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Lighting & ventilation requirements – NY State

fromPok | Posted in Building Code Questions on

Hello – I have one BR in the plan, which has a small window and it doesn’t pass the 8% light requirement.The room is 155sq ft and the window size is 30×48 with clear opening of 22.7″X42.3″. ~ 6.7sqft.. That puts it at 4.3%.  It passes natural ventilation requirement of 4% and fails 8% lighting requirement. Reading the code says, artificial light can be added to augment to meet the lighting requirement.  Here is what I found in my research
“Artificial light shall be provided that is adequate to provide an average illumination of 10 footcandles (107 lux) over the area of the room at a height of 30 inches (762 mm) above the floor level.”

Two questions to expert
1. Is adding the above language to the plan enough to pass the test?
2. What does the above mean during construction aka what lighting should be installed in the room? Does it have to be turned on 24×7 or on occupancy only?

Thank you.

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  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    I can't offer you anything in regards to #1, but for #2 what it's telling you is there needs to be enough light in the room to light the square footage of the floor to at least 107 lux with the meter held 30 inches above the floor. That light needs to be provided by some kind of light fixture (the "artificial" part), not a window. Typical light fixtures will provide photometric data that will let you calculate the light level provided by the fixture over a given area with the light fixture mountined at some specified height above the floor.

    You usually only have to "provide" the light fixtures, how they get turned on is seperate from the light level specification. Many areas require occupancy sensors now so that the lights come on and go off automatically when people enter or leave the room (the trades usually call this 'energy code'), but you might be OK with a simple light switch. Your local building department people should be able to tell you if you need an occupancy sensor or not. I've never seen a requirement to leave full lighting on 24x7, but there are requirements for commercial buildings for "night lightning" that requires a minimum amount of light in many/most areas when the main lights are off. Night lighting is usually achieved by wiring a few of the main light fixtures to remain on all the time. I don't think there are any night light requirements for residential structures though.


  2. artisanfarms | | #2

    Talk to your town. Local Zoning and Codes Enforcement offices vary a lot on how closely they look at your plans and rules and often have different things that are very important to them. I live in a small town and a rural area and they didn't go over the plans with a fine tooth comb. They did emphasize the smoke detector requirement since one of the inspectors is a volunteer firefighter and my electrical inspector was a demon on insisting on tamper resistant outlets and the use of arc suppression/ground fault breakers along with being totally befuddled by my use of EMT and a phase converter for three phase machinery in my shop.

  3. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #3

    As long as there is a window and at least some source of artificial lighting--even just a switched outlet--I have never had a code official worry about this rule. If you add the language you quoted to the plans, that will probably be sufficient. The lighting needs to be able to be turned on within a step or so of entering the room but it does not need to be on all of the time, or built-in.

  4. Expert Member
    DCcontrarian | | #4

    One lux is one lumen per square meter. If your room is 155 square feet, that's about 15 square meters. If you need 107 lux that's about 1600 lumens for the room. A household 60W equivalent bulb is 750-800 lumens, as is a can light.

    This is not at all a hard standard to meet, it's two can lights in a 10x15 room. As a practical matter you'd probably want more than that anyway.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #5

      Keep in mind that the higher that light is mounted, the larged the area it covers, but the lower the light level provided over that area.

      The code minimum lighting level is pretty easy to meet, and it's really too low for practical purposes, in my opinion. I always specify higher lighting levels, even in mechanical spaces.


  5. Expert Member


    I've never heard of a inspector flagging this, or even inquiring about the provisions for lighting any space - and have never seen it referred to on construction drawings. I doubt most designers or builders know it exists.

    It sounds a lot like a requirement in the building code put there as a baseline to prevent the rare circumstances where this might be an issue. I wouldn't bring it up.

  6. walta100 | | #7

    Will your window qualify as an egress window if not it can’t be labeled as a bedroom.

    “An unobstructed opening with at least 5.7 square feet is necessary. The width of the clear opening has to be at least 20-inches, while the height must be 24-inches. There must be a sill height of no more than 44 inches above the floor. If you have a sill height that is below grade, you will need a window well.”


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