What’s the Best Location for a Circuit Panel?
Are you building a new home, outbuilding or addition? If you’re planning to run electricity there, you need a wiring plan. You also need to know where to put your circuit panel. What’s the best spot to place this all-important piece of the wiring puzzle?
Put Safety First
Your home’s safety should come before convenience or esthetics. The best place to put your panel is where it’s easily accessible, unobstructed and unlikely to get wet. To be on the safe side, hire a SESCOS electrician to suggest a good spot and install it safely for you.
Follow the NEC Guidelines
One way to choose your panel’s location is to follow the National Electric Code (NEC) guidelines for placement. Here’s what the NEC advises.
Working space: This is the space that surrounds the panel. According to the NEC, the working space must be at least 6 feet 6 inches high and 3 feet square away from the wall. It must have a width of 30 inches all the way around. You should be able to open the door to your working room without hitting the panel.
Height: Make sure you can reach all the grips easily. The NEC code says the grip of the highest lever must not be more than six feet from the ground, but you may need a lower placement. Be sure other family members can easily open the panel and reach the levers.
Obstruction: Don’t put furniture or appliances in front of the panel. Never allow anything to block it.
Placement: The panel should not be in a small, enclosed space. Don’t put your panel in storage room, crawlspace or furnace room. The NEC also states you shouldn’t put the panel in an area close to flammable materials like clothes or liquid solvents.
Lighting: There must be overhead lighting that allows a clear view of the panel at night.
Now that you know what not to do, here’s what you can do.
Proper Panel Placement
Basements: Basements are a popular location for circuit panels. Since basements can be dark, place an overhead light near the panel. Be sure the panel is not in an area where you’ve had leaks or mildew problems. Keep it away from flammable substances.
Garages: A circuit panel in a garage keeps it safely away from the rest of the house but still in a secure location. Your garage should have good lighting. Place the panel in an area where it won’t be exposed to the elements. Keep it away from gas, diesel, paint thinner, and other dangerous substances.
Stairways: If it’s under the stairway, your panel will be easy to reach and well protected from your home’s foot traffic. Don’t do this if the area under the stairs is cramped.
Here are some additional tips
- Don’t cover the electrical panel with a picture, curtain, or other decorative items.
- Don’t place it in a bathroom or kitchen.
- It’s fine to paint the cover of the panel.
Stay Safe With SESCOS
You can get power to your addition, workspace or new building while staying safe. Finding the right place to put your circuit panel is the first step. If you need help with a circuit panel or any other electrical problem, contact SESCOS. We’re here to help.