Pendant lighting has gained a great deal of popularity for use in kitchens over the last few years. A common place to install them is over an island or peninsula. One of the most frequent questions I see is how high do I hang them and how do I space them out? Both questions can be answered in several ways and as with any home design aspect there is no absolute or right answer. There is however some guidelines to use that can help you make the right decision.
One consideration on the height is with the fixture you choose. If a fixture has an open bottom and it is installed to high, it can become very annoying looking up into the light bulb all the time. By the same token, a fixture that is designed so that the top is not made to be viewed, if installed too low, can be very unappealing. There is an average height you can use as a guide, about 68" - 72" off the floor to the very bottom of the fixture. This puts the fixture at about eye level for the average person. The reason there is no correct answer is in a house where everyone is 6' 4" and taller this height would most likely be too low.
Over a dining room table this same rule can be applied. A little tip or word to the wise. If your fixture is going to be installed before there is actually a table under it put something there in its place. It could be a large box, bench, folding table or a chair. It will save someone a trip to the hospital for stitches after walking into the fixture or a broken fixture.
Spacing the pendants when there is more than one is a matter of a little mathematics. The most common mistake is to just split the space into even sections but that is not entirely correct and I'll explain why. Let's say your island is 60" long and you have two pendants. A common thought would be to split the space into three sections that are even. This would give you each fixture 20" off the ends and 20" between them. A better choice would be 15" off each end and 30" between them. Why is that you ask? Well for one thing you'll see it is more visually appealing. The other reason is the light spread on most pendants is in the shape of a circle. If you can imagine the actual light that falls on the counter area picture two circles of light. To best illuminate the counter we want the edge of the circle to hit the edge of the counter. The other two edges should meet or overlap in the middle.
If you are not sure what it is I am describing take a look at the link below and view the diagrams along with the explanation.
Author: Paul Forte is a licensed electrical contractor with over 25 years of experience in residential lighting. If you would like some lighting ideas for your project contact Paul or visit his website http://forteelectric.com
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