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
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 category under New Document on your Dashboard. Open the template called "Electrical Circuit Diagram". 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

Draw Circuit Lines

You circuit diagram will basically visualize circuits as lines and the added symbols will indicate where switches and fusers may go.

Start drawing lines by clicking on the Line tool at the top of the SmartPanel. By default, you'll draw a segmented line with an arrow at one end. We call this a "Shape Connector".

Draw a line

Change Line Style

If you want to change the type of line you're drawing, select a different line type from the drop down for the Line Tool.

If you right click on a line, you can change its line shape even after you've added it to the page and add or remove arrowheads if you need.

Line shapes

Right-Click Line Style Options

If you right click on a line, you can change its line shape even after you've added it to the page. The right-click menu also allows you to add or remove arrowheads if you need. You can also adjust the type and size of line hops when your lines cross.

Right-click line options

Add Symbols

Drag a symbol from the docked library onto the line and it will automatically insert itself. 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.

Add electrical symbols

Moving Symbols

You can detach and move any symbol to a different position along the circuit if you hold down the Alt key. Move the symbol to the new position and let go and your drawing will adjust automatically.

Drag symbols

Find More Symbols

Each template comes with a few relevant symbol libraries already docked. You can scroll through through them or use the carats (small black arrows to the left of the name) to expand and collapse any library.

You can also drag libraries up and down the stack to reorder them.

If you need more symbols, just type a keyword into the search bar above the docked libraries and hit Enter.

Search results will be displayed below organized into the libraries the symbols were found in. You can simply drag and drop any symbol from the search results to your page.

If you find a library or symbol sets you want to add to your template for later use, click on the golden plus icon and choose either Add result or Add library.

Search for more symbols

Add an Annotation Layer

You can adda a scale-independent annotation layer to all electrical and engineering documents to help you enhance your drawings with additional information.

This annotation layer will automatically adjust its size and position as the drawing area (or paper size) changes. You can add the scale, author and other information about the design in this layer just like the "page view" in a traditional CAD program.

To add an Annotation Layer, click Add Annotation Layer under the Document Setup section in your SmartPanel.

Add an annotation layer

Setting the Scale

Depending on how you prefer to work, you may want to set some defaults for your entire diagram. These settings are conveniently located in your SmartPanel under Document Setup. For example, if you want to create a drawing to scale, you can customize the scale or change it to metric before you start.

Set the scale

Line Settings

The line settings will help you draw your circuits. You can view and change line setting under the Options group in the SmartPanel. If the Allow Lines to Link option is selected in the SmartPanel, the lines will neatly snap to each other and can move as a unit while still remaining separate. This setting also allows lines to connect to shapes. If the Allow Lines to Join option is selected, these connected lines will become one continuous line.

Set line options
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