Service boxes can be indoors or outside and are sometimes in garages. If they're outside, they have to be weather-tight. This usually means flush mounted in the wall. In Canada, house services usually have to be indoors. They can be surface-mounted or recessed into the wall. Service boxes on exterior walls are sometimes locked for security. This may make it impossible to shut off the power quickly in an emergency. If this practice is common in your area, find out what the position of the utility company is. The utility may suggest removal of the lock, or a specific location for the key. Distribution panels should not be locked.
Electrical equipment should be at least three feet from indoor gas meters and outdoor gas relief vents. Boxes should be mounted at eye level and should be easily accessible. As a general rule of thumb, the area 30 inches to 3 feet in front of the box should not be obstructed. When located inside the house, service boxes should not be in bathrooms, clothes closets, kitchen cupboards or stairwells, for example. Boxes in bathrooms are a shock hazard. Boxes in clothes closets or cupboards are a fire hazard because they may ignite storage or clothing.
Poor access may be the result of
building over or around the box
storage near the service box
Poor location is an installation problem.
The box may not be accessible in an emergency to shut off power. Poor locations are fire or safety hazards.
Make sure the box is accessible. If it's locked, everyone in the house should know where the key is kept. Watch for boxes too close to gas meters or outdoor gas vents, or in bathrooms, stairwells, clothes closets or cupboards. Use common sense to decide whether the box location presents a hazard. If not, we do not recommend change. Most codes are not retroactive, and authorities also use their discretion in asking people to move service boxes.