Chandeliers are a type of pendant (hanging) light fixture with branching arms that hold one or more lights. A chandelier’s lights are traditionally placed upward, but lights directed downward are found in many modern designs.
Electric “candles” have replaced the chandelier’s original wax candles. Interestingly, the bulbs that now illumine chandeliers were invented by a scientist with a hearing disability, Thomas Edison. Edison is widely recognized for his invention of the electric light bulb. On January 7, 1880, Edison also received Patent #223,898 for “light by incandescence”. Edison’s invention was later known as the Edison bulb and used in many chandeliers. The Clean Energy Act of 2007 banned those incandescent bulbs which produce 310 - 2600 lumens of light, but some classes of specialty lights are exempt from the ban.
Chandeliers may evoke visions of an estate’s luminous entrance hall, and glass chandeliers with hand-cut crystal drops can certainly be found. However, the designs of the 19th century have expanded to include many different materials. Modern chandeliers now use sleek, bright metals, metals with antique finishes, colored glass, beads, shells, ceramic, paint, natural and synthetic fabrics. By the way, if you decide upon a crystal chandelier, your selection is also wide: Italian, Turkish, Czechoslovakian and Austrian crystal that is hand-cut and polished, machine cut and polished 30% full lead or no lead.
Regardless of a chandelier’s design, all chandeliers serve the practical purpose of providing light. In fact, chandeliers are designed to provide approximately twice the wattage when compared with a comparable pendant lamp. Good illumination---not ostentation--- is the reason that chandeliers hang in the center of large rooms. However, supplemental light from table and floor lamps is recommended.
The width of a chandelier should reflect the dimensions of the room in which it is placed. A chandelier with a diameter of 17”-20” should hang in a space that is less than 10’x 10’. A room that is 10’-12’ should hold a chandelier with a diameter between 26”-27”. A chandelier with a diameter between 24”-36” should be place in rooms that are 14’ or larger. Mini-chandeliers are a new design that can be found in a variety of styles and used in small spaces.
Height is another consideration in the placement of a chandelier. A chandelier should be at least 30” higher, and at least one foot larger, than an object it is placed above.
Finally, the style of a chandelier should reflect the style of the room it enhances.