We're doing some remodeling in our kitchen and unfortunately the breaker box is right in the middle of a wall we are going to cover with tile.

My current thought is to replace the existing metal cover (which has a door) with a flat steel panel and then put the tiles on a removable board over the panel.


  • 4
    I would be very wary of replacing the actual box cover with something that's not an approved cover for the box. Part of that cover's job is to contain sparky situations. Generally I've only seen shallow cabinets hung "around" the box, or some sort of curtain setup. Jan 17 '12 at 14:53
  • 4
    You need to keep the designed cover on the panel for the 'Fire Rating' - any box that hold electrical connections must have a fire rating and taking and leaving covers off breaker boxes, fuse boxes, switches, receptacle could be a disaster. Paint flowers on it or make it a piece of artwork.
    – lqlarry
    Jan 18 '12 at 5:29

Overcurrent protection devices must be Readily Accessible. The NEC defines Accessible as...

Accessible (as applied to equipment). Admitting close approach; not guarded by locked doors, elevation, or other effective means

Accessible (as applied to wiring methods). Capable of being removed or exposed without damaging the building structure or finish or not permanently closed in by the structure or finish of the building

Accessible, Readily (Readily Accessible). Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.

If you can achieve this with your plan, then it shouldn't be a problem. Keep in mind, however, if you have to remove screws, nails, or other fasteners to access the breakers. This is no longer Readily Accessible.

Also, hiding the panel could be a bad thing if you ever sell the house. So you'd have to find a way to make it obvious that the panel is there, so people can locate it easily if they ever have to access it.


Forgot to mention; as @lqlarry points out, the cover also has to be Fire Rated.

  • a high-voltage sticker on the access panel should suffice to make the panel stand out Jan 17 '12 at 15:15
  • Is a childs toy a obstacle? If so it could be hard for a lot of people to keep to these regs....
    – Walker
    Jan 19 '12 at 15:56
  • @Walker Depends on the size of the toy. Why are the kids playing near the load center?
    – Tester101
    Jan 19 '12 at 16:05
  • @Tester101, I would assume that any toy on the floor that you may trip over in the dark anywhere between where you maybe and the breaker, may not be premitted by these regs.
    – Walker
    Jan 19 '12 at 16:40
  • @Walker There are clear definitions on "working space" in NEC 110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment. So only toys in this zone, would be considered obstacles.
    – Tester101
    Jan 19 '12 at 16:50

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