Title 24

randgaltJanuary 31, 2008

I'm amazed to discover how much freedom we've lost in this country. My remodel in Monterey is hampered by so many crazy regulations (water, lighting, etc.) - I can't stand it.

I like incandescent lighting. I hate florescent lighting. I'm dealing with "Title 24" in California. My question is this: how do I stay within the letter of the law and yet get the lighting that I want (as opposed to what the bureaucrats want)? What strategies are people using? Are there ways to install florescent and then switch later on? Are there types of hanging light rails that don't count as "permanently attached"?

Any help would be appreciated.

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Do you hate just the old technology fluorescent or the new stuff too? Do you know the difference between them? Most people with this strong opinion developed it because of the poor color properties and possible flicker of the old. New has higher color rendering, more color temperature choices and a higher frequency above what humans can see flicker. It is also dimmable with the right ballasts. However, it is still not quite as nice in some ways as incandescent.

Here is a rundown on what others are doing to cope with the rules.

#1 and best is to just follow the code as intended with at least 50% of your kitchen lighting wattage from a fluorescent source which must have true fluorescent only sockets and electronic ballasts. There are some acceptable fluorescent recessed fixtures available and when dimmable one can live with them. Good designers can make this work and save you a few bucks on the power bill.

#2 increase the fluorescent wattage in places to offset the incandescent you really want somewhere else. An example is to put dual lamp T5HO fixtures on top of the cabinets to get a lot of watts up there. If you do intend to use them it is best to make them dimmable.

#3 flat out cheat and put up temporary fixtures in a place easy to change. An example is over the island or peninsula where one might want pendants some put up cheap fluorescent fixtures with enough wattage to make the numbers work just to pass code. Everyone knows what's going on but the inspectors can't write correction notices for bad taste.

Some inspectors are more strict than others. Some look and see fluorescents and that you are trying. They may not be concerned that you are a few watts over the limit while others add it all up and strictly enforce. Some others are confused amd mixing up the rules from different areas of the home.

Here is a link that might be useful: Halo Title 24 info sheet

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 10:42AM
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That's great info, thanks.

I'll take a look at the new fluorescents. It's the principle that really bothers me. I should be able to put whatever I want in my own home. There are so many incredible choices with incandescent and so few with fluorescent.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 10:58AM
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A moment on the soapbox...

Here is a link that might be useful: The Tragedy of the Commons

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 12:08PM
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jon1270--it's not really a commons issue, however, since people actually have to pay for their choices. Title 24 is making new home builders, but not old ones, bear the full cost for the entire state's (world's) overconsumption of electricity.

A much more direct solution would be either to tax incandescent lightbulbs or subsidize flourescent lightbulbs (or both) and let people choose which is better for them--cheaper lighting or better looking lighting.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 3:52PM
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The stupid thing about all this is that Title 24 doesn't save any energy at all. As an example, I just talked to my architect and he has a plan. We will install ~500w of fluorescent lighting in valances that point at the ceiling. This will allow us 500w of incandescent anywhere we want. The point is that Title 24 doesn't have a maximum wattage! If I want 10000w of incandescent, I can get it if I add 10000w of fluorescent! Then, if I want, I never have to use the fluorescent (it has to be on a different switch anyway). Further, I can plug in any amount of incandescent that I want.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 4:19PM
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Heimert, I respectfully disagree. Setting aside the suggestion that 'new home builders.. bear the full cost for the entire state's (world's) overconsumption of electricity,' which seems clearly absurd, this is a commons issue because consumers of electricity don't, in fact, pay for all the consequences of their choices. I'm sympathetic with the feeling that one ought to be able to utilize one's resources / do in one's own house whatever one likes, but the effects of these particular choices reach far beyond the walls of the house. Some states do subsidize CFLs; I'm unsure about California. Taxing incandescent lightbulbs could help too, but I doubt the net effect would be much different unless the tax was so small as to be pointless. The problem can't be solved unless people's behavior changes, so the tax would have to be large enough to persuade a significant fraction of people to purchase high-efficacy lighting; the people who made that choice would likely be many of the same people who can't afford to circumvent Title 24 in ways such as randgalt plans to do. Worse, it would fall more heavily on the poor; I think it's safe to say that anyone remodeling a house or building a new one is unlikely to be at the bottom of the economic ladder.

If it weren't politically and/or technologically impossible (for now) to package all the costs of energy use into your utility bill then I'd be all for doing so and letting the market do its work. As it is, we're stuck with blunter instruments like mandates.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 9:28AM
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jon1270 - I disagree with your premise. However, I'm not interested in arguing - this is not a good forum for it.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 2:20AM
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Something tells me the IBEW were involved in writing the "Electricians' Make-Work Act", err, I mean Title 24. ;')

randgalt's example of how the "offset rule" works in real life is another penultimate peek into the archetypal PRKali bureaucrat mindset... and it's frightening.

I mean really, compared to HVAC, water heating, and pool pumping/filtering, kitchen lighting ranks WHERE on the energy pie chart????

Revealing the number of kali.gov employees who make $90K+ "administering" Title 24 would probably make me vom... but they're doing God's work, so they deserve a pension too... :rolleyes:

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:28PM
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Switching to LED could be best alternative. Nice Title 24 CFL costs >= LED.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 11:10PM
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Kitchen and other incandescent lighting consumes a lot of electricity and wastes most of it in the form of radiated heat. Consider a kitchen with 15 to 20 spots. In many locations that heat is in-turn offset by increased air conditioning usage. All of that wasted electricity comes at both a financial and environmental cost. Homeowner electric bills are higher and we burn more coal releasing more mercury and other pollutants into the air.

So, the short answer is yes, mandated use of CFL or LED lighting technology makes a lot of sense. If you feel that your rights are being trampled then please stock up on several boxes of incandescant bulbs before the stores run out. Also stock up on some extra money for the electric company.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:10PM
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"compared to HVAC, water heating, and pool pumping/filtering, kitchen lighting ranks WHERE on the energy pie chart????"

You'd be surprised. According to the EPA, lighting and "other home appliances" is 26% of the average home's energy use. That's more than water heating (20%), cooling (only 8% - *I* was surprised at this) and refrigeration (only 5%). The biggest share of home energy use, not surprisingly, is for heating (41%).

Improving the efficiency of home lighting is not a trivial change - it has a significant effect on overall consumption. And if you look at the enormous number of high-wattage electric radiant space heaters can lights now installed in the average non-CA home, you can see why.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 7:10PM
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OK, granted, my perspective is skewed living in Duh Sunshine State, in a massively fenestrated MidMod, infused by indirect sunlight from surrounding white/light colored buildings. All 3 daily meals are prep'd without electric light, pretty much year 'round. (In effect, I already HAVE Organic LED wall panels--they're called double-pane picture windows, and updated sealed jalousies, lol.)

Now I realize the winter days are REAL short in the Northern latitudes, and plenty overcast. But this Title 24 stuff comes from California! Have they suddenly lost all knowledge of how to utilize natural light in PRKali, home of many of the most innovative architects in the world?

OTOH, in those gloomier and colder climes, incandescent lighting HELPS the heating system--i.e. virtually ALL the bulbs' waste heat is useful as space heating.

In the same vein, the trend towards windowless after-thought bathrooms is equally dubious--i.e. they not only REQUIRE electric lighting at ALL times, but powered VENTILATION/air-exchange as well. Ouch. So much nicer (and eco-friendly) to just open the big ol' window. ;')

Still, I have to question any home design--especially standalone SFR--that requires electric lighting during daylight hours (wintry and stormy conditions excepted), and think it would be far WISER for Title 24 to address issues like solar utilization, fenestration, skylights, site orientation, etc... AND lean on the light bulb MFRs., NOT the end consumers. The whole "sun is dangerous, windows are energy sieves" mantra has gone way overboard. There are so many advances in glazing, aftermarket films, and just good ol' trees and awnings, to let Fortune 500 tract home builders herd us into gloomy low-IQ-designed stables.

And let's not even get into the mental health issues of living in a poorly fenestrated "cave"... exacerbated by UNnatural shades of light.

I'm ALL for progress in electric lighting, I'm just saying we need to DEMAND better alternatives to incandescent, and that when those new inventions TRULY ARE BETTER, peeps will freely flock to them, withOUT any bureaucratic coercion. ;')

Looks like indirect sunlight, AND lowers my utility bill? I'm in! Looks like death warmed-over and has high up-front cost? Ummm... yeah, I'll call you.

PS: And is there ANY light more perfectly "colored" (full-spectrum) than old sol?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 3:08PM
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Welcome to California, the land of nuts and fruits...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 3:25PM
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I'm in the midst of a CA remodel too. We struggled with the same thing.

I ended up choosing CREE LR6 cans and Environmental Lightings under cab LEDs. They are all the warm 2700 variety.

We just got power to them yesterday. Stunning! Way nicer looking than any incandescent can I've ever seen. The light is nice, even, warm, no dark spots. And I can dim them (once the contractor puts the dimmer on the right spot!!).

I have 18 cans in a family room/kitchen and about 14 feet of under cab. Total wattage is about 200w. Incredible!

I have 1 large pendant fixture on order for above the island. We got the loaner from light store and tried various bulbs in it. Unexpectedly, we liked the CFL in it the best. Seem to be much more even glow on the shade and spread a larger circle on the island. Good quality ones don't have that old office building color that makes every one look slightly queasy.

Title 24 is badly designed in that it leads people to do whacky things like randgalts architect suggested, but the spirit is right. The price for high efficacy lights will be driven down and the products will keep getting better because CA is such a large market. And we'll all be better off if we cut the coal burning for cheap power.

I had 75w incandescent cans in my old kitchen and I was constantly replacing lightbulb$. And the light certainly wasn't as nice as this.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 2:09PM
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Marcy, you make a good point. Title 24 will drive availability improvements and cost reductions for those of us elsewhere in the country who choose to voluntarily reduce our energy usage.

Reasons for that might be that we're "green," we're frugal, or our ultimate goal is to make most or all of our own energy. In my case, it's all of the above, but any one of them is sufficient. :)

And if the quality of the light produced is improved in the bargain, so much the better!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 1:53AM
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I am a really cheap. My wife lived through the fall of commmunism in Bulgaria as a child. So her mindset is similar to folks who lived through the great depression. Title 24 isn't even a warm-up for efficiency in a house. I guess if people want to thwart the attempt, they can, but our new build is miles beyond.

Having said that, unfortunately the government got involved with glazing. So it was nearly impossible for me to get High Solar Heat Gain glass. And because I did, it counted against my title 24. I have a passive solar house. Having a low solar heat gain coefficient completely thwarted the design of my house. I did find some old style E-coated glass that is high solar gain thankfully.

News flash, some of us dont have air conditioners.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 9:53PM
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