Breaker Panel NEC Guidelines The working space surrounding the breaker panel must be at least 6' 6" high and 3 feet square away from the wall, with a 30" width, according to the NEC. There should be enough space for a person to reach inside the breaker panel and turn off power if needed.
The actual requirements may vary by region but this is typical in the United States. If you are lucky enough to have your home built to code, then you will have more room than what is required. Otherwise, you will need to make some adjustments to your breaker panel location or add another panel. For example, if you plan to have a garage built later on, then you will need to ensure there is enough space for a person to get inside the panel and turn off power if needed.
Electricians typically install circuit breakers before they start work on a project so there is no need to worry about them while they are doing their job. However, it's good practice to keep an eye on things once work has started on your house. Make sure nobody is going into your breaker panel when you aren't around by locking the door of your panel after each visit or installing lockboxes for various keys. This way, anyone who might want to tamper with your equipment will not be able to do so.
An electrical panel has clearance requirements. In front of the electrical panel, the code demands a minimum of 30 inches wide x 36 inches deep x 6 1/2 feet high (or to the ceiling). This area is called the dead space. Any object that is placed there will not interfere with access to any circuit breakers or other equipment inside the panel.
The clearance requirement does not include connections to other panels or circuits. These must be kept accessible for repair purposes. However, if the location of these connections causes problems for you or your contractors, then you can arrange with your local electrical inspector to have them placed in a less visible location during construction or remodeling projects.
You should also know that the required clearance extends both horizontally and vertically. So, if you want to place something behind the panel that needs to be accessed from below (such as an electric heater), then it must be able to hang over the edge of the panel by at least 12 inches.
Additionally, parts of the cable running to certain appliances such as air conditioners and heat pumps must be located outside of the panel's boundary. These cables are called branch lines and they can cause problems if they're not located properly. For example, if a branch line enters the room through a wall instead of via the floor or roof, this could lead to flooding or damage caused by falling objects.
All electrical panels must have a minimum of 36 inches of clearance in front of the panel, 30 inches of space across the face of the panel, and 78 inches of clearance from the top edge of the panel to the floor. The distance between panels must be based on how many amps of current they will have to carry. For example, if two circuits are planned with 14-foot extensions, then the spacing between panels should be 21/2 feet. If three circuits are planned with 7-foot extensions, then the spacing should be 13/4 feet.
The number of panels required depends on how much current you plan to handle. If you expect less than 100 amps, you can use a single 20- or 40-amp circuit breaker panel. This panel can supply power to up to six outlets. If your application requires more than one outlet per circuit, you'll need a second panel. A double-outlet receptacle needs its own circuit, so it should be connected to its own switch or relay. A triple-outlet receptacle needs three separate circuits, so it should be connected to three separate switches or relays.
If you're not sure how much current you'll need, we recommend that you oversize your receptacles and outlets by 50 percent to be on the safe side. That way you won't run out of room or have any problems with heat buildup.
Three feet Regulatory prerequisites Electrical panels must have a minimum clearance of 3 feet (36 inches) and a minimum headroom of 6.5 feet or the height of the equipment, whichever is larger, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Electrical Code (NEC). Panels located within kitchens or bathrooms are required by OSHA to be protected by an approved enclosure. Enclosures provide protection for people by preventing them from being exposed to electrical hazards such as broken wires or exposed terminals.
Clearance requirements are meant to prevent accidents caused by objects coming into contact with live power lines. The 3-foot rule ensures that enough space is available for anyone working near an electrical panel to safely reach it without running into electrical lines.
The 6.5-foot requirement for headroom allows for the installation of utility appliances such as air conditioners, heat pumps, and water heaters that use gas or electric power. These appliances need room above the panel to function properly. They should not be placed so close to the panel that they interfere with emergency personnel's ability to access trapped occupants in case of a fire.
Electrical panels can be located either inside or outside a building. If they are outside, they should be securely mounted on a wall or other permanent structure and able to support at least 50 pounds of force each way from any outlet or wire connected to it.