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Can an electric panel be located over stairs?
Thursday, July 19, 2018
The purpose of the National Electric Code restrictions on the location of a panelboard is the safety of a person opening the panel for service. To safely remove the dead front (cover plate of the panel) and work inside requires a stable surface to stand on and sufficient elbow room to move around and work in front it. Standing on the steps of a stairs is not acceptable [NEC 240.24 (F)]. We occasionally see an electric panel at the side of a stair run, like in the photo above of stairs to a basement, and call it out for relocation. Also, the diagram below at right shows the clearance requirements in front of the panel: 2’6” wide, 3’-0” deep, and 6’-6” high.
Other locations where an electric panel cannot be located are clothes closets and bathrooms; and, obviously, there cannot be anything installed in front of the panel, such as a water heater. The panel shown below has a double no-no, located behind a toilet in a bathroom. These unsafe locations are usually the result of the remodeling of an older house. In this case, the kitchen was moved to a new addition to the home, and the room was reconfigured as a bathroom.
Also, see our articles Can an electrical panel be located under stairs? and Can an electrical panel be located at a stair landing? For a list of other locations where a panel should not be installed, go to our blog post Where are electrical breaker panels not allowed by code?
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