Desired Clearance for Electrical Panel

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  #1  
Old 01-13-12, 09:55 AM
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Desired Clearance for Electrical Panel

I want to put a cabinet as close as possible to the electrical panel in my garage, but am wondering how much room I should leave in case the panel has to be serviced or replaced. The cabinet would be a pain to move, so I don't want to make life too difficult in the event that I need work done on the panel.

The townhouse was built in 2007, so I don't expect anything soon, but nothing lasts forever.

The door is 8" wide, so I'd love to hear that I can put the cabinet 8" off the wall and be fine, but I wanted some feedback before I proceed down that path.

Any thoughts?

 

Last edited by Evan78; 01-13-12 at 10:38 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-13-12, 10:37 AM
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Last year, we had a service upgrade (100 AMPS. TO 200.)
We kept the panel in the same location, just rewired/replaced.
Both the electrician and the electrical inspector indicated that "code" requires 3 feet of access space/clearance in front of the panel-room for access and for the service person to fit.
Based on that, I'd say your min. distance is 3 feet.
As I think codes vary from location to location, I'd suggest contacting your local building inspector-just for information's sake.
 

Last edited by Mikedel; 01-13-12 at 12:24 PM.
  #3  
Old 01-13-12, 10:47 AM
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Most people say a refrigerator box (approx 36 x 36) is a good estimate. It can be more one one side than the other but cannot block the edge of the panel. The 36" in front is inviolable.

I'm not sure what the exact measurements are (the Pro types will weigh in)...but that's close.

Wondering...is that a sub-panel? Not sure if there are different rules for that.
 
  #4  
Old 01-13-12, 10:51 AM
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Checking code and local building department is a good suggestion. 3' sounds reasonable.

I don't know how to distinguish a sub-panel. I have very little experience in this area. I can tell you it's a 4 unit building though.

I'm in Orange, California.
 
  #5  
Old 01-13-12, 11:43 AM
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Working Space

Requirements are covered in article 110.26 of the NEC.
 
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Old 01-13-12, 11:57 AM
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Clear space around the panel is thirty inches wide, (the panel may be mounted anywhere in that width and does not need to be centered) and thirty-six inches in front of the panel. This clear space must be maintained from the floor to the ceiling.

Yes, that IS a "sub-panel" although that particular term does not exist in the electrical code. You have a meter and main circuit breaker in an equipment/electrical room somewhere in the building.
 
  #7  
Old 01-13-12, 12:21 PM
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I found Section 110.26 of the National Electrical Code and it confirms your dimensions. For clarity, I'll add that the 30" clear space is total width, not 30" on each side of the panel.

Is the code overkill in this application? If I'm willing to ignore the code, would it be a major issue if the clearance was reduced?

I realize I may get a tongue lashing for asking this question since there are knowledgeable professionals here, but I'd like to know.
 
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Old 01-13-12, 12:33 PM
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Working Space

Is the code overkill in this application? If I'm willing to ignore the code, would it be a major issue if the clearance was reduced?


I think it would be a major issue if someone were electrocuted while working in the panel. The insurance companies have a way of knowing about such things.
 
  #9  
Old 01-13-12, 12:44 PM
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Not worth the risk
Just my 2
 
  #10  
Old 01-13-12, 12:52 PM
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Besides being a code violation, if you decide to sell later it may be listed as a defect by a home inspector. Then someone will ask for it to be fixed or take money off your asking price.

The work space requirements are for the safety and easy access for someone that needs to work in the panel.
 
  #11  
Old 01-13-12, 06:33 PM
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I don't want to make life too difficult in the event that I need work done on the panel.

The townhouse was built in 2007, so I don't expect anything soon,
I'd say you are about due for maintenance.
 
  #12  
Old 01-13-12, 06:37 PM
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What would the maintenance item(s) be?
 
  #13  
Old 01-13-12, 06:42 PM
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Agreed, code is the way to go. 30" left to right (panel doesn't have to be centered) and 30" in front.

You can skimp, but codes are there for a reason... why intentionally do things not to code?
 
  #14  
Old 01-13-12, 06:45 PM
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I would suggest inspecting the inside of the panel and checking for dirt and moisture and visually checking the general condition of breakers and tightening all connections.
 
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Old 01-13-12, 06:54 PM
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I agree, in general codes are there for a reason and should be adhered to whenever possible.

I think I'm going to take my Dad's suggestion and make the cabinet mobile. It'll be on wheels and bolted to the wall. That'll make it a 2 minute affair to move it anytime it's needed while also maximizing use of the garage.

Thanks for all the help.
 
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