Buying and Determining Height for Kitchen Pendant Lights

Published by Millennial1 on March 24, 2007 - 1:58am

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.


Need to know how high to hand pendant lights over a sink

But why are you going to hang a pendant over a sink anyway unless it is a small sink used for rinsing fruits and veggies on a peninsular or island?

Anyway, you'll have to consider the height of the person(s) who are going to be at the sink and try to balance the overall look (height of the pendant above the sink or the top of the faucet), against what the sink is being used for.

Personally I would start on the higher side (40 inches) if the sink is large and deep and you will be rinsing/washing large platters and filling large pots with water. Just the thought of taking large dishes and pots out of a sink and having to be careful about a pendant light will drive you crazy.

Since there's not a lot of info in your post. I would hang some string and a sinker from the ceiling at 40 inches to get an idea. At the height can you do what needs to be done? Then lower it.

Feel free to send me a photo using ASK TOM.

Nice tips, Tom. You're my savior now. I was having a hard time yesterday figuring out which pendant lights will suit for my kitchen. Add to that, the salesman doubly had a hard time too for trying to match the right pendant light for my specifications. God, I hate that store. For security reasons, store name is withheld.



Where do you hang the pendant lights over the counter top that people will be eating? Do they have to be in the middle of the counter, or can they be more towards the edge of the counter?

On our peninsula there is a 12 inch overhang that makes room for 4 bar stools. The pendant lights are not hung in middle of the peninsula, but the center line is 12 inches from the edge of the overhang.

Our kitchen has only recessed lighting, and the placement is interesting, to say the least. There's definitely not enough light in the room for tasking. The ceiling is sloped, and is over 12' high. There are 5 lights - one over the fridge, one by the pantry, two over the stove, and one over the sink.

I bought two mini pendant light conversion kits, the type that screw into the light sockets like bulbs. I'm hanging them where light is needed most, over the stove area. There's a five-foot distance from the ceiling to the top of the cabinets. Will it be all right to install them to hang just to the height of the cabinet tops?

Thanks for any advice.

I've replied to your question in the Ask and Answer Forum. Please see

I have 2 pendulum lights and they are low and need to be raised. I cannot figure out how to raise them. I went to the screws located at the top that go in to the ceiling and loosened, hoping to push the wire in to the ceiling and this did not work. Any ideas.

Please email me.

We are hanging pendant lighting 25" apart on a 75" bar space -- is this too close together? The lighting is small - 5" diameter & 8" length.

It's really hard to envision what you are doing without some more infomation about the seating and/or whether this is an island or a peninsular. The latter goes to the task of the lighting such as cooking, washing dishes, seating, eating.

See and if you like, let me know your specifc setup and I will let u know what I think.

I have a large island that houses my cooktop, some counter space, and the other side has seating. There is currently a satellite light that holds 3 small pendants hanging off center of the island. I'm not sure why it is of center. I want to replace the light with mini pendants. Can I use two or is three the magic number. If I use two, can the heights be varied, or should they hang evenly? Thanks!

Hmm, you never mentioned how many seats on the other side of the island or what is type of lighing is illuninating your cook top. If you have seating for three on the other side than I think three pendants should be fine. However, what lighting is illuminating the cook top?

The height of the lighs is going to depend on the task that you are illuminating. If one of the task is the cooktop than by all means you might have to hang that light higher. Other than that, I think pendants should be hung at the same height. See other discussions about pendants in our forums at

Feel free to respond with more questions.

I am building a five foot long by three feet wide island. It has 24inch cabinets and a 12 inch overhang for bar stools (I am hoping to fit four stools?). How many mini pendants do I need and where do I hang them? I read it should not be center, but should it be centered when excluding the measurement of the overhang?

Unless you have a total of 5 feet from the wall to the end of the peninsula and it's unimpeded. Also you are not going to get 4 chairs in that space. Our peninsula is 76 inches long and the 4 chairs fit, but it is tight.

Pendants are task lighting so install them closer to the overhang where people will be eating. Put out some plates to get an idea of where to place them and don't forget to consider the height so you don't block people's view. See or search for pendant light posts.

Also consider joining the community.

Hi. My island is 72" long , has seating on one side for 3, the depth is 19". The other side is stepped down 4" and has the stove in it. We installed a hanging bar with three lights on it. We did in fact center it over the entire surface but I am reading here that it is wrong, Where should it be placed? I am assuming the height adjustment wound be similar to the pendants. Please advise. If we need to make changes it has to be before the ceiling is repaired.

Thanks for the photos marlene. I think the position of the light is fine. From the photos it appears that your light is right in between the island top for thise seated and the cook top. Moving it toward the seats or more toward the front of the cooktop will defeat the purpose and disadvantage on part olver the other. By the shape of the bar light shades you should get enough light in both areas. Besides, the bar light is probably not going to be the only light in the room.


I have a 5 x 4 foot island with a cooktop which is offset in the island (approximately 6" from one end 14" from the other. The 2 pendant lights are centered over the cooktop not the island although equal distance from front to back of the island. Is this proper or is it a personal choice? I can move the island to center the lights over the island. Some people have suggested I should have installed 3 pendants. There is no seating around the island. Comments.


my husband and I recently moved into our home and are in the process of replacing our light fixtures. We are a bit confused however about what we should put above our island. I read through some useful tips, however, our problem is that the light is not directly above the island. The island is 5 feet long and is situated about 1.5 feet away from the light. The light is centered between the island and kitchen countertop. Any suggestions?

Hi Patricia,

Don't lose sight of the objective--- to illuminate the island for the activities that will be performed in a tasteful but least cost way.

You really have two options as I see it.

1) Move or add electric junction boxes over the island to where it is needed where you could install pendant lights.

2) Install track lighting from the existing electric junction box which 1.5 feet from the island. You'll have to consider where in relation to the island seating or cooktop/sink is the existing box located? Front,back, or to the side?

Before you spend any $$, do a rough sketch of your kitchen and take some photos from different angles of the island and the existing light. Then go to a lighting store and sit down with a sales person and seek their advice.

Once you do this and have an idea of what may work, you will want to call in some electricians to get an idea of what it will cost.

Hope that helps. Here's list or our other lighting posts from the new search engine

I have a small kitchen. I was thinking about hanging pendant lights over a long bar adjacent from the sink. I wanted to hang it in one of the recessed lights. The recessed light is over the edge of the bar and not in the center. It would be right over the edge of the bar and behind the faucet. Would that look right?

Thanks, Helen


Sorry I just can't visualize the set up. Send or fax me a sketch and I will be happy to help you. I guess you are thinking of doing one of these instant pedant lights

We are just in the process of a renovation. Our island is 9 ft long and 4 ft wide with an added 12 inches of overhang for a total of 5 ft wide. One side of the island has a large sink ( the sink is centered in the island. On the other side of the island we will have some seating- I think for 3-4.
I love the look of pendant lighting but am unsure how many we should hang to get the appropriate lighting without it looking too busy. Any suggestions?

Pendants add interest to the kitchen and if u go that route focus on the mini pendants for a less cluttered look (see )

Also consider the small (available in 2 inch) new LEDme downlights for a more minimalist look. If you have done so already, see our article on lighting tips (see )

Also download our recent free lighting tips on the home page.

I just took down a wall between my living room and kitchen leaving a bar type counter top between the two areas. The kitchen (counter) is a U-shape with the bar being one side of the U.

The counter will have an over hang (living room side) and seating on two adjacent sides (seating in the shape of an L) - probably three seats on the living room side facing into the kitchen and one seat on the end.

The bar top size is 62" long by 37" wide (including overhangs)
There is a bulkhead running lenghwise over the bar that is not centered; it sits over the overhang on the living room side.

How many pendants would you put there and would you hang them from the bulkhead or from the ceiling in the kitchen?

I can make the counter 39" wide to match up with the end of the wall to increase seating on the end side? What's your opinion on this?

I'd love to send a picture to simplify this but don't know where to attach it.


If you are looking for lighting pendants I recommend contacting Jovin at

I am trying to figure out how to hang mini pendents over my kitchen bar area. It is wired for three lights over the bar/counter, but the ceiling slopes. Can you hang the lights at different heights or should you hang them all the same height, so they are even? My husband and I are in a large debate, I say ok to stagger or hang at the different heights, but he says that will look weird and should all be even. help....

Hi Gianna,

I have seen pendants both staggered and all hung at the same level. I think it depends on your goal and what else is going in in your kitchen. If you stagger them, you'll call attention to them. I have to honestly ask why would you choose a mini pendant if you wanted to call attention to them by staggering them. Also how will staggering them affect the lighting over the bar area. They are task lights after all and should offer some illumination as well. Think also how they will look with and without people at the bar and what else is going on in the kitchen.

Personally I would not stagger the mini pendants. Before making a final decision, take some string and rig up some small cups to mimic those mini-pendants. Now have someone sit by the bar or at it and judge how it looks.

Finally, take a look at the free lighting magazine. They have some excellent photos and you may get some ideas from it at

Wish I could be more helpful but without a photo it's difficult.

I would love to install pendant lights over my kitchen island but the beam from which they would hang is about 15 feet high - maybe 20, I haven't measured. Has anyone ever done this and does it look funny?

I have an island that is appx 105" x 60". On one side is a cooktop and other side is an area for 3 stools. The island is all one level and from the sides you can't see the bar stools unless you are directly behind them. It is made to look like a piece of furniture. My question is where would be the correct place to install the lighting. Directly in the middle of the island or towards the counter with the stools. In addition there are recessed lighting all over the kitchen. Also, my ceilings are vaulted.

Also, would it look better to put 1 large fixture lighting, 2 pendants, or 3 pendants? Thanks.


You definitely want to go with three pendant lights. That will add interest since you have recessed lights. Put them on a dimmer so you can adjust them when you are not cooking etc. The island is large and the fact that it has a cooktop and room for seating means it's going to be a focal point of the kitchen. One light in my opinion is boring and two lights are just not enough unless they are huge lights.

Where to install the pendant lighting? I'm going to assume that you are going to go with a medium to large size pendant lights and not one of those smaller pendants. If there is sufficient recessed ligting around the island, I would be comfortable with placing the pendants in the middle of the island.

Make sure you download that free lighting magazine too. See it at