How to Hang a Chandelier

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Step by step guide to installing a chandelier.

You can easily replace outdated light fixtures to improve the look of a room. A new ceiling light or chandelier can add style, create a focal point, or improve the lighting of a room. Even though you may not be comfortable working with electricity, switching out old fixtures is safe as long as you pay attention and shut off the power at the panelboard; relying on the switch is best left to the professionals. Usually you can install the new fixture to the existing wiring.

Installing a chandelier is the same as replacing other types of light fixtures, except for one: Standard electrical boxes have a maximum load rating of 50 pounds. Most full-size chandeliers are too heavy to hang from a standard box. Therefore, if your new fixture weighs more than 50 pounds, you must install an appropriate support system.

Tools Adjustable wrench, for tightening the fan brace

Electrician's pliers.

7/16-in. nut driver

Phillips-head and slotted screwdrivers

Voltage tester

Wire stripper

Mini hacksaw, if you need to cut out old hanging bar



Fan Brace

Wire Connectors


CAUTION: Always turn off the electricity to the circuit you're working on at the main electrical panel. Never attempt to work on live wires.

1. Remove the existing light fixture

Go to your house's main electrical panel (panelboard) and turn off the circuit breaker that controls the room where you'll be working. Turn on the light switch to confirm that the power is off.

Remove the bulbs from the old fixture and any covers or shades. Next, unscrew and lower the old fixture's canopy; this is the decorative disk against the ceiling, to access the electrical box.

Remove the twist-on connectors from the wiring.

Check again to be sure there is no current by connecting the two leads with a simple electrical tester. If no voltage is present, detach all the wiring to free the fixture.

Tip: Have someone nearby to take the old fixture from you, don't try to climb down the ladder with it in your hands.

2. Remove the electrical box

Remove the screws that hold the electrical box to its metal hanger bar. If there are no screws, the box is probably nailed to a joist. Use a flat bar to pry the box free.

If it's a metal box, loosen the screws on the cable connector, then slide out the cable. For a plastic box, use a slotted screwdriver to pry up the flexible fin that pinches down on the cable, then pull the cable free.

If the box was attached to a metal hanger bar, cut the bar in half using a mini hacksaw.

Remove the pieces of the bar and discard them.

3. Install the fan brace

To install the fan brace, spin the square or hexagonal bar to reduce the brace to its shortest length.

Insert the brace through the hole and set it on top of the ceiling. Be sure that both of its feet are resting flat on top of the drywall or plaster.

Rotate the hexagonal brace by hand until you feel its sharp prongs dig into the joists.

Fan Brace

4. Tighten the brace

When you can't hand-tighten the brace any more, use an adjustable wrench to turn the shaft to fully embed the prongs in the joists.

Fan Brace Prongs

Tip: Don't overtighten the fan brace; the pressure it puts on the joists can cause nail pops in the drywall below.

5. Installing the new electrical box

Use a slotted screwdriver to pry out one of the knockouts from the side of the metal electrical box that comes with the fan brace.

If you're using a box that doesn't have a cable connector installed, fasten an nonmetallic connector to the knockout hole.

Hold the box close to the ceiling and feed the end of the electrical cable through the cable connector.

Pull about 6 inches of cable into the box, then tighten the connector screws to lock the cable in place. Be sure the connector pinches down on the cable's exterior sheathing, not onto the individual wires.

Tip: Never put cable into a metal box that doesn't have a cable connector. The edge of the knockout hole can cut into the insulation on the wires and cause a short.

6. Fasten the box to the brace

Locate the U-bolt, metal support flange, and hex nuts that come with the fan brace.

Slip the U-bolt over the fan brace, then slide the support flange onto the threaded ends of the bolt.

Thread a nut onto each side of the U-bolt and tighten each to lock it in position.

Next, align the two holes in the top of the electrical box with the threaded ends of the bolt.

Push the box up into the ceiling and secure it to the U-bolt with two hex nuts; tighten them with a nut driver.

Fan Brace

7. Wiring Connections

Remove any shades from the chandelier before installing it.

Shorten the wires and remove chain links so the chandelier will hang at the right height.

Dining room chandelier installation height is typically 30" above the table for 8-foot ceilings and 34" above the table if the ceiling is higher than 8 feet.

Thread the nipple first into the chandelier's chain holder, then into the fixture-mounting bar.

Feed the chandelier wires through the nipple. Tip: Don’t try to install the mounting bar in the box first and then screw the nipple onto it; you will twist the wires and cause a short or break the wire.

Lift the fixture and screw the mounting bar to the electrical box.

Wrap the cable's copper ground wire around the grounding screw, tighten it, then connect the wire's end to the chandelier's ground wire.

Next, strip ½ inch of insulation off the chandelier's wiring.

Use a twist-on connector to join the chandelier's white wire to the cable's white wire. Do the same with the chandelier's and the cable's black wires.

Canopy Diagram

8. Finishing

Carefully fold and tuck the wires up into the electrical box.

Slide the chandelier's canopy up the chain and press it tight against the ceiling, making sure the wires aren't poking out from the canopy.

Slide the retaining collar up the chain and thread it onto the chain holder.

Tighten the collar to hold the canopy tight against the ceiling finger-tight.

Install the light bulbs and glass shades, then restore the power to the room.

Installing a chandelier is easier than a ceiling fan, but slightly harder than a standard flush-mount light fixture.


Nelson John
Posted on May 4, 2012
lucia anna
Posted on Nov 22, 2010
Jerry Walch
Posted on Nov 22, 2010