Subpanel clearance - mainpanel grandfathered

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Old 12-07-20, 03:44 PM
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Subpanel clearance - mainpanel grandfathered

I live in a house built in 1950s which has a main panel that was installed in 1980s (by previous owners - cant be certain but the siemens product code tells me it was around that time). This main panel is on the corner of the basement and faces off the furnace/hvac and it appears that it is not meeting NEC requirements for clearance.

It has only 30” of space from the panel to the hvac unit. Furthermore, it has a sump pump pipe that is about a foot away (sump pump pit is below it).

Now I understand this panel is “grandfathered” so to speak. The question is, can a subpanel that I plan on installing right adjacent to it to also be included under the same exception? If not, it will be substantial amount more work to locate the subpanel somewhere else and it will be a very ugly solution. Having both panels side by side is far more elegant.

Sump pump pipe is something I can relocate (rather than going up, I will have it go to the wall, go around the wood base panel and exit from left).

The plywood extension is something I added later on and it was a lot of work (have studs behind it that I anchored to the masonry wall). It will be a bummer if I cant use it.





 
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Old 12-07-20, 03:47 PM
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New has to meet current code. There is no such thing as grandfather for something new.
You need 3 feet in front of the new panel
 
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Old 12-07-20, 04:51 PM
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Do you need 36" of clearance exactly in front of the panel or is it 36" from a diagonal distance as well?

The part that is confusing is what about the areas that is neither right across of the panel nor to the sides?

Also what would an electrician do in a situation like this? There is literally nowhere near this panel where 36" of clearance is present. There is either gas entrance (which is a massive bulk that is 2 ft/2ft/2ft) or windows (sometimes water gets in from there so that has other problems). In order to meet with this requirement, panel would have to be located on the opposite end of the house, in the attached garage. We are talking about 50 ft of conduit and the cost is now massive. There has to be another way

Does it make a difference what the size of the subpanel is?
 
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Old 12-07-20, 05:57 PM
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This image explains it best. Diagonal does not count.
Imagine a space the size of a refrigerator in front of the panel.

https://inspectapedia.com/electric/E...-Distances.php

 
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Old 12-07-20, 05:58 PM
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Having both panels side by side is far more elegant.
The NEC is not designed for elegance, it is designed for safety. If you can't get the required clearance next to the main panel you need to find another location for the sub-panel.

Note: the 30" wide dimension in front of the panel is not required to be centered on the panel.
 
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Old 12-07-20, 06:08 PM
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Looking at the picture, it also appears that one would not be able to install this on a location where the panel would be above a say shelving because as per this rule, it's not only the area directly in front and side of the panel but rather the area beginning from the floor is restricted. I have a few areas where I have small 36" high homedepot shelves that are only 18" deep but because of the way this rule is written, even though there is no way something 18" deep will get in the way for working on a panel, I can't install the panel there.

This also means essentially there is no way to have a panel that is not in direct view, I think whoever wrote this wrote it in such a way that wherever a panel is installed it will be in direct view when you walk into a room that the panel is installed in. Which I can see why they did this but by not elegant I mean it will be an eyesore. You will walk into my basement or a garage and there will be a subpanel staring at you And I am off by literally 5 inches and I cannot believe I have to run a 1 1/4" conduit 50 feet long
 
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Old 12-07-20, 06:22 PM
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Sump pump pipe is something I can relocate (rather than going up, I will have it go to the wall, go around the wood base panel and exit from left).
If you relocate the sump pipe, seems like there's enough room on the cinderblock wall between main panel and furnace? Could mount some plywood there and mount subpanel to that.
 
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Old 12-07-20, 06:34 PM
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There is a radon pipe right above that location which would violate another NEC rule that prohibits any similar piping to be above the panel.

see pictures


 
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Old 12-07-20, 09:41 PM
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I don't think the radon pipe would be a problem. But the sump pit and pipe would be. The pipe could be moved and if you built a shallow floor(removable) over the pit I think you might be OK.
 
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Old 12-07-20, 09:52 PM
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So even the pit is a problem even though its even with floor?
 
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Old 12-08-20, 07:15 AM
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You must have a safe standing area in front of the panel. I don't think standing on top of the pit cover is considered safe. I could be wrong.
 
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Old 12-08-20, 07:25 AM
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This also means essentially there is no way to have a panel that is not in direct view, I think whoever wrote this wrote it in such a way that wherever a panel is installed it will be in direct view when you walk into a room that the panel is installed in. Which I can see why they did this but by not elegant I mean it will be an eyesore. You will walk into my basement or a garage and there will be a subpanel staring at you
No issue with a doored shallow frame , hiding the pane from view.
 
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Old 12-08-20, 10:56 AM
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Are you having this inspected? The AHJ (electrical inspector) has final say as to the interpretation of the NEC.
Because there isn't a significantly better location for it, he may approve it being installed next to the panel - as it's 'good enough'. Or he may take a hard stance on the NEC and say no. But it might be worth an ask.

IMO, being within 5" of the code requirements is probably good enough... but I'm certainly not the one who's making the call.
 
 

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