Hanging Chandeliers: Practical Considerations


This section covers both large single pendants and arrangements of many pendants. 1. What does the chandelier hang from?

Single pieces tend to hang from a single point, typically a single hook and eye. A chandelier hook is a hook meant to be seen (it will be elegantly finished), that has a hole through which the electricity cable passes. Alternatively, there is a ceiling rose or similar that conceals the hook and the electrical connexion, as for most normal pendants. Note that the chandelier maker does not supply the hook!!! He cannot. He does not know what your ceiling is like, so he does not know what kind of hook would be suitable.

Credit: Wilkinson

top plates

Multiples tend to hang from a top plate. Try to select from the maker's standard topplates: it is cheaper and quicker. The top plate simplifies installation: only one electric cable is needed to supply all the pedants and only one unit needs to be fixed to the ceiling. All the electrical connexions, transformers, even projectors for fibre optic systems, can be safely housed in the top plate.

Credit: Melograno Blu

2. What is the top plate fixed to?

The hook or other attachment in the ceiling is not supplied with the chandelier, because there is no way of telling what the ceiling will be made of - where or what the load bearing part of the building's structure is. Instead, your contractor will work out what is appropriate. So that he can do so, you may need the maker to supply you with the installation instructions when the ceiling is being planned, which may be months before the chandelier is delivered.

Ensure that it is fixed to something that can take the weight of the whole light fitting - allow a good margin for error. Watch out for false ceilings.

Do not hang a top plate under a roof light! Why?

- the heat from the sun can damage the plate itself and the electrical components housed within it

- since most plates are solid, they block out the light from the roof light.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course! If you are suspending something under a roof light, try a lantern:

-- because they hang from a single cable, they can be suspended from the frame of a roof lantern

- they don't need a top plate, so there is nothing to block out daylight,

- their typology is suitable for halls.

3. When should it arrive?

The chandelier should arrive as late as possible. If it arrives before it can be hung up, there is the risk of its being damaged even before it has been unpacked (and the boxes for many can take up a considerable amount of room). On the other hand, put it up too soon, it may be knocked into and it will certainly gather dust.

4. How will we get it into the building and over to where it will go?

You MUST check not only the size of the chandelier, but also the sizes of the boxes in which it comes. Then compare them to the doors that they will have to pass through. Some chandelier crates are heavy enough to make the use of a pallet truck obligatory. If the item is custom, any access limitations can be designed around, but only if the designer has been told about them.

5. How do we put it up?

This is not always straightforward, and needs to be thoroughly thought through before the order is placed. Again, if the makers are doing any design work for you, ensure that they are told enough about the location so that they can design around any constraints.

Scaffolding is usually required, except where the ceiling is very low. This is usually a tower. However, when hanging through stairwells, there may not be enough room for one, so the scaffolding may need to go across the stairs.

The contractors will be using scaffolding anyway, so the best solution is usually to arrange for the chandelier's installation to be the last job done before the scaffolding is removed. When the piece is long - say, multiple pendants hanging from a top plate - the tower is reduced in height, section by section, as the longer pendants are unpacked.

6. What about maintenance?

You must always think about access for relamping and cleaning whatever kind of light you are specifying. Subsequent access for these purposes can be even more difficult than for installing the piece, when everything that will surround the area later (bannisters, furniture, delicate floors) may not yet be in place. There are always solutions but, again, this needs to be thought through before the piece is commissioned.

The property's Planned Maintenance Programme should allow for a cleaning, repairing and relamping session once a year. A scaffolding tower may need to be brought in.

Note that, from an access point of view, relamping a top plate can be more difficult than relamping down the length of the piece.

Crystal must be cleaned at least annually (ideally quarterly) if it to continue to sing.

7. What about mounting it on a winch?

This is not usually necessary. If it is, be prepared to spend quite a lot of money both on the winch itself and on its installation. You MUST go to a specialist: we can advise you who to go to.

8. What lamps should we use?

With relamping taking place annually, the lamps do not have to last longer than one year. Normal incandescent and halogen lamps have no problem achieving this, if you follow the guidelines in our Lamps section. LEDs are occasionally appropriate - it will depend upon the design of the piece. Fibre optic cable can also be effective, but remember that:

-- the light output has to be adequate to make a good effect in daylight

-- the cables are inefficient, so you loose light the longer they are (from the projector, not just from the ceiling) and

-- you still need to locate the projector somewhere where it is dry and can be accessed once a year for relamping.

See also the post on Light Installations Down Stairwells.

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