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Electrical Panels in Bathrooms by Barrie Home Inspector


Many homeowners have electrical work done without having a building permit or an electrical inspection at completion of work.  One very unique problem that I have encountered every so often, is a homeowner installing a bathroom where main electrical panel is located.

Most electrical work requires that you pull a permit with your local electrical authority.  Many jurisdictions allow a homeowner to work on his/her own home’s electrical system.  Some areas only allow work on branch circuits and not main service panel installation.  Other areas will not allow homeowner permits at all.  This varies from place to place, so it is CRITICAL that, before you commence any do-it-yourself home wiring project, you first check the rules in your area.

Exclusion of Rules:  If a house had a permit issued, was inspected and met the standard required at that time, it would be considered “Grandfathered”, and would not be required to be brought up to today’s standards.  This would not apply to any work that was done improperly or to any additions to electrical system without a permit.

According to 2006 Electrical Code Simplified, the following rules apply:

Rule 2-308 requires a minimum working space of 39 inches of floor space in front of electrical equipment.

Rule 26-402 Location of Panelboards

Subrule (1)  Panelboards shall not be located in coal bins, clothes closets, bathrooms, stairways, high ambient rooms, dangerous or hazardous locations, nor in any similar undesirable places.

According to the  NEC (2011 edition)
Section 230.70(A)(2) – “Service disconnecting means shall not be installed in bathrooms.”
Section 240.24(E) – “In dwelling units, dormitories, and guest rooms or guest suites, over current devices, other than supplementary over current protection, shall not be located in bathrooms.”

This is from Ontario Electrical Safety Bulletins 2009

BULLETIN 26-20-2

Panel boards – Location, Working Space and Mounting Height

Rules 26-402, 2-308, 2-310 and 6-206

Issued May 2009

Supersedes Bulletin 26-20-1


(1) Mounting height of a Panelboard

(2) Working space around a panelboard

(3) Panelboards and bathrooms

Rules 6-206 and 26-402 give direction as to where an electrical panelboard should not be installed by

noting some of the undesirable places. An important part of this requirement is to also insure ready

access to the panelboard and to provide suitable working space for operation or maintenance as required

by Rules 2-308 and 2-310.

(1) Mounting height of a Panelboard


There has been some confusion in the industry regarding interpretation of Rule 26-402(2) with respect to

the correct mounting height of a panelboard in a dwelling unit. This subrule has two criteria that must be met:

1. The panel shall be mounted as high as possible.

2. No circuit breaker handle or breaker blank shall be more than 1.7 m above the finished floor level.

(2) Working space around a panelboard

What is meant by “A minimum working space of 1 m with secure footing…” when applied to residential panel boards that are mounted on or in a wall and require access from only the front?

This is interpreted as meaning a space that is at least 2 m in height, at least 1 m in depth in front of the panel, and at least 1 m in width or the width of the panel board, whichever is greater. The panel board does not have to be centered in the width of the working space; it can be off center.

(3) Panelboards and bathrooms


Questions periodically arise about installing a panelboard in a bathroom. This is considered an undesirable location because of excessive moisture issues and limited working space in front of the electrical panel in many bathrooms.


If the panelboard were installed in a “separate room” located off of the bathroom, that provides the one square meter of clear working space as required by Rule 2-308, as well as ready access to the door leading into the room as per Rule 2-310, then the panelboard would be considered to be located in an acceptable location.

Check back often to see more information as this article is updated as information becomes available.