How much clearance (left and right sides) is needed for breaker panels?
Is the 3-feet clearance applied to sides also? I have four panels
side-by-side next to each other. They literally touch each other. I
can't remove the front panel of the center ones without first removing
the panel of those on the edge. An electrician told me that's illegal
and it would cost $1300 each to move the panel boxes 3 feet apart from
each other. That's $5200. Kind of high.
There is no requirement for seperation of those panels under the US NEC!
The cover issue can be addressed by replacing one or more of the
covers with surface mount covers that don't overlap the edges of the
panel. Each panel must have a clear space accross it's front that is
either thirty inches wide or the width of the panel whichever is larger.
This space can extend accross the front of other panels. The thirty
inch width can be measured from either edge of the panel cabinet or
simplyeclipse the front opening of the cabinet. The depth of space is
only thirty six inches for medium voltage panelboards of 150 volts to
ground or less.
"110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment.
Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained
about all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and
maintenance of such equipment. Enclosures housing electrical apparatus
that are controlled by lock and key shall be considered accessible to
Key to understanding 110.26 is the division of requirements for spaces
about electrical equipment in two separate and distinct categories:
working space and dedicated equipment space. Working space generally
applies to the protection of the worker, and dedicated equipment space
applies to the space reserved for future access to electrical equipment
and to protection of the equipment from intrusion by nonelectrical
equipment. The performance requirements for all spaces about electrical
equipment are set forth in the first sentence. Storage of materials that
blocks access or prevents safe work practices must be avoided at all times.
(A) Working Space. Working space for equipment operating at 600 volts,
nominal, or less to ground and likely to require examination,
adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized shall comply with
the dimensions of 110.26(A)(1), (2), and (3) or as required or permitted
elsewhere in this Code.
The intent of 110.26(A) is to provide enough space for personnel to
perform any of the operations listed without jeopardizing worker safety.
These operations include examination, adjustment, servicing, and
maintenance of equipment. Examples of such equipment include
panelboards, switches, circuit breakers, controllers, and controls on
heating and air-conditioning equipment. It is important to understand
that the word examination, as used in 110.26(A), includes such tasks as
checking for the presence of voltage using a portable voltmeter.
Minimum working clearances are not required if the equipment is such
that it is not likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or
maintenance while energized. However, “sufficient” access and working
space are still required by the opening paragraph of 110.26.
(1) Depth of Working Space. The depth of the working space in the
direction of live parts shall not be less than that specified in Table
110.26(A)(1) unless the requirements of 110.26(A)(1)(a), (b), or (c) are
met. Distances shall be measured from the exposed live parts or from the
enclosure or opening if the live parts are enclosed.
Table 110.26(A)(1) Working Spaces
Nominal Voltage to Ground Minimum Clear Distance
Condition 1 Condition 2 Condition 3
0–150 900 mm (3 ft) 900 mm (3 ft) 900 mm (3 ft)
151–600 900 mm (3 ft) 1 m (31/2 ft) 1.2 m (4 ft)
Note: Where the conditions are as follows:
Condition 1 — Exposed live parts on one side and no live or grounded
parts on the other side of the working space, or exposed live parts on
both sides effectively guarded by suitable wood or other insulating
materials. Insulated wire or insulated busbars operating at not over 300
volts to ground shall not be considered live parts.
Condition 2 — Exposed live parts on one side and grounded parts on the
other side. Concrete, brick, or tile walls shall be considered as grounded.
Condition 3 — Exposed live parts on both sides of the work space (not
guarded as provided in Condition 1) with the operator between."
copy right 2002 National Fire Protecction Association.
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