Pendant lights come in many shapes and styles and add either ambient or task lighting in any room of your home. Any lighting fixture that hangs from your ceiling using a rod, chain, or cord is considered a pendant light, with the style encompassing simple dome lighting, traditional chandeliers, and modern geometric lighting installations. Read on to learn more about these decorative—and functional—home accessories and how to choose the best pendant lights for your space.
- BEST OVERALL: AllModern 1-Light Single Drum Pendant
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hampton Bay 1-Light Brushed Nickel Warehouse Pendant
- BEST FOR KITCHEN ISLAND: Globe Electric 65382 Nate 4-Light Pendant
- BEST FOR ENTRYWAY: Carmen 8 Light Lantern Geometric Chandelier
- BEST FOR BEDROOM: Capitol 3 Light Unique /Statement Drum Pendant
- BEST FOR BATHROOM: Primo Large Glass Globe Pendant Light
- BEST FOR LIVING ROOM: Dycus 6 Light Sputnik Modern Linear Chandelier
- BEST FOR DINING ROOM: Snellville 5-Light Kitchen Island Linear Pendant
Popular Types of Pendant Lights
Pendant lights come in a variety of styles with unique aesthetic and practical effects.
Drum pendants get their name from their drum-like shape and construction. They typically feature a fabric shade stretched over a metal frame and can have either open or closed bottoms. Drum pendants with dark shades will create a moodier ambiance while lighter shades provide more brightness. Glass and metal pendants can also be constructed in a drum shape.
Globe pendants have a spherical shape. They are often made of clear glass, providing a bright option that works well in kitchens and bathrooms. Their orb-like design fits well with mid-century modern decor styles. They are well-suited for bathrooms or placement above kitchen islands because they provide optimal light dispersal.
Lantern pendants are shaped like traditional street lamps, combining metal frames with multiple panes of glass. They can also be configured without glass panes with the bulbs fully exposed. They are well suited for entryways and hallways though the design is also popular in farmhouse-style kitchens.
Bowl and Bell Pendants
Bowl and bell pendants are similar in concept but vary slightly in their appearance. Bell pendants are shaped like overturned bowls while bell pendants taper at the top. Bowl and bell lights can be made in a variety of materials, including glass, metal, and plastic, meaning there’s an option to suit nearly any decor style. If they are made from dark or opaque materials, they are better suited for a moodier effect or directional task lighting.
Exposed Bulb Pendants
Exposed bulb pendants have become increasingly popular in recent years. They provide plenty of light because the light bulbs are entirely exposed rather than covered by a shade. They can come in various shapes, materials, and styles. They pair well with stylized light bulbs like Edison bulbs rather than coiled LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
Linear pendants feature multiple lights hung on a single rod. They typically have metal or wooden frames and can feature a variety of shade styles. They are often used to provide light over a dining table or a kitchen island.
Multi-light pendants feature an arrangement of numerous lights. They can be sold as such or created as a DIY project by combining various single fixtures into one lighting installation. Multi-light pendants work well in dining rooms, over kitchen islands, and as a visual centerpiece in living rooms.
Mini pendants are smaller versions of traditional pendant lights and can come in many shapes, materials, and colors. They can be clustered together for a multi-pendant effect or used alone to highlight a specific area like a reading nook. They are also well suited to being hung above bedside tables.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pendant Lights
Before choosing a pendant light, consider these key factors when shopping for the best pendant lights for your home.
Fixture Scale & Height
Your room’s size and decor style will dictate the best kind of pendant light for the area. More spacious rooms call for larger light fixtures while smaller fixtures are better suited to cozier spaces. One rule of thumb that designers use when choosing the size of a pendant light is to add up the dimensions of your room and then convert them to inches to find the ideal diameter for a lighting fixture. So if, for example, your room measures 12 feet by 12 feet, your pendant light should have a diameter of 24 inches.
In terms of height, the bottom of a pendant light should hang between 60 and 66 inches from the floor or between 30 and 36 inches from a table or a countertop.
Ambient vs. Task Lighting
When shopping for a light fixture, consider whether you’d like to have ambient lighting or task lighting.
- Ambient lighting (or general lighting) refers to lights that brighten an entire room. It should provide even illumination to your space and is typically provided by a ceiling-mounted light. Fixtures with translucent shades provide better ambient lighting.
- Task lighting illuminates a specific area of a room to provide light for a particular task. Task lighting can be installed over workspaces like kitchen islands and desks as well as in reading nooks and over bedside tables. Fixtures with darker or opaque shades that project light downwards are typically used for task lighting.
Bulb Type & Brightness
Most lighting fixtures on the market are compatible with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescents (CFLs), saving energy and requiring you to replace your bulbs less frequently than when using standard incandescent bulbs. LED and CFL bulbs use lower wattages to produce the same level of brightness. So while a light fixture may have a maximum wattage per bulb of 60 watts, using an LED or CFL bulb will allow for a brighter effect while still meeting the manufacturer’s requirements.
Because the bulbs of pendant lights are often exposed, specific lamp types are sometimes required that may be more difficult to find. When considering a hanging fixture that requires large clear bulbs or candle-style lamps, ensure these bulbs are readily available.
Style and Finish
Pendant lights come in countless materials and finishes. Here are some of the features of the most popular styles:
- Glass pendant lights suit many different decor styles and provide lots of light. They are versatile and you can use them in most spaces.
- Shade pendant lights use lampshades of various materials for a stylistic effect. Depending on the material used, they can diffuse lighting to produce a different illumination effect. Additionally, shades that feature unique colors or textures can create a striking visual impact.
- Metallic finishes provide a modern, industrial look and are ideal for directional task lighting.
Some pendant lights come equipped with extra features.
- Fixtures that are compatible with dimmer switches allow you to control the lighting in your room.
- Fixtures that come equipped with lightbulbs save you from having to purchase them separately.
- Pendants with adjustable heights allow you to install the light to your ideal specifications.
Most pendant lights on the market require electrical installation. Though you can install them without a professional’s help, those who are inexperienced with electrical work may prefer to hire an electrician.
Plug-in pendant lights, however, don’t require electrical installation and can simply be plugged into an outlet and hung from a hook in the ceiling. They are ideal for renters and those who don’t want to attempt electrical work.
There are plenty of DIY tutorials available to help you get creative when hanging your pendant light.
Our Top Picks
Armed with this information about pendant lights, it’s time to start shopping. Our top picks consider all of the features above, including size, style, finish, and brightness. This list offers a variety of top-notch pendant lights to suit every space of a home.
This clear glass drum pendant is a versatile pick that would complement most spaces in any home. It would work well as a single fixture in a bathroom, an entryway, or a hallway, though you could also install them in a group of three or more to display over dining tables or kitchen islands. The base has a brass finish, while the translucent glass shade provides optimum light distribution.
It has an adjustable height, with a minimum total height of 12 inches and a maximum total height of 108 inches. The shade has a diameter of 10 inches. An LED Edison-style bulb is included with the light, and it’s compatible with standard E-26 bulbs of up to 60 watts. Finally, this fixture is dimmable so you can set the mood for different occasions.
This affordable warehouse-style pendant light from Hampton Bay has a brushed nickel finish, lending to a vintage or industrial look. Because of the dark, opaque canopy, it’s better suited for spaces that don’t require bright light output like dining rooms, bedrooms, and living rooms. The shade’s interior is painted white for improved light distribution.
It has an adjustable hanging length of up to 78 inches, meaning it can be adjusted to an appropriate height for almost any space. The canopy has a width of 16 inches. It uses a 100 watt E-26 light bulb, which is not included, but you can also use an LED or CFL equivalent bulb. Hardware is included to aid in an easy installation.
While many people opt to hang multiple individual pendant lights over their kitchen islands, this linear light by Globe Electric achieves a similar effect in a single fixture. It features four lights with glass shades and an oil-rubbed bronze frame and canopy. The look is inspired by turn-of-the-century factory lighting, which gives this pendant a vintage aesthetic.
Because the shades are made from translucent glass, and the bulbs are exposed, this fixture provides ideal task lighting to aid in kitchen tasks while creating an ambient effect. It has an adjustable height with a minimum hanging height of 25 inches and a maximum hanging height of 45 inches. The total width of the fixture is 43.25 inches. It requires four E-26 60 watt bulbs, is fully dimmable with a compatible dimmer switch, and can be installed on sloped or vaulted ceilings. For an easy installation, mounting hardware is included.
An entryway provides a great opportunity to greet guests with a statement-making fixture, setting the tone for the decor to be found in the rest of a home. Chandeliers have traditionally been popular in foyers, and this geometric-shaped lantern-style pendant serves as a modern iteration of that trend. It comes in five different finishes: black, polished chrome, oil-rubbed bronze, and antique silver leaf, offering a style to suit every home.
The fixture features eight lights and is compatible with 60 watt E-12 candelabra bulbs. It features an adjustable chain, providing a minimum height of 29.5 inches and a maximum height of 122 inches, making it suitable for even two-story entryways. The fixture itself has a height of 29.5 inches, a width of 19 inches and a depth of 19 inches.
Bedrooms are one space in a home where dimmer, moody lighting is often desirable. This two-tier drum-shade pendant light from AllModern has a dark shade that directs the light downward, making it a perfect choice for suspending over a bedside table for ambient evening lighting. It would also work well over a dining table or in a den.
It has a minimum height of 11 inches and a maximum hanging height of 46.5 inches as well as a total diameter of 18 inches. It takes standard E-26 bulbs with a wattage of 60.
Clear, bright light is typically sought after for bathrooms and powder rooms, making this glass globe pendant from Linea Lighting a perfect pick. It comes with either brushed nickel, polished chrome, or antique brass hardware so you can coordinate with your existing bathroom fixtures. The glass shade comes in either a clear translucent finish or a frosted white finish. Depending on the finish chosen, it can suit either a traditional or a more contemporary decor.
It has a minimum height of 14 inches, a maximum hanging height of 100 inches, and a diameter of 8 inches. It’s compatible with 60 watt E-26 bulbs. This pendant is fully dimmable.
An injection of personality and style can be added to a living room with this striking pendant light from Mercer41. This unique linear chandelier is dimmable and acts as a statement piece in any room with its modern lines and angular construction. It’s dramatic, glamorous style and antique brass finish would also be well-suited to a dining room or an entryway.
It has an adjustable hanging length with a minimum height of 27.8 inches and a maximum height of 47.8 inches. It takes 60 watt E-26 bulbs and is meant to be paired with clear, oversized bulbs to achieve the intended effect.
This structural linear pendant light from Birch Lane features five candle-style lights for a contemporary chandelier-like aesthetic. The vintage gold-tone finish can give either a traditional or modern appearance, depending on the rest of the room’s decor. While this light makes for a great addition to a dining room, it would also work well over a kitchen island.
It has a maximum hanging height of 92 inches, a height of 20 inches, a width of 40 inches, and a depth of 12 inches. It is dimmable and uses five 60-watt, E-12 candelabra light bulbs.
FAQs About Your New Pendant Lights
If you still have questions about pendant lights, the following commonly asked questions may help.
Q. Do pendant lights provide enough light?
Depending on the style of pendant light you choose, it can provide enough light for use in a living room or dining room. In spaces that need lots of bright light, like a kitchen, you may need to consider additional lighting.
Q. How many pendant lights do I need for a kitchen island?
The size of your island and the diameter of each fixture dictates how many lights you should hang. The general rule is to have at least 2 feet (24 inches) of distance between each fixture. Many designers favor three pendants over two or four to achieve a balanced look.
Q. How high off the counter should pendant lights hang?
Pendant lights should be hung so that the bottom of the light fixture is between 30 and 36 inches above your kitchen island.
Q. How do you hang pendant lights?
It’s important to turn off your electricity and follow best practices for safety when hanging any light fixture. Make sure you turn off the electricity first. Then install the mounting hardware that came with your purchase. Adjust the cord’s length to the desired height and then attach the electrical wires to the wires of the corresponding color in the electrical box. Finally, attach the cover and shade.