I'm planning to add built-in bookcases to a wall in my space, but I'm facing a few challenges. The wall has baseboard heating running most of its length but not entirely, and there's a breaker panel on one side that can't be moved. The bookshelves I have in mind are typically 11" deep. Additionally, I'd like to incorporate a wall-mounted TV in the middle.

I'm looking for advice on the feasibility of building bookcases above the baseboard heater, and if it's doable, I'd appreciate any design suggestions or input on how to make it work.

I've included a draft illustration for reference, where the red section represents the general idea I'd like to achieve. I'm considering using basic IKEA bookcases for this DIY project.



  • 3
    That electrical box may be a real show-stopper. If it is a simple junction box then it needs to be accessible (which could be simply that the shelves next to it can be removed without tools). But if it is actually a breaker panel then it needs a 30" x 36" open space in front of it and this plan falls totally apart. If you are not sure, open the front door and take a picture and upload it and we'll know very quickly what you are dealing with. Jan 2 at 0:12
  • 1
    It's a breaker panel, I used the wrong term 🙁- I guess that sort of answers this whole question
    – Matt K
    Jan 2 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, the electric panel on the left side is a big problem. In the US, breaker panels require a 30" wide (in this case, along the left wall) x 36" deep (in this case, from the left wall into the middle of the room) space that is to be kept clear of pretty much everything. That isn't always so practical, but putting anything in that space attached to a wall like shelving is absolutely a non-starter.

For details, see NEC 110.26:

(B) Clear Spaces Working space required by this section shall not be used for storage.

  • Would it not be at all acceptable to somehow build around the panel, leaving it accessible?
    – Matt K
    Jan 2 at 1:04
  • The definition of accessible in this case is that the space is supposed to be empty. I'll try to find a reference... Jan 2 at 1:16
  • I thought the reason behind the 30"x36" open space requirement was so that a person could stand in front of and access the breaker panel?
    – SteveSh
    Jan 2 at 1:18
  • @SteveSh Correct. And I think the idea is also that it needs to be fully instantly accessible in an emergency - boxes of stuff, removable shelves, etc. get in the way of that. Jan 2 at 1:19
  • Understood - thank you
    – Matt K
    Jan 2 at 1:32

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