Maximum height for panel/switch

Does the NEC specify the maximum height a panel and/or breakers may be above the floor? What about a minimum height above a floor or other horizontal surface (e.g., a workbench)?
Perce
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I'm not aware of specific height requirements, but the Code does require that panels be "readily accessible" which is defined in Article 100 thus:
"Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections, without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, chairs, etc."
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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A workbench under a panel will not pass NEC. Absolutely nothing but air 3 feet in front of a panel. Greg
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On 05/18/05 09:45 pm Greg O tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

So let's suppose that a house is built with a panel on a wall, and that is the only thing on the wall. How does Joe Homeowner know that it's not OK to use this perfectly good wall space to put his workbench against? Does the builder (or, specifically, the electrician) put "Keep this space clear" warning signs on that wall and on the floor in front of it? There certainly aren't any in my house, and I don't recall seeing such in any of the much newer houses I've seen.
I'm not saying you're wrong -- and I've now found Web sites that support /you -- but I'd be willing to bet that there are thousands of residences around the US with a workbench under the panel because it's never occurred to anybody that it's not OK. I put cabinets and a countertop under mine (I can move them easily enough to another wall), and the only reason I asked the question was because I'm about to install a larger panel and I wanted to be sure I was allowing sufficient clearance above the countertop.
Perce
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You asked, I answered, do what you want! Because it is done does not mean it is acceptable, or some how passes code. There is no code for clearance above a counter top because it is not allowed in the NEC. Greg
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On 05/19/05 12:05 am Greg O tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

I'll move the cabinets and countertops because I want to comply with the Code. I'm not arguing about that. But why do I (or why does anybody else) have to find out about this rule only "by accident?"
Cutler-Hammer even sells "decorator panels" for its panels, so a nicely decorated panel could even end up on a living room wall, but nobody is telling Jane Houseproud that if she puts a buffet or a sofa against that wall she's violating the NEC. How would she ever find out that this is not OK?
Perce
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Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Such marking is not required in homes but it can be ordered in any commercial premise that is found to be in violation of those rules. Some insurance carriers require it in all of their insureds' business premises. This very problem is why I like to locate panels in hallways or other spots were the placement of furniture is unlikely. When you do your own work it will be inspected at least as well as if an electrician did it. You will be expected to know the rules and to have complied with them. When you hire an electrician they are supposed to inform you of what is required of you to pass inspection. The inspectors don't install cameras or post guards. They can only inspect what is there when the inspection occurs.
--
Tom Horne


Well we aren't no thin blue heroes and yet we aren't no blackguards to.
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Percival P. Cassidy ( snipped-for-privacy@NotMyISP.net) said...

There are all sorts of code issues that have to be a certain way for the inspector, but there's no way to ensure it remains that way afterwards.
Back in 1994, our electrical code changed to prohibit panels inside a "clothes closet". A good change, IMHO, since most closets tend to become crap-filled. However, up to that point many panels in high rise apartments were placed in the closet just inside the front door.
At the time the code change went into effect (or any point after the new code was released in advance of its effective date), there were building projects underway designed under the old rules.
I went to a new code seminar and the inspector running it mentioned this issue. He said what builders were doing to comply with the new code was to not install the hanger bar and shelves that makes a closet a "clothes closet" until after the final electrical inspection. Without the features that make it a "clothes closet", it passes inspection.
Of course, if any later work is done that requires an electrical inspection, the panel will likely be subject to adhering to all existing rules once again.
I could cite all sorts of passed-inspection-but-later-changed situations. I know of a number of homes with nice decorative iron railings on their stairs. The railings have fancy scroll work that would never pass inspection since in our jurisdiction you cannot have guards that could be climbed on, and much iron scroll work makes a good place to insert a foot for climbing. The change was made after the last inspection was done, and that is somewhat more substantial than a homeowner moving a table under a panel! ;-)
--
Calvin Henry-Cotnam
"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
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Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

The maximum height to a switch or a breaker used as a switch is 6&1/2 feet. since the equipment disconnecting means for many household appliances is the breaker that serves the circuit that supplies them those breakers are indeed used as switches.
You cannot have a workbench under a panels cabinet nor in front of the panel regardless of the height. The panel owns a piece of the building immediately in front of it that is thirty inches wide, six and a half feet high, and three feet deep. This is sometimes referred to as the step back distance. Because the panel must be worked on for testing while it is energized this space really is needed for the electrical workers safety. Most inspectors will ignore readily movable furniture such as chairs but many will require the removal from the room of all obstructions that cannot be removed by a healthy adult when using only one hand. Work benches, cabinets, and book cases are all impermissible.
--
Tom Horne


110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment.
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Mine is cover by a large heavy picture. Two hands needed to remove. Hope they don't catch me.
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Not arguing that fact. But, in my house, built 33 years ago, the panel was installed with nothing under it. There is a laundry sink is immediately to the right of the panel about 2 feet away. However, they put an outlet right under the panel meant for a washing machine! There is no other place to put it. So, the builder (and electrician) were in compliance, but the homeowner isn't. Or, is the washing machine ok because it is movable?
HorneTD wrote:

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In our case the panel is on the wall that is at a right angle to the wall with the dryer outlet and the washer connection points. The rest of the latter wall is encumbered with a whole slew of pipes, not to mention a floor that slopes toward the sump. So the wall where the panel is seemed like an ideal place to put cabinets to store laundry products and a counter top on which to sort clothes.
Perce
On 05/19/05 09:39 am Art Todesco tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

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On Wed, 18 May 2005 20:30:44 -0400, "Percival P. Cassidy"

Off the top of my head, after installling a service panel last week, no disconnecting device is allowed to be higher than 6 feet 7 inches from the floor. So as long as no breaker/disconnect is above that hight, you panel is good.
Considering there are 'work space' requirements arround panels, you cannot have a work bench directly infront of it. So, no cheating on the height question. ;)
Now this has been from memory, and it's late, so always referr to the Codes(even local) for the absolute correct answer.
hth,
tom @ www.WorkAtHomePlans.com
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