Electrical – Egress window directly beneath electrical meter


My house was built in 1973 and has a tiny basement window (single-pane aluminum frame) in a window well. The utility electrical meter is on the same exterior wall, not directly over the basement window.

A few years ago I had some solar panels put on the roof, and they installed all of their meters and inverters right next to the utility electrical meter, so some of their equipment is now directly over the window well.

enter image description here

I'm considering upgrading the tiny window to an egress window, and I'm wondering if there's any way to do that and still meet code.

It looks like the National Electric Code 110.26(A) says I'm supposed to have 3' of space in front of the meters and inverters, but I can't find anything that talks about requirements for what the ground under that working space looks like.

Is the working space rule satisfied, if any workers have to stand on the grate on the top of my egress window well in order to access the equipment?

I emailed my county planning department and they said "Your proposed grate or cover over the window well shall NOT encroach on these requirements for the any electric devices." That sentence is a little convoluted so I'm not 100% sure, but I think he's saying that I can't do what I want to do?

Best Answer

Working space is:

  • The width of the equipment but at least 30"
  • 78" high
  • 36" deep for these voltages

This only applies to things that need to be read or that have controls. If it's merely a junction box, it simply needs to be accessible without removing parts of the building.

When they initially installed this unit, they added 2 meters, a disconnect switch and a grid-tie inverter. (or possibly more than that?) All that equipment needs working space.

The installation was botched from day 1. From here I would research whether they pulled a permit for this work, and if the installation was approved as-is. If not, I'd call the company back in and tell them to relocate the equipment to a lawful location. Not a word about your building plans, of course.

Mind you, if it were me, and I had one job: make that location legal, I might build a wooden deck there, with a steel grate over the window area to let in light (and with the grate sitting on reliefs in the wooden deck so the grate was electrically isolated). Don't let them do that!