How to Draw Electrical Diagrams

Making wiring or electrical diagrams is easy with the proper templates and symbols:

  1. Start with a collection of electrical symbols appropriate for your diagram
  2. Draw circuits represented by lines
  3. Drag and drop symbols to the circuits and connect them
  4. Use line hops if any lines need to cross
  5. Add layers to show complexity
How to draw wiring and other electrical diagrams

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SmartDraw has several tools and templates for making a variety of visuals for engineering and CAD design. Among these you'll find commonly used electrical drawings and schematics, like circuit diagrams, wiring diagrams, electrical plans and block diagrams. With SmartDraw's vast library of electrical symbols and easy drawing tools, anyone - apprentice or pro - can start building electrical diagrams right away.

Start with a Circuit Diagram Template

Let's start by making a circuit diagram. To find a circuit diagram template, click on the Engineering & CAD category then Circuit Panels in SmartDraw's Template Browser. Open the template called "Basic Electrical". While you'll start with a blank page, you'll notice a wide range of electrical symbols docked in the SmartPanel to the left of your drawing area. These capacitors, inductors, switches, resisters, and more will make building your circuit diagram easier.

Electrical diagram templates

Set Some Defaults

You circuit diagram will basically visualize circuits as lines and the added symbols will indicate where switches and fusers may go. Depending on how you prefer to work, you may want to set some defaults for your entire diagram. These settings are conveniently located at the bottom of your SmartPanel. The scale is set by default as 1/8, as in one inch on the screen will represent 8 feet. You can customize the scale or change it to metric before you start.

The line settings will help you draw your circuits. If the Allow Lines to Link option is selected in the SmartPanel, the lines will neatly snap to each other. If the Allow Lines to Join option is selected, these connected lines will stay together once connected. Having Use Snaps selected will help lines and symbols snap to the nearest grid point as you draw.

Set scale

Draw Circuit Lines

Start drawing lines by clicking on the Draw Lines tool in the SmartPanel. By default, you'll draw a straight line. If you want to change the type of line you're drawing, select a line type from the Line Shape drop down. If you right click on a line, you can change its line shape even after you've added it to the page,as well as add arrowheads if you need.

Line shapes

Add Symbols

Drag a symbol from the docked library onto the line and it will automatically insert itself. You can move it along the line or move it to a different line and your drawing will adjust automatically. If you need to modify the symbol, you rotate it using the circular handle that appears when you select it or stretch it using the black handles around the symbol.

If you need more symbols, click on the Symbols tab and pull down the More menu. There are three different electrical symbol libraries already docked, but you can also search SmartDraw's entire symbol collection by clicking on More Symbols. If you find a library you want to add, click on Add Library. Keep adding as many libraries as you want. Close the search window when you're done to return to your drawing area.

Drag symbols

Line Hops

Click on Set Line Hops in the SmartPanel to show or hide line hops at crossover points and to change the size and shape of your line hops. Select Show Dimensions to show the length of your lines or the area of your shapes. Just select Add Text to type measurements and notations into your diagram.

Set line hops

Other Electrical Diagram Types

Wiring diagrams function very much the same way but employ a different set of symbols. Click more in the symbol library drop down menu and there are even more electrical symbols to choose from. Block diagrams, often used for higher level, less detailed descriptions for understanding overall concepts, use the same easy drawing tools and are easy to adjust and customize. A panel diagram is another handy visual. Just drag the many circuit breakers and panel components to where you want them to go and they anchor neatly into place.

More symbols

Using Layers to Create Electrical Plans

You can easily create detailed electrical plans by overlaying electrical symbols on a floorplan. Just open your floorplan and under the Page tab, choose Layers->New Layer. Name the new layer. You now have a separate layer on which to build your electrical plan. Look for the relevant electrical symbols in the Symbols tab, under More and More Symbols. Dock any libraries you may need using the Add Library command. Then just drag the symbols to where they belong on the floorplan. You can switch back and forth between the electrical and floorplan layers and choose to make a layer clickable or not clickable to protect the work that you've already done (and visible or not visible). This helps make your electrical plans easier to build, manage and share with others.

With SmartDraw's quick-start templates, extensive symbol libraries and intuitive drawing and formatting, you'll be making great looking electrical diagrams in no time.

Circuit diagrma layers