California’s Title 24 Lighting Requirements

Title 24 as it pertains to outdoor, wall mounted lighting. O.k. . .let’s break it down.

The rules, adopted October 1, 2005 by California’s Energy Commission, are intended to reduce California’s energy consumption and costs and apparently has been working. According to a representative at the Energy Commission office, the regulations have resulted in savings of more than 60 billion for the State.

The rules are speaking to anyone designing, specifying, installing or inspecting lighting installations in new and remodeled homes in the State of California.

What do the rules say? While Title 24 comprehensively addresses residential lighting including interior and parking lot lighting, the focus of my short summary is  exterior building mounted lights.

Title 24 mandates that lighting permanently mounted onto the outside of a residential building or other buildings on the same lot must be of “high efficacy” with the following two exceptions.

  1. If NOT high efficacy, but low efficacy lighting is being installed, then it must be controlled by a manual on/of switch AND a motion sensor AND one of the following.
    1. Photo control (photocell) without an override or bypass switch.
    2. Astronomical time clock without an override or bypass switch.
    3. Energy management control system without an override or bypass switch.


The motion sensor must be timed to automatically turn the light off within 30 minutes of its being triggered on.

Next exception to the rule. . .

2. Lights around swimming pools, water features and certain other locations referenced in the California Electric Code do not have to be “high efficacy”.

What does “high efficacy” mean? Well, as government writing tends to go, the official definition is not the most exciting read but is detailed and somewhat complicated. In short, “high efficacy” means the light is energy efficient. . .

It’s lighting that puts out a certain minimum lumens (visible light) per watt. Following is a relatively simple to follow guide provided by a commissioned energy research team at UC Davis which might help understanding.

Less than 15 watts requires 40 lumens/watt; 15 to 40 watts-50 lumens; more than 40 watts-60 lumens; note: balast wattage is not included when determining lamp efficiency.

So. . .which types of lamps should be considered when looking for “high efficacy”?. . .Per the UC Davis team, generally on the side of compliance would be.

  • fluorescent and CFL fixtures WITH electronic ballasts
  • fixtures with HID lamps

On the NOT compliant side would generally be

  • incandescent socket fixtures regardless of the lamp installed (so crafty conversions won’t work).
  • magnetic ballasts fluorescent and CFL fixtures.

While certain labels such as “Energystar” or “Title 24 Compliant” may be some indication that the lamp meets “high efficacy” standards, the Commission requires that the lamp past muster on its own merits independent of labeling because the label is not a fail proof indicator of compliance.

Regarding the low efficacy exception, skilled, experienced electricians are develoiping adaptations using products readily available in the market to meet requirements. Alternatively, installers may choose to go with a new product specifically designed for Title 24 compliance.

While some manufacturers have gotten on board producing their own version of the low efficacy combo unit alternative, many are still in the research and planning stages of new product development and roll-out and others are turning their attention to the industry’s advancements on the high efficacy side of the lighting equation, hence….LED bulbs and matching fixtures.

If you’d like to witness up close, some outdoor, wall mounted, high efficacy utility lighting, you might want to stop in to see our special line of high powered yet low watt utility LEDs (pictures below). Your jaw will drop when you see how powerful these babies are. They emit warehouse level lighting at low, low watts.

     50 watts = 350 watts           30 watts = 200 watts       10 watts = 75 watts           
11 3/8 x 9 1/4, 6 1/2 deep             9 x 7 1/2, 6 deep        4/12 x 3 1/2, 4 1/2 deep

Thanks for taking a moment to read this post. Hopefully it adds to your understanding of Title 24. Feel free to leave your comments or questions or we’ll see you in person at 2439 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura, CA 93030 for a chat and utility light demonstration.

Freda Ramey, Area Rep
805-642-2700, 805-612-3181,


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