I am putting in a sub panel on a load bearing interior wall ( basement wall with 12ft ceilings ) The studs are 2x6 and around 10-12in OC so I can not fit the panel I have (14in wide)

The house was built in the early 80s, 3 story house and is on the large side. The rest of the basement room seems to be framed the same way. The top floor of the house is framed 16in OC.

Without framing it out like a window is it acceptable to move a stud to the correct width without issues. I know code in my area is 16in OC so I am not sure if I am missing something.

  • How many spaces do you need this subpanel to have, and are you putting any particularly large loads on it? How big is the feeder to this subpanel, and is it correct that the main panel's in the same structure, for that matter? Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 0:57
  • A picture of the wall in question would be good. Include the whole height, from top to bottom plate and how the joists set. It can be done in "halves"-top and bottom shot, if need be.
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 16:16

4 Answers 4


Simply surface mount the panel, then it doesn't matter what the stud spacing is behind it. You'll put a piece of plywood on the surface of the wall, screw it into the studs, then screw the panel to the plywood, and Bob's your uncle!

Once you've got the surface mounted panel, you can then run a chase from floor to ceiling (thanks for the reminder, George!), framing it with 2x4 or 2x6 (as dictated by the size of your box, since this won't be structural) and covering it (the chase, not the panel) with drywall, or, even better a removable panel for easy access for future wiring updates and giving you a very nice place to hide all your wiring, as well as "embedding" the panel in a "wall" structure. Sure, it'll stick out into the room, but it will enclose all the wiring and eliminate the need to run conduit and all the complications that can entail. (Yes, there are some who prefer conduit for everything, and places where it's required for everything, but when it's not required and you're not comfortable working with it, it can be an extra hassle when not needed.)

If you want the panel to be flush mount into a load-bearing wall, then you'll need to provide a temporary support the floor above, cut a stud to make a cavity big enough for the panel, install a properly sized header, install jack studs to support the header, remove the temporary support, then install the panel in the wall

If you go the in-wall route, you'll have to run all wiring through the header (not sure of the code implications of that), or they'll have to go out the top of the panel, immediately turn to go through the studs supporting the panel, then go up.

Alternatively, you could look to see if you could find a narrower panel that will fit your gap.

  • Thats pretty much my current thought process. I did not want to Surface mount because its near the main passage to the room and I don't want to constantly smash it when moving plywood and materials. I think framing it out is my best bet I was just trying to avoid it. As for a narrow panel. I was having a hard time finding one. I also would rather stay with the same as my other two panels so they can all use the same breakers.
    – Pete
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 15:16
  • 1
    In my shop I framed out the panel to the ceiling, then wrapped with sheetrock. It was remarkably practical in not having to drill thru the top plate header to get runs into the joist area. Not only that, it was easier to get the conduit into the sub-panel from the main panel. So I agree with FreeMan that this is a good solution. Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 15:27
  • 1
    Thanks, @GeorgeAnderson. I meant to suggest adding a chase but forgot to add it in.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 15:35
  • If you're worrying about smashing the side of the box, you could frame out the whole wall on the surface of the existing wall in a similar manner as the wire chase FreeMan describes. Obviously this eats up more space in the room than necessary, but it will prevent you from catching the edge of the box. Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 23:32
  • @Pete -- can you get us information about how many spaces you're looking to fit into this space, and what size the feeder is/if there are any large loads on it? Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 0:58

If the framing is exposed, move it over to get your opening you need. If you can, and your floor framing above is at 16" on center, move the stud that will put it closer to the joist above, not farther away.

  • I agree. Moving one stud isn't a problem. A flush panel is much nicer, and cabling through the wall plate needn't be a hassle. I'd even do a short header before I'd surface mount it.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 15:45
  • To add a header would mean not only moving the framing but cutting the studs for jack studs and adding 2 more studs in the same cavity. Adding a header would be in the way for going up. No need to go through all that if moving one stud to an improved position does it all.
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 15:49
  • We agree. Why are we arguing? :P
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 16:29
  • Not arguing, I was pointing out what it meant to add a header since the OP was considering it.
    – Jack
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 3:59
  • I would, in general, agree with this idea, as well. However, since most contractors are not in the habit of spending extra time & money when building, I would strongly caution the OP to contact his local building department/inspector to ensure there isn't some local code reason for the very unusual stud spacing, especially in a 2x6 wall. If there's no reason for it, I can only imagine the chewing out the very new carpenter must have gotten for building a wall like that and wasting all that time & material!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 11:53

With limited information...because of the building height and the loads imparted on the 12" o.c. wall...this is probably part of the structural design to carry these loads. I partial agreement with Freeman...a wall mounted box solves much of your issue. If you are concerned about the aesthetic of a wall mounted box with wire chases...if you can afford the loss of space, you could build out the entire wall ( build a false wall on the face of your existing wall, you could then go 24" on center for the length of the wall with the exception of your panel locate....need studs 16" o.c. in this location. Bear in mind though if you take this route you will not only need to sheetrock the length of the wall, but you will also have to bring any electric out to the new false wall (outlets and any switches) I'm tired....good luck and have fun


Just a quick note; If you do need to cut a stud to install the box, this is precisely like the framing change to put a window through that part of the wall; you just aren't opening up the far side.

But, yeah, I have my secondary breaker box surface-mounted on a plywood panel which is then fastened to the studs above and below. It isn't the prettiest option, but in my case it was definitely simplest.

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