California's Title 24 JA8 Works Smarter, Not Harder, for Residential Lighting

September 29, 2016

Original Post:  California's Title 24 JA8 Works Smarter, Not Harder, for Residential Lighting


I bet you had no idea there were so many laws regulating your light bulbs. But if you live in California, your light bulbs, and their electrical sources, are setting the standard across the country-- and perhaps the world-- for energy efficiency and technological advancements.


The regulations laid out in California Energy Commission's (CEC) Title 24, which have been applied to new constructions in California since 2005, have so-far relied on complicated calculations that factor in square footage per room per home, wattage per bulb per fixture, and so many other variables that the CEC has-- if you will-- seen the light, and finally created a revision to Title 24 called the Joint Appendix 8 (JA8), in which the regulations-- effective January 2017-- are simpler to follow, easier to inspect, giving broader range of consumer choice, AND effectively saving the world in energy consumption!


The important impact from the JA8 revision is easy enough to understand:

  • The implementation of these changes will reduce total installed Watts by 60%, with the greatest reduction in Wattage (73%) from recessed lighting specifically.*

  • These changes will save approximately $2,300 per home over a 30 year period (average life of current high efficacy lighting fixtures).

  • In the first year of these changes alone, approximately 30,000 metric tons of Green House Gases will be avoided!

All of this is fantastic for California home buyers who will be facing surges of costs in other areas (hello water crisis!). As LED prices continue to fall per bulb, consumers are not going to be too greatly affected by any of these changes (except perhaps the need to invest in a nice piggy bank for all that extra pocket change?).


Manufacturers will take the brunt of the changes, but even they too will greatly benefit. The JA8 revision is expected to create job growth, expand product availability to consumers, and make it easier to get more products in new homes.


The entire T24 JA8 revision is available online here, but we've taken some of the most pertinent information and summarized it to the best of our ability. It basically comes down to changes regarding the following standards:


  • What defines a lighting fixture, luminaire, or source as either low efficacy or high efficacy.

  • The differences between light fixtures, permanent light fixtures, and recessed downlights--> hint, they're not the same thing!

  • Requirements for dimmers and vacancy sensors.

  • Providing a Luminaire Schedule for home buyers.

Low vs. High Efficacy Ratings


The current 2013 Title 24 Part 6 of Building Efficiency Standards states that a low efficacy fixture  is defined as any standard screw-based fixture (line-voltage or low-voltage) capable of operating an incandescent bulb, OR an LED fixture that has not been certified to the Commission (CEC).


So under the current guidelines, a fixture labeled as low efficacy might be housing a high efficacy LED bulb (or visa versa), affecting wattage per electrical box, causing inspectors to count watts from each individual bulb across the home and how it operates within its fixture, calculating the square footage between lamps, and balancing the distribution of wattage between rooms and between fixtures. This process sometimes involves measuring the diameter of individual recessed cans to determine actual expended Wattage (since luminaires spend more energy as they overheat in enclosed fixtures).

Read about Fully Enclosed Fixtures here!


Since 2005, 50% of the calculated Wattage in the kitchen was allowed to be low efficacy, where the average hours of use each day (2.5) is higher than any other room in the home (second overall to exterior lighting with an average 3.9 hours daily use).  High efficacy lamps-- which have mostly been defined by base type-- were only installed at 38% of the time in new construction.


Bi-pin linears and CFL, GU-24 sockets, or Certified LEDs-- they were typically considered high efficacy, regardless of the installation process or fixture. Needless to say, this procedure and its results are not sufficient for moving forward to a cleaner, greener California.


Luminaires, Fixtures and Sources



The new regulations redefine low vs. high efficacy luminaires so that any base type is permissible, opening more products up to the market.

  • The stipulation to this is that the fixtures or light source that the luminaires are operating within must be JA8-compliant.

  • All screw-based luminaires must be compatible for higher temperatures and labeled Fully Enclosed Suitable.

  • All permanent light fixtures must be JA8-compliant.

Recessed downlights, however, are held to separate restrictions. All recessed downlights are now required to operate as high efficacy fixtures with a JA8-compliant source (pin-based or GU24 sockets labeled JA8-2016-E), and will not be allowed to contain screw-base luminaires of any kind. This in itself brings the average high efficacy permanent kitchen lighting in new constructions to 100%, bringing in that 73% reduction in annual Wattage use per home.*


JA8-Compliance Defined


In order for fixtures or sources to be JA8-compliant (labeled JA8-2016), they must be served by at least one dimmer (under-cabinet lighting must operate on its own switch), and a vacancy sensor is required for garages, laundry rooms and utility rooms. This also requires all recessed lighting to operate with its own dimmer, separate from other permanent fixtures or lamps.


What the JA8-Compliance rules manifest are a greater allowance of varied luminaires to hit the market, while the fixture and light sources become standardized, eliminating the need to calculate wattage from room to room as the foundation for lighting operation all adhere to the same energy requirements. As incandescents, halogens and CFLs are phased out across the market, the risk of installing inefficient luminaires in high efficacy lamps becomes minimal. In prevention of chance-corruption by builders to reverse the installation of high efficacy lighting for low efficacy lighting between the time that inspection occurs and buyers move in, JA8 also requires that a Luminaire Schedule be included with the purchase of property.



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