Many people are underestimating the importance of maintaining a proper clearance on their electrical panel. Although the box is rarely used, obstacles around an electrical panel can be extremely dangerous. To keep your house safe, it is highly advisable to be informed about the importance of maintaining your electrical panel clearance, and how to properly do it.
Why Keep A Clearance?
With sufficient clearance, people can access your electrical panel with ease and do their work more comfortably. You might need it when you have appliances or fixtures to work on, be it something simple as changing a lightbulb, to a more intricate job like installing a central AC system. During repairs like this, you need to switch off the specific breaker connected to the fixtures and outlets, without switching off the electricity in the entire building.
A more vital reason to keep your electrical panel cleared, is that accidents may happen out of the blue. If an electrical error happens, such as a short-circuit or electrocution, you need to switch off the breaker immediately to stop the electrical flow. Timing plays a big part in this kind of incident because a few seconds of delay can lead to bigger disasters.
You certainly want to keep wet or flammable materials away from your panel. Having people working too close to the panel is also dangerous, as they can unintentionally hit the electrical box.
The Proper Measurement
Your electrical panel doesn’t need significant clearance. It only needs to have comfortable spacing, enough for one or two workers just in case you need something done with the panel. To be more accurate, here are the required measurements as suggested by the law:
The panel should be at least 6.5 feet from the floor, grade, or platform. It should not be lower than the equipment itself.
● Width Ideally, the clearance should be at least as wide as the panel itself. But, if the panel is less than 30 inches wide, then the clearance width should be 30 inches or more. Less width of clearance will not provide enough space for people to work. The wider it is, the more comfortable and safe the clearance will be to work.
● Depth Panels with live parts on one side, and no live or grounded parts on the other side of the working space, have, at minimum, a 3-foot depth to clear. Meanwhile, panels with live parts on one side of the working space, and only grounded parts on the other side, have minimum depths of 3 feet (for 0-150 voltage) and 3.5 feet (for 151-600 voltage). If you have live parts on both sides, 3 feet of clearance depth is only applicable for panels with 0-150 voltage, while the panels with 151-600 voltage will need 4 feet of minimum clearance depth.
Simple, yet significant, an electrical panel clearance can mean the difference between safety and harm. Don’t risk your family’s life on it.
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