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."
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?
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
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.
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
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.
Well we aren't no thin blue heroes and yet we aren't no blackguards to.
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! ;-)
"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
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.
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?
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.
On 05/19/05 09:39 am Art Todesco tossed the following ingredients into
the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:
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.
tom @ www.WorkAtHomePlans.com
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