I have a 1950s ranch with open plan, on concrete foundation. One side of the galley kitchen is freestanding (walls don't go to ceiling), and at the end of it is a "closet" containing a sub-panel. This closet is really a pantry...I have to move many things to gain access to panel. Want to convert into a semi-island, by spinning the panel 180 degrees and build a little broom closet around it, to run flush with the edge of counter top. I've read in other threads that the space for a panel needs to be 30" x 36" at minimum, which is much too big, and bigger than the current 24 x 24 it's in now.

Given the limitations of foundation and space, any chance I can play loose with code/standards and make the closet ~ 18" W X 14" D ?

Do I have to put it in a closet at all? Could I put it on a wall instead, maybe hang a picture over it to hide it? The other panel is on a bedroom wall (not in closet).


Based on all helpful comments received, here's how I could proceed: 1. Flip the panel 180 so it's on the "outside" wall. 2. 18-24 inches from the corner of outside wall, bump out 8-12 inches to allow for refrigerator being flush with face of galley, and run the island counter top flush with the bump. 3. Extend bumped area below the panel for a more finished look. (UNLESS CODE DICTATES OTHERWISE, in which case the notched area would extend all the way to the floor)???

I have ideas on how to pretty up the panel area by boxing it in with wood that's hinged around the corner, so when open it's flush to panel wall, allowing for the required work space...but that's another topic.


  • Is that wall (vertical line along the left side of image) an interior wall? That is, with the panel moved to the right, is there access to it from other than through the cabinet?
    – wallyk
    Apr 25, 2015 at 18:10
  • The blue vertical line is a wall inside of the space. The orange lines are doors. In the current view, the panel is accessed only through the closet. In the plan view, the panel is reversed, accessible through the the new mini closet. Thanks.
    – Scott
    Apr 25, 2015 at 19:11
  • I have a account for 106 clothing stores and those girls hang clothing everywhere, more times than I can count they were in trouble for hiding,covering,blocking the service panels or sub panels. Apr 28, 2015 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


You cannot do what you propose. This would create a new installation that would have to meet current code. As you describe this would not even be close to making the clearances.

You can however flip the panel around 180 deg where it is now and cover it with a picture or something else that is temporary. You could even simply paint the cover the same as the wall so it may blend in better.

  • This is encouraging. Assuming there is slack to make the 180 turn, I could forgo the mini closet, and just cover it...probably with an inconspicuous door nearly flush mounted. Probably still need to bump out a little for the depth of the refrigerator so it can be in line with everything else. Thanks.
    – Scott
    Apr 26, 2015 at 0:11
  • Again, the panel needs a clear space 30" wide. It need not be centered in that 30" space tho. Apr 26, 2015 at 3:45
  • If storing a broom in front of the panel is forbidden, what makes you think a picture is OK? (Honest question, since you're the electrician and I'm not). My reading of the NEC is that nothing is to be in the "working space". See edits to my answer for citations.
    – Hank
    Apr 26, 2015 at 16:19
  • A broom and boxes are storage. A picture is not. You'd be hard pressed to find an electrical professional that agrees with your interpretation on this. Apr 26, 2015 at 16:52
  • All helpful comments. I've added my thought for a solution, above. Thanks!
    – Scott
    May 1, 2015 at 11:31

OK, you have a few questions, but the short answer is "no".

  • As you say, you need a minimum of 36"x30" space in front of the panel. If this is going to pass inspection I don't see how 18x14 is even remotely plausible. If the space is 30" wide maybe you could wait until after the inspection to frame the door in, but of course that defeats the letter and spirit of the code. Your current situation may be grandfathered in, but storing food in front of it is illegal (and anyway, not a good idea).

  • You can put the panel on the wall (as long as you maintain the clearance), but you cannot cover the panel with a picture. Also make sure there is nothing flammable (e.g. curtains, furniture) within the required work space.

  • Moving a panel more than a few inches may be extremely expensive. There typically isn't much slack in the wiring so you're looking at rewiring whichever circuits go to that panel.

EDIT the question regarding the picture covering the panel is a good one, and the best answer is the one you get from your inspector / AHJ. However, the following NEC passages lead me to conclude it's probably not OK to put anything in front of the panel, regardless of whether it is easy to remove or not:

110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment. Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained about all electrical equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.


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

  • 2
    You certainly CAN cover the panel with a picture. You can even put a door in front of it if the proper clearances are met once the door is open. Neither is permanent. Apr 25, 2015 at 20:18
  • 1
    I don't think hanging a picture over the panel would violate code, unless the photo is lag bolted to the wall. I also think that if when the door was open the proper working space existed, having the panel in a shallow closet would pass inspection.
    – Tester101
    Apr 25, 2015 at 20:22
  • I am not an electrician or an inspector, but my reading of the NEC is that covering the panel is probably not OK. I've added a few NEC citations that I believe support this.
    – Hank
    Apr 26, 2015 at 3:51

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