I am installing a sub panel in my garage and ran into a problem.

I have the usual 14" of space in the stud cavity but the problem is that the subpanel I bought is 14 1/4" wide. I'm wondering what the best option is to get it to fit.

My first thought was to notch one of the studs 1/4" (or both of them 1/8") since its so close to fitting. This is an interior wall of the garage so I dont believe it is load bearing. Is notching one or more studs a bad idea? The panel is about 30" tall, so it would be a long notch...

What other options do I have? Should I just return the panel and try to find a narrower one?

  • 4
    16" - 1.5" = 14 1/2", so I'd say you don't have a usual 14" of space in the stud cavity. If this was the end of a wall, 13 3/4" would be expected, so you might be able to find narrower subpanels. – BMitch Apr 2 '13 at 15:39
  • You are right, I have a house built in the 30s and the 2x4 studs are actually 2" wide. I did not realize 2x4s are actually only 1 1/2" wide. – Thaumaturgic Apr 2 '13 at 15:46
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    Ah, the good days of dimensional lumber. That wood is significantly stronger than what you'd find today. I wouldn't flinch at notching it. – BMitch Apr 2 '13 at 16:06
  • if you install the panel between two studs, how are you going to get the wires into it (usually on the side)? it needs to be mounted on the studs (via plywood like tester101 suggested) – Steven Apr 2 '13 at 16:28
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    @Steven: For flush mount situations (which are seen in may homes/finished basements in the US), there are knockouts on the top and bottom of the breaker box as well. – MarkD Apr 2 '13 at 16:41

The common solution is to attach a piece of plywood larger than the panel to the studs, and then attach the panel to the plywood. This also provides a good place for attaching cables, so you can get a nice organized installation.

enter image description here

Additionally, this technique provides the benefit of being able to insulate behind the panel.

  • Ideally I want to finish the garage so im trying not to surface mount the panel unless I have to. This would definitely work though – Thaumaturgic Apr 2 '13 at 15:49
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    Your inspector must bow .. – HerrBag Apr 2 '13 at 15:49
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    It's...beautiful. – Aric TenEyck Apr 3 '13 at 3:50

Another option if this is not a load bearing wall and is unfinished, would be to remove one of the studs, and toenail in a new stud 1/2" further away from the intact stud. If you have a sawzall and a nail gun, this is all of a 10 minute job, and you don't have to worry about notching things.


An 1/8 notch is not a problem, especially if you have access to a Oscillating Multi Tool (OMT ), of the class pioneered by Fein. They can make the plunge cut and leave the siding untouched.

  • Thanks! Also considering my studs are truly 2" wide I dont feel bad notching them – Thaumaturgic Apr 2 '13 at 16:59
  • HerrBag has a great idea; this would work very well to notch the studs. – Eric Gunnerson Apr 12 '13 at 4:40

25 years electrical service. I know I'm late in my response. Notch One. Stick it in call it good. Notchy notchy. Dimensional lumber is awesome strong and usually over engineered. If you are removing more than 1/3 of the stud I'd think about it always.

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