How To install a chandelier

Chandeliers today share many common traits of the chandeliers of old, or shall we say they are like the branched candleholders that hung from the ceiling. Whereas, the solution to illuminate a space properly was to get light in the mid height of a room. In order to illuminate the ceiling and area around evenly. The only difference today is the technology. Illumination technology went from actual fire (candles) to incandescence gas light bulbs and then to electroluminescence, or LED. Of course, installing chandeliers today requires a bit more planning. For the record, most installation instructions do recommend having lighting installed by a licensed electrician. In this guide we will provide some tips, review standard practices, tools you will need, steps for hanging, and some frequently asked questions to understand the most effective way to install chandelier light fixtures.



  • Volt Detector
  • Measuring Tape
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Allen wrench set
  • Chain Opener (if you have a chain hung pendant)
  • Wire stripper
  • Cable cutter
  • Step Stool / Ladder
  • Sharp knife
  • Buddy (always easier with some help)
  • Chandelier Installation Types

    Chain mounted chandelier: Chain mounted fixtures are supported by standard metal chains that can be of different gauges depending on the weight of the fixture. These chains will typically need to be shortened or sometimes lengthened depending on the ceiling height and installation preference. Chain opener pictured above or pliers can be used to open and close metal chains.

    Stem mounted chandelier: Stem mounted pendants or pole mounted pendants produce the cleanest of all installations as the electrical wire is hidden within the metal finished stem. Manufacturers typically include 6”, 12”, and 18” sections to utilize to get the desired length. If you require additional stem sections these can usually be ordered from the manufacturer and this should be understood prior to installation.

    Wire mounted Chandelier: Many chandeliers have a support wire to handle the weight of the chandelier to ensure the installation is safe. Wires are also used commonly with modern chandeliers that want a minimalist look unlike the heavy feeling of chain supported lights. With the advent of LED chandeliers, in some cases the wire will not only support the fixture but also be used as a conductor of low-voltage power. Of course, these would be lighter weight fixtures.

    Design Tips

    Steps for Hanging a Chandelier

    1. Read the instructions from the manufacturer from start to finish to determine whether or not you have the appropriate tools, skill, help, and knowledge to complete the installation. If not, you should hire a local electrician.

    2. Determine the height at which you would like the chandelier to be installed. This is typically done before furniture is moved as it is easier to visualize. If you are replacing an existing fixture, confirm the height is as intended and measure the existing fixture overall length from ceiling to the bottom of the light fixture.

    3. Turn off the power at the breaker or switch. The breaker is preferred, however the switch can be used to turn off the power as long as you test first.

    4. TEST using a Volt Detector for safety. Turn off the light switch/breaker. Test your tester to confirm it is operating correctly. Then test the existing fixture or electrical wires to confirm that the electricity is turned off.

    5. If removing an existing chandelier, get out your tape measure and measure the total length of the current fixture from ceiling to the bottom, keep in mind if you want the new fixture to hang lower or higher and write this total length down.

    6. Remove the old light fixtures ceiling canopy by unscrewing the canopy. (It’s suggested to use a mask and safety glasses to shield your face from possible dust and drywall debris.)

    7. Disconnect the wire connectors for the existing fixture.

    8. Support the weight of the fixture either onto a ladder or by having someone hold the fixture, next uninstall the mounting bracket and remove the existing fixture.

    9. Check the overall height needed and prepare the cord, chain, or stems to the desired length.

    10. Install the mounting bracket to the junction box. If the screws do not align you can use a universal bracket.

    11. While the fixture is supported, connect the black live wire to the smooth black fixture wire, white neutral wire to the ribbed fixture wire, green ground wire to the metal ground wire.

    12. Install canopy to the bracket using a screwdriver.

    13. Test the light. If the light fixture does not work it is best to test the socket using your volt detector to confirm you have power, if there is power you may just need to get a different light bulb, if there is no power, it’s best to uninstall to start over.

    14. Clean up.

    In What Situations Should You Consider Hiring a Contractor

    • The most common reason to hire a contractor would be if you do not have any experience installing electrical lighting. There are some steps that must be followed in order to have a safe installation, primarily dealing with turning off the electricity when wiring the light fixture.

    • If you don’t have help, hire some. Lighting fixtures do need to be supported when installing the ceiling bracket to the junction box and using wire nuts to connect electrical wires. It is easier and safer if you have a friend holding or supporting the light fixture as you work to attach this to the ceiling. You may be able to save money by hiring a contractor and helping them instead of paying for two contractors, however it is typically a two-person job.

    • LED lighting fixtures often require wiring in a low-voltage transformer which is also fairly easy to do if instructions are followed carefully. However, oftentimes a special LED dimmer is required and we suggest hiring a contractor whenever dimmers or switches need to be replaced in your space.

    • If the installation in your home or business is above a standard 8-10’ ceiling height the installation becomes much more intricate. At times, scaffolding or multiple ladders need to be used and this is best done by a team of contractors with experience.

    • The weight of your fixture is something to consider when installing a light fixture. Standard junction boxes are designed to hold up to 50 pounds if they are solidly installed to the building beams. Heavier fixtures, typically over 75-100 pounds, would require additional ceiling anchors and ceiling backing to properly support the weight of the light fixture. If you have a heavier light fixture a contractor should be consulted.

    Chandelier Installation FAQs

    Do electricians put chandeliers together?

    Yes! An electrical installation begins with an unopened box and typically includes complete assembly of a chandelier and even adding the light bulbs and dimmer. In some cases, if there is a lot of crystal or shells to be added as an ornamentation this could be done by a homeowner once the fixture has been installed and is secure. This can also save a few bucks.

    How much does it cost to install a chandelier?

    Time is money. A small to medium sized chandelier on an 8-9’ ceiling with existing electrical wiring should take no more than an hour or two. If the ceiling is higher and/or the chandelier is heavier, more workers will be needed adding to the overall expense. If there is no existing electrical supply to where the chandelier is needed, this will also need to be calculated.

    Can you install a chandelier anywhere?

    Yes, as long as you have a ceiling to support it! In fact, outdoor chandeliers that are rated for wet locations are now common and can be rained on. Chandeliers are magical in many ways and are admired in any room in the house, a chandelier over a dining table or in a bedroom are especially calming and effective for mood.

    Can I hang a chandelier on a sloped or vaulted ceiling?

    Yes. Well it depends on the type of pendant and the mounting mechanism being used. Cord pendant installations are very easy on sloped ceilings as gravity will take hold of the fixture and it will hang straight down. Chain pendants operate just like cords in that they will hang straight down, the canopy can be mounted to a vaulted ceiling with no problem. The only issue might be with stem/rod/pole mounted pendants. If the stem/rod/pole is directly mounted to the ceiling canopy at a straight 90 degree angle then this will not work. In order to work with stem/rod/pole a slope adaptor mechanism is needed so that the stem can hang straight down with an angle into the canopy.

    How do I install a universal bracket?

    Universal brackets can be a life saver for an electrical installation. Oftentimes the canopy bracket that you are trying to install will not align with the screw holes in the junction box in your ceiling. This can be frustrating. Do not fret, there is a solution in the form of a universal mounting bracket that can be found at a local hardware store. First take the bracket and align it with your light fixture to understand which holes will be needed to accept the screws coming from the light fixture and mark them. Next you can simply mount this bracket to the junction box in the ceiling using any combination of slotted openings. *It’s best to not use the screw holes to mount this bracket! As you are screwing through this universal bracket thread and into the thread on the junction box, this is not recommended. Once you have attached the universal mounting bracket, then continue to mount the fixture to the pre-marked holes.


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