I had an electrician upgrade my old fuse electrical panel with a new breaker panel. I was trying to save a bit of money and decided I would build the external access door for the main shutoff. However, it seems to be a bigger challenge than I was anticipating.

From the picture you can see the bottom of the panel barely clears the framing stud that runs diagonal when you open it -- circled in red. I originally was just going to frame around the box and attach a door but now that the diagonal board is there I'm not sure what to do.

Does anyone have any suggestion on what I can do here?

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    Presuming you are dealing with PG&E here, section 5.4.6 of their Greenbook requires meter shop preapproval of your proposed meter equipment enclosure setup, in addition to any AHJ approvals that may be required.... – ThreePhaseEel Sep 25 '19 at 4:13
  • Threephase good catch on the PG&E I did not zoom in on the panel. But since the meter is set and powered up they did not stop them. I did have problems with them back in the 70’s for placement, they wanted them readable from the front yard but the feed was from the back in that track of homes.+ – Ed Beal Sep 25 '19 at 13:39

That enclosure is a NEMA 3R, it is designed to be out in the weather. It should be set out to the outside edge of the stucco or cement siding. With it inset, water will get inside the structure because you need to open the panel by Code. Code does allow for a box to hang outside the structure and have a hole drilled in the outside bottom for drainage.

Since your panel is inset, you need to make a water tight cover that can be removed without tools. Since it looks to be your main disconnect, it will have be labeled, and in most cases the meter must be visible for the power company to read. I would never install a panel like this and if you have a contract I don’t think this meets most of the service panel requirements in the states I have worked in. A cover that can be opened without tools may be legal but your electric utility may disagree because the meter is not fully exposed.

  • Thanks Ed. I'm going to try what Harper mentioned and see what happens. – slock Sep 28 '19 at 3:37
  • He is saying the same as I did make a cover, I was not sure if they would power it up , but notice my comment on three phases post, since they powered it up it must be ok. In Sonoma county in the 70’s they (PG&E) would not have powered it up. – Ed Beal Sep 28 '19 at 14:56

Since you've already installed it, you're "in for a penny, in for a pound".

First, deal with that cross brace. That is designed to prevent that wall from falling down sideways in wind or earthquake. Pull it out and lop off 1/2" of one end (on the diagonal, of course). Reinstall it and it should sit about an inch lower. Then go ahead and fit up horizontal cross braces exactly where you need it to finish your cabinetry. Or if you have access to the backside you may be able to put cross braces in adjacent spaces, and get rid of that one altogether.

Rather than overthink this, I would just build it like a standard door, weatherproofing and all. Heck, you could even put an entry lockset in there. A key is a key, not a tool.

Yes, according to their Green Book you will need to get signoff/approval on it, but I have a feeling if you build a competent door frame, they'll be fine with it. Also your house will have an adorable faerie door (and unfortunately a bunch of iron behind it, so the fae won't like it.)

  • Thanks! This is very helpful. Now to figure out how to weatherproof it. – slock Sep 28 '19 at 3:37

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