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What are the Different Types of Hanging Fixtures?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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The main elements that differentiate the various types of hanging fixtures for home lighting are size, shape and especially how far the lights hang down into a room. All of these factors help determine the amount and spread of light. Chandeliers, pendants and swags are the main types of hanging fixtures that provide mood or task lighting in homes.

Swag fixtures have a decorative cord that not only hangs the lamp from above, but drapes, or swags, across one side to hang on a ceiling hook. The main part of a swag hanging fixture is usually an attractive round fitting rather than a ceiling hook. This part hangs straight down, usually over a table or in the corner of a room, while the section of cord on the hook can be adjusted to control how far the lamp hangs down to create brightness. Typically, swag hanging fixtures are more for decorative mood lighting than for reading or tasks. Swag lamps may be fabric, metal or stained glass as well as other possible materials.

Pendant hanging lamps may be designed as task or mood lighting. These fixtures range from lights hanging on fairly long cords or metal poles to those attached to hangers that are extra long. A large, dish-shaped, hand-painted hanging fixture with elegant metal features may provide an artistic focal point in a hallway or over a dining table. Smaller pendant fixtures, in round, triangular or other geometric shapes, are often hung in rows of three or more over a breakfast bar in a kitchen or over a desk in a modern office for attractive task lighting. Glass, metal or plastic pendant hanging fixtures are available in a range of neutral colors as well as many brights and pastels.

Chandeliers, in their many style and color options, are popular light fixtures. They consist of many small lights inside the construction of the main fixture. Most chandelier hanging fixtures have many arms, or branch-like pedestals, that each hold some lights. Classic crystal chandeliers feature sparkling crystals hanging from the pedestals, which gives the overall look of white light. Wrought iron chandeliers have curved, scrolled pedestals and often not many lights; they are dark and dramatic in style.

While hanging light fixtures on cords can usually be adjusted for height, those on metal poles typically cannot be changed. Hanging light fixtures are best when they don't hamper a person's movement. For example, it's possible to hit one's head when getting up from a chair if a hanging lamp is placed too low over a dining table.

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