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I've gotten fed up with the recessed 4-pin GX24Q fixtures in my kitchen that were required by California Title 24, after removing a burned out (and relatively expensive) CFL, cracking it in the process, and potentially contaminating my eating area with mercury dust yet again.

I'm aware that ballast-compatible LED GX24Q bulbs exist, but I have not had good experience with them: the ones I've tried seem to get too hot and frequently burn out quickly in my fixtures.

I'd like to bypass the existing ballasts and replace the GX24Q sockets with E26 ones so that I can use cheap E26 LED bulbs. I have no intention of ever using incandescent or halogen bulbs in the fixtures, and since the LED bulbs should be of lower wattage than the CFLs intended for the fixtures, I don't think that this should be a fire hazard.

However, if I were to sell my house, would there be any California Title 24 implications to having E26 sockets? Would it matter if:

Or would I need to hardwire the Molex-like connector that LED retrofit kits typically use?

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  • They make GX24Q LED bulbs - are they too expensive or will they not work for some other reason?
    – Dave D
    Dec 25 '20 at 11:15
  • @DaveD Oops, the "I'm aware that ballast-compatible GX24Q bulbs exist..." paragraph was meant to be about LED GX24Q bulbs. Yes, they haven't worked for me, and yes, they're too expensive.
    – jamesdlin
    Dec 25 '20 at 11:44
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From page 9-45 of the California Energy Commission 2019 Residential Compliance Manual (emphasis mine):

Example 9-39

Question:

In the kitchen above, I am replacing one of the recessed downlight luminaires. Must the new downlight luminaire be high-efficacy?

Answer:

Yes, newly installed luminaires must be high-efficacy and meet the requirements in §150.0(k). Screw-based sockets are not permitted for newly installed recessed downlight luminaires in ceilings.

An E26 socket cannot be installed in recessed downlights in California and remain compliant with Title 24's Building Energy Efficiency Standards.

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  • Thanks for the reference! Am I right in assuming that it'd then be acceptable to have ballast-less GX24Q sockets?
    – jamesdlin
    Dec 25 '20 at 11:38
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    Note that this only applies to recessed in-ceiling fixtures - on the same page they say "The 2019 Energy Standards now allow the installation of Joint Appendix JA8-compliant lamps in screwbased fixtures as a way to comply with the high-efficacy lighting requirements as long as the luminaire is not a recessed downlight in ceiling" Dec 26 '20 at 12:23
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Forget "replaceable" bulbs. The law (which makes little sense to me - let money rule and you will find that people won't use incandescent bulbs (generally speaking) once there are inexpensive, high-quality, LED bulbs with huge energy cost savings over incandescent - problem solved without being draconian) is about making it impossible for people to replace "good" bulbs with "bad" bulbs. If you have a fixture that doesn't use any replaceable light bulbs at all then you have solved the problem.

People are also used to "light bulbs are easy to replace, so why would I want something where I have to replace the entire fixture" but that is based on 100 years of "replace a bulb every 1,000 hours". LED fixtures are more like 50,000 hours. It is a different world.

LEDs themselves, naturally, last "forever". The driver circuits that convert from high-voltage AC to low-voltage DC to power the LEDs are much more prone to failure and are also the part where vendors "cheap out". Look for fixtures with a long warranty - 5-years is quite common (not that you want a warranty repair, but a long warranty is a good sign of quality because the manufacturer doesn't want to have to keep replacing stuff for free) and DLC certification.

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  • A 50000-hour MTBF sounds like a lot, but at around 16 hours per day, that's only 8-9 years. (Our kitchen doesn't get much sunlight, so we need the lights on whenever we're around it, but since our kitchen is open and centrally located, we're constantly around it when we're awake.) Replacing 6 fixtures every 9 years doesn't sound great to me. (They also wouldn't all fail at the same time, so what would I do? Replace all 6 when the first fails? Replace each one individually and end up a mish-mash of fixtures?)
    – jamesdlin
    Dec 25 '20 at 16:46
  • Furthermore, we've had a lot of different $20 GX24Q bulbs from established companies fail after 1 year of use (and some much sooner than that), well within their warranty period and well before their expected lifetime. Maybe they're not expensive enough, but I'd still rather have easily replaceable bulbs.
    – jamesdlin
    Dec 25 '20 at 16:50
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    I do completely agree that the law makes no sense and that market forces would have driven adoption anyway (especially since there already was pressure to stop manufacturing incandescent bulbs). It's especially galling that it's specifically required for kitchens, and the combination of GX24Q (which requires firmly pushing or pulling to insert or remove) with recessed lights (where the bulb base can't be gripped) with CFLs (which are easily broken if gripped too tightly) feels like it should be specifically prohibited as a health hazard.
    – jamesdlin
    Dec 25 '20 at 16:59
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    @jamesdlin -- note that LED lifespans are basically quoted as "this is how long it takes for the LED's output to fade to X%" (L70 is a common standard, which uses 70% for that X), as an LED that is kept within its ratings envelope shouldn't suddenly fail Dec 28 '20 at 12:36
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    @jamesdlin MTBF is mean... some will fail sooner; some will last much longer. If the price of the fixture is right, and if you'll remain in this home for so many years, buy extra units of the selected LED non-replaceable-lamp fixture. Use the spare parts inventory to replace units as they fail. (I buy 5 tires for an AWD/4WD vehicle instead of road hazard protection for the same reason -- "free replacement" of one damaged tire is little consolation when I would have to buy 3 more in order to keep the set matched, ie equal circumference.)
    – Greg Hill
    Dec 28 '20 at 17:17

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