Buying and Determining Height for Kitchen Pendant Lights

Online lighting stores may be the best way to shop for pendant lights for your kitchen island or peninsula. Determining the right height to hang it is another matter. We offer tips to get it right.

Pendant lights have become very common place in today's renovated and new kitchens. They are especially good over a peninsular or island because they are attractive and provide needed task lighting.

Shopping for a Pendant light
Pendant lights come in all shapes and sizes. While you have lots of choices, the wide variety of shapes and colors they come in can complicate finding one for your kitchen.

We suggest that you go to lighting stores and big box stores like Expo Design and the Great Indoors to get a good idea of the shapes, sizes and colors. Believe it or not a good place to look for pendant lights are restaurants and bars. They seem to have a much better selection then many of the stores.

Use your camera phone or digital camera and take picture if one catches your eye. Also ask the owner, they may know the manufacturer or refer you to the electrician who installed them.

WAC Trista Pendant lights in kitchen

Most stores don't carry a large assortment of pendant lights. You will find yourself looking at a lighting catalog. Get a price quote of any pendant light that you are interested in. Be sure to ask them about their return policy. Most stores will refund your money, but they'll charge you a 15-25% restocking fee.

Another thing to consider is the color of colored glass pendants. Many are hand painted so the color you see in the catalog or showroom may not exactly be the one you get. When you order specify that you want the bluest blue or the darkest orange. There are no guarantees, but at least you can ask.

WAC Trista G615 Pendant Light In our own home renovation, we found that online lighting store called Lighting Universe was a terrific way to shop for lighting. In fact the WAC Lighting pendant lights that you see in our kitchen were purchased from them along with vanity lights for the bathrooms and under counter lights for the kitchen. (We apologize. We'll get a close up with the lights turned on as well). We have the red/purple version of this.

Lighting Universe will accept returns and there is no restocking fee. The website has some great features like a my projects section which allows you to save your selections so you don't have to lose time (and money) looking through the hundred or so papers that you have as a result of renovating.

We looked at a pendant called Jackie on the Beach which was square. We eventually passed it up, because it looked weird in our kitchen setting. We wanted the WAC pendant light, but I could not find it on their website. So I asked Lighting Universe if they could get it and they did at a very good price.

What's the proper height for hanging a pendant light?
Now that you have your pendant lights you have to hang them or tell your electrician how far above the counter to hang them. Don't expect the electrician to know this. He won't and he'll be annoyed if you don't know. Just go through the exercise below and have the information ready for him.

The general rule for the height of a pendant light is between 30" to 40" above the surface of the peninsula or island. However, kitchen islands and peninsulas are highly interactive areas where family and guests will gather. You'll have to consider the heights of people in your household and their interactions with others who are across from them at your kitchen peninsula or island

Guys and girls, this is not the time to tell your spouse or significant other to handle things and that you have no preference. You may not care about it now, but if those lights are not at the right height for you, you will be whining for a long time.

How to determine the proper height for your family
Let's look at several situations:

a) Peninsular with three stools on one side and empty space on the other
Hold the pendant light so that it is 30 inches above the counter. Keep in mind that the goal is an unimpeded view within that 30" to 40" space above the counter.

Have several people sit on the stools and a few people should stand on the opposite side of them. Now, see if any of those people have to bend their heads to view the person on the other side. Do the same with the people who are standing across from those who are
seated. You don't want anyone to be craning their necks to see each other or looking to the left or right of the pendant light.

Now place some plates on the peninsula in front of the three stools. Is there adequate lighting or is here so much light that the plates are hot. Before you move that pendant light, stand on the other side of the kitchen and see how it looks. Does it appear ok, too high or low? Trust your instincts here.

b) Island with and without cooking
You should follow the same procedure if your island has seating on one side. Now if you have a cook top or sink on the island, remember that you will be generally standing. So again see if at 30 inches, you can see those seated and more important that those who are seated can see you without the pendant light getting in the way. Also keep in mind that you don't want to heat from a stove top to cook lights either.

Make sure that the entire family participates in this, If you are a 5'2" tall, but don't cook at all, then don't base the measurements on your height. Get that that 6'2" cook in the kitchen and base the measurements on them.