California Title 24 Residential Lighting Requirements


California's Title 24 outlines a series of lighting requirements that are intended to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption in residential homes and commercial properties. The standards of this legislative mandate are also periodically updated, as they were in 2005 and 2008, to allow for the incorporation of new energy-saving methods, materials and technologies as they develop. Homeowners in California must comply with Title 24, or face misdemeanor penalties.

General Requirements

  • Title 24 stipulates that both residences use high-efficacy luminaires, dimmers and occupancy sensors in most spaces. As of 2008, the CEC defines "high efficacy" as 30 lumens per watt for bulbs under 5W; 40 lumens per watt for 5W to 15W bulbs; 50 lumens per watt for 15W to 40W bulbs; and 60 lumens per watt for bulbs greater than 40W. In addition, electronic ballasts are required for all fluorescent luminaires of 13 watts or greater, while recessed lighting in insulated ceilings must be both airtight rated (AT) and insulated covered (type IC). Nearly all pin-based fluorescent systems will qualify as meeting the designated residential lighting standards. Also, no fixtures should contain medium-based incandescent sockets except for outdoor high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting that meets the minimum lumens per watt.


  • At least 50 percent of a kitchen's total lighting wattage must come from high-efficacy fixtures such as fluorescents. This means that for every watt of fluorescent lighting used, 1 watt of incandescent lighting may also be used. In addition, any low-efficacy fixtures, like incandescents, must be controlled by switches that are separate from their high-efficacy counterparts. Incandescent and magnetically ballasted 13-watt downlights have been some of the most popular lights used in modern kitchens, but must be replaced according to 2005 guidelines since they do not meet efficacy standards. However, newer 26-watt downlights may actually reduce the number of lights needed to generate the same light level that the 13-watt downlights had achieved.

Other Interior Rooms

  • Bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms and utility rooms are required to have either high-efficacy lighting fixtures or specially designed low-efficacy fixtures that are equipped with an occupancy sensor. While the sensor on these low-efficacy fixtures may be switched on manually, it must have a switch that automatically terminates the light when the room is unoccupied. All other interior rooms, such as hallways, stairways, living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms, may have a dimmer switch installed instead of the occupancy sensor.

Outdoor Lighting

  • Exterior lighting fixtures that are attached to a house or building must meet all of the same efficacy standards as the indoor lighting fixtures. If high-efficacy lights are not installed, then low-efficacy lighting may be used as long as it is equipped with an occupancy sensor and photo sensor. The photo sensor features a photocell that reacts to daylight as a way to ensure a light does not come on during daytime hours. Additionally, the occupancy sensors cannot be locked into a permanent "on" state, nor can they be time delayed longer than 30 minutes.


  • Homeowners should not waste time and money installing lighting systems unless they fully understand the requirements of Title 24. To provide further assistance, the California Energy Commission has set up an "energy hotline" and website:


    Additional questions can be directed to:



  • Photo Credit long life light image by haemengine from
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