Close this search box.

Where can panelboards and load centers be located in my building?

In a commercial building it is typical for space to be dedicated for electrical panels and equipment. Learn about the requirements:
Electrical Panelboard

A panelboard (also sometimes referred to as a load center) is an enclosure which contains overcurrent devices such as fuses or circuit breakers.

In a commercial building it is typical for space to be dedicated for electrical panels and equipment. Often a commercial building will have a main electrical service room and smaller electrical rooms on other floors.

The National Electrical Code requires “clear space”, referred to as working space around the panelboard to ensure easy access to the overcurrent devices and to provide adequate space for maintenance and inspection. Working space will vary as a function of the voltage of the electrical equipment and the surrounding equipment and walls as shown in the graphic below.

NEC Working Space Diagram
Working Space & Dedicated Electrical Space According to NFPA 70 (NEC)

Dedicated working space must be provided in front of and above the panelboard. The width of the working space in front of the equipment must be at least 30” or the width of the equipment, whichever is greater. The working space also extends vertically from the floor or grade to a height of at least 6-1/2’ or the height of the equipment, whichever is greater. These requirements are found in article 110.26 and table 110.26(A)(1) of the National Electrical Code.

Local codes may also dictate  acceptable working space dimensions.  For example, the City of Austin requires that the working space extend vertically from the floor to the structure, which is beyond the 6 -1/2’ requirement of the NEC.

Panelboard mounting

In residential installations it is not typical for a space to be dedicated for the installation of an electrical panel. Panelboards are thus often installed in garages or basements in single family homes. In apartments or condos the panels are often installed in bedrooms or halls. Article 240.24 lists the places where overcurrent devices, and thus by extension, panelboards may not be located.  The code specifies that panelboards may not be located near easily ignitable material (such as clothes closets), bathrooms, over steps, in plumbing walls, or in close proximity to sinks or plumbing fixtures.  The code is also careful to specify panelboards shall be located in a readily accessible location, meaning the top of the highest circuit breaker can’t be above 6’ 7” AFF or from working platform. Local codes also have limitations on panelboard locations.

Panelboards may be installed indoors or outdoors. Panelboards must be installed using the appropriate NEMA rating for the environment in which they are used. Panelboards installed indoors typically have NEMA 1 rating while panelboards installed outdoors typically have a NEMA 3R rating.

Your project needs Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers who have done this before. Our MEP team has completed the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing design for hundreds of apartments, office buildings, and related development projects. Contact us today to learn how we can help make your next project a success. 

Share this post

Share this post

Learn more
about our



Tips for Passing the PE Exam

There are many paths to the PE exam, and it is important that you prepare for this exam with your own obligations and experiences in mind. See Casey’s tips for passing the exam!


WGI is Ready to Expand Its Texas Footprint; Acquires Big Red Dog

WGI is pleased to announce it acquired Texas-based BIG RED DOG, INC. (BRD), a firm with a reputation in the industry for intelligent disruption, and a leading provider of civil, MEP, structural, traffic, and transportation engineering for public and private clients.


HVAC In The Post COVID-19 World

Discover how building owners and developers can leverage a better HVAC system as a competitive advantage in the post-COVID 19 world.


You’ve been searching for a place like WGI. We look forward to meeting you soon.


Enter your zip code, and we’ll personalize your experience with local projects, office locations, team members, and more.

WGI's success starts with our Associates

WGI supports its associates with meaningful opportunities for growth, strong benefits and perks, while we work collaboratively with clients and co-consultants to shape and improve communities.

Our Team in Action

Join the Team

WGI is a dynamic organization with opportunities nationwide for engineers, land surveyors, landscape architects, environmental scientists, and architects.

Find a team member:

Let's talk about your next project.