How to install a chandelier

One of the best ways to give your living room, bedroom, or kitchen a new look is to replace outdated light fixtures.

New lights provide better illuminations, add a unique style, or simply create an architectural focal point. But there are only a few light fixtures that can give you h’ moments more than an elegant chandelier.

Opening a door and seeing that beautiful chandelier hanging on the glass ceiling catches the eye. However, you can only enjoy the benefits if you install them in the right manner.

So, the challenge now is how to install a chandelier.

To many people, the idea of working with electricity freaks them out. As a result, they may put off installing a chandelier.

But what they don’t know is that replacing old or installing new lamps is straightforward and often safe as long as you turn off the power.

The task will be mainly to attach new fixtures to the existing wiring system. The job is less likely to take more than a couple of hours unless there is a major change in the wiring system.

Installation of a chandelier is almost the same as replacing light switches or outlets, only that with a chandelier, you must have a proper support system.

Most chandeliers are too heavy to fit into the standard electrical boxes, which usually have a load rating of 50 pounds.

Chandeliers come in various shapes and sizes. If you have a small to a medium-sized chandelier, you are more likely to handle the installation yourself.

But, if you are hanging a large and complex fixture on a glass ceiling, or if you are uncomfortable with wires, then you can leave the job to an experienced, licensed electrician.

However, before the electrician starts the project, make sure you are on the same page. Ask for a detailed quote or labor and material sheet to make sure everything is covered.

In this guide, we will discuss how to install a chandelier in a high ceiling.

First, let’s cover the basics.

1. Tools and Materials
2. Screwdriver
3. Wire stripper
4. Work light
5. Safety glasses
6. Close-quarter hacksaw
7. Wrench
8. Wire Connectors
9. Light Fixture
10. Fan Brace

Best time to complete the job

If you are planning to install your chandelier before a major party in your house, then don’t wait till the day of the event to mount the lamps.

While it is a less time-consuming job, you should factor in other important touchups such as painting the ceiling around the chandelier that may have been scratched or damaged during the installation.

Caution: Even if you are a skilled DIYer, don’t attempt to work on live wires. Always turn off the circuit from the main panel.

Also, stick to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Some installations require that you have a permit, so check this.

If you have any doubt about your connection or you have a unique wiring system that seems incompatible with your new lighting changes, engage a licensed electrician.

Also, don’t hang your chandelier from the wiring because it will most likely to cause a fire hazard.

To avoid this danger, hang it from the chains.

Choosing the design of your fixture and where to mount in the house.

In most cases, these two go hand in hand.
The best way to figure out this is to take a cue from your home design.

The following factors will help you make the right choices.

Room size and height: For interior design purposes, the sizing of the chandelier should be in sync with the height and size of the room.

Large rooms with high glass ceilings will require bigger fixtures to match these aspects of the room.

For instance, a 10-foot foyer ceiling matches well with a chandelier that is 20 -30 inches in height.

Items beneath the chandelier: If you are installing your chandelier above a dining set or kitchen counter, you want to leave enough space.

It is, therefore, important to have correct measurements about the distance from the ceiling to those house features as you shop for the fixture.

A rule of the thumb is to hang the fixture 30 – 36 inches above the table or kitchen island, but the higher the better.

The shape of the chandelier: Lighter and more open fixtures usually appear bulky. For better results, choose a chandelier that fills up the surrounding space.

Steps by step procedure on how to install a chandelier

ceiling fixture

Step 1: Turn off the power from the electrical panel

In your main electrical panel, find out the circuit breaker for the room you plan to install the light fixtures then switch it off.

In case your electrical circuit panel is unlabeled, try to turn on the lights then switch off the power to each circuit till you identify a circuit breaker for your working area.

You will only know this when the lights go off when you turn off the power. Alternatively, switch off the entire system completely.

Step 2: Take down old fixtures

To access the electrical box, you have to unscrew and lower the canopy of the old fixture. As you do so, carefully detach the twist-on connectors from the wires.

You don’t want to leave anything to chance, so test for the presence of current by connecting the wiring using an electrical tester. To avoid breakages, it is better to work with a helper.

Step 3: Remove the old electrical box

Check the electrical box where the old fixtures were attached to find out if it is acceptable for use with your new fixture. If you are in doubt, it is better to replace it with a new set.

If you are fitting a new box, unlock the screws of the old box from the metal hanger.

Sometimes the box is nailed to a joist, so there may not be any screws. If that is the case, detach the box using a flat bar.

If the electrical box is plastic, pry up the flexible fin using a slotted screwdriver, then remove the cable.

For metallic boxes, remove the screws on the cable connector before sliding out the cable.

If the electrical box is attached to a metal bar, use a close-quarter hacksaw to cut the bar in half.

Step 4: Install the fan brace or pancake style box

If your fixture is between ceiling joists, it is better to use a fan brace. As mentioned early, standard cell mounting boxes do not support fixtures weighing over 50 pounds.

So, if your chandelier is heavier than this weight, you need to fit a fan brace rated for your type of chandelier.

To reduce the length of the fan brace, remove the brace from its box and turn the hexagonal bar. This will make it possible to slide the brace up through the open hole and place it on top of the ceiling.

Make sure that both ends of the brace are lying horizontally on top of the plaster or drywall. From here, turn the hexagonal brace to dig into the joist.

After hand-tightening the brace, use an adjustable wrench to perform a few more twists to firm up the prongs in the joist.

However, don’t overdo it. For the best outcome, do not over tighten the fan brace because if it puts much tension on the joist, the nails can pop in the drywall underneath.

If your fixtures are hanging under a ceiling joist, then a better way to support the chandelier is to use a heavy-duty box, usually referred to as a pancake box.

Needless to say, the box needs to support the chandelier weight. To mount it on the ceiling, use high weight capacity screws, which usually come with the box. Never attempt to use standard screws because the chandelier could get detached from the ceiling.

Step 5: Fitting a new electrical box

The brace comes with a metal electrical box to help you fit the knockout plugs.

Using a screwdriver, pry just one pre-punched plug. Some boxes don’t have cable connectors so, for this case, you need to fasten the connector to the knockout cavity.

While holding the box close to the ceiling, use the cable connector to feed the end of the cable. But before tightening the connector, pull at least 6 inches of wires into the box.

If your metal box doesn’t have a cable connector, never slot the cable through a metal box.

To complete the preparation of the box, firm up the box using the U-bolt. It is easy to locate the bolt since it comes with the fan brace.

To fix it, all you need to do is to slide it over the brace then move the support flange on the wired parts of the bolt.

You can then adjust the two holes on the box to flush with the threaded section of the bolt before fixing the box on the ceiling. For a firm fix, secure the box to the U-bolt using two hex nuts.

Step 6: Connect wires

It is important to ensure your chandelier hangs at the right height. So, before installation, shorten the wires and remove any shades.

Wire stripper will come in handy when connecting wires. The bare section of the installed cable and screws on cable connectors will connect to the unwrapped section of the corresponding fixture.

Typically, the white wires connect to another white, while the black wires connect to black.

The green grounding wire will connect to the grounding screw on the bar.

To connect wires, first, thread the nipple into the chain holder of the chandelier before passing through the mounting bar, then sloth the chandelier cables through the nipple.

Hold the fixtures together and screw the fixture mounting bar into the box. Wrap the ground cable into the grounding screw until it is tight then connect to the corresponding chandelier wire.

Also, unwrap about an inch of chandelier wiring. The black and white chandelier cables will connect to the corresponding sections of the installed wires.

Step 7: Assemble the canopy or base

Wrap the wires and tuck into the void on the canopy or into the electrical box.

You can use the accompanying hardware to help you attached the base to the electrical box. Don’t install the lights yet as it is safer to mount chandelier minus the bulbs.

To secure the canopy, slide it up the chain and hold it firmly against the ceiling making sure that the wires don’t protrude from the base.

Push the collar into the chain holder then hand-tighten it to push the canopy to flush the ceiling. After mounting the chandelier, screw in the lock nuts or bolts to secure it firmly to the glass ceiling.

Step 8: Install bulbs and test the chandelier

At this stage, you are almost done. Start fitting bulbs and glass shades, one at a time.

Make sure you install the bulb with a wattage that matches the fixture.

Consider upgrading to more efficient LED lamps. For more control over light levels, replace your stands wall switch with a dimmer switch.

If you had done everything right, now it is time to test your chandelier.

Before turning on the light switch, turn on the circuit breaker at the main panel.

If the light fails, turn off both the light switch and the circuit, then check the connections. If you cannot resolve the issue, call an electrician to relook at the connection.

Final thoughts

Installing a chandelier is an ideal way to improve the look of your home or enhance lighting.

The above step-by-step instructions will help you to install a chandelier the right way.

However, the installation process can be a bit messy if you are neither familiar with electricity safety nor basic wiring.

For error-free installation, consider hiring a professional electrician.

The cost of installation will depend on several factors such as materials needed, choice of the chandelier, and extra wiring needed.

For instance, installing a chandelier in a new position where there is no wiring is usually costlier than replacing existing lamps with a chandelier.

Replacing a chandelier with another chandelier has also proved to be cost-effective.

However, if you are changing switches, for instance, adding a three-way switch or replacing the existing switch with a dimmer one, you will have to pay for the extra modifications.

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