Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 | 4 comments

How's it hanging? A closer look at pendant ceiling mounts

Whether your lighting up your home foyer or kitchen island, or trying to illuminate your covered porch, hanging pendant lights are a practical way to brighten a space and add stylish accents. Because our custom collection of pendant lighting showcases light styles ranging from stem mounted to cord hung, many customers inquire:

“What is the difference between stem mount and cord hung lights?”

In a nutshell, cord hung pendants offer flexibility and versatility before, during, and after installation, while stem mounts are better suited for long-term, fixed settings. We also offer our warehouse shades in cable & cord (studio) and chain hung ceiling mount styles. Depending on the spacing and unique needs of your project, you may find using a specific ceiling mount more advantageous.


Cord hung lighting comes in various lengths, ranging from two to eight feet. Some classic barn lights, such as the Original™ Warehouse Pendant, will arrive with seven feet of adjustable black or white cord (your choice on the color and cord style). The longer lengths allow each pendant light to be easily adjusted to meet your desired height specs before, during, and after installation. Other cloth cord pendants, such as the Ivanhoe® Industrial Porcelain Pendant, are featured online with two feet of vintage style cloth cord. Be sure to select longer lengths if needed! Another special note to remember when customizing this style of lighting is the location of use.

Ivanhoe Sinclair Porcelain pendant

A popular technique for mounting cord hung pendants is called “swag lighting.” This technique allows you to mount the cord or chain hung fixture from one location on the wall or ceiling and then drape and mount the remaining cord to another location on the ceiling. Swag lighting was commonly used for chain mount fixtures because the links are easy to hook, but styles have shifted and more cord-mount pendants are hung this way to give off a raw and unfinished industrial vibe.

Chain hung Wesco pendant in blush pink!

Historically, chain mount was used to relieve the tension on early electrical wires. Their aesthetics have transitioned into contemporary fixtures giving a timeless-yet-functional look.

Barn light studio pendant

Studio pendant lights showcase our hanging cord options, but also have a wire cable that suspends from the ceiling. This cable bears the weight of the pendant, letting the cord dangle effortlessly above the light.

East End Market Lighting

A stem mount light fixture, as defined in our Glossary, notes that this mounting option uses a metal pipe to hang a light fixture from the ceiling. This metal pipe houses all electrical wiring that runs from the socket up to the electrical box. Because of this, a stem-mounted fixture can be used indoors or outdoors where it may get wet from snow or rain.  As noted, this mounting option is more for set locations — where they will be in one location for a long period of time (such as the front porch or commercial venue). Like the cord hung pendants, stem mounts are available in numerous lengths, but cannot be as easily adjusted on site. Stem mounted pendants come with multiple canopy options that assist fixture performance. Be sure to measure accurately before purchasing, however, should longer lengths be needed, they can always be ordered from our Lighting Hardware section online.

barn light stem and loop pendant

A variation of the stem mounted pendant is the more delicate stem and loop. Crafted out of brass or polished nickel, these ceiling mounts exude ornate vintage details like their custom key-switches and hints of raw-cord.

As you compare the mounting options, you should consider the location and the setting of the light. For example, if you’re installing the light in a living room, game room, or an area where the furniture moves frequently, cord hung lighting easily adjusts with your space. However, if you’re installing the light over a kitchen island, on the front porch or within a commercial warehouse, stem mount pendants are a solid choice.

To view more common customer questions:

The Difference Between Clear, Frosted and Ribbed Glass Jelly Jars
The Difference Between Wire Guards and Cast Guards


First image courtesy of Anna Kern | Second image courtesy of SouleMamma

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  1. can the stem on the barn light fixture be cut down to make it smaller?

  2. Betty

    Hi Shery — Yes, the stem mount can be customized in length and diameter in most cases. For example, on the Original Stem Mount Pendant — — click on the Mounting Options menu and you can see all the different lengths and diameters available for this pendant. If you have any other questions, you can email our sales team at or call 800-407-8784. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Is it possible to swag a stem mount like you would with a light that has a chain?

  4. Betty

    Hi Nick,
    No, a stem mount is a sturdy pipe stem that is not flexible and thus cannot swag. Many of our lights do have the option of a chain mounting though. If you want to ask more specifically about a fixture, just check in with our sales staff at 800-407-8784, via email at, or via Live Chat from our home page. Thanks for checking out the blog!

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