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Question about covering the electrical panel board in the basement... .calgary, AB

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Posted by: from Calgary
2/20/2012 at 6:22:37 PM

Hi,

I've been finishing off my basement in Calgary, AB, and was planning on putting the electrical panel board in a hidden recess covering it with a bi-fold door. But when researching electrical permits, I came across this link from the City of Calgary's website:

http://www.calgary.ca/PDA/DBA/Documents/brochures/homeowner_permits_and_electrical_wiring_guide.pdf

More importantly (and specifically), the following two points from the article:

"When developing the basement or renovating existing areas, do not design

the development so that panelboards are placed in clothes closets, bathrooms,

stairways or any other area where moisture or location may present a hazard.

(These areas are not acceptable and may result in the electrical contractor

relocating the panelboard under a separate permit.)

• Ensure that a minimum one m (39 inches) clearance is maintained from the face

of the panelboard."

The recess I'm building for it could be considered a closet, but there will be no room for storage. It's only purpose will be to house the electrical panel board. So I think I'm clear on that part. Now, maybe I'm just analyzing this too much, but the second point says leave a minimum of one m clearance from the face. Does that mean, 1 m of space when the door is open? or does that mean 1 m of space clearance from the face at all times? I only ask if it's a "wording" thing, because I've seen countless houses with doors directly covering their electrical panels.

Any help clarifying if I can do this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Tim

REPLIES (5)
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Date/Time2/20/2012 at 7:17:32 PM

Hi Tim:

When building, we have to put the electrical panel in an area where easy access is the rule.

You will have to get an electrician to have a permit, so my suggestion if for him to get your question addressed. an electrical room is not uncommon, but the access to it and the usable space in it will be the key. My interpretaion would be that the "room" must have the required clearance, and not to include the distance created by opening the door. If I understand you correctly, there might be variance in your design, but it is up to the electrical department to make that distinction.

As I say, you will have to get an electrical permit, so consult a qualified electrician. If there is some question as to the construction, he will know who to get in touch with to get your issue clarrified.

Chuck

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Date/Time2/21/2012 at 9:30:00 AM

In Ontario you are not allowed to locate it in closets, bathrroom, kitchens and stairways for obvious safety reasons. We also have the 1 meter clearance requirement. This is to allow access for someone to work on the panel. If you build you enclose with say 12" clearance and the doors wide enought for complete access to the panel and wireing, you should be fine. We have the ESA that issues electrical permits. You need to find out who does Alberta's inspections and contact them directly. They should be happy to explain any specific questions you have.

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Tim in Calgary
Date/Time2/21/2012 at 10:26:55 AM

Thanks so much for your replies.

I guess I could (and should) have been a little more specific. I said closet, but that's not accurate. It's more like I plan to crib around the electrical panel with a bi-fold door on the front that will allow complete access to the entire panel, and the sides of it. The door opening will be at least from the ground to 1 ft above the panel, and 1 ft beyond the panel on both sides. The door will probably be around 6"-12" from the front of the panel. I don't know if that's considered a "closet" just because there will be nothing else in there and no space or intended use for storage.

The reason I'm doing this, is because the panel is placed in the corner of my future man-cave/media room, and not anywhere close to the utility/furnace room, and I'd like to make it visually appealing.

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Tim in Calgary
Date/Time2/21/2012 at 5:00:44 PM

Update FYI.

I called the city of Calgary and talked with an electical inspector and he clarified to me some points:

Cribbing in the electrical panel is ok as long as nothing else is inside.

The 1 m clearance is required when the bi-fold door is open. Since it opens into the rest of the room, I'm all set.

Thank you for your help!

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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time2/21/2012 at 7:29:40 PM

Another tip also Tim ....

Electrical Contractors like to have a good amount of room when working in front of the panel. I know you said you were fabricating the walls out 1' on either side of the panel, just ensure your door opening for the bi-fold is large also. Say 34". That way any future work on the panel is easy to do with a wide door opening.

Have fun

Dave

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