Pendant vs Chandelier

Pendant

   PROS
  • Many styles to choose from
  • Lights can be changed to another style
  • Light can be directed to task lighting
  • Easy to clean
  • Better for smaller spaces
  CONS
  • Light quality is lower
  • May need several to light up an entire room
  • May require a specific light bulb
  • May need to be installed by professional
$265 - $395

(3-light with a multi-pendant base fixture, installed)

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Chandelier

   PROS
  • Looks elegant in a room
  • Can light up an entire room
  • Can be used in any room
  • More varieties of sizes
  CONS
  • Requires a professional installer
  • Can’t be easily changed to another style
  • More difficult to clean
  • Trickier to place
  • Can be more costly
$360 - $670

(Basic chandelier in an 8 ft x 10 ft. room, installed)

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Installing adequate lighting is always a priority for homeowners to brighten dark rooms. Sometimes installed lighting is basic and functional, but other times it is more ornamental. When choosing a lighting fixture that is both decorative and functional, pendant and chandelier fixtures come to mind. These fixtures illuminate the rooms in a home with class and elegance and are available in many styles. In the sections below, we'll explain the differences between the two so that you can make an informed choice.

Appearance

Pendant lights and chandeliers are different in both appearance and the way they are installed. They also differ in the way they’re used, and this should be taken into consideration when making your choice on which light fixture to purchase.

A pendant light comes in various decorative styles and forms. However, before choosing a pendant lamp, determine what it’s going to be used for. One factor to keep in mind is that a pendant lighting fixture hangs from a single chain or cord from the ceiling of a room. Since it isn't as bulky and doesn’t take up as much room like a chandelier, it's a choice that is popular with homeowners. For workspaces, such as the kitchen or laundry room, it does a good job brightening up a dark spot.

A pendant light can double as a source of light as well as be the focal point of a room. However, several lights may be required to light the entire room. As far as style is concerned, a pendant light provides a more modern look to any room. Also, it can be switched to another style easily if a homeowner wants to redecorate.

A chandelier, on the other hand, adds elegance to any room. It can be a source of light or hanging decoration. In fact, during the 15th century, chandeliers that held candles were the primary source of light for churches and the rich. But as the technology of lighting improved and smaller light fixtures provided the needed light, crystal chandeliers almost disappeared.

The chandeliers of today, however, come in a multitude of variations and styles. Crystal, tiered, downlight, transitional, and rustic are some of the available styles. Additionally, there are different sizes as well, such as mini, small, medium, large, entryway, dining room, living room, and bathroom chandeliers. Instead of a one-cord system with one or two lights on the end of a pendant fixture, a chandelier is different because it has a branched system with a canopy, central body, chain, and bulbs. So, when choosing a chandelier, the proportion is essential. A chandelier which is either too large or small can draw unwanted attention when its purpose is to blend in and complement the area.

Suspension

Each light requires a different installation and must be installed properly. For example, the cord for a pendant fixture, which is hard-wired, needs to be between 4 and 6 feet so that there won't be any dangling chains or cords. Plus, it will have a more polished and finished look, making it a permanent light fixture and primary source of light. However, it's more labor-intensive than a plug-in. If the light is a plug-in, the cord or chain needs to be at least 9 feet long. In fact, an extension cord is sometimes required to plug the light into the socket.

The reason for the differences in cord length is because there needs to be an adjustment length depending on how high or low the light is hung from the ceiling. A higher ceiling requires a longer cord or chain.

When hanging a chandelier, it can be tricky for placement. If the ceiling is tall, then the light needs to be higher, but if the room is a large one, then the wider the fixture needs to be. Where the chandelier is hung and how long it is will affect both the space and function. For example, if it's attached too low, then people can bump their heads or it could impede the flow of traffic. If it's hung too high, then the light won't adequately cover the space. Hanging a chandelier is labor intensive and should be hung by an electrician.

Materials

The materials most commonly used in a pendant light are glass, metal, plastic, and cloth. Clear glass diffuses the light in different directions. However, metals like polished chrome and brushed nickel have a finish that is shiny and can also reflect the light.

Chandeliers are comprised of either crystal, glass, hand-forged iron, steel, or bronze. A combination of more than one material can be used. A chandelier may also have flame-shaped bulbs and crystal prisms to resemble the chandeliers from the 19th century.

Best use

Pendant fixtures can be used anywhere in the home and sometimes in groupings, especially in the kitchen and living room.

Chandeliers can be used throughout the home with the dining room, living room, and foyer being the most common areas. They can also be installed in the bathroom, but there are regulations by the National Electric Code if it’s installed over a bathtub. Some local building codes will not allow a chandelier over the bathtub either. If this is the case in your area, then the alternative is to hang it from the center of the room.

Installation

Installation can be completed by a homeowner if the job is a simple replacement of a pendant light as opposed to having to be hard-wired or a complete installation of a chandelier.

Whether a professional is needed for pendant lighting depends on which kind of light is being installed. If the light is a plug-in, then the installation could be completed by a handy homeowner. If the pendant light is hard-wired, then a professional is needed because the wiring in the ceiling may need to be modified for the new light. Because this job only involves either replacing a light fixture or running new wiring, it’s an easier installation.

Hanging a chandelier is labor intensive and should be hung by an electrician. If the chandelier is installed in a new location that has never been wired before, then new wiring in the ceiling will be required. Also, the size of the chandelier may affect the installation because of the extra mounting 1 or bracing to the ceiling. Because this job could involve bracing the ceiling and extra mounting 1, in addition to running new electric lines, this would be a more difficult installation.

Costs

The cost is a consideration when deciding whether to purchase a pendant light or chandelier. The cost for a pendant light with 3-lights with a multi-pendant base fixture with a brass finish for direct wire of 120v is between $60 and $150. The basic labor includes installation, any needed modifications, material acquisition, area prep, equipment, set-up, protection, and clean-up, which averages $195 and $235. Then, the cost of related materials and supplies such as fittings, connectors, and mounting hardware is about $10. The total cost is between $265 and $395.

The price of a chandelier depends on the style and brand and can range anywhere from $50 and up. The fact is that the size of the chandelier may require new mountings and extra manpower or equipment to handle it so that the cost can be from $150 for a small light and $230 for an extra-large chandelier. The ceiling height can add cost to the project. The cost is $160 for an 8-foot ceiling installation for a typical-sized chandelier. For a larger chandelier, the price average price is $390 for a 14-foot ceiling for a total cost of between $360 and $670.

Maintenance

Maintenance is always an important factor when balancing the pros and cons of light fixtures. Pendant lights are less difficult to clean if the style isn’t complicated. However, a chandelier needs to have a drop cloth placed below it when cleaning it so that the cloth can catch particles, dust, and even the ornamental parts of the chandelier. Cotton gloves must be used to avoid leaving fingerprints. The frame or portions of the frame need to be wiped with a dry cotton cloth. If stains are stubborn, then a water-based natural cleaning product can be used. Also, the chandelier can be dusted with a wool duster or dry cloth.​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Mounting: A support on which something is attached or hung

Cost to install pendant or chandelier lighting varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Allen, TX
+23%
Arlington, MA
+41%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Arlington, VA
+38%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Aurora, CO
+10%
Austin, TX
+13%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Castaic, CA
-1%
Charleston, WV
+6%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Clearwater, FL
-14%
Clementon, NJ
+16%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Concord, CA
+30%
Cumming, GA
+2%
Cypress, TX
+8%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Daly City, CA
+51%
Daphne, AL
-11%
Delray Beach, FL
-2%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Fayetteville, NC
-20%
Flower Mound, TX
+25%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Glen Allen, VA
-12%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntington Beach, CA
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irving, TX
+10%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Kent, WA
+9%
Lake Forest, CA
+24%
Lancaster, CA
+4%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lawrenceville, GA
+16%
Livermore, CA
+35%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Memphis, TN
+11%

Labor cost in your zip code

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