How to Install a Chandelier and Dimmer Switch

Replacing a dated light fixture with a beautiful ceiling medallion and chandelier is a great way to improve the look of a room. Adding a dimmer switch is a perfect way to control the level of lighting when entertaining.

Chandelier Size

There are several methods of determining the proper size of a chandelier:

• Room Size: The length and width of the room added together in feet should equal the diameter of the chandelier in inches. Example: a 12′ by 12′ room should have a 24″ diameter chandelier (12 + 12 = 24″).
• Table Size: In a dining room, the diameter of a chandelier should be at least half the width of the table. Example: a 42″ wide table should have a 21″ minimum diameter chandelier (42″ ÷ 2 = 21″). Another method is to make the diameter of the chandelier no larger than the width of the table minus 12″. Example: a 42″ wide table should have a maximum 30″ diameter chandelier (42″ – 12″ = 30″).

Chandelier Height

The height of the chandelier is based on the ceiling height and location:

• Entry Hall: The lowest point of a chandelier should be a minimum of 6½’ from the floor. If possible, or with higher ceilings, hang it 7′ from the floor.
• Dining Table: The bottom of a chandelier should be at least 30″ above the dining table (59″-62″ from floor). For ceilings higher than 8′, add 3″ for each additional foot of ceiling height. Example: With a 10′ ceiling, the bottom of the chandelier should be approximately 36″ above the top of the table.

Hanging a Chandelier

1. Start by determining the height of the chandelier.
2. Next, cut the support chain to length, leaving the electrical wire about 6” longer.
3. Turn the power to the light off at the circuit breaker box and remove the old ceiling fixture.
4. Run the wires through the trim ring and ceiling medallion, then through the hollow threaded tube in the center of the ceiling box.
5. Attach the wires to the house wiring using wire nuts.
6. Push the medallion and trim ring up against the ceiling, screw on the lock nut, and attach the chain.

Installing a Dimmer Switch

1. Select a dimmer switch that has a rated capacity high enough to handle the combined wattage of all the bulbs in the chandelier added together.
2. Turn the power off to the fixture at the breaker.
3. Remove the cover and existing switch.
4. Attach the dimmer to the wires using wire nuts.
5. Fit the wires back in the box, and screw the switch to it.
6. Replace the cover and turn on the power.

CFLs and Dimmer Switches

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) can’t be used with a dimmer switch unless they specifically state that they are designed to work with a dimmer switch.

For more on different types of lighting for your home, see our article
Interior Lighting: Adding a Pleasant Atmosphere.

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Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.

1. Danny = THere is talk about the new CFL? light bullbs. How does one dispose of them when they are burned out. I hear that there is a very complicated procedure because they contain mercury. Thanks
John

2. I did not know that you could not use CFL bulbs with a dimmer switch. After installing the switch I tried to use a CFL bulb, now the fixture makes a buzzing noise. What can I do to fix this. Is the problem in the fixture or the switch?

• Hi Stanley,
I have updated the article above to include the information you were looking for about chandelier height.

3. I have a dining room chandelier that was connected to a dimmer switch, but did not dim. I replaced the switch (talking to someone at Home Depot to make sure I did it correctly) but the lights still will not dim. There are only 6 lightbulbs, and it does not exceed the 600 watts for the switch. What could be the problem with this? The chandelier itself seems to have a power wire and a ground wire going up to the ceiling. Does the fixture itself make a difference?

4. I recently purchased a 7-light (60-W ea) chandelier to replace an older one in my dining room. I started to review the manual when I found a statement that the chandelier should not be used on a dimming circuit. What’s the problem with a dimming circuit if I’m using incandescent bulbs and the dimmer is rated to handle that wattage?

• Hi Jim,
I have a dimmer on the multibulb chandelier in my house, and it works fine. As long as you use incandescent bulbs (most CFLs aren’t dimmable), I don’t know of any reason you couldn’t put a dimmer on it, but I would contact the company that made the chandelier and ask them. If there is a reason, be sure to let us know what it was.

5. I’m trying to install a chandelier. It has 2 unmarked wires and a ground. The box has 3 wires + grd. (Black, red, white) and green ground. If I put black on 1 wire and white on the other,and put the grounds together, where does the red go?

• Hi Ron,
Is it a three way switch by chance, with another switch going to the same fixture on the other side of the room? If not, you should only need two wires.

6. i have a 11’L x 43″W table and i saw a oval chandeliers 40″w x12″D ( its long and narrow)and my room is 20′ x 13′-6″. i was wondering if the fixture is not too small above my table? what should be the dimension of a chandelier if you want to have a modern look and go in the length?

7. The chandelier that I saw, Hope by Luceplan, comes in two sizes, 43″w x 26″h or 28.2″ x 21.2″. My table is 8ft w x 4ft L and extends approximately 40 more inches when opened fully. The living room and dining room are opened to each other and measure 17’4″ x 32’5″. The ceiling is 9ft. The larger chandelier is so impressive but I dont know if it would be too large. Which one do you recommend and how high do I hang it?

8. I installed a dimmer switch for my chandelier about 2 months ago. It worked fine until yesterday. All the bulbs were blinking fast last night after it was in for a short time. I immediately turned it off and today it seem to be working fine. Is this a sign of a bad dimmer switch?

9. jaimepedroza305@yahoo.com
Hi
I am connecting the wires from the dimmer switch that drop thru the ceiling to my new light bulb socket ,
There is a ground wire and a Hot wire and then there is another thin wire .
I am not sure where the thin one gets connected on the socket .

10. Hello I have a 15 bulbs 3 layer chandelier (3 +8+4 bulbs) which I wanted to connect a rotary switch to turn on only 1 layer each time for every turn so that I can avoid burning 15 bulbs every time. my thought was to use 3 separate switch but wanted to see if I can achieve this by using a rotary switch. But the challenge is how do I get all the 3 layers turn on with a rotary switch.Where do I find this kind of rotary switch? any suggestion..

BJ