Upgrading Historic Church Pendant Lights to LED

hanging church lights

Ornate hanging pendant – 300-500W incandescent

Have you noticed that many churches have the same lantern-style chandeliers? Our church and my mother’s church both have them. Jon and I can’t help ourselves, but we notice the lighting wherever we go.  We don’t necessarily notice how bright it is or how classy the fixtures are, but we do notice how energy efficient the fixtures are.  When we first attended the Episcopal church in our city, we noticed that a lot of the lighting was very energy-intense (300W and 500W lightbulbs, I’d never seen anything like it!). Early on we asked if we could look into upgrading the lighting to more energy efficient lighting and the Rector said he’d love it if we did that!  His response was so enthusiastic that we knew this was a place we would be comfortable.  Now, 4 years later, Jon chairs the Building Committee and we co-chair the Greening Grace committee.

300W incandescent bulb

300W Incandescent Bulb

So, the lighting.  It turned out that the fixtures were part of the historic nature of the church and needed to stay, but Jon was given free reign to make the existing fixtures more energy efficient. The fixtures were originally designed to hold 500W bulbs (Wow!) but were retrofitted at some point in the past to hold 300W bulbs. As a result, people have complained for years that the sanctuary was too dark!  At this time, there are no 300W equivalent dimmable LED or CFL bulbs that would fit in these fixtures. Jonathan realized he needed to create something that would go inside the fixture that would hold several LED bulbs.

Jonathan came up with a design to use UL-listed lamp parts to create a special screw in replacement that holds 6 dimmable LED bulbs with a custom built fixture to replace each 300W incandescent bulb. We used 60W equivalent bulbs so ended up with about 120% of light, but using only 1/5th of the energy. An electrician at our church fabricated 8 of these to upgrade all of the fixtures in our sanctuary.

300W LED Upgrade

LED Upgrades Jon Designed

These retrofits have been in place for two years now and we realized that there are many, many churches that could benefit from this design. Therefore, Jon has listed the step by step instructions on Instructables.com for others to use the instructions. We hope you find these instructions helpful, please share them with a house of worship near you!

Comments we got at the church after installing the new LED lights included:

Wow you painted the walls. Why do you say that? They are so much brighter.
The lights look awesome!

Happy Greening,



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  1. this is a great idea! everyone would notice the changes in the church’s lightning. thumbs up!

  2. William Blayle says

    please can you be more specific about the proper UL connection at the socket end . the pictures do not show the most important part of the wiring under the EMT connector . We are looking for this type of solution at St Johns Luth. Church in Emmaus ,Pa

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