Correct Height for Pendant Light Over Kitchen Sink

Written by anne hirsh
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Correct Height for Pendant Light Over Kitchen Sink
A pendant fixture adds visibility for daily kitchen tasks such as dish washing. (sink image by AGphotographer from

Pendant lights offer added visibility in specific task areas, so installing one above the kitchen sink can help you clean your dishes and prepare meals. Pendant styles vary, and some contain lamps that cover a broader range than others. Correct height also varies by person and situation, so consider all of the factors involved before hanging your new fixture.

Taking Measurements

Measure your pendant's height from the countertop level, rather than the bottom of the sink. Normally, you want to measure from your work surface, such as a tabletop, but in a sink, the entire depth between the top and bottom is included in your work area. Light will leave your pendant lamp in a cone shape, growing broader as it gets farther from the fixture. If you measure from the countertop, your beam's cone will be broad enough to cover the sink at its highest point, which means the lowest point is also covered.

Height Range

The standard height range for pendant lights above work surfaces is 28 to 36 inches, but you can get good lighting from up to 40 inches with most pendants. Since you will be standing, rather than sitting, in front of your sink, use the higher end of this range. This gives you the most concentrated bright light for your work area. Check the lamp type in your chosen pendant fixture. If its specifications note that it has a narrow beam, use the highest end of this range to get a broader light spill. However, because kitchen sinks are not extremely large, any height within the standard range should work.

Height Adjustment

Hang a "dummy" fixture, such as a paper cone roughly the size and shape of your pendant, from a string at your chosen location. Place its bottom edge about 30 inches above the countertop level and go through your regular kitchen sink activities. Note whether the paper fixture gets in the way, either physically, such as when washing large pans, or visually. Raise the dummy fixture 2 inches at a time until it is not physically or visually distracting. This determines your best height.


If you have an extremely large kitchen sink, such as a full-size commercial kitchen style, consider hanging two pendants to get full, even coverage. Brightness also plays a part in your pendant's optimal height. If using the pendant for visibility, choose a fixture that accepts relatively high wattage lamps to get the brightest light, even if you increase the distance between fixture and sink.

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