How to Hang Ceiling Lights From a Chain

Written by philip schmidt
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How to Hang Ceiling Lights From a Chain
A chain-hung fixture must be supported by an appropriately load-rated electrical box. (Table and chairs in a room of the smart house image by terex from

Chandeliers and other ceiling-hung light fixtures supported by chains require a few special parts for proper installation. The fixture must connect to a heavy-duty electrical box (typically metal) that's fastened directly to the ceiling/floor joists above (or to lumber blocking between the joists) or is suspended between the joists with special bracing bars that are integral to the box. The chain itself hangs onto a nipple held by a metal mounting strap screwed to little tabs at the edges of the box. Before attempting to hang a fixture with a chain, make sure the electrical box is rated to support the weight.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mounting strap with threaded nipple
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Wire strippers

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  1. 1

    Use a heavy-duty metal mounting strap with threaded nipple that is compatible with your electrical box (if a strap wasn't supplied with the fixture). The nipple screws into a threaded hole in the middle of the mounting strap; it should have a loop end on the bottom end for hanging the fixture chain.

  2. 2

    Secure the mounting strap to the electrical box using the provided screws. Thread the nipple into the mounting strap so it will be secure and can't unthread itself with normal movement of the fixture.

  3. 3

    Hold the fixture up by its chain to the loop on the nipple. Adjust the length of the chain as needed to find the desired hanging height of the fixture, and grab the link that meets the nipple at the desired height; cut off the next link up to shorten the chain at the correct length, using pliers or heavy wire cutters.

  4. 4

    Separate the top link at its weld point, using two pliers to force the link wire in opposite sideways directions. Bend the separated ends of the link just far enough to allow you to hook the link onto the nipple loop. (Bending too far can cause the metal to become stress-hardened and weak.) Hang the fixture by hooking the link onto the loop and closing the link with the pliers.

  5. 5

    Thread the fixture wire through the chain and up through the nipple at the electrical box. Cut off the excess wire with wire strippers.

  6. 6

    Complete the wiring connections following the fixture manufacturer's wiring diagram. Fit the decorative cover plate up against the ceiling to cover the electrical box, and secure the cover plate to the box or nipple (as applicable) with the provided screws or retaining nut.

Tips and warnings

  • All electrical installations must conform to the local building code. Consult your city's building department for recommendations and applicable code requirements.

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