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Electrical Panel Location Home Inspection Tip from Quality Home Inspections

Electrical panels can be located just about anywhere, inside a garage, outdoors, or in any room. That doesn't mean that every location is acceptable or necessarily desired for that matter.

Outdoor Electrical Panels

First lets take outdoors. Lots of newer construction homes are being built with the electrical panel on the outside. While this is a common practice one should keep in mind a few facts. First, there is a greater possibility of the panel becoming damaged by moisture. It is more common to find rusty panels outdoors, and logically, of course, we don't any kind of water penetration into our electrical panels.

Next, when a panel is outside it isn't exactly in a convenient location if you need to flip the breaker in the middle of the night. Imagine having to go outside in the snow or the rain to flip an electrical breaker, not something I would recommend for safety concerns.

Lastly, of course, you give greater access to your home's electrical power to anyone outside including children or burglars. This doesn't mean that having an outdoor panel is a defect, but it pays to consider the issues you might run into with outdoor access.

Indoor Electrical Panels

The placement of indoor electrical panels should never be near water faucets such as in the bathroom or over any appliances such as laundry equipment, cabinets, vanities, sinks, tubs, water pumps, water softeners, sump pump holes, water heaters, etc.. Other than that the most important rule for electrical panels is access. There needs to be plenty of headroom and the panel needs to be free of obstructions. You should be able to open the panel door to at least a 90 degree angle. The panel should have 30 inches minimum of space from side to side in total. You must also have at least 36 inches clear of obstructions below, in front of, or above.

Here is an example of a very bad location for an electrical panel. The area it was placed in was very tight, it was above a water heater in a bathroom. To the left was the shower and in front of the water heater was a toilet. Obviously, this location is a safety problem.


Perhaps, the garage could be the best place if you can park your cars and still have plenty of room to access the panel. Having a panel in the garage does keep it close enough to access without hurting the aesthetics of the insides of your home. It's also not going to get rained on, and getting to it will be easier in the winter than having one outside in the cold.

But again if you have an electrical panel in the garage it's important to make sure it's clear of obstructions. So make sure you don't pile things in front of it.

East Tennessee Quality Home Inspections
Quality Home Inspections serves the East Tennessee area of Roane, Loudon, Knox, Anderson, and Cumberland counties which includes the cities of Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Kingston, Harriman, Rockwood, Oliver Springs, Midtown, Lenoir City, and Crossville, Tennessee. The goal of Quality Home Inspections is to help make the home buying decision a little less complex by providing a professional visual inspection and report of various systems and areas of the home.

If you have questions regarding our home inspection services in East Tennessee feel free to call me at any time during the day at

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