Understanding Electrical Floor Plans

Here we cover exactly what electrical floor plans are and discuss the different ways we can interpret and draw them...
Electrical Floor Plans

An electrical floor plan is a part of a construction drawing which illustrates the details of an electrical supply from the power source to each electrical output in a particular building. 

These drawings detail the information for every electrical installation in the building, making it easier for both the designers and the contractors to understand what’s desired. 

The information conveyed on the drawings is the same regardless of the method used to prepare it. But, like many complex documents, electrical plans also require specialty skills to produce and decipher. 

In this article, we cover exactly what electrical floor plans are and discuss the different ways we can interpret and draw them.

What are electrical floor plans?

Electrical plans, otherwise known as wiring diagrams or electrical drawings, are a visual and drawn description of our building circuits and electrical properties. It is a technical drawing that gives a visual representation of all the electrical appliances used in a particular building.

We represent these electrical appliances with the help of pre-defined electrical symbols.

Through an electrical plan, you can showcase the position of the used devices in the project, along with how they fit into the electrical structure. It constitutes multiple drawings representing the respective layout, such as power distribution layout, panel layout, wiring layout, and fixtures layout.

These diagrams make it easier to explain the technical details to the electricians or the workers liable for the installation of the electrical systems. 

A typical set of electrical plan includes:

  • Plan for each floor with electrical installations, also known as cable routing diagram – shows positioning of every electrical appliance in the building. 
  • Site plan showing incoming utility services and substations
  • Symbol list and abbreviation list
  • Quotation, schedules and other information–shows the different types and number of appliances used along with their mounting height
electrical floor plan

Purpose of electrical floor plans:

An electrical plan is a visual electrical blueprint where all the electrical points of a building will be located.

It describes the connection between the circuits, the number of switches and the location of their outlets, the position of lighting fixtures and any other electrical appliances. Each of these elements has an allotted symbol on the plan to facilitate the drawing.

As these drawings offer an in-depth view of a building’s electrical and wiring scheme, they are crucial for authenticating, transmitting information and troubleshooting power systems on site. It looks at the comprehensive structure of the building.

If we are to arrange an electrical design of a smaller portion of a building (a balcony), we consider the electrical arrangement of the larger portions (a room) and try to balance them out correspondingly.

Examining the electrical arrangement of a building helps in establishing the nominal power requirement of each circuit and their installation with standards and regulations, therefore protecting the proposed building from an electric fire outbreak.

Importance of electrical floor plans:

  • Electrical plans help state the required locations for receptacles, lights and switches, therefore preventing the addition of any additional wiring once you complete the project.
  • It guides in estimating a budget as it carries all the details, such as the length of wire, types of cables, number of lighting fixtures, types of power sockets, and thus forth.
  • It helps in troubleshooting equipment-operating problems such as faulty installations or failed components.
  • It provides safety from all probable risks before the occurrence of any substantial damage, as it identifies all the building’s expected areas that may lead to an electric fire outbreak.
  • It provides a more thorough depiction of the finished design to the investors and contractors before getting started.
  • It helps to ensure that the system runs safely, efficiently and smoothly by distributing the power safely to all the rooms and appliances.
  • It helps in obtaining a balanced finished look. An electrician can advise an architect where to allow space or access for HVAC systems to highlight an architectural feature.

How to read an electrical floor plan?

In every branch of the construction project, there’s the need to read electrical plans. To interpret the information conveyed by the electrical drawing, you must be familiar with the meaning of each symbol, line, and abbreviation on the print.

They’re intended to show the electrical association between the different pieces of electrical equipment in diagram form. The size will vary according to the size and scale of the drawing and the amount of information being presented.

Drawings have a schedule and table showing all the abbreviations and symbols, also known as ‘legend’ or ‘appendix’. When studying any electrical diagram, refer to the appendix. It’s good practice to learn to recognize the common symbols by sight. 

We separate the building electrical plans into two plans – the lighting plan and the power plan. Lighting plan gives the physical placement of light fixtures, the source of power feeds and the switching devices to be equipped. The power plan shows the motor, motor controllers, power receptacles and circuit feeds. 

An electrical diagram is just an outline of an electrical circuit or a system adopting predefined symbols. We show the connection of switches to individual light fixtures with a dark dashed line. The wall lines are lighter to make the light fixtures and wires stand out clearly.

The route of the cables is determined by the electrician. So, you basically have to follow the continuous lines/wires and associate the bold symbols with the physical parts. 

For example, the below drawing shows the floor plan for a patient’s room. We’ll examine the wiring specified for the floor plan.

The room has four switches, one for the two light fixtures in front of the bed, two for the light fixtures placed above the patient’s bed, and one to control the two light fixtures in the bathroom. The drawing also includes a schedule showing all the abbreviations and symbols. 

electrical floor plan

Why are symbols used in electrical drawings?

In every electrical diagram, we represent electrical equipment with the help of electric symbols. These electrical symbols are used to simplify the drafting and to understand the drawing.

We give them a specific meaning through the addition of a line, dot, shading, letters, and numbers. The key element that helps with reading the electrical schematics is learning the basic form of these various symbols.

What are the different elements of an electrical plan?

Any electrical plan basically contains the following elements:


Outlets, also known as sockets or plugs, provide electrical power to many electrical devices that you plug in. Every outlet is connected to a circuit breaker through which electricity is distributed. Outlets may be two pronged, featuring two holes/wires or three-pronged, featuring three holes/wires.  


Lighting or light fixture is an electrical device that generates artificial light by the use of an electric lamp through the flow of electric current. Some familiar examples of light fixtures are LED lamps, ceiling lights, mirror light, table lamps, chandelier, etc.

Data and Detectors

As the internet, TV and phone points also require an electric connection to operate, they form a part of an electrical plan. Your service provider sends a data signal through a cable to your home.

From there, that will connect to a modem/router depending on the service type. Most consumer routers have a switch built into them and all your devices will connect to that.

Likewise, smoke and CO alarms also operate through an electric source. They may be hard wired or plugged-in to a wall outlet.


Most houses have a wired security system such as security cameras, motion sensors, entry sensors, sirens, and so on. Security cameras, motion sensors and entry sensors are mostly placed in the main entryway.

Some security systems also comprise a keypad mounted on the wall, where we enter a code to gain access to the house. 


HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) regulates the temperature in our home. We connected these electric components through electric wiring. These systems are placed in such a way that they do not disrupt the arrangement of interior layout.

They are usually in areas such as a utility closet, garage, attic, basement, or crawlspace. 

How to draw an electrical floor plan and layout?

Understand your floor plan

Before you draft any electrical floor plan, it is important to understand the activities taking place in the building. You need to study the placement of rooms, understand where your ceiling planes are and also familiarize yourself with the furniture layouts. You need to know what activities are taking place in that room.

For example, if you are drawing electrical plans for a study room, you need to emit harsh lighting that can strain your eyes and make you feel tired, whereas if it is a showroom or a gallery space; you need bright lighting. 

Start with a sketch

The beginning of an electrical layout starts with a sketch. To better understand the lighting requirement for the room, you can virtually walk through the house and turn on the lights, answer the phone, use a computer and watch television.

Plan a sequence of activities that might take place inside the room and decide the placements of fixtures accordingly.

Use interior layouts as your starting point

Interior layout guides the electrical floor plan. Study the interior layout and shift lights around depending on placement of furniture in the room.

For example, if you are designing an electrical layout for a kitchen, know your basic layout, such as the dining table, stove top, counter space, and so on. Place lights over counter space. Skip the stove top if the range hoods have their own lights.

Further, when arranging the lighting fixtures, give a uniform lighting layout for optimal light coverage. Never forget to put the dimensions!

Check the electrical plan

When you have finished adding up the last of your electrical device, walk through the home in your imagination, activate the switches and use the devices. If you see a place or an occurrence where your device makes little sense, change the plan.

Make sure you haven’t skipped a duplex receptacle, light or switch. If the client has to remodel the home to add convenience, the cost will be much higher than if we put the receptacle, switch or light in the initial design. 

The below video provides a great starting point:

To sum up:

Navigating electrical plans isn’t always easy, but as you gain experience, you’ll be able to identify the terms common to different variations of equipment installations quickly.

Electrical plans are like treasure maps drawn by architects and engineers with a chest of gold hidden nearby. While you may have an idea which way you need to sail, if you don’t know where to dig once you get there, it may be a long and frustrating treasure hunt.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Alfred Sirleaf Konneh

    Thanks so much, it was very educative for me.

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