How to plan lighting in CA

trekkerFebruary 1, 2009

We are about to have a bathroom remodeled and I need some help with figuring out lighting.

I need to know how many lumens or foot candles (which measure should I use?) we should have for the area above the sinks in the bathroom. It's a fairly small room, about 78" long X 66" wide, standard 8' ceiling with soffit now containing a fluorescent light bar. Counter with 2 sinks and mirror are along the long wall. The soffit will be removed and some sort of lighting will go above the mirror and sinks. There must be a formula or guidelines someplace. The tub/shower and toilet are in a separate room, where we will have a recessed light (CFL) over the tub shower and a fan/heater/fluorescent light.

I'd like to use recessed lights above the sink area, but that depends on whether such units will provide enough light. I've looked at some other possibilities, but until I know the numbers I won't make a decision.

I've already been burned by Title 24 requirements in our kitchen that we completed in mid-2006. That, however, is another issue to which I'll turn my attention after figuring out the bathroom.

Thanks . . . I know one of you can point me in the right direction.

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The bath can be handled differently than the kitchen. Put in the lighting you want and use occupancy sensor(s) to automatically turn it off when the room is vacant. You can have all the wattage and any type of light you want.

The other option is to have high efficiency fixtures.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 10:55AM
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Thanks, but you must not live in CA. Incandescent bulbs are becoming hard to find in some sizes and we are REQUIRED to use fluorescents in the bathroom. I thought we could get away with incandescents and a motion detector switch, but since I may not even be able to buy the bulbs I need, that seems not to be an option. I'm not kidding: we went to buy replacement bulbs for some can lights and all we can get here are CFLs that don't give as much light and don't dim as well. Who knew that I might consider smuggling light bulbs? Anybody up for black market lights?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 12:05AM
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The link is for the title 24 design guide in effect now. And the 2008 guide which takes effect August 2009 treats bathrooms the same. I've not had any trouble getting any lamp needed though we have switched to more energy efficient incandescent MR16 and Par 30s/38s from Philips for recessed fixtures.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC Davis Title 24 design guide

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:03AM
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I'm in CA and dealing with the same thing. You are right about not being able to use incandescent - as far as our GC and Electrician are concerned. We are going compact flourescent and LED. There are now CFLs and LEDs made to look like traditional bulbs but with CA's required connectors.

The LED one we're using is $40 per bulb. It looks great, is extremely bright (brighter than the CFLs we have tried) and flicker free. It's just expensive!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 3:27PM
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The 1st thing to rememeber is that Title 24 is a construction or Remodel code. NOT RESALE!!!! T24 requires that your kitchen be done in flourscent. However that dosen't mean cans, and if your not a huge fan of FL there are ways around putting those cans in thats up to code and will pass you inspection and allow you to put what you want in later. T24 also requires FL outdoor lights. Rememeber that all of thse FL must be pin not screw in CFL. You don't need FL in a bath as long as you put a motion sense wall switch in, then you can do as you please. What i recommend is the low voltage MR16. Best light for wattage. LED is on its way but not there yet, the ones that are good and about $250 a bulb but looks like a rocket ship in your cans, the cheap ones are a horrible color tone.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:49AM
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Not trying to fuss, but why do you say the cheap ones are a horrible color tone? The $40 one we are using is beautiful. I believe the color temp is around 2800.

Also, we understand that it depends upon your inspector as to exactly how the T24 code is interpreted. Here, they emphasize the high efficiency, rather than exclusively flourescent.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 1:03PM
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Please share the brand and model # of the LED you like so that we can evaluate it or see if we have experience with it.

You're correct that Title 24 does not restrict "high efficiency" to fluorescent. You can use anything that meets the minimum efficiency level. Not all building professionals take the time to fully understand the rules and codes and it can be difficult to keep current on all of them. Often it only takes polite discussion with supporting materials to educate and change minds including minds of inspectors. The UC Davis guide is easy to read and understand yet there are different rules for different areas of the home and there are allowed exceptions to general rules that require reading a bit further and maybe learning a new trick. It is a common misunderstanding that bathrooms must be high efficiency. Using an occupancy sensor instead is an option and popular with those not satisfied with the all of the characteristics of high efficiency fixtures.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:12PM
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