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How to Choose Mini Pendant Lighting

Brummel Pendant by Tech Lighting

Mini Pendant Buyer’s Guide

Small in size but big on style, the mini pendant is a perennially popular choice for modern homes. We'll take you through all you need to know to select the right ones for you.

Bigger isn't necessarily better, and we're here to tell you why. When it comes to versatile lighting solutions, the mini pendant packs a major punch as a great choice for many different rooms and installations.

Miniature pendant lights serve much the same purpose as a medium to large pendant or chandelier: providing general ambient illumination and, in some cases, focused downlighting on a surface below. But whereas chandelier or pendant fixtures tend to be large and commanding, these small pendant lights are more compact and comparatively delicate. This makes them excellent choices for small spaces and also give you the option of grouping several together to mimic the look of a larger light fixture.

Benefits of Mini Pendant Lights

There are many reasons why you might choose small pendants over traditional chandeliers. For starters, these compact lights tend to be less costly than their larger counterparts. This makes them more accessible to a wider range of homeowners, letting you transform the lighting design in your home, no matter the size of your budget.

The compact size of small hanging lights also makes them suitable for a wider range of uses than other lighting styles. You can likely make use of mini pendant lights in smaller rooms or those with low ceilings, even if your space couldn't accommodate a larger chandelier.

Finally, you'll have much greater flexibility in styling small pendants. You can group several of the same or coordinating pendants together or combine them with other lighting styles to create layers of light; mini pendants coordinate well with recessed lights, wall sconces, floor and table lamps or even larger pendants. Plus, track and monorail systems are often compatible with mini pendants using Tech Lighting's Freejack or other monorail installation types. The options are practically endless.

Where to Use Mini Pendant Lights

One of the best things about miniature pendant lights is their versatility. These lights fit in just about anywhere in your home, thanks to their compact size and wide range of styles. One of the most common uses of compact hanging lights is in dining areas, like over a small dining table, bistro table or breakfast bar. You could also use them in your kitchen to illuminate a center island or peninsula counter. For larger counter areas, hang several mini pendants in a row along the length of the counter.

Living rooms and family rooms are also prime areas for small pendant lights. Cluster a few over your coffee table to mimic the look of a chandelier or hang one over each end table. This way, you'll get the light you need without taking up space on these small tables, leaving you with plenty of room for a beverage or a small decorative item.

You can use mini ceiling lights in a similar manner in your bedroom, too. Use them to illuminate your nightstands so that you can free up the table surface for a book, glass of water and other bedtime essentials.

LEARN MORE: Nightstand Lighting With Mini Pendants

Depending on the size of your bedroom, you could also use a few small pendants in a cluster to create a sitting area where you can read or simply relax.

Some mini pendant lights are designed for outdoor use, as well. This lighting style is great for covered patio areas, letting you hang the lights over your outdoor dining table or lounge furniture to create a more welcoming environment. If you have a high ceiling over your home's outdoor entryway, you could use pendants there as well. Just be mindful of the fixture's clearance should it blow in the wind.

How to Choose Mini Pendant Lights

Within the category of small ceiling lights, you'll find quite a bit of variety. If the wealth of choice seems a bit overwhelming at first, there is no need to worry. You can narrow down your options with a variety of criteria.

  • Size

    Your first consideration should be the overall size of the lights. Although mini pendants are much smaller than other lighting styles, there is still a wide range of sizes available. The size that is best for your space will depend on how you intend to use the light. For example, if you will be hanging a single pendant light on its own, you might choose a larger size than if you were going to group more than one light together. When grouping the lights, you can keep them all the same size or mix and match sizes to create more visual interest.

    Take cues from the size of the room as well. Larger rooms, particularly those with high ceilings, can accommodate more robust pendant lights. Smaller spaces, on the other hand, will likely do better with smaller lights. If the lights you choose are too large for the room, they can overwhelm the space and distract from your other decorative items.

  • Colors & Finishes

    Once you have chosen an appropriate size for your mini pendant lights, you can then narrow down your choices further by color or finish. You'll want to ensure your lights fit well with the other decor in the room, though they don't need to match everything perfectly. Consider the overall color scheme of the room and let that guide your decisions.

    When it comes to metal finishes, think about whether your color scheme is warm or cool. Color schemes with warm undertones, like most browns, reds and yellows, will look best with lighting in warm finishes, like gold or bronze. Choose silver or nickel for cool color schemes where blue or gray undertones are present. Black and white finishes are fairly neutral and can work with either undertone.

  • Overall Style

    When selecting your mini pendant style, consider the overall aesthetic of your home. If your taste swings towards the modern, look for lights that echo this style. For example, you might choose lights that feature geometric shapes, crisp lines and other contemporary elements, like glass and chrome. For more traditional styles, on the other hand, you'll want to look for ceiling lights that have classic styling, like ornate metalwork or floral motifs.

    Many small pendant lights you'll find will be more transitional in nature, meaning that they can fit well with both modern and traditional styles. These types of lights are great choices if you like to change your decor frequently or if you haven't yet settled on an official style for your home. Transitional lights also give you the greatest flexibility to switch things up in the future.

  • Light Sources

    Finally, you'll need to choose the type of light source for your pendant light fixtures. The best option here will depend on how you intend to use the lights. If you are using them to provide illumination in a kitchen, for example, you'll want the lights to be bright enough that you can see what you are doing. For bedrooms and living rooms, you can get away with softer lighting. Frosted bulbs providing soft light that won't create harsh shadows in the room or hotspots within a frosted shade, while clear bulbs can be decorative elements in themselves (like vintage-look Edison bulbs).

    Dimmer switches can help customize your lighting design, though you can only use fixtures and bulbs that are specifically designed for this purpose. Dimmable fixtures let you adjust the brightness throughout the day to accommodate different needs and lighting conditions. Dimming the lights creates a different mood than turning them up all the way, so play around with various settings to find what works best for you. Consider installing each layer of light on its own switch so you have total control over every element you may wish to dim or switch off.

    Finally, many fixtures let you choose between incandescent and LED light bulbs. In general, incandescent bulbs are more affordable up front, though they are not known for having long life spans. LED bulbs, on the other hand, can last quite a long time, especially if you don't use the lights every day. Not only that, but they are also more energy-efficient, making them well worth the extra investment. Some mini pendants have integrated LED components, meaning they light source is built into the fixture and not something you can replace—but with LEDs, you might never need to anyway.

How to Install Mini Pendants

The last step is to install your new mini pendant lights. For the best results, we recommend a licensed electrician install any hard-wired fixtures in your home. Though your new lights may come with long hanging cords, you don't have to use the full length if it doesn't work for your space. Your electrician can shorten field-cuttable wires for you to achieve your desired height.

If you'll be hanging pendant lights in areas where you and others in your home will need to walk around, make sure to hang them high enough that you won't bump your head as you pass by. When hanging ceiling lights over dining tables, you can hang them a bit lower, especially if they are centered over the middle of the table. Because people will be sitting down while they eat, there is minimal risk of the lights getting in the way. Aim for about 24 to 36 inches above the table's surface so guests can see each other across the table. The same is true when hanging lights over end tables or nightstands; ensure you have enough clearance not to knock into the light when reaching for your alarm clock.

If you are using a pendant light to replace an existing light fixture, the installation process should be relatively simple. Your electrician will simply need to remove the old light and hook up the new one. For areas that don't already have wiring in place for overhead lights, you may need to have new wiring installed. Your electrician can advise you as to the specific steps you'll need to take to get your home ready for your new mini pendant lights.

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