Pendant Light Buying Guide: Types, Materials, Styles, Bulbs & Cost

Extensive pendant light buying guide setting out designs, types, shade options, materials, styles, cost and bulb options. Everything you need to know here.
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Kitchen with pendant lights suspended above the island.

If you include chandeliers within the pendant light category, this type of light is probably the most popular ceiling lighting option for kitchen islands, dining room tables and possibly foyers.

In fact, pendants are gaining in popularity as more and more designs become available.  For example, the chandelier, once only formal and arguably gaudy, now comes in a wide variety of styles and sizes, including casual sizes.

It’s not easy choosing a pendant light for you home, let alone lights generally.

Therefore, we put together this guide which is designed to categorize your pendant light options so that you can distill your choices.

Here is our ultimate guide to buying pendant lights for your home.

I. Pendant Lights Buying Guide

There are many things to consider when buying pendant lights.

The main things to consider are types, the light base materials, location and use, and the shade material.

A. Pendant Light Design Styles

Your first decision to make when buying this type of light is the style of the light. Different styles of pendant lights will work best for particular settings, and you may decide on many options to suit your preferences.

The main options are center bowl/inverted lights, down lights, linear/island lights, minis, cluster/multi pendants, shaded, and chandeliers.

1. Center Bowl/Inverted

Center Bowl/Inverted Pendant Light

Source: Wayfair

A center bowl light is in the shape of a bowl that is pointed upwards. The light comes cascading off of the top of the bowl and then down into the room below. This style is in direct opposition to a down pendant light. They are the same except down bowls are directed downwards instead.

These lights can help to create atmosphere in a room and prevent creating light that is too harsh or distracting. Rooms with center bowl lights are often somewhat dark and moody and this can make for a great area for a low-key evening at home.

2. Down Pendants

Down-facing pendant lights

Source: Soul Speak Designs

These are like inverted pendant lights but are pointed downward instead. This style allows for direct light that points directly down onto the room below and can have a pinpoint focus on wherever the light is hanging down at.

Down types are very popular and can be found in a variety of areas. They are often found hanging over a table in a kitchen area, a countertop, or another situation in which a direct light source is needed in order to illuminate a specific area or home feature.

3. Linear/Island

Linear island pendant light

Source: Lumens

A linear light is often the type of pendant that is used for kitchen islands. These often are found hanging down from one spot but may have several different bulbs and lights on it. These light can also be used for other purposes such as going over pool tables.

Linear lights get their name from beign crafted into a long, linear row of lights all coming from one hanging pendant light. For this reason, they work well hanging directly along a long area such as a kitchen island or a pool table.

4. Mini Pendants

Mini pendant light

Source: Bellacor

Mini pendants are like other pendant lights but are much slimmer making them great to use in a variety of settings and smaller rooms are spaces. These can be more flexible than other types and can fit in smaller areas with ease.

Minis come in many shapes and sizes and can incorporate elements from all of the other pendant light styles and configurations.

Minis can work well alone in some cases, but may also be a great idea to use several minis wisely in one room to create an ample amount of light and a unique design.

5. Cluster/Multi

Cluster pendant lights

Source: Overstock.com

A cluster or multi light pendant has several different lights in one, and they are grouped together, and they can work to light up space just as well as another type of light could. These can be a stylish choice and can work well for certain types of room design and aesthetics.

Cluster types are sometimes used over a kitchen island in order to illuminate the area well while only taking up space on a single part of the ceiling.

These are similar to linear lights but are also a bit different. Cluster lights are more likely to have a bit of variation in the included bulbs and lights.

6. Shaded

Shaded pendant lights

Source: Shades of Light

A shaded pendant light is much like other lights, but it can include a shade which helps to block out some light and create more of a sense of ambiance than other options.

The shade works to diffuse or completely block the light and allows it to be pointed directly more out of either the top or bottom of the light. A shaded type can be a nice addition to a room in which you would like a more low-key atmosphere.

7. Chandeliers

Chandelier

Source: The Home Depot

Although often considered in a different category than pendant lights, chandeliers are technically a type of pendant light as well.

Although in the past chandeliers have been considered only to be extravagant and large, chandeliers have evolved over time and now come in all shapes and sizes.

These types of lights can now work for all types of rooms and locations but are often found in living room areas with high ceilings or in entryways/foyers.

B. Shade Material

In addition to the style of the pendant light, you also need to consider the materials of the shade. Shades come in many shapes and sizes, but most will be made of either glass, metal, plastic, or fabric. Wood, bamboo, or shells can also be popular materials for this type of pendant light.

1. Glass

Glass pendant light

Source: The Pottery Barn

Glass materials are of course prominent in chandeliers, but other types of pendant lights make use of this material as well. Glass can be fragile so may not be the best choice for outdoor settings, but can make a great choice indoors in the foyer or another area.

Glass shades can help create an elegant that is not as easily accomplished with metal or plastic shades. These can be more expensive than fabric or plastic options, however.

2. Metal

Metal pendant light

Source: Knock Off decor

Metal shades are more sturdy than other styles and can be a good way to create a pendant light in an outside area or on a porch. Metal shades can vary on look so can also work in a variety of different settings as needed. Compared to plastic and fabric, metal shades can be more expensive.

3. Plastic

Plastic pendant light

Source: Pamono

Plastic is a cheaper alternative to metal and glass styled materials on the pendant light shades. Plastic can also be more sturdy than fabric however and can be a durable option for outdoor placements. These come in many variety and can work in different areas of the house.

While plastic is a cheaper option, many plastic pendants can have a great modern and elegant look to them.

4. Fabric

Fabric pendant light

Source: Lights in Home

Fabric shades are very attractive and create a softer and homier look than metal or glass alternatives. Fabric can be ideal for a bedroom or other lounge-style area that is low-key and calm. Fabric shades aren’t as sturdy as other types of material but can still make a great choice overall. These shades can be cheaper than metal or glass options.

5. Wood/Bamboo

Wood bamboo pendant light

Source: DHGate

Many wood and bamboo pendant shades exist as well and can work to create a good look in a country or cottage style rural setting. These materials can also work well for a cabin. Those looking for a rugged or rustic aesthetic in their hoe can do well to choose a wooden shade.

6. Shell

Sea shell style pendant light

Source: AliExpress

Shell pendant lights are another possible option for a unique and coastal themed style. These lights give a unique look and call to the ocean and are made from real oyster shells and beach materials.

But don’t be fooled, shell pendants can also look very modern and refined and can be a possibility for an addition to any type of home.

C. 16 Styles

Here’s a gallery showcasing different styles you can get.  All styles fall under a particular design (section A above).  The following can be purchased at Wayfair.

Examples source: Wayfair

D. Pendant Light Location/Use

To determine what type of pendant light you need, you will also want to consider how you will be using the light. You will also want to think about which room or area of your home you want to install your pendants.

Many pendant lights will be able to installed in various areas, but some will be made specifically for a specific area of your house. With all pendant lights, however, you’ll want to take ceiling height and other size requirements into consideration. If you fail to make sure the size is right, you may be facing frustration for years to come.

You will have to consider different things whether you hang your pendants in the kitchen, living room, foyer, or outdoors.

1. Kitchen

See our list of top ten kitchen island pendant lights here.

Kitchens are one of the most popular areas for this type of light and many people choose to have pendant lights for their kitchen islands. Down pendants are found in kitchen areas often.

The linear style and placement are also often great for this area, and many people decide to use these for their island. Cluster lights are also popular for a kitchen island. Hanging lights are also often used for other counter tops or a bar area.

Because pendants illuminate very specific features, they can be great for putting over a feature in your kitchen that needs to be illuminated well.

2. Outdoor

You may also wish to put pendants outdoors, and this will take some other considerations. You may need ones that are a bit more durable and rugged rather than fragile and light. Outdoor varieties may work best with metal materials.

Many popular styles of outdoor hanging lights exist including lantern-themed lights, glass globes, and other varieties.

Outdoor lighting is a great way to make a comfortable atmosphere on a porch or deck area.

3. Living Room

Most types of pendant lights can find a worthy place in a living room or lounge-style area. Depending on the height of your living room ceilings, you’ll have to take different aspects into consideration when trying to choose the best option for this room.

Living room styles will vary depending on your aesthetic. You may also need to be conscious of the height that you need for the pendant lights. You will need to take measurements and make sure that your pendant lights are the right size for your living room.

FYI, chandeliers are still a fairly popular choice for living rooms.

4. Entryways

Many people prefer to use chandeliers for their entryways. If not chandeliers, you likely will need pendant lights that show more light rather than one that is more focused. Pendant lights can be a good way to make a welcoming and elegant entryway. If it is your only source of light in an entryway or foyer, you will need to have lights that light up the entire area.

5. Dining Rooms

Dining rooms are an ideal location for pendant lights because they’re terrific lighting fixtures to place above a long dining room table.

Even if your ceiling is a regular height, they won’t impede the space because the table is there anyway.  We have an outstanding gallery of dining room pendant lights here.

6. Bathrooms

Yes, pendant lights are used in bathrooms.  We have a bathrooms with pendants gallery here as well as a bathrooms with chandeliers here.

Mini-pendants are good choice because they can be strategically placed to provide precision lighting, plus they look great in small spaces.

They’re also popular in powder rooms.

That said, you must be careful that they don’t impede movement or use of the space.  They must be very strategically placed such as above a freestanding tub or vanity.

E. Pendant Light Base and Component Materials

Now that you’ve learned about the many different styles and shades of pendant lights, you will also want to consider what type of material other components when purchasing them.

1. Metal

Many pendant lights are made primarily of metal, and this is one of the most popular materials you can get.

Metal will be more sturdy than other alternatives. They also won’t be very breakable. They will, however, be pretty heavy compared to other options. Metal can also be more expensive than plastic alternatives. Metal light bases may feature a number of different finishes.

2. Plastic

Some pendant lights are made out of plastic. These can be sturdy and less breakable than other options, but they can also be a bit more lightweight, making them a good choice. Plastic can also be cheaper than other other materials such as glass, metal, or ceramics.

3. Ceramic

Ceramic lights are also around and can be a good look for pendant lights. These are good and can be stylish. Ceramic lights can be breakable however and brittle, though not as much as crystal or glass options. Also compared to crystal and glass light fixtures, they won’t be as reflective.

4. Crystal

Crystal lights are also a thing and can be a good aesthetic choice. It can be more stylish than glass alternatives and can come in more refined cuts than glass. It also weighs a bit more than glass and can be a good option for lights.

Pendant lights made of crystal have a very elegant look to them, and other materials find it hard to look quite as sleek and well-designed in comparison.

5. Glass

Glass materials are good and can be suitable for any room. They are more breakable than other types, however. These may be clear glass but can sometimes be stained glass as well allowing for some interesting looks. Glass can be more expensive than other options, however.

II. More Details

There are other things to consider when choosing a pendant light. While we’ve already mentioned styles, materials, and location, there are still a few other things you will want to think about.

Some of the main additional things to consider are the cost, the size, key features, and safety precautions.

A. Cost

The cost can vary quite a bit depending on the design, materials used, and other variations.

Metal and glass materials will be more expensive than alternative materials such as plastic or fabric.

More extravagant designs will also increase the price, whereas simpler options will be cheaper to buy.

More simple lights can cost as low as $30. More extravagant and high-quality designs can cost as much as $400. Many models fall in between these two extremes in the $75-$250 range.

Decide ahead of time what kind of budget you have, and you will save a lot of time and energy when it comes time to go and buy a light for your home.

B. Size

Size is important. The size that you get depends largely on your purpose for the light and where you would like it to be in your home. It can be incredibly frustrating to have a pendant light that hangs either too high or too low.

You also need to choose the right size as one that is too large or tall small can also be bothersome and inefficient.

Small spaces such as bedrooms may work best for mini pendants. Large living room areas may require a larger style such as a chandelier.

It’s also important to consider the hanging requirements for each light and how low or high you need it to hang. You also need to consider whether you want one large pendant light or whether you want several for an area. Both options have their advantages, but much of this relies on the design that you prefer and the overall look of the room you would like to create.

C. Safety

It’s important to follow all instructions by the manufacturer when installing a pendant light. Use caution when installing and consult all warning information.

Be careful with all wiring setups and consult a qualified electrician if necessary. A professional will help to make sure that your lights are installed properly and will help you to avoid any possible issues that you may come across.

Depending on your home improvement skills, you may or may not wish to install them on your own. If you decide to install a pendant light on your own, make sure to read all safety precautions beforehand. Also, check wattage requirements for the light and use the correct bulb. Install any wiring carefully.

Also be careful of the positioning of pendant lights as low hanging lights can serve as a safety hazard as well. Make sure all lights are appropriately and securely installed.

D. Light Bulb Type

It’s also important to consider the type of bulb to use with your pendant light. Be sure to read all wattage requirements before installing.

Choosing the right bulb can also have an impact on the ambiance of a room. Some bulbs will appear to be hot while others will be a bit colder.

You can choose from a variety of bulbs. These can include incandescent lights, compact fluorescents (CFL), LED lights, halogen lights, and others.

  • Incandescent: Incandescent bulbs are traditional light bulbs that provide a warm look. They are becoming less used in modern times since many people are switching to energy efficient options.
  • Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: These are energy efficient and consume less energy than incandescent bulbs and usually have a calm, even tone. Different levels of brightness and temperatures do exist among these, however. Be careful with handling these bulbs, since these contain mercury.
  • LED Lights: These bulbs are also energy efficient and can also last three times as long as CFLs. LED lights are energy efficient but produce light with harshness. Some Modern LEDs are warmer in tone, however. These are cool to the touch.
  • Halogen: Halogen lights emit bright light and work well for task lighting. These are more energy efficient than incandescents but still not as efficient as LEDs or CFLs.

E. Ease of Installation

Pendant lights can be installed by professionals, or you may choose to do it yourself. Some will be easier or harder to install than others.

It can be an excellent idea to check reviews of any specific model online that you would like to purchase before buying. Users may leave hints as to whether a particular light is easy or difficult to install and whether they work well as a DIY project.

If you aren’t home improvement savvy, you may need to hire a professional to install the lights in your home. Hiring a professional will ensure that the job is done right and that you won’t run the risk of a safety hazard.

F. Color and Finish

One last thing you may want to consider when choosing the color of the light. Pendant lights may have a finish of many different colors that will work different and clash or combine well with other furniture, fixtures, and aspects in your home.

Many finishes exist, but the most common colors are bronze, chrome, nickel, brass and black.

G. Kitchen Pendant Lighting

One of the primary locations people use pendant lights is in the kitchen. Linear style lights are the ones that are most utilized in an area over a kitchen island. But all kinds of other kitchen pendant lights can be used in a kitchen.

In the case of the kitchen, it is of particular importance to get measurements so that lights won’t be too low and be difficult to deal with and to best deal with your space issues.

H. Pendant Lights vs. Flush Mount Lights

While pendant lights are similar to flush mount lights, they are in fact different types of lights. Pendant lights are hanging lights that can be used in your home.

Flush mount lights are also installed on the ceiling, but do not hang down and instead will stay dormant and close to the ceiling.

An option also exists between these extremes, however.

Semi-flush mount lights aren’t installed tight against the ceiling like regular flush mount lights. Semi-flush mount lights hang down from the ceiling just a bit. They do not hang down as far as pendant lights, however.

I. Additional Features to Consider

As we get toward the end of our buying guide, we’d like to end with some key features you might be interested in that aren’t always apparent.  Know the following features you can get can help you narrow your search right off the bat.

  1. Adjustable Height: Some can be adjusted easily so you can raise and lower them whenever you like.  You can also stagger the heights as well.
  2. Sloped Ceiling: If you have a sloped ceiling, you must choose a pendant light that can be attached to a sloped ceiling.  Not all do.
  3. Single base vs. multiple pendants:  Some, like kitchen island pendants, have several lights suspended from a single base while other pendant lights are individually hung.  For smaller spaces, the single base is good.  For longer or larger spaces, you may want to buy a series of individual pendants.
  4. Dimmer: I think this is a must-have feature.

III. Where to Buy Pendant Lights Online

Pendant lights can be purchased online at many different online stores and websites. Some of the best and most popular places include:







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