Swapping out pendant lighting isn’t as difficult as you might think. In fact, in only a few easy steps you can hang a pendant light yourself and completely change the look of a room.
These are the pendant lights that we’ve had hanging in our kitchen for the past 13 years. They’re okay. They match the stainless steel appliances and up until a few months ago they worked – but something happened and (even with new bulbs) suddenly 2 of the three fixtures stopped working?
No biggie really, I was more than happy to change out these fixtures for something that shed a lot more light, but it meant learning how to hang a pendant light myself.
Fortunately, I had three separate pendants to replace, so I had one to trial, one to perfect and then one to photograph and show you!
How to hang a pendant light / How to install multiple pendant lights over an island
- First and foremost – TURN OFF THE POWER at the electrical box. Not the light switch, not the bulbs, but the actual electrical box in the basement or you’ll end up dead – or at the very least with a very wild perm.
Untwist the (in this case blue) wire connector caps and separate your wires.
Unscrew the green wire from the faceplate (this is the grounding wire) and remove the entire faceplate. You will be left with something that looks like this:
- Your new pendant light will come with its own faceplate. It’s important to use the one it came with and not the old faceplate because it’s been sized to fit your pendant base perfectly.
Screw the new faceplate to the electrical box.
- Now it’s time to work with the wiring on the pendant light itself; hold the base of your pendant up to the ceiling and then determine how high or low you want your pendant/s to hang. Pull the wire through the base until it’s at the correct length.
The pendant lights I purchased had stoppers on both sides of the base. On the side that will show were two plastic twists – so I untwisted them – and on the inside was a plastic foldy-thingy to keep the wire from slipping.
I pulled my wire through the foldy-thingy to the correct length and then tucked the wire back through the other side of it to keep it in place.
- Double check the length of your pendant by holding it flush to the ceiling again. If you are hanging multiple pendant lights, measure the length of the wire to make hanging the others easy and accurate.
Now it’s time to strip the wires. Using wire cutters, cut the extra length of pendant wire to about 8″ long.
From that 8″ length, you’ll want to strip back about 4″. The outside plastic coating on the wires is called the ‘plastic wire sleeve’ or ‘protective wire covering’ – this is an insulated covering that houses the positive and negative wires inside of it. The easiest way, that is least likely to strip the wire covering from the inside wires, is to run a utility knife lightly down the centre to open the covering up. Cut off the excess with scissors or wire cutters and separate your positive and negative wires as below.
- Stripping the wires themselves is a bit tricky. Use wire cutters to lightly cut into the plastic tubing surrounding the white and black wires – we’re only trying to cut the plastic tubing off, not cut through the wire itself. I ran my wire cutter around the tubing to create a small perforation and then tugged the tubing with pliers until it came off and exposed about ½” of the copper wire. (This takes practice, but with 8″ of extra wire, a mistake or two can be made and you will still have enough wire left to hang a pendant light.)
Start wiring your pendant light by attaching the ground wire. This is the exposed copper wire. Use a connector cap to connect the ground wire from the pendant light to the light box. Most fixtures will have an additional green wire that runs from the light box and gets screwed right into the face plate (not shown here, but you can see in image 3). Connecting this first is important because it’s extra protection from that unwanted perm I mentioned earlier.
- Line up the exposed wire on your pendant light to the exposed wire OF THE SAME COLOUR TUBING from your light box and twist them together using the connector caps. It’s tough to tell in the photo below because there is white paint on my black wire, but I did line up white to white and black to black.
- Tuck your wires back into the light box and/or into the space that your pendant light base will cover. Attach the base using the screws provided with your light.
- Install your lightbulbs and head down to your electrical box to turn the power on!
What?!! You just installed lighting ALL BY YOURSELF!
Pretty easy right?
A couple of screws, a bit of wire stripping, some twists and turns and DONE!
I went from dated and broken (and messy);
to bright and clear (and clean):
in about an hour for all three.
This “how to hang a pendant light” tutorial will work for any lighting fixture (not just pendants), with the only difference being the absence of the long pendant cord.
Look out Hubby – I might go on a lighting rampage and swap out more than just our kitchen lights! lol
Have a great one!