Hanging Light Parts

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Like hanging lights and want to make your own?

In the spirit of learning to do things by yourself, here are the names of the parts needed to make a hanging light.

Canopy, Hook

The canopy is the decorative plate that is mounted on the ceiling and covers the electrical box. If you are using an extension cord plugged into a wall socket you might screw a hook into the ceiling.

Cord, Chain, Downrod

Lengths of cord, chain, or downrod suspend the light from the ceiling. Light lights, like beautiful bamboo and rice paper lampshades, can have the electrical wire cord itself holding the light.

Heavier light fixtures need chains or metal downrods to prevent the whole thing from crashing down on your head or floor.


The lamp shade is the part that diffuses the light. It can be made from many materials, like paper, fabric, glass, and metal. My favorites are made from paper and wood, usually bambo. Light, simple, beautiful.

Sockets, Harps, Shade Rings, Strain Relief

The socket is where the light bulb is attached, usually via a screw thread.

Lamp harps are harp-shaped pieces of metal that hold some types of lampshade in place. They’re usually found on standing lamps with trapezoid lamp shades, but can also be used in hanging lights, though I’m not sure whether they are called harps =todo: find out.

There is often a plastic threaded washer to fasten the socket to the lamp shade via a shade ring.

A strain relief is important to hold the weight of heavier shades and protect cord and socket connections from being pulled out.


The finial is a decorative piece attached to the bottom of the fixture. Chandeliers and other over-designed lights have lots of these. I prefer simpler lights, unless I am directing a film or managing a hotel trying to attract snobby customers.

Bulbs and Diodes

Bulbs and diodes are the things that emit the light. Previously incandescent light bulbs were the most common. Currently light-emitting diodes (LEDs) inside transparent or semi-transparent bulb-shaped enclosures are the norm.


  • Illustrate each hanging light part
  • Instructions for a simple hanging light, with photos of the process
  • Talk about dimmers

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