More Regulations Coming to Residential Lighting: High-Efficacy Fixtures Everywhere

Lightfair 2016: California’s Title 24, Part 6 (2016), the standard-bearer for lighting regulations nationwide, adds new burdens to residential properties, both indoor and outdoor — more high-efficacy luminaires, more dimmers, more sensors.


Title 24, California’s “Building Energy Efficiency Standards” continues to add regulations to commercial and residential lighting installations, as we discovered at the recent Lightfair International (LFI) 2016, where vendors were peddling the latest in code-compliant luminaires and controls.

The newest 2016 standards, which take effect Jan. 1, 2017, will have major implications for lighting laws throughout the land, where local jurisdictions tend to follow California’s lead.

Established in 1978, Title 24, Part 6 of the California Energy Efficiency Commission defined standards for energy-efficient lighting (among other things) to reduce energy consumption.

The rules have become stricter over the years, moving beyond the energy efficiency of light bulbs. The 2013 version that went into effect in July 2014 established rules for residential (and commercial) lighting that mandated, among other things, occupancy sensors, dimmers and high-efficiency luminaires in certain parts of the home, for example kitchens and bathrooms.

The latest batch of regulations in the “2016 code”, are the next step in California’s Zero Net Energy (ZNE) initiative, which aims to have 100% of new California homes producing more energy than they consume by 2020.

In a nutshell, the new regulations 1) “simplify” the old Title 24 by mandating high-efficacy luminaires everywhere, not just for certain rooms; 2) define new classes of high-efficacy lighting for JA8 compliance, whereas only LEDs were addressed in the past; 3) “simplify” control requirements by linking them to the type of luminaire, not the room.

For several user-friendly reports on Title 24 codes, visit the California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California, Davis.

High Efficacy Lighting Required Everywhere

First, it should be clear that high-efficacy lighting isn’t the same as high-efficiency lighting. Efficient lights help save energy. Efficacious lights do save energy, but they also achieve certain other results such as accurate color rendering.

An efficient drug may work quickly or cheaply, but an efficacious drug actually solves the problem at hand, for example, high blood pressure.

So, the 2016 code mandates high-efficacy lighting pretty much everywhere. Previously, Title 24 placed requirements only in certain areas of the house, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Particularly in kitchens, the formula was complicated, with contractors required to calculate the wattage of low- versus high-efficacy luminaires.


Title 24 2016 Lighting: Requirements, Costs, ROI  

No calculations required for the new codes. All of the luminaires must be high-efficacy.

The definition of “high-efficacy” luminaires can be found in the Joint Appendix 8 (JA8) of the residential lighting code.

The good news for mandate-haters is that JA8 now can be applied to virtually any type of lighting, not just LED lamps as originally specified. So if you must have high-efficacy lighting almost everywhere inside and outside of the house, at least you have more options.

JA8-compliant lamps will be labeled on the bulb or base of the lamp.

Basically, everything that screws into an Edison-style socket (except hardwired ballasted HID) must comply with JA8 high-efficacy standards.

A new restriction is that screw-in fixtures will no longer be allowed for recessed downlights.

And lest new homeowners have questions about Title 24 compliance, the 2016 standard requires builders to provide a luminaire schedule that includes a list of installed lamps and luminaires.

“This ensures that homeowners know what lighting products they are entitled to when they take possession of a new home,” according to the CLTC.

Dimmers, Vacancy Sensors Required Everywhere

The new codes for high-efficacy lighting noted above are simpler now because almost all luminaires must be high-efficacy. No confusion there.

Likewise with controls. Pretty much every luminaire must be controllable via vacancy sensor, dimmer or some other code-compliant energy management control system (EMCS). Previous iterations of Title 24 required such controls only in specific rooms such as kitchens and baths.

Here’s how the CLTC puts it:

In practice, this requirement translates to any screw-base luminaire, ceiling recessed downlight, dedicated LED luminaire, or luminaire with an LED lamp. In addition, all under-cabinet lighting must be switched separately from other lighting in the home.

Most space-specific indoor control requirements have been eliminated. Instead, it all depends on the type of lamp or luminaire.

Outdoor Lighting Must be High-Efficacy

New to the 2016 code: All outdoor lighting must now be high-efficacy. In addition, for single-family homes, lighting mounted to any building on the lot must be controlled by one of the following combinations:

  • Photocell and motion sensor
  • Photocell and time switch
  • Astronomical time clock
  • EMCS … with certain caveats

More on the 2016 Standards and ROI

The 2016 standard addresses much more than lighting. It speaks volumes on HVAC systems, tankless water heaters, solar energy accommodations, and especially thermal performance in exterior walls and attics.

The California Energy Commission estimates that implementing all new codes – not just related to lighting — will add about $0.60 per square foot to the cost of a home, or about $1,200 for a 2,000 square-foot home.

The cost of implementing the lighting measures is about $0.15 per square foot according to the CEC. Just more than half of that amount ($0.08) is in the cost of materials:

Complying with this measure requires installing energy efficient lighting meeting certain criteria, and installing dimmer or vacancy sensor controls for certain types of light fixtures. This measure does not involve installing any additional lighting that would not otherwise be installed, but potentially requires the installation of additional dimmers or vacancy sensors if certain types of fixtures are installed.

So how much extra will Californians be spending on electronics in 2017 to adhere to the new lighting standards? About $209,600 (108,000 new homes, average 2,430 square feet).

The estimates assume the cost of high-efficacy lighting will drop significantly when the new regulations go into effect. In 2013, JA8-compliant lamps cost about $14 each and recessed luminaires cost about $35 per downlight. Future LED costs are estimated to drop 38%.

The payback to homeowners is miniscule — about $2,300 in electricity cost savings over 30 years.

Much of the ROI estimates come from the California Utilities Statewide Codes and Standards Team, comprised of California's Big 4 energy utilities. The group’s Residential Lighting report on Codes and Standards Enhancement (CASE), submitted in October 2014, provides a wealth of information on the cost of Title 24 implementation as well as the ROI for the state.

A chart in our photo gallery highlights the ROI for homeowners when the 2016 lighting-code compliance is implemented.


Title 24 2016 Lighting: Requirements, Costs, ROI  

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson




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