or a pendant, the appropriate size of your fixture, where to place your fixture, how many fixtures you need, and how much space you should leave between each fixture.

  1. How Many & How Big Based on Table or Kitchen Island Size?
  2. Space Between Pendants?
  3. Installation Height?
  4. How to Size Pendants Based on Ceiling Height?
  5. How to Size Pendants Based on Room Size?
  6. Pendant or Chandelier?
  7. Pendant Light Shapes & Styles Available

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How Many Pendants Over Kitchen Islands or Dining Room Tables?

The number and placement of pendants over a stationary object are best determined based on the size of the object being highlighted. It is best to use an odd number of pendants over a table, countertop, desk, or end table. This technique creates a focal point and allows an even balance on each side. When hanging multiple pendants, the spacing will be determined by the diameter of the pendant.

Ideally, you will want the space between each pendant to be the same as the width or diameter of each fixture. For example, if you have 18 inch pendants, the space between each fixture should be 18 inches. This rule of thumb remains true, even if the pendants are hung at staggering heights. To determine the appropriate size of your kitchen island pendants, follow the steps below:

  1. Measure the length and width of your table, kitchen island, counter, bar, or desk in feet.
  2. Subtract 12 inches (or 1 foot) from each of these mesurements to ensure there is 6 inches of clearance on all sides of the fixture.
  3. Take the remaining measurements in feet and add them together.
  4. This number is the approximate width allowable of each pendant.
  5. To determine the allowable number of pendants over your desired surface, take the length of your table and minus 12 inches and then divide by any number under the maximum allowable width (as determined in the previous step) and divide by two.
  6. This number is the approximate number of pendants that you could hang over your kitchen island, dining room table, or counter-height bar.

To summarize, you should measure your table's length and width and subtract 12 inches from each measurement. Your fixture should not exceed either one of these numbers. This measurement ensures there is 6 inches on either side of the pendant for headroom and maneuverability. To determine the number of pendants that you can fit over your kitchen island, dining room table, or bar-height counter, you divide the length of your table minus 12 inches by the diameter of your desired pendant (as long as it's under the allowable diameter) and then divide by two.

For example, if you have been shopping for pendants and came across some great cylinder shaped pendants that are 8 inches in diameter or 8 inches wide and less your allowable diameter long, you should use these dimensions in your calculation. If you have a table that is 4 feet by 6 feet, your allowable width would be 19 inches, so you would divide 48 inches by 8 inches and divide that number by two. You will get 3 as the maximum number of pendants allowed over your 6 foot long table or kitchen island.

Island or Table Length (inches) Space Between (inches) by Number of Pendants
1 Inch 2 Inch 3 Inch 4 Inch
36 12 6 4 3
48 18 9 6 5
60 24 12 8 6
72 30 15 10 8
84 36 18 12 9
96 42 21 14 11
108 48 24 16 12
120 54 27 18 14

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Island or Table Length (inches) Space Between (inches) by Number of Pendants
5 Inch 6 Inch 7 Inch 8 Inch 9 Inch 10 Inch
36 2 1
48 4 3 2
60 5 4 3 2
72 6 5 4 3
84 7 6 5 4
96 8 7 6 5 4
108 9 8 7 6 5
120 11 9 8 7 6 5

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Island or Table Length (inches) Space Between (inches) by Number of Pendants
11 Inch 12 Inch 13 Inch 14 Inch 15 Inch
36 1
48 2 1
60 2
72 3 2
84 3 2
96 4 3
108 4 3
120 5 4

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Island or Table Length (inches) Space Between (inches) by Number of Pendants
16 Inch 17 Inch 18 Inch 19 Inch 20 Inch 21 Inch
36 1
48 1
60 2 1
72 2 1
84 2
96 3 2
108 3 2
120 3

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Pendant Light Length Based on Ceiling Height?

  1. Measure the distance from the floor to the installation site.
  2. Multiple the number of feet by two and three.
  3. These numbers represent the range in inches of the appropriate pendant height for your ceiling height.

Quickly, to determine the proportional height of your pendant fixtures to your ceiling height, take your ceiling height in feet and multiple by two and by three. These two numbers represent the minimum and maximum range that you should shop for your new pendant light fixture.

Ceiling Height (feet) Range for Height of Pendants (inches)
7 14" - 21"
8 16" - 24"
9 18" - 27"
10 20" - 30"
11 22" - 33"
12 24" - 36"
13 26" - 39"
14 28" - 42"
15 30" - 45"
16 32" - 48"

Shop Pendants Less Than 9" High!Shop Pendants 10" to 15" High!

Shop Pendants 16" to 20" High!Shop Pendants Over 21" High!



Distance Between Pendant Lights?

As mentioned before, it is typical to use an odd number of pendants to create a focal point and a sense of even balance, but there's no rule that says you can't use an even number of pendants. No matter the number of pendants, this section will help you determine the appropriate spacing between each pendant to ensure an even distribution of light across the table, clearance from the edge for the safety of your guests, and an appealing aesthetic. Simply follow the steps below to determine proper spacing of your pendants:

  1. Measure the length of your table.
  2. Take this number and divide it by your desired number of pendants plus one.
  3. This number is the estimated space between each fixture. This number is measured from the center of one fixture to the center of the next fixture, and so on. In other words, this number is the distance between the installation locations of each fixture.
    • Note: if this estimated space between is less than the width of your pendant light fixture, you might want to consider reducing the number of pendants. See the previous section about how many pendants are recommended over tables of certain lengths.

  4. Find the center of the table by dividing the table length in half and the table width in half.
  5. For even number pendants, install the middle fixture at the center of the table. For even number pendants, install the two middle pendants equal distance apart on either side of the center of the table.

For example, if you have a ten foot table and you want to place 3 pendants over the table, the formula would be ten divided by four (three pendants plus one) and the recommended space between each pendant would be 2.5 feet or 30 inches. If you have a ten foot table and you want to place 4 pendants, the formula would be ten divided by five (four pendants plus one) and the recommended space would be 2 feet or 24 inches.

The Distance Needed Between Each Pendant infographic

Hanging An Odd Number of Pendants

Use the distance determiend above to space your pendants evenly over your table or kitchen island, starting with the first fixture. Install the middle fixture over the center of the table. To find the center take the width and divide by two and then take the length and divide by two. Then use the space between found above and mark the locations of each of the other fixtures, running down the center of the length of the table (half the width of the table). For example, if you are hanging three pendants over an 6 foot table, you would install the first pendant at the three foot mark and then measure one and a half feet both directions down the center of the table to determine the installation location of the first (one and a half foot mark from each end of the table; one and a half foot mark and four and a half foot mark).

Hanging An Even Number of Pendants

If hanging an even number of pendants, find the center of the table and measure out on either side down the length of the table half the distance determined above from the center of the table. For example, if you are hanging four pendants over a 10 foot table, you would want to find the center (5 foot mark) and measure out one foot on the left and the right of the center (four foot and six foot mark). From there you would measure another two feet either direction to determine the installation location of the first and fourth pendant (two feet from each end of the table; two foot mark and eight foot mark).

Island or Table Length (inches) Space Between (inches) by Number of Pendants
2 Pendants 3 Pendants 4 Pendants 5 Pendants 6 Pendants
36" 12" 9" 7" 6" 5"
48" 16" 12" 10" 8" 7"
60" 20" 15" 12" 10" 9"
72" 24" 18" 14" 12" 10"
84" 28" 21" 16" 14" 12"
96" 32" 24" 20" 16" 14"
108" 36" 27" 22" 18" 15"
120" 40" 30" 24" 20" 17"

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Height of Pendants Over Island, Door, Table, or Night Stand?

The recommended installation height above a tabletop, bar-height countertop, or kitchen island is 30 to 36 inches between the top of the table and the bottom of the light fixture. This rule of thumb ensures a safe distance between your guests (of average height) and the light fixture; you may want to err on the side of caution if some of your family members are above average height.

Pendant height over kitchen islands, bedside tables, dining room table, or doorways.

When installing a pendant above a door, either inside in a foyer or outside on a front porch, the bottom of the fixture should be at least 6 inches above the top of the door frame. This rule of thumb ensures the light fixture will not be hit by the door when it is opened and it will not hit anyone entering through the door.

Lastly, when installing a pendant over a night stand or side table, the recommended distance is 18 inches to 24 inches from the top of the table to the bottom of the light fixture. This distance helps bedside pendant lights are providing the focused task lighting desired in a bedroom as to not disturb your bed fellow.



What Size Single Pendant Light Do You Need?

Sizing pendants and chandeliers are a similar process when it comes to identifying the proper fixture that will be proportional (not too big or too small) to the size of the room or area where the lighting will hang. You can use our how to size a chandelier guide to learn how to estimate the dimensions of an appropriately sized pendant light fixture or follow the steps below.

  1. Measure the length and width of your room or living space where you want to center the fixture in feet.
  2. Add those two measurements together. For example, if you have a 12 foot by 10 foot dining room, the number would be 22.
  3. This number is the approximate width in inches of your pendant light that is proportional to the size of your room.

In brief, you take the length of your room and add it to the width of the room. The sum of these two numbers will provide the estimated width or diameter of a proportional pendant light for your room (give or take a few inches). This estimation holds true if you are hanging a single or multiple of the same or similar sized fixtures in a room. Continue reading below if you are looking to determine the size of a pendant above a table or kitchen island.



Should You Buy a Pendant or Chandelier?

What's the difference between pendants and chandeliers? The answer is the amount of lights on each electrical connection. Pendants have one stem, chain, or wire connection per bulb while chandeliers have multiple bulbs hanging from a single connection point. In that same vein, chandeliers are used for ambient light, or a primary light source, while pendants are traditionally used for accent and task lighting, or a more focused light source. In other words, chandeliers typically have uplights that light the ceiling and pendants have downlights that light the table or kitchen island surfance. Lastly, chandeliers are typically short and squat, while pendants are typically tall and narrow.

If you are looking for a fixture to provide the majority of light in a room, we recommend purchasing a chandelier light fixture.

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How to Choose a Pendant Light for Your Home?

With many types and styles of pendant lighting to fit your home design, you are sure to get exactly what you need for your kitchen, dining room, or bedroom. Lighting manufacturers worldwide continue to design cutting edge pendant lighting fixtures to accommodate the growing lighting design industry.

Types of Pendants

Track

Hanging lights that are attached to a “track” that is mounted to the ceiling. The lights can be moved along the track, providing versatile task lighting. Track pendant lights are a great option for above kitchen bars and islands.

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Glass

Hanging lights in which the enclosure around the bulb is made from glass add an artistic feel to your space. Glass pendant lights can be hand blown by artisans, clear glass and the famous Murano style glass. These versatile lights come in a variety of options for any kitchen, entryway, or dining room. Glass pendant chandeliers range from elegant and traditional to sleek modern designs.

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Crystal

Among the most elegant options for hanging lighting. Sure to bring an air of sophistication and decorum to any foyer or dining room, crystal pendants are a popular option for more traditional interiors.

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Drum

A short cylinder shape of glass, fabric or stainless steel make the Drum in a drum pendant light. Drum pendants can be used in many contemporary or transitional settings. Drum pendant chandeliers are used in dining rooms and kitchens to provide ambient or primary lighting. Drum pendant lights range in style from traditional to contemporary. This is one of the more popular pendant types.

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Multi-light

Also called pendant chandeliers, these light fixtures use more than one pendant. Typically, they use three or five, but some use more. This diverse category of pendant lights contains hanging lights for any room, décor or type of lighting.

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  • Adjustable

    Feature a mechanism that allows the adjustment of the pendant height or angle. Also referred to as directional or spotlight pendant lights, these lights feature a mechanism that allows the direction of the pendant head to be adjusted. Adjustable pendants work well for versatile task or accent lighting. It is recommended that directional spot lights only be used indoors.

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Shapes

Bowl

Feature a “bowl-shaped” shade. These lights are typically traditional in style, but more contemporary designs are available. Bowl pendant light fixtures are used in foyers and dining rooms for ambient or primary lighting. The shades come in Mica, Blown Glass, Pen Shell, and Swarovski Crystal varieties.

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Cone

Single or multi-light pendant light fixtures that use a “cone-shaped” shade made from blown glass, Mica, Swarovski Crystal, Alabaster, Mica or other materials. Cone pendant lights come in traditional and contemporary designs and can be used for any type of lighting.

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Cylinder

Hanging lights that add modern sophistication to any kitchen island or sitting space. Cylinder pendant light fixtures come in Alabaster, Blown Glass, Murano Glass, and Pen Shell varieties. Traditional styles are also available.

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Lantern

Bright lighting for traditionally styled kitchens and dining rooms. Lantern style pendants typically feature a metal enclosure around the light bulbs. The enclosure can have open faces, or use glass. Lantern pendant lights are available in Mica and Blown glass varieties.

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Linear

Long chandeliers that feature either a multi-light arrangement or a single long pendant light. Although linear pendant lighting is typically associated with ultra-modern designs, more traditional options are available. Linear lighting can be used for either task or primary light.

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Round

Available in either single or multi-light varieties. These lights are available in a wide range of modern and rustic styles and can be used for many applications. Choose from materials like Pen Shell, Murano Glass, Mica, and crystal.

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Square

Provides minimalistic lighting options for ultra-modern interiors. They typically provide soft, diffused light suitable for living spaces and kitchens. Choose from Alabaster, Blown Glass, and Mica shades.

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Star

Provides eccentric and unique lighting accents to walkways, foyers, and kitchens. Sure to be a conversation piece, these unique starburst pendant lights are typically made from glass or crystal and can be used in a variety of lighting arrangements.

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Teardrop

A sleek, modern addition to the lighting of any kitchen or dining space. These hanging lights feature an enclosure that grows wider as it reaches downward. Teardrop pendants are available in a variety of materials and finishes to match any space.

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  • Globe

    Provides soft light for kitchens or dining areas. They feature a circular enclosure that entirely surrounds the light bulb creating softer light. Globe pendant lights are typically made from glass and are suitable for traditional and contemporary spaces.

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Related Posts

  1. Kitchen Island Lighting Ideas
  2. How To Size a Chandelier?
  3. How to Install a Chandelier?
  4. Different Lighting Types: Ambiant, Accent, & Task
  5. Modern & Contemporary Lighting Guide
  6. Rustic Lighting Guide
  7. Tuscan Lighting Guide
  8. Nautical Lighting Guide

What other questions do you have about pendant lighting?