How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light

How to Convert a Can Light to a Pendant Light

Beau Wynja
recessed light fixture pendant light with naked bulb above a reading nook

Can Light Conversion Made Easy

If you’re interested in customizing your lighting design, Color Cord Company is here to make it easy. With ideas, inspiration, and hands-on tutorials to illuminate your path, you’ll feel like we’re there guiding you the entire time!

In this blog, we hope to explain how to convert a recessed can light into a pendant light. Now, don’t panic. We promise this can light conversion is easier than you think! Depending on your tools and materials, it can take as little as five minutes. 

Ready to learn how to convert a can light to a pendant? Follow along with this guide today!

 Table of Contents

  1. Essential Tools
  2. Pendant Light Options
  3. Step-by-Step Guide
    Removing the Old
    Prepping for the Pendant
    Installing the Pendant Wiring
  4. Putting the Pendant Together
  5. Conclusion

Essential Tools

It doesn’t matter which pendant-to-can light conversion kit you buy or what type of pendant light you plan on using for this project. Just make sure you have these additional tools to ensure your job goes smoothly.

  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Can Light Conversion Kit

If you choose a DIY conversion kit where all the pieces come separate, we also recommend you check that you have the following accessories and essentials:

Pendant Light Options

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of changing your can light to a pendant light, there are some big decisions to consider. 

  • If you want to keep this project quick and easy, we recommend buying one of our ready-made pendant light fixtures. All of these usually come with shade, cord, and canopy already in the set – all you need to buy is a can light conversion kit and a light bulb!
  • If you prefer a slightly more customized design, you can buy each component separately, choosing your colors and finishes to match your existing aesthetic. With over 100 options of our cotton blend cloth-covered cord, you can personalize your design to the max. Just don’t forget to shop lamp parts with matching finish colors!

Step-by-Step Guide

With all the tools, lamp parts, and accessories you need arranged in front of you, it’s time to change your can light into a pendant – finally! Follow these instructions for our general guide to can light conversion.

Please also refer to this video if you need additional help.

Removing the Old

  • To avoid injury or breaker blowouts, turn off the light switch before getting started.
  • Remove the plaster ring and then the bulb by squeezing the two springs together and pulling the ring out.

Prepping for the Pendant

  • Screw the main piece of your can light conversion into the same light socket, which already has the wiring necessary for your pendant.
  • Attach a bracket to the can light by stretching it across and screwing along the rim at the appropriate spots to hold it in place.
  • Place a cover plate over the bracket and align it with the clips to hold it in place.
  • Pull the conversion bracket wires through the cover plate, so they extend beyond the opening.

Installing the Pendant Wiring

  • Twist the matching pendant wires and converter wires together – black with black, white with white, etc.
  • Use a wire nut over the twisted wires to insulate the bare wire from the interior of the metal fixture.
  • Screw the pendant light bracket to the can light conversion kit bracket on the exterior of the cover plate.
  • You can trim your cord to the right length, or you can hide the excess cord length inside the space of the can fixture.
  • Attach the canopy accessory or other decorative plate to the bottom of the can fixture that’s hiding and holding all the interior wiring in place.

Putting the Pendant Together

If you bought a ready-made pendant light, putting it together is easy – just follow the instructions with your order to finish off your new light fixture. However, if you’re working with a DIY kit with all the pieces separate, follow this for the final steps of your can light conversion.

  • Thread all the socket components into place on the cord outside the shade in this order: female barrel cord grip, knurled nut, metal washer, and silicone washer.
  • Slide on your preferred shade or cage, so it’s sitting flush against the above components.
  • Thread the silicone washer and knurled nut in that order inside the shade to hold it securely in place.
  • Now, slide an all-thread nipple into the top of the socket cap, followed by the socket cover.
  • Make sure every component is flush along the inside and outside of the shade or cage.
  • Screw in your light bulb.
  • Turn on the light and admire your work!


Now that you know how to convert a can light into a pendant light, you have so much more flexibility to rewire your residential lighting on your own. We recommended keeping your pendant fixture weight under 10 lbs. for safety or otherwise follow the weight guidelines specifically mentioned in your conversion kit instructions. 

If you have any concerns about changing your can light into a pendant, you can reach out to us or talk to a local electrician for support with your specific project!

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