Side clearance for LV switchgear

Hi all,

I hope we're keeping well.

I have a question on if there are any legal requirements on the clearance on the sides of LV panel boards.

The reason I ask is that I'm looking to extend the panel board. As an Energy Engineer, I have designed a rooftop solar array for one of our manufacturing sites and we require an additional 1400 A, for which we don't currently have the necessary capacity in our 3200A main service panel. There are only x3 250 A spares. As such, I've been speaking with our panel board manufacturers, and given them my designs and requirements, for which they have specified a new MCCB that will extend the board by 768 mm.

Please refer to the attached images. As you can see below, where the tape measurer is, it measures 1.2 meters from the side of the panel to the wall.

To extend the length of the panelboard by 768 mm, it would give me a clear space of circa 460 mm.

I know there are legislative requirements for the distance from the front of the panel to the wall to be 1.0 m, which we comfortably have and there are no alterations to be made here. But I am wondering if there is anything in legislation specifying what the distance would be to the sides of panels. I certainly don't see anything that specifies what the distance has to be.

There is a small black ladder drawn onto the image for the possibility to create a hatch from the concrete to provide additional space for when anybody needs to get to the back of the panel board.

Could anyone please advise? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much for your time.

  • Without going into all of the applicable standard, I would just ask you to consider compliance. With the information provided, the new panel would reduce the current 1200mm to 432mm. Without knowing the layout, introducing the ladders and therefore access, you might need to consider fire/emergency egress requirement, which is greater than the available space, post modification. In conclusion, spatially it would work, however building code and electrical (static off set / clearance), together with the introduction of a potential hazard will likely render the proposal not fit for purpose. 

  • It is not unknown for racks to be surprisingly close to a wall on one side - but some things to check..

    You need to be able to get round the back. carrying  the largest spare part, access panel,  or building maintenance  tooling  that may ever be needed, and does the side panel itself ever need to come off ? And as above, do folk need to go that way to get to or from anywhere else.  Not an issue if you can walk round the other end of course.

    Also, I presume these are high power enough (PSSC and disconnection time wise) to have defined blast ports/ vents where the flames and droplets of molten metal are expelled to the back, side or top  flaps in the event of a death or glory moment - where do these discharge to and are you putting anything in the line of fire as it were ?

    Not so easy to answer. What is on the other side of that wall ? A door may be your easy way out..


  • Is this the sort of situation that section 729 would apply to? (genuine questions, I've always been unsure of it's intended scope)

       - Andy.