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(3-light with a multi-pendant base fixture, installed)
(Basic chandelier in an 8 ft x 10 ft. room, installed)
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
When shopping for both pendants and chandeliers, there are hundreds of possible models to choose from. To help narrow your search down a little, here are a few of our favorites for each category.
BEST OVERALL: Primo Industrial Kitchen Pendant
Available in antique brass, brushed nickel, and polished chrome, this classy and contemporary hanging pendant light fixture comes with an adjustable wire cord and is well-suited to kitchens, but can work well in other spaces too. It brings a simplistic, industrial aesthetic to the home, while providing a warm and welcoming glow for all to enjoy, working perfectly with most medium base bulbs of up to 60W.
BEST VALUE: CLAXY Ecopower Industrial Barn Pendant
For something a little different, this pendant barn light features a strong and sturdy metal base and shade. The shade has been finished with an aged, matte look to provide a rustic yet modern feel, and the pendant ships with all necessary parts for easy and swift installation. It's a timeless and beautiful pendant light that will never go out of style and works perfectly in various spaces around the home.
ALSO CONSIDER: CASAMOTION Wavy Hammered Hand Blown Glass Pendant
If you'd like to add a little more color to your interior spaces, this CASAMOTION hand blown glass light might be just what you need. With a 16.9" height and 11" diameter, it's big enough to make a statement while still being small enough not to get in your way. It's available in green, blue, and clear options and the hand blown glass is truly beautiful to admire from any angle.
BEST OVERALL: Westinghouse Barnwell Three Light Chandelier
If you're looking for a chandelier that manages to successfully blend barn-style rustic charm with elegance and grace, look no further. This terrific 3-light model from Westinghouse Lighting is made from textured iron and barnwood with clear hammered glass around the bulbs. It works beautifully in living rooms and dining rooms alike, shipping with a 5-year warranty and working with any medium base bulbs up to 60W.
BEST VALUE: LALUZ Five Light Chandelier
For those on a budget or simply looking for the best value option, this LALUZ five light chandelier can fit seamlessly into your foyer, living room, dining room, study, or even bedroom. It features a sleek and elegant black finish with a 59" chain and 65" exposed cord, easily adjustable from 80" all the way to 21" without the need for extra tools or parts.
ALSO CONSIDER: Modern Sputnik 10 Light Chandelier
If your home is a little more modern in style and you want a stylish, contemporary chandelier to match, this Sputnik design might be the right option. Available in various finishes from brushed nickel to oil rubbed bronze, it features a total of ten lights for maximum illumination in open-plan living spaces and large kitchens. The arms are fully adjustable to suit your needs and it works flawlessly with a wide variety of bulb types.
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