We get a lot of cold air coming in from the area where the electrical panel is situated, in addition to the space below it.

I'd like to insulate and seal this better so this is not the case, but I'm not sure where to start. This is going to be my office so I'm going to be spending a lot of time in here. I'm also in Canada where it gets real cold in the winter.

For the electrical panel, where can I add insulation (and what type)? I'm guessing a better door would also be helpful (our contractor just put some mdf with hinges). Are there any suggestions? Ideally I would like something that sits flush with the wall.

As for the space below, how would I go about filling this in? I'm guessing I would have to take down the drywall in this area first. Correct me if I'm wrong. What would be the best way to frame and fill in?

Imgur link to album: https://imgur.com/a/jWaLiNm

  • Does CEC not have required working space rules? Most of the time CEC and NEC are pretty closely aligned, and the cabinetry would be a massive violation under NEC. You can put a panel behind a door in the US, but you have to have clear space 3 feet out, 30" wide and 6'7" high with the door open. Any Canadian electricians in the house?
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 4, 2023 at 2:34
  • Yeah, that working space Does Not Work. You could try remodeling that cabinet so it is fully floor to ceiling, >30” wide, and 6’7” tall. Then the working space would be inside the cabinet, and importantly, you could insulate the walls and door of the cabinet. Dec 5, 2023 at 23:12

1 Answer 1


This IAEI article provides background on working space rules in Canadian Electrical Code, and shows the changes in language over time. (parts quoted below) Article is from 10 years back, though. Since I have failed to find an online source for the CEC directly it's the best I can do, and it seems that you have somewhat larger space requirements than we under NEC do. So that whole section of cabinet appears to be a violation as it intrudes on the working space. Hopefully we'll get commentary from a Canadian Electrician, though

A breaker panel is a "switchboard" or "panelboard" in code-speak.

2-308 Working Space Around Electrical Equipment

“(1) A minimum working space of 1 m with secure footing shall be provided and maintained about electrical equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, control panels, and motor control centres that are enclosed in metal, except that working space is not required behind such equipment where there are no renewable parts such as fuses or switches on the back and where all connections are accessible from locations other than the back.

(2) The space referred to in Subrule (1) shall be in addition to the space required for the operation of drawout-type equipment and shall be sufficient for the opening of enclosure doors and hinged panels to at least 90°.

(3) Working space with secure footing not less than that specified in Table 56 shall be provided and maintained around electrical equipment such as switchboards, control panels, and motor control centres having exposed live parts.

(4) The minimum headroom of working spaces around switchboards control panels and motor control centres where bare live parts are exposed at any time shall be 2.2 m.”

  • 1
    Thanks. We’ve had a lot of issues with this contractor, which, long story short, I’ve had to pay other people to come fix. Not surprised there are issues here. Might have to get another professional in for this one.
    – wc250
    Dec 4, 2023 at 16:55

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