Difference Between a Chandelier & Pendant

Luanne Kelchner

The lighting in your home is an important element in the interior design of the rooms. Pendant lighting and chandeliers are both types of lighting that suspend from the ceiling. Understanding the differences between the two types of lighting can help you determine the appropriate system for your décor.

Chandeliers are an elegant light fixture for formal rooms.

The style and size of the room are factors to consider when selecting a suspended lighting system.

Suspension Systems

Both pendant lighting and chandeliers use a suspension system that drops the light from the ceiling, but the pendant light hangs straight down from a single chain or pole. The chandelier also hangs from the ceiling with one chord or chain, but branches out with multiple arms. Each arm on a chandelier can hold a light, while a pendant light is typically a single bulb.


When determining whether to use a pendant light or a chandelier in a room, the size of the space is a determining factor. In smaller areas or rooms, the size of an elaborate chandelier can overwhelm the space. There are variations in chandelier size, but the lighting fixture covers a much larger area than a single pendant light.

Decorating Style

Chandeliers work well with traditional or formal decorating styles, while the pendant light fixture is usually associated with contemporary or modern interior designs. Pendant lights use materials such as brushed steel, nickel and bronze. Some pendant lights use colored glass shades as well. Chandeliers use traditional materials, like crystal, steel, wrought iron and bronze. The chandelier works well in a formal area, such as a dining room.

Layers of Light

Chandeliers can provide a greater amount of light in a large open space, such as a room with cathedral ceilings. Pendant lights provide much more focused light in a smaller area. To light a larger area with pendant lights, it may be necessary to use multiple fixtures at various heights. For example, in a kitchen area it may be necessary to use several pendant lights to provide illumination for all counter areas in the room.