Author: Madison Dipbove         Published:  Nov 30, 2020      Guides

energy efficient lighting

First established in 1974, by the Warren-Alquist Act, the California Energy Commission (CEC) was formed as the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency, committed to reducing energy costs and the environmental impacts of energy use. And, they continue this mission today. Through legislation like Title 20 and Title 24, the CEC mandates that businesses maintain specific efficiency standards. And, this isn’t just good for the environment. Using energy-efficient appliances and lighting helps you save money on electrical costs as well.

If you’re a facility manager or electrician working in California, it’s essential that you’re familiar with both Title 20 and Title 24 regulations. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide on both pieces of legislation so that you can ensure that you’re lighting is up to code and save some money while you’re at it.

What is Title 20?

California introduced Title 20 requirements in two phases.

  1. Tier I went into effect January 1, 2018.
  2. Tier II went into effect July 1, 2019.

Tier II performance is significantly higher because it requires a higher efficacy (more light with less energy use) and CRI.

The commission has also made additional changes to Title 20 regulations, effective January 1, 2020. The CEC added a regulation that requires general service lamps (GSLs) to have a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt.

Title 20 applies more than just lighting, but since lighting is our area of expertise, that’s what we’ll be looking at.

The Appliance Efficiency Program, or Title 20, includes standards for lighting appliances. the Voluntary California Quality LED Lamp Specification is aligned with the standards of Title 20. The objective of this specification is to promote lighting products that perform better than current mandatory requirements and to prepare the market for upcoming mandatory efficiency regulations. It states the minimum level of quality and performance from LED lamps needed to avoid consumer dissatisfaction and facilitate the market transition to more efficient LED technology.

Title 20 is not only a requirement to sell in California, but item(s) must also be registered with the CEC prior to entering the market.

However, if a product meets Title 20 requirements, that does not mean it will also meet Title 24 (JA8) requirements.

Eligible Lamps

In order to be Title 20 eligible, lamps must have an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard E12, E17, E26 or GU24 base, including LED lamps designed for retrofit within existing recessed can housing that contains one of the preceding bases. Also, the lamp must be capable of producing a quantity of light suitable for general illumination, meaning a brightness less than or equal to 2,600 lumens and greater than or equal to 150 lumens (for candelabra bases) or 200 lumens (for other bases).

The lamp must also be capable of producing white light, meaning light with a correlated color temperature (CCT) between 2200K and 7000K. Lamps of any shape are eligible that meet these criteria, including LED downlight retrofit kits and candelabra LEDs with one of the specified bases.

CA lighting regulations

Title 20 Compliance

In order to be in compliance with Title 20, lighting products must meet the energy-efficency standards as set by the California Energy Commission.

This impacts three main categories of lighting: state-regulated LED lamps, state-regulated small diameter directional lamps, and state-regulated general service lamps. To be legally sold in the state, these products must be listed in California’s MAEDBS (Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System).

There are also certain testing and marking requirements for every product. But no matter what kind of testing a light bulb passes, if it’s not listed in the MAEDBS, it’s illegal to sell in California. Who’s responsible for making sure light bulbs are legally sold in California? Everyone in the supply chain. The California Energy Commission says lighting manufacturers, distributors, retailers, contractors, importers, and installers should all check products.

Title 20 Requirements

State-regulated LED lamps (SLED)

  • Defined as lamp with a base that is E12, E17, E26, or GU-24
  • Includes retrofit kits
Minimum efficacy 80 lpw (lumens per watt)
Minimum compliance score 297
Minimum rated life 10,000 hours
Standby power 0.2 watts

State-regulated small diameter directional lamps (SDDL)

  • Typically found in retail, hospitality, and museum track lighCan include incandescenthalogen, or LEDs
  • Defined as non-tubular directional lamp with a 2.25 inch or less diameter; can operate at 12 volts, 24 volts, or 120 volts
  • Minimum efficacy 80 lpw (lumens per watt)
    or a minimum efficacy of 70 lpw and a minimum compliance score of 165
    Minimum rated life 25,000 hours

    State-regulated general service lamps (GSL)

  • Can be incandescent, halogen, CFL, or LED
  • Defined as omni-directional lamp with an E26 base

What Is Title 24?

Title 24 (JA8),  California Building Standards Code is a broad set of requirements for “energy conservation, green design, construction and maintenance, fire and life safety, and accessibility” that apply to the “structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems” in a building. Title 24 was published by the California Building Standards Commission and applies to all buildings in California, not just state-owned buildings.

And although this piece of legislation is not lighting specific, it does have an effect on lighting decisions. As one of the largest power draws in the majority of commercial and industrial facilities, lighting is certainly responsible for large energy inefficiencies, if not carefully monitored.  Here, the CEC outlines required lighting controls and the style of lighting required in all buildings, both commercial and residential.


Below, you’ll find some Title 24, lighting specific regulations that CA requires of every business, regardless of industry. Many of these regulations expand on practices that are already in place, so don’t assume that because you updated your lighting a few years ago, that it will still be Title 24 compliant.


  • Photo controls are required in parking garages with at least 36 sq ft of opening and at least 60W of installed lighting power in daylight areas
  • Lights must be turned OFF during daylight hours via a photocontrol and an automatic time switch OR astronomical time switch control
  • If luminaires mounted <24 ft above ground, motion sensors or other occupancy-based controls must be used; not required >24 ft above ground
  •  Maximum dimming permitted as part of a motion-controlled lighting system increased to 90%
  • Outdoor lighting no longer must be separately circuited from other lighting, but it must remain independently controlled via automatic scheduling
  • If lighting is dimmable, controls must be on a dimmer with dimming and manual-ON/OFF capabilities
  • The following areas may 000000000use manual-ON/ OFF control not accessible to unauthorized personnel:
    • Public restrooms with 2 or more stalls
    • Parking areas
    • Stairwells
    • Corridors
      • Display/accent/case lighting

    What’s the difference between Title 20 and Title 24?

    To put it simply, Title 20 is product- specific and Title 24 outlines the way a new building should be designed and maintained.  In fact, just because a product meets Title 20 standards does not necessarily mean it will help in meeting Title 24 regulations.  Think about it this way: a product does not have to be Title 24 certified to be sold in California. New construction projects or major retrofits, however, do have to be inspected and approved as meeting Title 24 standards.

    Title 20 Lighting