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Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 60
Charles Offline OP
Hey everyone;

I've been a long time lurker and haven't posted much, but I have a question to ask.

A friend of mine who owns and lives in a very large residence is conducting a room by room restoration project and is soon to focus on one of the dining areas which also doubles as a second ballroom. The room is lit nine crystal chandeliers (4 medium, 4 large and one enormous, which was the only one hanging in the picture) and four huge banquet lamps. The wiring is to be updated, I imagine, as each of these lamps has something like fifteen bulbs, the large chandeliers have eighteen or so each and the medium sized ones have at least eight outer bulbs (and maybe have some inside).

The chandelier in question, however, has at least 105 lights. It weighs about 2,000 lbs (hangs from four bolts in a steel I-beam), is eight feet in diameter and about ten feet long. It was, I believe, originally piped for gas jets and used to have candle supports on each of the external arms and around the rim.

The chandelier was electrified in the 1920s and replaced four older light fixtures in the 1960s. It is due to be rewired as many of the sockets have failed and the lighting is uneven. When it was first installed, the chandelier was on EIGHT different switches but this was later reduced to three.

There are eight exterior arms which each bear a hanging ring of crystals surrounding a bulb. The lowest point of the chandelier has a crystal beaded globe containing a bulb. The rest of the chandelier's ninety-six lights are on the interior.

The owner is thinking that fewer lights of higher wattage, with a lower net wattage that now, would be sufficient in lighting this piece and allowing it to be placed on, I imagine, two or three dimmer switches. I suggested, but now am not thinking it is such a great idea, that a number of spotlights be installed within the chandelier to produce the light needed with as low wattage as possible but I now feel this would produce glare and bright spots and not the glow that is desired.

The chandelier needs to operated as general lighting for certain functions and be able to be dimmed when a function requires it.

Is there truth to the use of few bulbs of a higher wattage producing more light and how would one necessarily distribute the circuits, allowing for the possibility of reducing the number of sockets. I had forgotten to ask what kind of service the residence receives so I don't know if there would be any advantage that might arise out of having three legs of a three-phase circuit or if one must use the single phase service if that is all there is.

Here is the picture, with another picture of the residence for those who are curious:
[Linked Image from]

Many thanks!

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
LK Offline
This is the type of work, that would be best placed in the hands of an experienced Architects Firm, that specializes in restoration work, they will usually consult with an engineering firm, and together plan the project.

The fixtures can be sent to a lamp restoraton company, where they are reworked and the new lamp designs incorporated, after that, the building wiring can be planned.

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 60
Charles Offline OP
The ceiling wiring, chandelier dismantling, etc itself isn't an issue. Indeed, the owner has consulted with engineers and architects on all such aspects of the restoration of this estate, including the hanging of this chandelier. The circuits to the chandelier were installed by an electrician. The wiring is accessible, the support for the chandelier is substantial and more than handles the weight.

The only issue at this point is what to do about the number of bulbs and if higher wattage/fewer bulbs is better than 105 lights at a lower wattage and if this can be effectively handled on dimmers.

The architecture of the room itself will not change and this is the only piece the needs attention. The remaining chandeliers and lamps do not share any circuits with this fixture.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,333
Likes: 7
Good day, and may I say thank you for the pics. The residence is inpressive, as is the chandelier.

From previous experience, the lighting effects that the owner wants is the first requirement. Dining usually is low and in the ballroom mode bright and subdued.

A few were set up...
Outer ring & center single lamp with 40 watt bulbs, one switch leg & dimmer.
Lower set of interior bulbs 25 to 40 watt, 1 switch leg & dimmer.
Upper set of interior bulbs 25 to 40 watt, 1 switch leg & dimmer.
9 x 40 watt = 360 watt (Ring)
9 x 60 watt = 540 watt (Ring Alternate)
48 x 25 watt = 1200 watt (Lower)
48 x 40 watt = 1920 watt (Lower Alternate)
dittos (Upper)

Utilizing 60 watt in ring, and 25 watts in the rest, you have a load of 2940 watts, three switch legs to create a choice of mood levels.

Add 1 x 1000 watt, and 2 x 2000 watt Lutron dimmers, and you have anything he wants within reason. I suggest these dimmers, Or a Canadian Equal) as they have been trouble free installs, and can be ganged neatly.

I rebuilt four for the main ballroom area of a country club
with circuitry as above and everyone was happy. (60 lamp total, down, center & up nickle & brass arms, cut crystals; 850lbs) The rewire was OK, once the right parts were located.

Are you doing the rewire? If so, are you doing it 'in place', or taking that baby down?

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 60
Charles Offline OP
Hi John;

The lighting effects are rather important, yes. Much of it can already be accomplished, with the four large lamps and eight chandeliers all on dimmers, but this central chandelier is definitely the focal point of the room.

That set up sounds fairly good if the number of sockets is to be maintained. I was also possibly thinking 64 and 32 for the interior, with 64 @ 25 watts each amounting to just over 13 amps at 1600 watts and 32 @ 25 watts plus 9 @ 25 to 60 watts falling under 9 or just over 11 amps. That could be handled with two 20 amp circuits, multiwire (keeping them tied together), with one going directly to a dimmer and then the chandelier and the other going to two dimmers and then the chandelier.

I'm certain though that the owner is adamant on using lower numbers of higher wattage bulbs. For the sake of simplicity, 105 lights @ 25 watts each is 2625 watts (~22 amps). That's the juice of about 66 forty watt bulbs or 44 sixty watt bulbs. Generally speaking, would those numbers of bulbs produce more light than the 105 bulbs? It so, those number could also be reduced, bringing the chandelier down maybe to 2000 watts (or even lower?). She has been thinking about this for quite a while as the need has become more and more important with rising energy costs, etc.

I'm out of state from this project but will be over for a visit around September most likely. I don't know how soon it is going to happen as it was brought up toward the end of a phone call. I was told that it was going to be a dismantle job and I said I'd like to observe or take part in it if possible. When the fixture was installed in the 1960s, preparation work was done in the workshops which are in the former stable wing. I imagine it will be done there, as the last time I heard, several conservation teams who specialize in a number of fields are in and out of this place and do work there on the structure and artifacts within.

It really is an amazing piece and is much more impressive in person. It was crafted for a Russian palace and must have come over after the revolution in 1917. The crystals are genuine rock crystal (not the polished glass stuff) and number around 12000-13000, all hand-cut. I think you can make out the crown at the top and the Russian-style motif of the largest ring.

Many thanks so far, guys.

Last edited by Charles; 08/16/07 08:41 PM.
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 60
Charles Offline OP
I was on the phone last night with another friend well-connected to this place and he said that the wiring *to* the chandeliers is in excellent condition. There is a grouping of six switches in a back area: one dimmer for the four corner chandeliers, two dimmers for each of two larger chandeliers (four total) and then three SPST for the central chandelier, reduced from eight (which I am still having trouble grasping). All of this is in conduit, I believe.

I don't know where the dimmers for the large banquet lamps are, but there must be a series of dimmer controlled receptacles for the room.

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,158

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 60
Charles Offline OP
Hi Doug;

That would be it!

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,432
Likes: 3
I'd instantly turn a job like that down personally.
My record of working with expensive light fittings is not that flash, if you get my drift. grin

Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 362
Why not look into using the new LED lamps. This would solve alot of issues? Just a suggestion?


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