That's not a typo in the subject line.

I am finishing part of my basement to put in a new master bedroom, bathroom, and closet. I was planning on putting the panel in the walk-in closet but enclosing it in a full enclosure of the appropriate size (floor to ceiling, 30" wide, 36" deep), but the inspector said that is not allowable because the panel would be in a closet in a closet and since the outer closet is a clothes closet, the panel is still in the "vicinity" of ignitable materials. I don't quite understand this since there will be a solid layer of finished wall between the panel and any ignitable materials. Thoughts?

I then came up with a second idea to still create a "subcloset"; however, this time, it would have a small door leading directly to the bedroom. The panel would still have the appropriate clearance, but to get to that clearance, the "hallway" (about 3' long) would only be about 18" wide. Without me providing exact dimensions of the door, the inspector approved this idea via email but said the door to the panel must be at least 24" wide. Is this correct? Would this separate closet need a door of at least 24"?


  • 8
    I think if the inspector said the door must be 24" wide, it means that he's not going to sign it off if it isn't.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 15:04
  • 1
    Got to be big enough for an electrician to get thru.
    – gnicko
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 15:34
  • 1
    Measure your width shoulder to shoulder. You need to be able to access the panel with two hands. I can imagine an allowance for a 3in or 6in deep cubby that's 18in wide, but not a 3ft corridor.
    – P2000
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 17:00
  • Unless the panel is already mounted & wired up, I'd recommend moving your panel location. Sounds like that would be much easier and make more sense than wasting the floor space to make the "hallway".
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 17:29
  • @FreeMan unfortunately, this is a not a new build house. We are just remodeling half of the basement to create a nicer/larger master bedroom. Otherwise, I totally agree.
    – Cody
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


Electrical panels are something that you have to design around for a basement. Would you have the main stack running through the middle of your bedroom... No.

Why? Because it is common sense.

It is also common sense to not have an electrical panel in a closet for various reasons. So if you are going to build a room for your panel inside the closet you still have to abide by all of the normal restrictions. If he said 24" door that's what you have to do. I for one would change the design.

  • Thanks for the responses so far. I do understand why it is against code to have a panel in a clothes closet, but I figured if we built an enclosure around the panel (even with fire resistant drywall), that would suffice. I don't quite understand why that wouldn't. How is that different than changing the design so that a small hallway (24" wide, 3' long) leads directly between the panel and the bedroom? There is still the same barrier (framed wall with drywall) in between the panel and the clothes, but the door is just in a different location.
    – Cody
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 16:47
  • 1
    why something is in the code is moot. The inspector and therefor you need to follow it. You can probably build a hallway for it, if approved by city. That sounds really goofy though
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 17:13
  • The inspector approved the hallway idea but not the enclosure within the closet idea. Basically, it seems he is hooked up on the placement of the door. The hallway idea means the panel can be directly accessed from the bedroom, whereas the enclosure idea means the panel is in a closet, even though it's completely closed in and no longer a hazard to nearby clothes.
    – Cody
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 17:43
  • it sounds like inspector doesn't want to be on the hook if something happens. Yes you can argue about the "same" safety. But the letter of the code says don't do this, and you are doing, albeit in a way that should be just as safe. I can tell you though your insurance company won't care how safe you thought it was... they will use the code variance as an excuse to deny coverage. Then you will sue the city for OKing something that didn't meet code to recover the loss of your home.
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 18:14
  • There are lots of things that you have to do that really don't make sense to meet codes. As a homeowner you haven't had to see what someone like me has had to do - in many cases make a situation WORSE to meet code. I have been down the panel inspector road many many times. It is a discussion that quite frankly scares me - because some panels have to be grandfathered in (had one 3 inches from a wall). I even clean up around panels in storage rooms before inspections! Talk to your inspector and make an ally, see if he can help you with design. Your best option.
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 18:17

Everything the inspector told you is correct and consistent with the national electrical code. The door must be so wide to allow an electrician unencumbered egress in an emergency. Also to provide sufficient working space.

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