This article is designed for a very simple overview of lighting requirements for your single family construction project. Further articles will give more in depth explanations, but much of that isn’t necessary for actual fixture selection.
During the design and permitting stage of your job, you'll notice many references to Title 24 and JA8. Simply put, Title 24 is the overall building code and JA8 is specific to lighting.
Over the years Title 24 has gone through many revisions, making understanding what the current code requires somewhat confusing. But on the lighting side, the current T24 guidelines actually have become quite a bit easier for planning. Unlike earlier versions, you no longer have to worry about what the first switch in your kitchen controls or have to follow an equation for the wattage of lights.
At the most basic, all lights (bulbs or fixtures) have to be JA8 compliant, regardless of room. If it’s not compliant, it won’t pass code. This of course is for any job requiring an inspection- if there’s no inspector, you’re more free for your fixture options.
There are some more requirements for individual areas, but as far as fixtures are concerned, just look for JA8.
From the 2016 Title 24 Update:
The marking “JA8-2016” is required for compliance and shall only be used on lamps that meet the requirements of Joint Appendix 8 and are listed in the Energy Commission JA8 database.
Vacancy sensors- manual on/ automatic off are required to control at least one luminaire in
If not controlled by vacancy sensor, any JA8 certified light source is required to be controlled by a dimmer.
Outdoor fixtures must be controlled by a manual on/ off switch and one of the following:
Photocontrol & motion sensor,
Photocontrol & automatic time switch control,
Astronomical time clock control that automatically turns the outdoor lighting off during daylight hours or an ECMS that provides the functionality of an astronomical time clock, does not have an override or bypass switch that allows the luminaire to be always on, and is programmed to automatically turn the outdoor lighting off during daylight hours.
Very often a fixture you ordered isn’t available to make final inspection, or you simply can’t decide on the perfect light. The 2016 code provides an accommodation for this- you’re allowed to have electrical boxes without fixtures installed, under the following conditions:
The number of blank electrical boxes installed more than five feet above the finished floor shall not be greater than the number of bedrooms. These electrical boxes shall be served by a dimmer, a vacancy sensor, or fan speed control.
For example, if you have a three pendants for over your kitchen island which have not been selected, you can still pass final inspection without the lights hanging as long as you have a three bedroom house- and follow the other requirements above.
And that’s it. If you follow these rules, you’ll be compliant with your lighting selections.
As always, we’re available to answer questions or to help with your lighting design.