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Can You Put Electrical Panel in Closet? (Read This First!)

An electric panel is a metal-made service box that generally is built on the wall or in a corner that’s out of frequent touch. 

However, while remodeling your home, you may consider putting the electrical panel in your closet, so wanting to know whether it would be safe to put it in the closet or not must be your common concern. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the explanations below to find out the answers.

Putting Electrical Panel In Closet 

Putting an electrical panel in a closet is dangerous because clothes are made of combustible materials so it can cause a fire, thereby, an electrical panel isn’t allowed to be put in the closet. But if the closet is big enough and has no clothes hanger inside, an electrical panel can be put in it.

Keeping an electrical panel in your closet is prohibited due to several reasons, so you might wonder what could be all of these possible reasons that are stopping you from doing so, therefore, all of the potential reasons have been explained below for your better understanding. 

Violates NEC and IRC Guidelines:

The National Electrical Code (NEC) Section 240.24(D) guideline strictly prohibited the installation of an electrical panel in a clothes closet. 

The code stated in the guideline that, “Overcurrent devices shall not be located in the vicinity of easily ignitable material, such as in clothes closets.”

The International Residential Code (IRC) also has put strict restrictions, and according to Section (E) 3405.1 of the IRC, “Panelboards, service equipment, and similar enclosures shall not be located in bathrooms, toilet rooms, clothes closets, or over the steps of a stairway.”

Thus, if you can’t install an electrical panel in your closet as it would endanger your safety, foremostly it will violate NEC and IRC regulations.

Can Cause A Fire Hazard:

An electrical panel is an overcurrent device and it becomes particularly threatening if it is installed inside a clothes closet because all clothes are made of flammable materials that are susceptible to catching fire. 

So if by any chance a loose connection happens in the breaker panel installed inside a clothes closet, it’s going to cause sparks that will ignite the dry clothes, and within seconds the whole house will be on fire jeopardizing your overall safety. 

So, to maintain your and your family’s safety, you never should install an electrical panel in your closet. 

Doesn’t Have Required Space: 

In a closet, your clothes take up the most space, also there are shelves and closet bars too, as a result, not much room is left in the closet to install a breaker panel.

If you install an electrical panel in your closet, in such a crowded space and amidst all the hanging clothes you will encounter difficulties in repairing or finding a loose connection among all these tangled-up complicated wires in the electrical panel. 

And your slight capriciousness can start a fire, thus, you can’t install an electrical panel there. 

Doesn’t Have Enough Light: 

Most times none of our clothes closets depend on natural light and don’t have any artificial lighting unless it’s a walk-in closet. 

Thus, if you put an electrical panel inside your closet without having any artificial light inside, you won’t see anything or be able to repair anything in the electrical panel. It’s another reason why you can’t put an electrical panel in a closet.

Can You Put A Subpanel In A Closet?

The International Residential Code (IRC) Section (E) 3405.1 specifically mentioned and restricted that no subpanel is allowed to be installed in a closet, particularly in a clothes closet. 

Except for a clothes closet, installing a subpanel is somewhat accepted only if the closet doesn’t contain any flammable material. Also, there should have 36” depth, 30” width, and 6’7” high working room upfront of the subpanel. 

The closet can’t be utilized for storing things and has to have artificial lighting. 

Electrical Panel Location Rules

The NEC has finalized a few regulations regarding the electrical panel locations that you must abide by to ensure your safety more strongly. Below the rules are listed and explained briefly

Must Be Accessible: 

The NEC Section (A) 240.24 clearly stated that the electrical panel has to be at an easily accessible spot. This means the electrical panel shouldn’t be at a spot blocked by big appliances and this also means it can’t be at a narrow and hardly accessible spot. 

Must Be Reachable:

The NEC Section 240.24 mentioned that the electrical panel must be located at a height that’s easily reachable for an adult of average height. This means in any residential area an electrical panel should be located 6 feet 7 inches above the floor. 

For industrial spots, there are different rules and you must abide by them too. 

Must Be Available To Occupants:

As per the NEC Section (C), the electrical panel should be available to the occupants which concerns multi-family units like apartments in a building. Occupants living in the apartments must have full access to the electrical panel.

Must Be Safe From Any Physical Damage: 

Section (D) of the NEC stated that the electrical panel can’t be located at a spot where it’s prone to any physical damage. This means the electrical panel must not be exposed to any abrasive force like moisture and water, specifically applicable to industrial applications.

Must Not Be Located Near Ignitible Materials:

Section (D) 240.24 of the NEC explicitly stated that the electrical panel must not be located closer to any combustible material such as clothes or in a clothes closet because clothes are easily flammable materials. 

Only if it’s a utility closet with no clothes, the electrical panel can be put in but it should be 6’7” above the ground and must have 3 feet of space in front of it. 

Can’t Be Located At Spots Mentioned Below: 

As per NEC, the electric panel can’t be located at the following spots-

  • Clothes closets
  • Bathroom 
  • Pantries 
  • Greenhouse 
  • Small storage areas
  • Under stairways with less than 6’5” clearance
  • Behind big equipment
  • Hard to reach or access spots

Electrical Panel Clearance Requirements

Electrical panel clearance requirements stated by the NEC have been listed below, you must follow these rules very strictly. 

Clearance Requirement Of Height: 

As stated in the NEC Section 240.24(D), the ideal clearance in terms of the height of the electrical panel is 6 feet 7 inches up above the floor or the ground of the working area.

Clearance Requirement Of Depth:

An electrical panel with a minimal voltage of 0-150V to the ground needs a 36” clearance in front of it in any condition. But a panel with high voltage starting from 151-600V will be requiring 36”-48” clearance in front of it. 

Clearance Requirement Of Width: 

In all conditions, an electrical panel will need a  30” wide clearance so that service work can be done smoothly and the panel door can be opened at a 90 degrees angle.

How Can I Hide My Electrical Panel Around Closet?

Basically, you can’t hide your electric panel around or in your closet because it’s illegal and unsafe. 

However, an exception to this regulation would be accepted only if you have a walk-in closet or a utility closet that meets the standard of NEC regulations concerning an electrical panel’s hiding location.

Below it has been explained how you can hide your electrical panel in a walk-in closet and a utility closet. 

Walk-In Closet: 

A walk-in closet generally is a spacious room that meets the NEC standard of lighting and clearance because it’s a well-lit room and usually has enough space to put an electrical panel, thus, it meets the requirement of lighting and clearance. 

However, strictly bear in mind that if you consider putting your electrical panel in the walk-in closet, you must not keep any combustible clothes near the panel. And there should be no shelves or bars around or in front of the panel. 

Most importantly, the electrical panel should be 6’7” above from the finished floor and must have a 36” depth before it, and a 30” wide space around it. 

Utility Closet: 

A utility closet is somewhat accepted too to install/hide an electrical panel but in this case, you must ensure that the utility closet is well-lit, well-ventilated, and well-insulated. 

If your utility closet is an enclosed place, the electrical panel must have at least 2 feet depth in front of it, should have 30” space around it, and has to be 6’7” up from the ground. 

And no item made of inflammable material should be there.

Final Thoughts 

Putting an electrical panel in a closet is highly prone to start a fire as clothes are made of ignitable materials, besides, it violates the guidelines of NEC Section 240.24D as well as IRC, so an electrical panel can’t be put in a closet, mainly in clothes closet as it’s both illegal and not safe.