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 & 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

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 Draw Lines tool in the SmartPanel. By default, you'll draw a segmented line with an arrow at one end.

Draw a line

Change Line Style

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 and add or remove arrowheads if you need.

Line shapes

Line Options

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Line Hops

If two lines must cross in an engineering diagram, SmartDraw uses a "bridge" (also known as a "line hop") to show that the lines do not intersect.

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.

Set line hops

You can change the style of line hops from round to square. You can also change the size of the line hop.

Line hope styles

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 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. 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. 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. Having Use Snaps selected will help lines and symbols snap to the nearest grid point as you draw.

Set line options