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California code for bathrooms

Posted by gina_w (My Page) on
Tue, May 29, 12 at 20:08

I read the code, but am confused, as I usually am when I read cod-ese!

Anyway, I am remodeling our master bathroom and drawing up the plans now - what do I really need to satisfy the lighting code? How about for a tiny powder room?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: California code for bathrooms

Welcome to the wonderful world of Title 24.

Basically the first light switch you encounter upon entering is supposed to be an energy efficient one (LED/CFL). After that, you can do what you want. But any incandescents/halogens must be on a motion sensor switch.

When we rebuilt our house, we used a combination fan/CFL light unit (e.g., Panasonic FV-08VQL4) in each of the baths. The first switch controls the lights in these. Additional switches control other lights as needed.

RE: California code for bathrooms

wws, I don't think that the "first light" rule is sufficient any more. Since the 2008 version of Title 24 went in to effect (in 2010), the choices are:

1. High efficacy -- FL, CFL or APPROVED LED. To be approved, it has to be on the official California Efficient Appliance list, and not have a screw-in (Edison) socket in the fixture. Adapters from Edison to others (such as Edison to GU24) are NOT allowed/recognized.


2. Whatever lighting you like, as long as it is on a "vacancy" switch. i.e., it has manual turn-on and turn-off, and will also turn itself off after no motion detected for XX minutes. Note that "occupancy sensors", which turn on when you enter, are NOT allowed. There are motion detector switches which can be configured (e.g. by a small switch behind the wall plate) to be either "occupancy" or "vacancy" -- these are also NOT allowed.

I'm in the middle of a gut-out remodel of several rooms, plus 4 baths and a kitchen. In the master bath, I have incandescent/halogen over the vanity (on a vacancy switch), plus CFL recessed on a separate switch. My contractor thought the 1st switch rule was still in effect, so he put incandescent in the shower (separate switch) -- I'll have to either put that on a vacancy switch or replace the Edison base with a GU24 base and put an approved LED suitable for showers.

Please note that recessed lighting with a GU24 socket is NOT approved with CFL installed, only with an approved LED.

Not required, but in the master bath I also put my Panasonic combo ceiling fan and heater on timers -- 1 hr max for the fan and 30 minutes max for the heater. For my master half bath, just a 30 minute fan timer (and vacancy switch for the incandescent vanity light).

Here is a link that might be useful: CA approved high efficacy list - search

RE: California code for bathrooms

attofarad: Yes, I used the term "occupancy sensor" a bit too generically. The ones that are required are indeed "manual on, automatic off" vacancy sensors.

Note that the utility room has much the same requirements as the bathrooms do.

WRT the Panasonics, for some reason the little 5 watt night light does not need to be on a vacancy sensor. And good point on the timers. The fan doesn't draw much power. Less than the light. But the heater really does. I monitor our power usage via PG&Es smart meter/web site and you can really see the spike when the heater is turned on.

RE: California code for bathrooms

Thank you for the details. Yes, I was confused over the occupancy item especially. Ugh, this is why contractors get all sheepish and look at the floor while they tell you that you can have the work permitted, IF YOU WANT -- hinting that they don't give a rats behind about pulling permits.

I don't really care to pull permits either, but I worry about being caught during construction. The gov tries so hard to be the big nanny, but they shoot themselves in the foot because no one is permitting anything and hence they don't get that revenue. Doh. All the interior upgrades in this house were done without permits. The previous owners only pulled permits for the new upstairs deck.

RE: California code for bathrooms

wws, I put the fan on a timer so that I can leave it running to remove moisture after a shower, without having to be there to turn it off.

Yes, Gina, it is sometimes very frustrating when the nanny gov has rules that are meant to save energy and money, but definitely cost more money up front. If you would be following the intent anyway (but not the letter of the law), you still get to jump through hoops). In hallways ("other" rooms), the lighting has to be high efficacy, or controlled by vacancy switch, or on a dimmer. In my case, I'm going to end up with screw-in CFLs on a 3-way switch, but when the inspector is coming I'm going to install a dimmer and incandescents.

RE: California code for bathrooms

Yes I could always do that - the ole switcheroo. Heh. I swear all the contractors I've dealt with DO NOT want to pull permits anymore. It's a problem the Guv should look at - it can pass all the Titles it wants, but if people think your laws and codes are unreasonable, they'll find a way around them. (Just like passing millionaire laws, then a bunch of millionaires go missing!)

The contractors will do their work according to codes they "believe in" ha-ha. But if they see a code as outdated or a nuisance, or have to fight with the client about it, well...

I like the fan idea - I use the Panasonic whisper fans, so you can barely hear them and forget they are on.

RE: California code for bathrooms

One reason the contractors hate it so much is that the regulations are complex enough that different inspectors in different municipalities enforce different things - sometimes in contradiction to one another...

When we did our reconstruction, it was a tad early for LED. Since I really don't like CFLs, I only used them where I absolutely had to. (E.g., kitchen, bath, and utility room.) Over the past year I've been replacing all the highly used incandescents with LED bulbs. Main exception is the halogen fixtures above the bath mirrors. Beautiful lighting, but strange bulb size. So it will be a while before a LED replacement is available. If I were to do it over again today, I would look for fixtures which can use common LED bulbs.

RE: California code for bathrooms

I didn't permit my last kitchen remodel because at that time, the manufacturers had no options for LEDs or CFLs in lighting fixtures. The code was ahead of the products, so I had no choice. I wasn't about to put ugly old-fashioned fluorescent tubes in. I had just demolished the old plastic drop ceiling with fluorescent tubes! LOL.

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