Pendant lights easily transform a space. They are sculptural and decorative, while also providing a necessary light source. They can be hung in clusters, in a linear/shaped line, or simply used as a stand-alone fixture that serves as a focal point in a room. A well placed pendant catches the eye, drawing the gaze and assists in creating depth and dimension in a room. It can also serve as a statement centerpiece, and can sometimes even become the first design element in a room rather than an accessory.
Pendant lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so where should you even begin to start? Here are 8 things to consider when choosing a pendant light:
Firstly, and the most important thing you must consider is the type of lighting you need. There are three different layers of light to consider: ambient lighting/general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.
Ambient lighting provides overall illumination of a room, and may take many forms. In terms of pendants, an ambient pendant would be one that provides almost 360 degree illumination, or at least 120 degree illumination, with a short cable or cord hanging from the ceiling. This type of pendant could be an inverted pendant (lights shining upwards onto the ceiling and reflecting down), or a drum-shade pendant with a sheer shade which allows light to be spread in a wide angle (e.g 360 degrees). Popular areas for ambient pendants include living areas, entrances and hallways.
As discussed, ambient pendants are generally hung closer to the ceiling and task lighting are hung with a longer cable, closer to the workbench. With this knowledge, you can determine exactly the range of cable length which is suitable for your type of pendant, and look for this information when hunting for a pendant light.
Pendant lights have a wide variety of sizes, especially nowadays where choice is abundant. The size of pendant you choose will be dependent on the room size (for ambient lighting) or bench size (for task lighting). A larger pendant will create more of a statement, and a smaller pendant can be clustered together to create the illusion of a large pendant.
Light Bulb VS LED Module:
While most pendants utilise a light bulb as the main light source, there are those that are designed specifically with LED modules or strip lighting already embedded inside the pendant, for example most linear lights or designer lighting. The difference between the two is that the pendant requiring bulbs will have a maximum recommended wattage limit you need to abide by, and the light output of the pendant will be largely dependent on the type of bulb you choose. You will also need to consider the act of changing your bulbs should they fail in the future. Would it be easy to change, or is the pendant located 4m above ground? If the pendant is very hard to reach in terms of maintenance, it might be better to opt for the LED embedded pendant, as these usually last longer if you have a long warranty provided by the supplier/manufacturer.
If your pendant requires bulbs, then it is extremely important that you abide by the maximum wattage limit. Never use a bulb with a wattage that is greater than the maximum wattage recommended for the pendant. Generally pendants will be rated with wattages guided by the incandescent/halogen bulb expected output, for example 40W, or 60W. This means that using an LED bulb, you can be assured that you will not exceed the limit of the pendant light, as these generally only go up to 13W. For an ambient pendant, you can use 10W-13W LED bulbs for a single pendant, or 5W bulbs for a multi-bulb pendant. For task pendants, it is recommended to use 5W-10W bulbs.
Ensure that the amount of light (lumens) emitted from a bulb or an LED module is suitable for your area. Higher lumens indicate a brighter light. Lumens are usually proportional to the wattage (the higher the wattage, the higher the lumen), however the lumen to wattage ratio will be dependant of the efficiency of the light, and this is designed by the manufacturer. The higher the lumen compared to wattage, the more efficient the light.
Colour temperature, measured in the unit Kelvin, describes the hue of a light. The higher the K-value, the more whiter/ bluer the light will be. The lower the K-value, the more warmer/yellow the light will be. For task pendants, use a higher K-value light, for example >4000K. For ambient pendants, you can use a lower K-value light, for example 3000K for a warmer feeling.
The most common shade materials for a pendant light are glass, plastic, metal, wood, fabric and stone. These materials will impact the way a light emits a more intense light or a softer glow. Opt for clear glass in areas that must be well-lit, as these allow light to diffuse in all directions. Shiny metals will reflect well and creates a more intense light, whereas fabric pendants will have a soft glowing result. Plastic pendants will be the most economic, however discolouration may occur over time.
Pendants are a great way to decorate and light a space, and we hope these 8 considerations will help you in your journey to select the best pendant for your application!
- January 18, 2019
- Sanna Li