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Old 06-01-2013, 03:38 PM   #1
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


Hi All,

I'm planning a kitchen remodel in a small condo apartment space and running into a code issue. I was hoping some of you might share your expertise and let me know if I'm going to have to scrap or modify my plan. Or if I'm just plain nuts.

One of the walls in my kitchen currently houses the main electrical panel for my condo (see dimensions and placement below). The remodel design would place the refrigerator in front of it which would prevent "ready access" to the working space in front of the panel. That's based on my reading of NEC 110.26A as a non-electrician. This is problematic as almost any other design (including the current) is much inferior. If I could move the panel ~19" to the left, it would be clear of the fridge and be situated with enough space in front for code. I'm told that this could necessitate rewiring the main feed as well as all of the branch circuits if there isn't enough slack at a cost of multiple thousands of dollars. Yikes.

I believe the circuits and main feed come into the panel from above. Currently the highest breaker is 5' 4.5" off the ground. My thought is that I could raise it another 14.5" to 6'7" (the max allowed by code) and free up some slack to move the panel left.

The current panel has space for 20 breakers and is serviced by 150A I believe. I'm in MA which seems to mainly follow the 2011 NEC.

Questions:
Are there other less costly ways I can get around the code issue?
Does code require the entire panel cover to be unblocked or only the panel door?
Are there "narrower" panels that might save me a few inches?

Thanks for your time!
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:00 PM   #2
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


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Originally Posted by cozykitchen View Post
The remodel design would place the refrigerator in front of (the panel)
...rewiring the main feed as well as all of the branch circuits if there isn't enough slack...
The alternative is to remove all the internals from the the existing panel
and make it into one big junction box (which is fine behind the refr).

From the exiting location you run new wire for each circuit to wherever it's
more convenient to mount the new panel. You may (should?) be able to do that with the 150A feed as well.

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Old 06-01-2013, 05:07 PM   #3
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


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Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
The alternative is to remove all the internals from the the existing panel
and make it into one big junction box (which is fine behind the refr).

From the exiting location you run new wire for each circuit to wherever it's
more convenient to mount the new panel. You may (should?) be able to do that with the 150A feed as well.
Thanks for your response TarheelTerp. That sounds promising.

If I went with that approach, what would remain in the junction box behind the fridge? And would I still be able to run the main feed into that box?
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Old 06-01-2013, 05:17 PM   #4
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


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If I went with that approach, what would remain in the junction box behind the fridge?
Wire and wirenuts. And a cover over it all.

Quote:
And would I still be able to run the main feed into that box?
I said should because I'm not certain (it's a code issue).

If another breaker is protecting that 150A feed it shouldn't be a problem.
If that feed wire is right off the meter... maybe so.
The ground is another complication.

Find a good local electrician.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:54 AM   #5
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


What's on the other side of the wall, behind the panel?
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:56 AM   #6
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What's on the other side of the wall, behind the panel?
A bathroom, unfortunately.
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:54 PM   #7
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


What is in the obscured area on the left of the picture ?
Is it a wall that is perpendicular to the wall shown, or is it an opening into a room or hallway ?

Assuming it is a wall, you do not have the required side to side working area.
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:04 PM   #8
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
Wire and wirenuts. And a cover over it all.


I said should because I'm not certain (it's a code issue).

If another breaker is protecting that 150A feed it shouldn't be a problem.
If that feed wire is right off the meter... maybe so.
The ground is another complication.

Find a good local electrician.
You cannot just cover over it, the splice box must be accessible,However I don't have a problem with the refrigerator in front of it.
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
What is in the obscured area on the left of the picture ?
Is it a wall that is perpendicular to the wall shown, or is it an opening into a room or hallway ?

Assuming it is a wall, you do not have the required side to side working area.
Oso954 - It's a 32.5" wide hallway. Sorry the picture isn't more clear.

My thinking was that as long as I keep the area below and three feet in front of the panel clear, I have the requisite w=30", d=36" working area by utilizing some of that hallway space.

The code doesn't seem to require the space to be centered on the panel (at least from what I can understand not being an electrician).
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:08 PM   #10
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You cannot just cover over it, the splice box must be accessible,However I don't have a problem with the refrigerator in front of it.
Thanks Harry304E. By "cover over it" do you mean drywall? Assuming I go with TarheelTerp's plan, I'd put a panel there and have the fridge in front. This seems to meet the qualifications for "accessible" but not "readily accessible" - Is that what you mean?
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:21 PM   #11
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by cozykitchen View Post
Hi All,

I'm planning a kitchen remodel in a small condo apartment space and running into a code issue. I was hoping some of you might share your expertise and let me know if I'm going to have to scrap or modify my plan. Or if I'm just plain nuts.

One of the walls in my kitchen currently houses the main electrical panel for my condo (see dimensions and placement below). The remodel design would place the refrigerator in front of it which would prevent "ready access" to the working space in front of the panel. That's based on my reading of NEC 110.26A as a non-electrician. This is problematic as almost any other design (including the current) is much inferior. If I could move the panel ~19" to the left, it would be clear of the fridge and be situated with enough space in front for code. I'm told that this could necessitate rewiring the main feed as well as all of the branch circuits if there isn't enough slack at a cost of multiple thousands of dollars. Yikes.

I believe the circuits and main feed come into the panel from above. Currently the highest breaker is 5' 4.5" off the ground. My thought is that I could raise it another 14.5" to 6'7" (the max allowed by code) and free up some slack to move the panel left.

The current panel has space for 20 breakers and is serviced by 150A I believe. I'm in MA which seems to mainly follow the 2011 NEC.

Questions:
Are there other less costly ways I can get around the code issue?
Does code require the entire panel cover to be unblocked or only the panel door?
Are there "narrower" panels that might save me a few inches?

Thanks for your time!
How many circuit breakers are in the panel?

The current panel can be made into a splice box , but it must have a cover that can be opened if it needs to be,also have you inspection before you place the refrigerator there,What you do after is your business.

By NEC 2011 the entire panel must have the working space.

If you were quoted multiple thousands of dollars ,as in over $2,000 then you should get other quotes because it's not that big of a job.
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Old 06-02-2013, 02:24 PM   #12
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Moving a Breaker Panel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by cozykitchen View Post
Thanks Harry304E. By "cover over it" do you mean drywall? Assuming I go with TarheelTerp's plan, I'd put a panel there and have the fridge in front. This seems to meet the qualifications for "accessible" but not "readily accessible" - Is that what you mean?
Reuse the cover that is there and just use machine screws to bolt the door shut.

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