Electrical panels are the beating heart of a home’s electrical system. But where is the best place to install them? You would probably dismiss the idea of placing an electrical panel in the kitchen because it sounds so ridiculous. But is that reaction justified? Is the kitchen the wrong location for an electrical panel?
Can An Electrical Panel Be In A Kitchen?
An electrical panel can be placed in a kitchen but keep it inside a cabinet. Make sure that the electrical panel has enough space in front and on the sides. On top, look for a location that is free of moisture, humidity, and obstructions.
The kitchen is not the first place that comes to mind. Most people would probably say no to this suggestion, and for a good reason. If you don’t know what the term means, an electrical panel is that box that houses all your breakers.
The electrical panel brings power into your home before distributing it across the various circuits. It gives you a means of shutting the power off.
Electrical panels are delicate. They have essential components like the main circuit breaker, hot bus bars, neutral bus bars, bonding jumper, ground bus bar, and more.
The last thing you would want is to leave the electrical panel out in the open.
If your house uses a fuse box, you will probably find the electrical panel outside. Either way, the kitchen is a strange location. It doesn’t necessarily break any rules.
Naturally, you can’t afford to get the panel wet. And some people may appreciate the notion of having the electrical panel within easy reach because they can shut the power off at a moment’s notice if a heavy-duty kitchen appliance malfunctions.
This is why some homeowners prefer to keep a subpanel in their bedrooms. They want to keep the disconnect within arm’s reach. But no contractor in their right mind would install an electrical panel in a kitchen. You can add one to this area if you want. But it isn’t encouraged.
How Close Can I Put A Sink To An Electrical Panel?
Panelboard can sit as close to a janitorial sink as you want but the NEC wants consumers to keep a clear working space 36 inches deep and 30 inches wide in front of the panelboard.
This is the only significant rule you need to follow. You can install the electrical panel in any location around the sink so long as the appropriate working space is maintained.
Again, putting an electrical panel near a sink in the kitchen is not encouraged, and your contractor will advise against the practice. But they may install the electrical panel next to the sink if you insist, as long as your demands do not contradict the NEC’s regulations.
Electrical Panel Kitchen Location Rules
You don’t have quite as many rules to follow where the electrical panel’s position is concerned. However, you are still expected to keep the following in mind:
1). NEC – You Can Add A Panel To Your Kitchen
The NEC regulates so many aspects of electrical work. As such, it may come as a surprise to learn that they haven’t actually recommended a specific location for the electrical panel. You can add a panel to your kitchen without suffering any significant legal consequences.
NEC prohibits the addition of electrical panels to bathrooms (240.24(E)). But they haven’t said anything about the best place to install the panel. Therefore, you are free to experiment.
2). Don’t Install It Below Or Above The Sink Or Counter
Your biggest concern is the working space around the electrical panel. Before you add a panel to the kitchen, you must realize that the panel cannot sit over or under anything.
In other words, you cannot install it below or above the sink or counter. Additionally, you can’t position it next to anything.
Electrical panels require a working space of three feet in front and 30 inches on either side.
- When an electrician tries to inspect the panel, they should have the space to work freely without encountering obstructions. This is why a panel under the sink or counter is silly. It would require the contractor to work on their knees.
- A panel above the counter is just as ridiculous because the counter protrudes out of the wall. It would prevent the electrician from reaching the panel comfortably.
Basically, before you choose a location, think about how convenient it would be for the electrician to work in that location. Any area that interferes with the electrician’s work is problematic.
3). Don’t Keep Panels In Small Enclosures
Don’t keep electrical panels in small enclosures like closets. It sounds like a sensible solution because enclosures protect the panel.
However, small enclosures will also interfere with the electrician’s work. Again, you have to give the electrician as much freedom as possible.
4). Keep The Panel At Least 4 Feet Above The Ground
You should keep the panel at least four feet above the ground. However, don’t elevate the panel beyond six feet. This will aid the contractor, allowing them to do their work at a comfortable angle.
As you have probably realized, it is better to leave the location of the electrical panel in the hands of an electrician. They can use their experience and knowledge to identify a suitable area.
Home Inspection Insider has listed several factors for consumers to consider when selecting a location for the electrical panel. That includes accessibility, reachability, and safety.
You have to place the panel in a location where people can reach it quickly and easily. However, you cannot expose the panel to factors that can harm it, such as flammable materials.
For this reason, many people choose to keep electrical panels in basements, garages, and hallways.
Is Electrical Panel In Kitchen Safe?
The kitchen is not a safe home for an electrical panel. Moisture can harm electrical panels. It causes corrosion, which is not a significant issue if the rust is restricted to the panel’s frame. But if the corrosion spreads to the wires and switches, it can destroy the electrical panel, forcing you to perform expensive repairs or secure a replacement.
The kitchen may expose the panel to moisture. This is part of the reason why the NEC encourages consumers to use GFCIs on kitchen outlets. They know that the water in a kitchen can cause a ground fault once it infiltrates the outlets.
Unless you want a short circuit to occur, keep the electrical panel out of the kitchen. If you have already installed the panel, look for signs of trouble, including popping and crackling sounds.
If you’re determined to install the electrical panel in the kitchen, your best option is to keep it inside a cabinet on the wall. Cabinets can protect the panel without limiting the working space.
You can also use a freestanding cabinet. Get the largest cabinet you can find.
People use basements and garages for a reason. They are isolated from human activities. As such, people are less likely to harm the electrical panel. However, you have to remove any flammable materials in the area.
If the garage or basement doubles as a laundry room, it could present a challenge. You cannot allow the washer and dryer to obstruct the panel. Many homeowners have cluttered garages and basements, which is why entryways and hallways are better options.
Don’t forget that accessibility matters. Terrible locations for electrical panels include pantries, greenhouses, and clothing closets, to mention but a few. If you pay close attention to the NEC’s clearance rules, you should be fine.
Make sure the electrical panel has ample space in front and on the sides. Naturally, the local codes are vital. Find out what they say. Just because the NEC doesn’t care where you place the electrical panel doesn’t mean the local code is equally silent on the issue. If they have specific recommendations, you should follow them.
How Do I Hide An Electrical Panel In A Kitchen?
Any object that can cover the wall will do. That includes picture frames, wall hangings, and posters. You don’t even require the services of an electrician.
You can also install the panel inside a cabinet with a door. If you can keep the clearance in mind, you can hide the panel in the cabinet without breaking the NEC’s rules.
What About A Subpanel? Can A Subpanel Be In A Kitchen?
You can place a subpanel in the kitchen. This allows consumers to add new circuits that can cater to kitchen appliances. The subpanel makes heavy-duty kitchen equipment safer because the circuit breakers are within easy reach.
You can shut the power off within seconds. Also, your contractor will have a much easier time installing the wiring for new devices if you have a subpanel in the kitchen.