Electric Wiring Diagram/Panel Layout Software

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dzimm27

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I see a lot of diagrams for wiring and panel layouts and as I'm planning what I want to build I think it would be so much easier to move things around on screen rather than re-draw it on paper. I don't really have need for a CAD product otherwise, but is there a free electrical/panel component/etc CAD or drawing program that anyone could recommend before I start downloading random/worthless crud to my PC in a hunt for something? Bonus points if it has built in "objects" for contactors, switches, etc. but doesn't need to be anything super fancy. Thank you!
 

Bobby_M

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It depends on how intense you want to get. For the connectivity part of it, you can use this: Flowchart Maker & Online Diagram Software which if it has anything going for it, it's the automatic "jump over" when lines cross each other. I've also diagramed successfully using powerpoint or google slides. When you use connectors for the wires, it's nice that you can lock them on to the larger objects so you can rearrange them and not have to redraw the lines.

In all of those cases, the trick I use is when I paste in an image of something with wire terminals, I first draw a bunch of very small circles over the terminals and group them with the object. That way the lines will snap to the circles and stay there.


For filling the control box, I'd use google sketchup because you do need to consider the 3D fill of the box. Even if each component is represented by a rectangle with depth, you can analyze fit.
 
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dzimm27

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It depends on how intense you want to get. For the connectivity part of it, you can use this: Flowchart Maker & Online Diagram Software which if it has anything going for it, it's the automatic "jump over" when lines cross each other. I've also diagramed successfully using powerpoint or google slides. When you use connectors for the wires, it's nice that you can lock them on to the larger objects so you can rearrange them and not have to redraw the lines.

In all of those cases, the trick I use is when I paste in an image of something with wire terminals, I first draw a bunch of very small circles over the terminals and group them with the object. That way the lines will snap to the circles and stay there.


For filling the control box, I'd use google sketchup because you do need to consider the 3D fill of the box. Even if each component is represented by a rectangle with depth, you can analyze fit.
Ah, you know I have used draw.io for some network diagrams and have not used it in quite a while. That is what became Flowchart Maker & Online Diagram Software. It actually occurred to me to check that out after I posted this, but didn't see SSRs and such in it. Pasting in a picture with circles for points to tie the lines to is a great idea though.

Checking out Sketchup as well.

Thanks!
 

EmmtBot

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For a schematic, my initial plans for my panel were super complicated and I used the free scheme-it tool on digikey's website just because it's what i found first. That had the basics: switches, LEDs, relays, diodes, etc and I was able to make labeled boxes with numbered pins for the PIDs and timer. After I reined in the craziness to something more manageable I found sitting down with a whiteboard and some dry erase markers worked just fine for me. Doing this I realized I could kind of think out and draw the high-current and low-current stuff separately so that there wasn't as much wire jumping to draw. This also helped me decide on component position inside the panel. Things like RTD sensors I didn't even draw because there's nothing to really get wrong.

As far as panel layout I drew a lot of ideas on paper, and then to finalize I actually printed and cut out some little squares and circles that were the same size as the real components and arranged them sitting on top of the panel to decide what should go where. Once I liked that I measured the spacing and used LibreCAD (free) to make a template with the exact position of everything all aligned and square. I printed that out at work on some 11x17 paper (have some reference marks to make sure it doesn't scale X or Y when you do), taped it to the panel and used that for drilling and punching. This worked absolutely beautifully.

Panel is actually still in progress but I'll do a write up once it's done
 
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