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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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