Sight And Sounds

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Burlingame, CA 94010







Sight And Sounds Newsletter

April, 2009: Title 24 Lighting Solutions

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“One man’s annoyance is another man’s indulgence.”

You may have heard this before. This phrase definitely applies to California’s Title 24 building code lighting regulations and the application of smart home technology to the new strict standards.

However you feel about heightened energy efficiency regulations, Title 24 is a reality. You can curse the government, or you can find elegant solutions that will improve your lifestyle and lower your energy usage. Title 24 is here to stay, and energy costs will continue to grow, so why not be practical consumers? If we can accomplish energy savings while improving our daily lives, it’s a “win-win” situation for everybody.

According to the California Energy Commission’s Report, California's building efficiency standards (along with those for energy efficient appliances) have saved more than $56 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978. It is estimated the standards will save an additional $23 billion by 2013.

All California residents should know and understand Title 24 Codes. The regulations primarily apply to newly constructed projects, remodels, and additions. To view details of the California Title 24 code's lighting section, click this link. The areas of impact are the following:

  • Kitchens require the use of high efficacy luminaries. “High efficacy” luminaries have a high light output for the amount of wattage consumed. These luminaries are mostly limited to fluorescent fixtures. A minimum of 50% of installed luminaries must be high efficacy. Up to 50% of installed wattage may be standard lighting; however, it must be switched separately from the high efficacy luminaries.
  • Bathrooms, Garages, Laundry Rooms, and Utility Rooms must have a vacancy sensor for non high efficacy luminaries. This is a special switch that senses motion and automatically turns the lights off after a recommended 6-10 minutes of no detected motion within the room.
  • Rooms larger than seventy square feet must have high efficacy luminaries. Rooms that do not contain high efficacy luminaries can be exempted from this rule if they are controlled separately with either an electronic dimmer or timed switch.
  • Outdoor luminaries mounted to the building or to other buildings on the same lot must be high efficacy luminaries or be controlled by a photo control/motion sensor combination. Motion sensors used in conjunction with outdoor lighting luminaries should have the capability of turning the lights on automatically.

You are probably imagining uncomfortable home environments, with ugly light switches that inconveniently intrude upon normal everyday living. However, by utilizing more advanced products designed for smart home technology, homes can gleam very positive results that look good, provide great benefits, and fulfill stringent Title 24 requirements.



Many people dislike fluorescent lighting. It looks very industrial, has an odd color spectrum, and is not easily dimmed. This is why many homes utilize the full 50% of optional incandescent, halogen, or other type of lighting to help minimize the unwanted look of stale fluorescent lights. Since the optional lighting must be switched separately from the high efficacy lighting, the result is a large quantity of switches - the ones used for fluorescent, and the ones used for a mixture of incandescent, halogen, and others.

Control4 has practical and affordable solutions for this dilemma. Control4 has both 3-button and 6-button keypads that communicate wirelessly to Control4 dimmers and switches. Homeowners can reduce the quantity of switches and dimmers within the Kitchen area by strategically locating keypads that use only one single-gang decora wall box. Each button on the keypad can be programmed to turn on lights individually as well as within a group “scene.” Additionally, a Control4 dimmer or switch can be programmed individually to control other Control4 lighting devices. If there is a group of switches and dimmers ganged together, the first dimmer or switch in the group could activate the entire group, simply by pressing the button twice.

Since the Control4 keypad can be programmed to control any home subsystem, homeowners can also delegate a button or two to control volume from their audio system, control drapes, or select pre-programmed temperature settings.


Bathrooms and Other Small Rooms

Bathrooms and other small rooms may require vacancy sensor switches that turn on manually and shut off automatically. These vacancy sensor switches have a small timer circuit that defines how long the switch can stay on before turning back off. Normally, the timer duration for these switches is between 6 to 10 minutes, and the process of setting the duration time is complex and time consuming. Additionally, these switches are downright ugly. Imagine a switch with an attached pimple-like motion detector. Since the motion detector is integrated into the switch, in order for the switch to work properly, it must be in an unobstructed range of movement. This means that the ugliest of switches needs to be most prominent in relatively small spaces.

The perfect solution for this is the Card Access Wireless Motion Sensor. This is a wireless device that can run for two years on a 9-volt battery. Card Access has an optional DC-power supply for locations that have local power or wiring. The Card Access Wireless Motion Sensor can be placed in discreet areas, such as a sink cabinet kick recess. The Card Access Motion Sensor communicates with the Control4 system, sending commands to advise when motion is detected. The homeowner can select various parameters that dictate timer duration on the Control4 system. For example, in our Control4 home, my son’s bathroom is limited to five minutes duration in the morning. This means that he has five minutes to shower; otherwise, he loses the majority of lights in the bathroom. This simple application saves of both power and water, while maintaining a prompt morning schedule. Our programming changes on the weekends, providing my son more time to use his bathroom.

Motion sensor programming can be modified for longer durations, depending on time of day, day of week, and other factors. Additionally, one Card Access Motion Sensor can control more than one switch, so there is no need to duplicate motion detectors as you would vacancy sensor switches. Additionally, if a large bathroom with an adjoining dressing room has several lighting locations, vacancy sensors would be ineffective in keeping the lights on, should the homeowner want to return from the dressing room to the bathroom after the lights have already turned off. In this instance, two Card Access Motion Sensors could be used, one for the bathroom and one for the dressing room, each monitoring movements within the entire bath/dressing area.


Rooms Larger Than 70 Square Feet

In rooms where high efficacy fixtures are not possible, Title 24 allows for electronic dimmers. Electronic dimmers are different from older analog “rheostat” dimmers. Electronic dimmers create minute gaps in electrical line feeds to lighting fixtures, causing lights to dim with little energy waste. Analog dimmers rely on a rheostat or potentiometer, which converts line voltage into heat and other kinetic energy waste. An electronic dimmer connected to a 75-watt bulb can operate at 40 watts if it is dimmed to a select level. The same is not true for an older analog dimmer, which provides little to no power savings, regardless of dimmed state. Electronic dimmers provide great efficiency and are today's standard specification.

This is very important when considering how most rooms are occupied. Sometimes, a room requires as much light as possible. Other times, just a little bit off light here, a smidge over there, and a delicate wall wash is desired. Electronic dimmers run both incandescent and halogen fixtures, providing higher output at full-level and efficiency at dimmed-state. In Living Rooms and Dining Rooms, where high efficacy luminaries are often impractical or unappealing, Control4 Electronic Dimmers are the perfect solution.

We addressed lighting design ideas in our November 2008 “Green Is Good” Newsletter. For example, a large living area can be divided into several lighting zones, each having an artistic element that enhances paintings, fireplaces, cabinetry, entries, seating, and other room focal points. Control4 Dimmers can be programmed for multiple “scenes” from Control4 keypads, touchscreens, and remotes where lights can best create a room mood. Additionally, Control4’s Composer Home Edition software provides a very simple scheduling agent to set daily scenes, so homeowners can choreograph lighting to match their unique lifestyle. For example, a homeowner can arrive from work while Rhapsody Online Music Service plays Smooth Jazz in the Living Room while the lights illuminate at an optimum relaxation level. As time approaches dinner, the lights slowly dim over a five-minute period to signal the inevitable migration to the Kitchen.



We just completed a home in San Francisco that has a balcony on each of its four levels. The electrical inspector broke the news to the homeowner that each balcony would require a paired floodlight/motion detector fixture on each balcony. The homeowner had already painstakingly selected recessed fixtures that complimented the modern home design. If you have ever seen a floodlight/motion detector, it looks like something out of your local prison. To the homeowners delight, we were able to place a Card Access Motion Detector on each balcony, allowing him to keep his preferred recessed fixtures and enjoy an unobstructed view of the city. 

Title 24 states that decorative landscape lighting not permanently attached to buildings is exempt from Title 24 standards. However, the Energy Commission does suggest using a time clock or photo control on all outdoor lighting. If a landscape lighting system is left on overnight and into the next day, it is wasting both energy and money. Since many landscape systems run on DC transformers, Card Access has a 10-Amp Heavy-Duty Power Controller that can handle large transformers, pumps, and motors. This product is wireless, and it integrates perfectly with Control4 systems. Additionally, it has two circuits that can be controlled separately or combined as one to handle big jobs, like fountains and other water features.



This is all about lifestyle. Though you may not be a fan of government intrusion, look at the long-term benefits of lower electrical bills. Additionally, the wave of green-spec products from companies like Card Access and Control4 not only mitigate the impositions of strict code regulations, but they enhance the quality of life. Don’t let the rules get you down. Get even instead, and start experiencing the benefits smart home technology has to offer.



We look forward to hearing from you. Here is our contact info:












Cliff Roepke's Personal Page:



Title 24 Regulations Examined

This is a flow chart for Title 24 Compliance. Yes, it is complex and convoluted. However, this could represent billions of dollars in energy savings. (click image to view Title 24 Lighting Regulations)


Energy Efficient Kitchens

With good planning and use of natural light, kitchens can be both inviting and functional. (click image for Energy Star Web Article)


Control4 Keypads

At $149 and $179, Control4's 3-Button and 6-Button keypads can wirelessly control dimmers and switches necessary to illuminate fluorescent, incandescent, and halogen lights. (click image to view product information)


Replace Ugly Vacancy Switches

Pairing a Card Access Wireless Motion Sensor at $149 with Control4 Dimmers and Switches at $129 provides better looks and greater functionality than a clunky vacancy sensor switch. (click image to view product information)


Card Access Wireless Motion Sensor

This $149 Card Access Wireless Motion Sensor can be painted to match the cabinet color as well as recessed behind the cabinet panel. One Sensor can control several dimmers or switches. (click image to view product information)


Electronic Dimmers & Quality Lighting

At $129 per dimmer or switch, Control4 provides affordable lighting and control solutions. (click image to View Control4 Smart Lighting Web Page)


Schedule Lighting

With Control4 Composer Home Edition Software, homeowners can schedule lighting functions to meet their unique needs. This software can also manage homes remotely via the internet. (click image to view product information)


Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting can be as tasteful as interior lighting. It just takes a little planning.(click image to download Control4 Full-Line Brochure)


Modernize Your Landscape

Avoid having to use ugly floodlights with motion sensors. At $499, this Card Access Wireless Power Controller can handle lighting transformers and an array of outdoor applications like fountains and water features. This unit is rated at 10 Amps. (click image to view product information)