My breaker box is built into the wall. I can put my existing door on the outside, but that doesn't seem ideal as it leaves a gap. Is there a cover that will fit inside this? If so, what is it called? Tried many searches, but either they don't exist or I'm not using the correct term.

electrical box

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    Is either pulling the panel out or cutting the framing back an option? Feb 4, 2021 at 0:22
  • Always an option, but would REALLY rather not have to if at all possible.
    – Dave
    Feb 4, 2021 at 2:42
  • What's behind the Sheetrock? Insulation, or just empty study cavities? Or how'd this panel get boxed in to begin with, even? Feb 4, 2021 at 2:44
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    A cover that would be flush with the wall would have to have a deeply depressed interior in order to also be flush with the breakers. Installing the standard cover would leave you poking fingers through the floating interior panel and somewhere into the box amid the handles and wires. Not a healthy combination. I'd be inclined to go with Ed Beal's answer, smile nicely at the inspector, and hope that it slides through.
    – HABO
    Feb 4, 2021 at 3:30
  • @ThreePhaseEel there are studs on either side of the panel, and roxul insulation against the wall, but not against the panel, since there's always the 1.5" of stud between.
    – Dave
    Feb 5, 2021 at 16:21

2 Answers 2


You can not have an open space but you can modify the dead front (the cover that screws to the front that seals and holds the breakers in place. These covers normally are wider to hide the edge of the box and the edge of the Sheetrock. The cover can be cut down to the size of the box. With the cover / dead face on the box is closed and meets code. At this point to cover the hole a picture can be framed and put on a hinge or Velcro. In doing similar the only issue inspectors have had is where is the main disconnect? One owner blew up a photo of a new panel and that worked for that inspector another inspector wanted a label above the frame stating main disconnect inside. I have done this where the inspector did not comment on the “cabinet” door covering the panel. If your main disconnect is outside you can cover it but it needs to be accessible.

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    The main breaker switch is still accessable. The whole panel is accessible, I just cropped the photo. The problem is just that the cover can't fit inside the frame now. So you're saying I can simply cut the cover down to size? That seems the perfect solution, albeit not super easy. It doesn't leave a lot of room to screw in, since the holes are near the edge, but should be enough. Am I understanding you correctly?
    – Dave
    Feb 4, 2021 at 2:46
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    As I have said I have done this on inspected jobs multiple counties in multiple states. It’s not the cleanest install this way but the box is sealed and accessible. You might contact your local building inspector to verify. The one code section that requires 30” wide has been there for decades but the AHJ or inspector may allow it as it has been allowed for me. The 30” wide rule also extends to the floor but electrical services can extend out in that space. It is worth the time to ask since it’s already done.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 4, 2021 at 14:59
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    This - I would have a welder cut out whatever needed. No way I start altering the framing around this area especially since it has passed inspection.
    – DMoore
    Feb 5, 2021 at 1:28
  • @DMoore there wasn't a frame before this - it was just a box against a concrete wall. Does that change your thinking or still figure it should be good?
    – Dave
    Feb 5, 2021 at 16:19

Holy smokes, no! Panel covers are not junction box covers!

The panel cover MUST be flush with the panel. There is no choice nor option to that.

It doesn't work at all to have the cover be out of position. The cover being flush is essential to the breakers not falling out!! That would be clear if you understood how breakers attach.

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Use the surface mount version of the cover for that panel.

Which manufacturers usually are willing to sell separately.

The surface-mount version, instead of having a big flange to cover up the drywall edge, simply is bent 90 degrees at the edge. It adds maybe a 1/16" margin to the box size. You will still need to plane or saw down the 2x4's a little bit, but it should be feasible.

Honestly, I'd cut back the drywall and 2x4 a lot more.

The reason is, as usual, no thought was given to finish treatments for the inside edge of this frame. So I'd actually remove about 1-1/4" from all four sides, so there's room to frame it in stainable wood 1-by's. And I'd create that box of 1-x's on the bench, built so the inside is 1/4" larger than the panel cover.... (and this would work with the original panel cover too).

Then having cut back the 2x4 material and drywall, I'd reinstall the panel cover, then shim the frame/lining so that it is dead nuts square on the panel cover with 1/8" margin on every side. Screw it down. Then stain it with a tasteful stain. Finally I'd fit a cosmetic fringe around the opening to hide the ugly gap between box and drywall.

For bonus points, you could simply put a tasteful cabinet cover over the whole shebang, then you wouldn't need all that trim wood.

  • All my searches for "surface mount" circuit breaker covers come up with the standard ones with the big flange. Any ideas where I can find/see/buy what you're talking about? I have a "Siemens Indoor Load Center G4040MB1200 Series .E Type 1 B1198" enclosure.
    – Dave
    Feb 4, 2021 at 16:02
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    To be clear, although I will need to cut back some space, your general concern is just ensuring that the cover is completely back against the circuit breakers, right? Would something like @Ed Beal mentioned below work too if I can't find a "surface mount" version? The suggestion was to cut off the flanges I believe.
    – Dave
    Feb 4, 2021 at 16:04
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    @Dave it's not a "web search" thing. The Web only has the most basic knowledge, and in the last 20 years, it's gotten worse, i.e. specialty knowledge is harder to find than ever. Find a local Siemens dealer, call up and give them that model number. Siemens dealers will be "electrical supply houses" which are specialty stores that sell nothing but electrical gear. Modifying the cover is a 110.3(B) violation and any moody inspector could write you up for that. Better to trim back the wood, you have to anyway to put a finish surface on it. Feb 4, 2021 at 20:31
  • @Dave -- can you get us photos of the whole panel, including the labeling on the front? You have more problems than just one here... Feb 5, 2021 at 0:47
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    @Dave that's actually not a problem. Rearrange the firring so the panel's inset is a fair bit larger, so it can sit in its normal location with its normal cover. Then, put a swinging cabinet door on it. The door could even end up flush with the firred wall when closed. Simple handle, magnetic latch, Code compliant. You could even make the door somewhat taller than the panel, and leave wide-open the space above and below the panel, for ready access to cable entries for adding or maintaining circuits. Feb 5, 2021 at 2:18

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