Pendants offer a nice combination of style and brightness, and can be the perfect finishing touch to your kitchen remodel.
In this post I’ll answer the most common questions I hear regarding choosing and installing pendant lighting in the kitchen.
What’s the difference between low voltage and line voltage pendant lights?
Besides style, the most common difference you will find between pendant light fixtures is whether they are low voltage or standard line voltage.
Low voltage pendants, also known as mini-pendants, use a tiny transformer to convert the standard house current of 120 volts down to 12 volts. This allows the pendants to hang from a thin cable or that is barely noticeable. They also use a more compact lamp that is usually halogen or LED. If it is small that you are looking for, then low voltage pendants may be the way to go.
Line voltage pendants use standard house current, so they don’t require a transformer. The glass usually hangs from the canopy by adjustable metal rods or by a cord that you cut to length.
Standard pendants usually cost less than low voltage, but not always.
How many pendants should I install?
That being said, I’ve seen many kitchens when three is too many and two is more appropriate (like over a small breakfast bar).
As a general rule, count the number of place settings that could fit on the counter, bar, or island, and place a pendant over each one.
What size pendants for my kitchen?
Blow up a couple of balloons and tie a string on each one. Then tape them to the ceiling to hang like a pendant.
You can use any object, but balloons work great because they are light and you can easily make several sizes until you get the one that looks right for your kitchen.
How high should pendants hang above the counter top?
Make sure that the bottom of the pendant fixtures will be above your line of sight while seated. The last thing you want is to be staring straight into a light fixture when sitting at the counter.
If the pendants are going above a center island without seating, I recommend hanging them no lower than 36″ from the counter.
How far from the edge of the counter should they hang?
If it is a counter where people will be seated, the fixtures should hang 12″-18″ from the edge. If the pendants are going over a counter or island without seating, try to center them over the work surface.
Should pendants be controlled by their own switch?
Yes, whenever possible (or feasible), I recommend that the pendant fixtures be controlled by their own switch.
If you’re not sure what to do, just ask yourself if you would ever want to be able to turn on the pendant lights by themselves – without having the rest of the kitchen lights on at the same time? If so, then put them on their own switch.