Installing Hanging Pendant Lights in a Suspended Ceiling

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Hanging lights are widely used.
Hanging lights are widely used. (Image: modern lights image by Wolszczak from Fotolia.com)

Pendant lights are a great way to focus lighting in a designated area. Pendant light fixtures hang from the ceiling, which is one reason why they are so popular. Regardless of the method used to suspend the light, adjusting the length is as easy as cutting the tubing or wire used to suspend it from the ceiling to the desired length. This still holds true when installing a pendant light fixture in a suspended ceiling. The method used to install the existing fixture on your suspended ceiling determines the degree of difficulty when installing the pendant light in its place.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Plumb bob
  • Variable speed drill
  • 1/16 inch drill bit
  • Threaded ceiling hook
  • Swing set chain
  • Tin snips
  • Screw
  • Washer

Locate the breaker in the electrical panel that controls the flow of electricity to the light fixture. Switch it to the off position. Place the stepladder under the existing light fixture. Take the cover off the existing light fixture and remove the bulb.

Take out the screws which connect the fixture to the junction box and disconnect the wires. Take note of the method used to mount the junction box to the suspended ceiling by removing the ceiling tile next to the light fixture. If it is solid enough to support the pendant light fixture, skip to Step 5.

Hang a plumb bob from the ceiling until it is directly over the junction box and mark the ceiling. Drill a pilot hole on that mark for a threaded ceiling hook. Secure a threaded ceiling hook to the ceiling.

Cut a section of swing set chain with tin snips to reach from the hook to the junction box. Hook one end of the chain to the ceiling hook and the other end to the junction box with a screw and a washer.

Thread the electrical wires from the pendant light through the tubing and top plate (canopy), if necessary. Connect the wires according to the pendant light manufacturer’s instructions.

Push the wires into the junction box and secure the top plate to it as well. Install the correct bulb in the pendant light. Switch the breaker back to the on position.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wrap wire nuts with at least one layer of electrical tape for added protection against electrical shorts.
  • Do not work with live electricity.

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