Can a washer or dryer be located in front of an electric panel?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Nothing is allowed to be installed or stored in a working space 2’-6” wide by 3’-0” deep by 6’-6” high in front of an electric panel,  per National Electrical Code [NEC 110.26(B)]. That includes a washer, dryer, water heater, pool equipment, water treatment equipment, storage, shelving or a counter. 

    The panel does not have to centered in the 2’-6” width, and the panel box can protrude up to 6” into the space.

    While this might seem like overkill since a washer or dryer can be disconnected and moved out of the way with a few minutes work so that an electrician or home inspector inspector have the necessary safe working space, getting immediate access to a panel may be necessary in an emergency. Climbing or leaning over equipment that is likely to be grounded to get at the panel is dangerous and, equally important, a quick escape route in case of arcing when in front of the panel is also necessary.

    This 3’-0” depth standard was implemented by the 1978 edition of the National Electrical Code [NEC 110.26(A)(1)]. An earlier Working Space About Equipment section first appeared in the 1940 NEC.

Although a washing machine in front of an electric panel is a problem for an inspector or electrician, sometimes it seems like the homeowner is determined to make it doubly difficult, like in the photo below.

    Also, the panel door must swing open a minimum of 90º, per NEC 110.26(A)(2), a panel cannot be located in a clothes closet, bathroom, or on stairs,per NEC 240.24 (D,E,F), and the area in front of the panel must be illuminated, per 110.26(D).    

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

What is the right size electric panel for a house? 

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 


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