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Understanding California's Title 20 Law

If you live in California, chances are you have heard about the California Energy Commission (CEC) Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Regulations. Most have not read it and why would you. It is better used as a sleeping aid than a quick reference. Here we will discuss Title 20 and how it relates to pool pumps in the residential swimming pool industry. You may have already seen stickers on new pumps and replacement motors that say:

 “It is illegal to sell, offer to sell, or install this product in a residential pool for filtration in the state of California”

“This product shall not be used as a Pool Filtration Pump in the State of California”

First let’s take a look back at how Title 20 started. In 2001 California shocked the nation when it announced it could not generate enough energy to meet the needs of its citizens. Rather than expanding energy supply due to excessive costs of building power plants, they moved toward conservation, and eventually landmark legislation - Title 20 and Title 24. Originally meant exclusively for California, Titles 20 and 24 are creeping across the country in different forms. Florida is already committed and other pool building states such as Texas, Arizona and Nevada are soon to follow.

For decades, pools wasted energy due to oversized pumps and undersized inefficient plumbing. If designed differently these pools could have been kept clean for a fraction of the cost. Although now mandated, the movement toward efficient pool filtration systems started long ago.

Some industry professionals resent government involvement due to the negative impact that this forced change can create on their business. Title 20 regulations are really not restrictive and allow several options at different price points that will still satisfy customer's needs.

Section 1605.3 (g)(5)

(5) Residential Pool Pump and Motor Combinations, and Replacement Residential Pool Pump Motors.
(A) Motor Efficiency. Pool pump motors manufactured on or after January 1, 2006 may not be split-phase
or capacitor start - induction run type.
(B) Two-, Multi-, or Variable-Speed Capability.
1. Residential Pool Pump Motors. Residential Pool pump motors with a pool pump motor capacity of
1 HP or greater which are manufactured on or after January 1, 2010, shall have the
capability of operating at two or more speeds with a low speed having a rotation rate that is no more
than one-half of the motor's maximum rotation rate. The pump motor must be operated with a pump
control that shall have the capability of operating the pump at least at two speeds.
2. Pump Controls. Pool pump motor controls manufactured on or after January 1, 2008 that are sold for
use with a two- or more speed pump shall have the capability of operating the pool pump at least at
two speeds. The control's default circulation speed setting shall be no more than one-half of the
motor's maximum rotation rate. Any high speed override capability shall be for a temporary period not
to exceed one 24-hour cycle without resetting to default settings.











If the regulations above seem confusing, you are not alone. Here it is in basic terms. Any residential swimming pool filtration pump or motor that stops working MUST BE replaced with either a two-speed or variable speed motor if it is 1 total horsepower (THP) or more. They must also have a built-in or separate timer capable of controlling the speeds. The regulations currently do not apply to above-ground pool, pressure cleaner or booster pumps but they should at least be an energy-efficient single-speed. Keep in mind, penalties can be heavy and are being enforced, up to $2500 for installing non-compliant Title 20 pump and/or motor. Be careful and know the law.