Framing a wall around electrical panel

I want to build a wall around my electrical panel, which is mounted on a piece of plywood (4' x 4') attached to a concrete wall in the basement. Circuits exiting the panel are stapled to the plywood.
I've heard that people treat this type of obstacle as a window. I could treat the plywood as the 'window', but that would leave an ugly 4' x 4' mess of exposed wires.
Alternately, I could treat the electrical panel as the 'window', such that drywall would cover everything but the panel itself. I just don't see how it is possible to do this...the wires around the panel would interfere with framing, wouldn't they?
To complicate things, a couple of circuits are being added to the panel, while some others may require temporary disconnection. Presumably this would have to be done before I try framing the wall.
My 'contractor' suggested building the wall out an extra 6", and having a recessed electrical panel...but that seems like an unnecessary waste of space in an already cramped house.
Surely there are lots of people out there who have encountered this problem. Any ideas would be appreciated!
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== Google it. ==
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I did 'Google it'...and found nothing useful. Then I searched the histories of this group looking for similar posts. Finally I decided to post a question and got some very useful suggestions, none of which were readily available via a standard web search. In turn, I try and respond with suggestions when there are questions in an area where I have some experience.
Groups like this thrive when people have meaningful discussions. Your posts, on the other hand, do nothing to advance the group.

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== The last time I encountered the same situation as yours, I built a big box around the electrical panel and I could easily remove the metal box cover and access the wiring and breakers entering and leaving the panel, The box extended out from the wall about 10 inches or so and the front had a small frame around it. I just slipped a loose panel into the frame and loosely attached it with a couple of small clear plastic turnbuttons. Since the cover was of the same material as the wallboard it fit in perfectly. I wish that I could include a drawing. If an inspector was coming I just removed the front cover and voila...an open accessible box for his inspection. Anyway, it passed. ==
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Actually the box only needs to be about 6 inches deep. I had to make mine deeper because of other factors involving prior overhead construction getting in the way. ==
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Borrall Wonnell wrote:

...
W/O a view of the actual situation, exact particulars/suggestions are futile, but the general thing is to frame up to the location of the panel where there's flat wall conventionally and then do what has to be done from there...to maintain a flat front surface means trimming the tubafor down or using 2x2 or even 1x for in front of the ply around the box.
I'd suggest rather than sheetrock over that area to use ply or paneling fastened w/ removable fasteners to additional circuits can be added at future time w/o tearing up the wall surface.
Most service panels are designed so they will fit flush in a standard wall cavity depth so it shouldn't be particularly difficult to build up something that'll work.
--
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dpb wrote:

My suggestion, which I've done in the past, is to frame a standard door in front of the panel area and use a pre-hung flush door in front of the panel. This is entirely to code, since with the door open there is full access to the entire panel and then some. I also use a recessed handle and ball catch on the door which helps differentiate it from the normal doors in the area. Simple, easy $30 solution.
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Pete C. wrote: ...

Certainly a possibility; route depends mostly on what the desired look is--one leaves a panel in a wall which in basement may be perfectly ok; other leaves a doorway in the area.
I've done combination of both as well--half-door, half framed-in and covered. Either is fully Code compliant.
--
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The required working space width is 30" (NEC 110.26(A)(2)). So that will fly if with the door open you have a full 30" from the face of the door to the latch side stop.
Cheers, Wayne
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If the inspector is a real tight ass, he might say that the 30" door's width, and door stops, intrude on the required 30" width, so a 32" wide door would be required, but I've never seen an electrical inspector be really tight-assed if there isn't some life safety issue on the line.
R
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Hey, 2" could be a life-safety issue, working space is (obviously) for the protection of workers. My general attitude is that electricity is on the more dangerous end of the things I work with, so it makes sense to be very careful. The NEC requirement is clear and unambiguous, you need 30" of clear width with the door open.
Cheers, Wayne
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Wayne Whitney wrote:

The NEC requirement is ambiguous in this context. The panel is less than 30" wide and you have to reach inside the ~3.5" depth to work. This is a panel mounted on plywood on a concrete wall, if you frame a wall for this area it would be perhaps 1" off that concrete wall, meaning that the face of the electrical panel would be about 2" behind the face of the new wall and doorway. I don't think any sane person or even inspector would argue that a 24" wide doorway to access an electrical panel 2" behind it would violate the workspace access provision of the NEC. That provision is intended to apply to obstacles that protrude a significant distance on the sides of the panel, i.e. where you would have to stand sideways to get to the panel, not a couple inches where you have easy access.
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NEC 110.26(A)(1) says:
(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), (A)(1)(b), or (A)(1)(c) are met. Distances shall be measured from the exposed live parts or from the enclosure or opening if the live parts are enclosed.
The last sentence seems clear to me, the depth is measured starting at the face of the enclosure. And 110.26(A)(2) gives the required width of 30", and 110.26(A)(3) gives the height of 78". Basically, you need to be able to slide a refrigerator box measuring 30" wide by 36" deep by 78" tall directly up to the face of the panel.
110.26(A)(3) does say that related electrical equipment above or below the panel may stick out up to 6" past the panel face. But doors and door stops are not electrical equipment.
So what's so hard about using a 32" door?
Cheers, Wayne
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In wrote:

Maybe. I can read that section in a couple different ways. The ONLY way to be sure is to call your local code enforcement office and ask for their opinions. It costs little to nothing to call plus gets you their interpretation of the requirement. Write down the names/times, even quotes if you recall them, of who told you what in case you run into a renegade inspector. I've met more inspectors than the average bear in California, Chicago and now here in upstate rural NY and every single one of them has been friendly and helpful if anything showed up in an inspection. Local ordinances have the last word on things like this and it is written information created by them. Very often, if an inspector is going to be in this area they'll stop by and give us a freebie heads up or a very quick look-see and Q&A.
HTH,
Twayne`
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Wayne Whitney wrote:

30,32,34,36" doors are standards. That requirement is also open to interpretation in a case where the door frame might be smaller than 30", say a 24" door, but the frame and wall are only a couple inches past the face of the panel and there is far more than the 30" width available after that couple inches. The requirement is there so that a person of average 24"+ width can fit in the space in front of the panel, a person standing in front of the open door and reaching into the panel would seem to fit the intent of the rule, regardless if the door width was less than the 30" but at least the width of the panel cover. Then of course there are also plenty of places the NEC doesn't apply.
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The panel and layout is pretty ordinary/basic, with no real obstacles or special circumstances. For me, this is a very helpful suggestion!

Great idea! After this reno there will be no additional circuits to be found, but I prefer to leave access to areas that may require future service. My situation is typical. The panel is of a "proper" depth to accommodate a 2x4 wall, so I think I will be able to build 'something that'll work'.
Regards, Dave
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*Usually what I see is the wall built out a little and a full size door installed for very easy access. The other common solution is a full size storeroom or utility room made around the panel. I have gone into older basements that have the electrical panel framed like a window with some shutters or plywood door to cover the opening. Those are a PITA to work on and to try to get new circuits into.
The electrical code requires at least 36" of clearance in front of the panel.
If you can post some pictures, maybe more suggestions will come forward.
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No pictures required...this is a very typical panel installation. The original plan was to build a utility room. However, SWMBO decided otherwise. Building a closet/door is also out...the local inspector frowned on the idea. Thanks for the suggestions though!
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What does frown on the idea mean? Panelboards are located in closets a lot of times. Ask him to point out exactly what part of the code prohibits it. If he can't/won't point out the code prohibition (which he won't, since there are none - there are limitations on access, but no prohibitions to panelboards in a closet/enclosure), ask what problems he has with it, and then address those.
R
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On Thu, 28 Oct 2010 10:22:14 -0700 (PDT), Borrall Wonnell

The easiest solution would be to just remove the panel and wiring. You dont really need this stuff.
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