How to Install a Chandelier and Dimmer Switch

Danny Lipford installing a Chandelier.

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.