Chandeliers that appear small from ground level can actually be large, heavy fixtures.Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Installing a chandelier goes far beyond providing light for a room in your home. Chandeliers accent decor and can add an elegant, classic or modern touch to the space while also serving as a functional fixture. If you have a heavy, 400-pound chandelier to hang, the weight may limit your options or force you to take special steps to ensure that it is mounted properly.
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A chandelier can weigh as much as 400 pounds, for a number of reasons. Size is a significant factor, particularly with large chandeliers designed for tall foyers and formal living or dining rooms. Materials are another source of weight. While all chandeliers have similar electrical wiring and glass bulbs, some use solid metal construction such as wrought iron, polished brass or stainless steel. With the added weight of ornamentation, a chandelier can easily weigh several hundred pounds.
A 400-pound chandelier requires special mounting hardware. Even a heavy-duty electrical box, which would be the first choice for mounting a lighter fixture, can only handle fixtures of just over 50 pounds. For a chandelier that weighs 400 pounds, you need to install a hickey, which is a metal fastener that mounts to a ceiling joist and supports the full weight of the chandelier. A hickey for a 400-pound chandelier will use several screws to attach to the joist and one or more bolts to attach to the chandelier's mounting stud near the top of the fixture.
Heavy chandeliers should come with special mounting instructions that provide warnings and recommendations for installation. Read these carefully before beginning, and check the weight rating of each element you use, including electrical boxes, joists and bolts. The weakest link in the mounting system is where the danger of a fall is greatest. Always perform chandelier mounting with the electricity turned off, to avoid shocks and electrocution.
If you're uncertain about the structure of your ceiling or your ability to mount a chandelier that weighs more than twice as much as an average person, consider hiring a professional to perform the job. A 400-pound chandelier is a major task for a homeowner, but it's far from the limit of what a professional can mount. Specialty electrical installers can make the necessary modifications to a typical residential ceiling to hang a chandelier that weighs up to 700 pounds. The cost of professional installation will be far less than the cost of repairs if your chandelier falls.