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Reason for dedicated space above electrical switchboards

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    Reason for dedicated space above electrical switchboards

    Article 110.26(E) of the NEC states that you need a dedicated equipment space above panels, switchboards or motor control centers that is either 6 feet in height or to a structural ceiling whichever is lower. Why is this space required? Is it for future access to the top of these pieces of equipment? I have an installation that has ductwork only about 8 inches above 2 switchboards which are my normal and emergency service entrance switches. The feeder conduits come out of the bottom and no more feeders will ever come out of either switchboard. Why do I need the clearance on the top?

    You need the clearance because the nec requires it. But is it not possible that someday down the road you may need to abandon something and come out the top?

    Also if it is duct work is it possible for condensation to drip on the panel. Normally that is not an issue but I have seen it. BTW, you may be able to get a variance- talk with the inspector.

    (b) Foreign Systems. The area above the dedicated space
    required by 110.26(E)(1)(a) shall be permitted to contain
    foreign systems, provided protection is installed to avoid
    damage to the electrical equipment from condensation, leaks,
    or breaks in such foreign systems.

    BTW welcome to the forum
    They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
    She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
    I can't help it if I'm lucky



      My belief, for which I have no supporting evidence, is that the rule exists to enable you to install conduits in the future, without having to deal with interferences from foreign systems. That is why, again as I believe, the rule only applies to switchgear (added recently), switchboards, panelboards, and MCCs. Those are the only components for which the installation of future conduits is likely.

      You said you were dealing with the service SWITCHES. Are they just switches, or are they SWITCHBOARDS? If the former, then the rule does not apply to your installation.
      Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
      Comments based on 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted.


        6' is a ridiculous amount of space especially in old existing buildings that are being renovated or upgraded.


        All responses based on the 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted


          Why wouldn't you want space?
          Our trade is last on everything so the few times we are "granted" space I prefer not to relinquish any.