I have an electrical panel that is surface mounted to a sheet of plywood in an unfinished section of my basement. I would like to finish that section. The panel is rated for either surface mount or recessed/flush mount, and I'd like to frame it in and make it recessed. However, there are already some connections made to the side knockouts and the top is already pretty full. I'd rather not do some rerouting.

The panel has two rows of knockouts on the sides. I measured, and if I framed it out with 2x2s or 2x4s on edge I'd be able to attach the panel at the side mounting points and leave the back row of knockouts uncovered, and have space for drywall. What I can't find anywhere is whether or not this would be permissible under the NEC. Ideally, I'd like to do this, and then use removable panels over the stud bay the panel is in and the bays to either side.

  • 1
    Finish your basement but plan for a small unfinished closet to house your panel. If you do then your future self, electricians, and homeowners will not cuss at the incompetence of the guy who did "this".
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jan 29, 2021 at 18:36
  • 1
    Edit to add a picture, and perhaps a sketch of what you are considering doing as well.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 29, 2021 at 18:50
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    Are you quite sure you'll never want to add a circuit to this or do any maintenance? Jan 29, 2021 at 19:08
  • Yeah, is there a reason including a dedicated electrical closet in your plans isn't an option? Jan 30, 2021 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


NEC110, in general.

110.26 is the specific section covering working space and electrical space.

There are some non-negotiable minimums you have to meet.

Specifically, working space in front of the panel - 30 inches wide (need not be centered, doors must be able to be opened at least 90 degrees, covers cannot be obstructed for removal) 6 feet 6 inches high, and 3 feet forward - kept clear at all times (cannot be used for storage.)

Flush mount needs to be flush to the wall, or flush to an area of wall meeting the workspace minimum, not set back in a hole, unless the hole is 30 (or more) inches wide. Any cover must need no tools to remove (a door that does not obstruct the work space is fine - something you need a screwdriver for is NOT!)

Electrical space is the width and depth of the panel up 6 feet, or the structural ceiling, whichever comes first. That is space to be used exclusively for electrical equipment/wiring/etc.

Upon re-reading, I think you might be leaving the panel itself exposed / flush and putting removable covers over the stud bays around it, not over it - that should be fine, those can be screwed.

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