I know the NEC requires clear space in front of a breaker panel.

What depth of wall change would violate this? My basement, where the panel is, has a 6" jut where the block wall becomes timber. So from where your toes are against the wall, the panel is 6" deeper, as the wall depth changes.

From the side (black line is the floor), it's like this:

enter image description here

The flush panel is in the framing above. There is also framing below. All walls are finished properly but because of the construction the panel door is six inches deeper from the edge of the floor.

I am fine with the 30" horizontal clearance.

How should I interpret the clear space requirement in NEC in this situation? Am I required to extend the top half of the wall out to keep it entirely flat and bring the panel out to that the new depth?

  • Is this panel surface mounted or flush mounted? Jun 17, 2018 at 5:39
  • It's Flush mounted
    – Matthew
    Jun 17, 2018 at 16:04
  • Would changing the panel out for a surface mounted box be an option? Jun 17, 2018 at 16:25
  • I'd much rather not because all the existing wire terminations are cut to appropriate length.
    – Matthew
    Jun 18, 2018 at 1:57
  • Is there about 14-16" of clear space to either side of the panel? Jun 19, 2018 at 0:02

1 Answer 1


The NEC's clearance requirements are for the safety of people working on equipment once it is installed.

With that being said the NEC width requirement is a minimum of 30", and the door swing if there is one minimum is 90 degrees. However your panel does not have to sit in the center of the 30" it can be moved from side to side.

Reading you question I can't determine whether you panel is against the block wall and the wall depth change is 6" and runs the other direction at that same depth at least 30" or there is just a recess that the panel fits in and it is recessed in an area less than 30". So with the first situation the panel is fine and with the latter, it needs to be brought out to meet clearance.

Also I don't know if you are speaking about a horizontal recess and the panel is mounted below the block wall. Most AHJ will allow 8" before they consider overhead being an interference.

Hope this helps

  • I know a 6" gutter is allowed but have not run into a depth of wall issue in the past I believe the biggest offset I have delt with is 12" cement and 6" wall with the panel flush it was only 4" step and my ahj allowed that. I would verify with your inspector .
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 17, 2018 at 16:18
  • I've added a drawing to clarify. The side-to-side clearance is fine as this wall is clear. I'm more asking about the depth from the floor. For example, I wouldn't be able to add a counter or lower cabinetry below the panel.
    – Matthew
    Jun 17, 2018 at 22:56
  • @Matthew - When it comes to depth the NEC states that there shall be no obstruction greater than 6" (NEC Article 110.26 (A) (3) ), but there is an Exception No. 2 which says meters that are installed can extend beyond other equipment. Because of this most AHJ will allow an obstruction out to 8" but that is it. Think of it this way, for safety they don't want someone climbing on to a countertop or leaning over and falling into the live panel. So you must maintain that 30" width and 36" depth for safety. Jun 18, 2018 at 12:53

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