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Control & Automation

How California’s Title 24 Lighting Law Affects Dealers

Understanding California's revised Title 24 lighting and energy standards -- and why out-of-state dealers should care.


Scott McClintock and Tom Leblanc · September 4, 2006

The state of California, which is home to more than 36 million people, has long been a leader in energy conservation. California's energy efficiency regulations have set standards for the rest of the country for building and appliance efficiency. These standards have helped Californians save more than $20 billion in electricity and natural gas costs, according to the California Energy Commission. By 2011, that number is expected to climb an additional $57 billion.


Periodically, of course, standards are updated and raised. The California Energy Commission recently adopted the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings. Updates to the state's Title 24 residential lighting code include comprehensive changes to residential lighting for new and remodeled homes obtaining permits. These standards are intended to significantly reduce lighting energy consumption by requiring the implementation of new energy-efficient technologies. 

These code changes represent a significant opportunity for increased energy savings and reduced maintenance in residential lighting. However, these changes also represent new challenges for installation professionals -- new technologies, mandates and designs that differ from their current practice. 

Though adopting these new policies and procedures may prove taxing for lighting control installers, similar code adoption has served the state and the environment well. 

"Many manufacturers, designers and builders are doing very well with the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards," says Gary Flamm, lighting program lead for Energy Standards of the California Energy Commission. "They are embracing and promoting the standards."

Since 1976 the United States has fluctuated between 8,000 and 12,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh) per person, consumed, according to the California Energy Commission. In comparison, for that same time period, the state of California has remained steady at around 7,000 kwh per person consumed. 

For years California has enjoyed successful energy management because of a guiding policy that the state's economy is best served by a diversity of energy supplies. This "portfolio" approach to energy planning has given California the world's most diverse electricity generation system, and has established the state as an international leader in demonstrating new transportation fuels and vehicles. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration study, "Primary Energy Consumed in California by Source, 1997," California ranked second in the nation in the total amount of energy consumed but 48th in the amount of energy consumed per person. 

California ranks first in the use of energy in the residential, commercial and transportation sectors and third in the industrial sector. The state is second in the use of natural gas, petroleum and electricity. 

Those usage numbers are significant, proving that the adoption of these energy savings codes has truly made the state a front-runner and a pioneer in energy savings. It's reasonable to expect that other states will consider following suit. 

"There is no current legislation that meets or exceeds Title 24," says Paul Vrabel of ICF International. "Other states and utilities across the country are taking an active role in energy efficiency and are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption. State officials and utilities are closely watching what California does. Given the rising prices of fuel and energy, people are starting to look more seriously at energy codes." 

Meeting the Code

Whether or not the new lighting standards ignite sales, installers need to meet the requirements. Title 24 compliance may present integrators with some challenges. 

Updates to the code include the use of high-efficacy or fluorescent lamps, in most key areas of the home, as well as the use of occupant sensors. 

Residentially, fluorescent lighting has, for years, had a very negative impact on homeowners. The answer is simple, though: using the proper temperature fluorescent lamp, such as one that matches the output of an incandescent lamp, will make for a happy homeowner and a code-compliant home. Some suggest using a 2,700-kilowatt fluorescent lamp for the best color output. 

Because code compliancy is not an option, and some of this information may be new to some installers, lighting and lighting control manufacturers are teaming up to educate builders and installers about their options -- specifically as they pertain to the use of lighting controls in the space. 

Compared to occupancy sensors, dimmers are the only compliancy option that will also enhance the space by adding mood and ambiance. Another portion of the training is choosing the right ballast to properly dim fluorescent lighting. Tips for interfacing occupant sensors into a whole-house lighting control system are also provided.

Per the code, specific rooms of the home are considered compliant if a dimmer is used to control the lights. However, this only applies to certain rooms. 

The code doesn't mean that dimmers can't be used in other rooms; they just don't meet the code requirements. Occupant sensors are approved for more rooms of the home, meaning they will have to be configured into the lighting control design. 

Flamm notes that even though dimmers are not specifically called out for usage in every room, there are ways to use them in addition to standards-compliant product. Dimmers can be used anywhere as long as they don't override the product used for compliance. Someone could put the low-efficacy lighting in the kitchen on a dimmer instead of a simple toggle switch. The kitchen complies when at least 50 percent of the installed wattage is high-efficacy. 

Another example is that someone could put both a dimmer and manual-on occupant sensor in the bathroom. It is the manual-on occupant sensor that complies with standards. 

Therefore, as long as the dimmer does not override the occupant sensor, the bathroom complies with the standards.

Does Title 24 Equal More Sales?

Energy conservation has many beneficial byproducts. It's good news for dealers if sales is among those byproducts. But is that the case with the adoption of the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Builders update to California's Title 24?

Not necessarily, according to Sean Fields, Audio Video Entertainment, Laguna Niguel, Calif. "[The new requirement] is definitely being enforced by the inspectors. But I don't know if Title 24 is going to really pan out to help us sell more lighting control systems. I have yet to see that."

Meanwhile, LED lighting manufacturer Permlight Products indicates a boon caused by Title 24 compliance. The company says its line of 4-inch and 6-inch recessed LED can sales have risen over 1,000 percent from 1st Quarter to 2nd Quarter 2006 and that over 15 percent of its overall revenues are now in LED residential lighting versus 2 percent in 2005. The company markets its high-brightness warm white LEDs as "California Title 24 compliant." 

Perhaps the impact is felt more on the manufacturing side at this point. Gary Flamm, lighting program lead for Energy Standards of the California Energy Commission, says the standards have already influenced some companies' product offerings. 

"Prior to the California 2005 residential lighting standards, they didn't bother making high-efficacy luminaires because the market was being driven by low cost first," says Flamm. "It was always the manufacturer with the cheapest product who won the bids. Now it is finally profitable to start making nice-looking high-efficacy luminaires." 

Title 24, Section 150 Defined

Though the code mandates house-wide compliance through a variety of standards, certain areas of the home are called out specifically with their own sets of rules. The following is edited text from the Title 24 code:

Kitchen
Section 150 (k) 2: Permanently installed luminaires in kitchens shall be high-efficacy luminaires. Exception: Up to 50 percent of the total rated wattage of permanently installed luminaires in kitchens may be non-high-efficacy luminaires (for example, incandescent lamps), provided that they are controlled by switches separate from those controlling the high-efficacy luminaires. The wattage of high-efficacy luminaires shall be the total nominal rated wattage of the installed high-efficacy lamps.

Bathrooms, Garages, Laundry Rooms, Utility Rooms
Section 150 (k) 3: Permanently installed luminaires in bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms and utility rooms shall be high-efficacy luminaires. Exception: Permanently installed luminaires that are not high-efficacy shall be allowed provided that they are controlled by an occupant sensor(s) certified to comply with Section 119. Such motion sensors shall not have a control that allows the luminaire to be turned on automatically or that has an override allowing the luminaire always to be on.

Porches and Outdoor Lighting
Section 150 (k) 6: Luminaires providing outdoor lighting and permanently mounted to a residential building or to other buildings on the same lot shall be high-efficacy luminaires. Exception 1: Permanently installed outdoor luminaires that are not high-efficacy shall be allowed provided that they are controlled by a motion sensor(s) with integral photocontrol certified to comply with Section 119 (d). Exception 2: Permanently installed luminaires in or around swimming pools, water features, or other locations subject to Article 680 of the California Electric Code need not be high-efficacy luminaires.

Other spaces
Section 150 (k) 4: Permanently installed luminaires in locations other than kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and utility rooms shall be high-efficacy luminaires. Exception 1: Permanently installed luminaires that are not high-efficacy luminaires shall be allowed provided they are controlled by a dimmer switch. Exception 2: Permanently installed luminaires that are not high-efficacy shall be allowed provided that they are controlled by an occupant sensor(s) certified to comply with Section 119. Such motion sensors shall not have a control that allows the luminaire to be turned on automatically or that has an override allowing the luminaire always to be turned on. Exception 3: Permanently installed luminaires that are not high-efficacy shall be allowed in closets less than 70 square feet



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