Skip to main content

Everything You Need to Know About Electrical Floor Plans

Electrical floor plans are instrumental for constructing or remodelling homes and buildings, and they ensure everyone has accurate information to refer to during a project. Here’s a useful breakdown of the must-know details on these documents and why they’re essential. 

What Does an Electrical Floor Plan Contain?

An electrical floor plan shows the specifics spanning a building’s power supplies to every outlet. It also includes content such as:

  • A legend confirming the meaning of any abbreviations or symbols used
  • A cable routing diagram illustrating the location of every electrical appliance
  • Floor plans showing electrical system locations per each property level
  • Details of the building’s plot and exterior wiring
  • Diagrams of wiring and associated controls
  • A site plan detailing substations and incoming electricity supplies
  • Information about the number and types of appliances and their mounting heights
  • The position of electrical outlets and lighting sources 

All this information keeps designers, contractors and others involved in the project on the same page. There should be less confusion when everyone has access to the same information, and the work can get done faster and correctly. 

How Do People Create Electrical Floor Plans?

Many electrical floor plans begin as hand-drawn content. However, the wide availability of computer-aided design software has led to more documents being improved upon with software. One of the main advantages of computer-aided design tools is that they allow people to make changes quickly. 

Additionally, most of these products work in the cloud, which increases collaboration capabilities. The software-created plans can also include multiple layers, making it easy for people to understand how the electrical system will look in a completed building.

How Do You Read an Electrical Floor Plan? 

An electrical floor plan is often made at the same scale as traditional ones. That’s particularly true for reflected floor plans, which show details in the building from the perspective of the ceiling downward. 

The plans for residential and small commercial projects are usually at the scale of i// = 1'-0" (1:50 metric) and V8" = 1'-0" (1:100 metric) for large commercial projects. However, to ensure you’re reading everything correctly, look for information about the scale placed directly below the plan’s title or across from it. 

Notice that the plan shows the building’s light fixtures as circles, squares or rectangles. They’ll usually be drawn to scale. However, designers may exaggerate the size of fixtures that are too small to properly describe the details and note that change accordingly. There may also be cases where people must show a part of the plan in enlarged detail. Look for those instances containing a note or symbol that directs you to that larger drawing. 

You’ll also notice dashed and curved lines between the various lights and their respective switches. People typically denote switch locations with an S. However, the S will have a numeral after it if lighting fixtures are controlled by more than one switch. For example, S3 means there are two switches and one light fixture with a single electrical connection. 

Another method of indicating the connection between a light fixture and a switch is to put a letter or number by each switch and place the same one near the corresponding fixture. 

Finally, refer to the plan’s legend to see how the creator designates different ceiling materials. This can impact how people proceed with electrical requirements. 

Which Standards Keep an Electrical Floor Plan Consistent?

People who draw or study electrical floor plans must always remember there are specific regulatory standards to follow. That’s useful since various parties will use those documents for different purposes. For example, electricians are the professionals tasked with running electrical conduits through the building. It provides the necessary protection for wires behind walls or used outdoors and safeguards surrounding structures. 

Whether someone looking at an electrical floor plan is an electrician, electrical engineer, designer or another professional, they hope to find various details in the documents to help them do their jobs. 

The National Electrical Code — also known as NFPA 70 — is the United States standard for installing electrical equipment and wiring. Although this standard is not a federal law, many local and state jurisdictions follow it. 

If you’re making electrical floor plans for buildings in other countries, verify which standard to follow before getting started. That’ll save you significant time and reduce the likelihood of errors. 

How Should the Electrical Floor Plan Support User-Friendliness?

Many of the details in electrical floor plans will reflect changes in modern design trends. For example, industrial-style abodes that reuse or take inspiration from warehouse spaces are popular. However, beyond the specific style that a client or occupant requests, people designing plans that show electrical work must determine what they can do to make using the space as enjoyable and convenient as possible. 

For example, are the electrical outlets in the right places to support how people will likely use the space? It usually makes sense to place more in a kitchen than a bathroom, especially since people have many countertop appliances, from toasters to blenders. 

The height of the light switches is another area of consideration. Can people reach them easily? Be aware of the specifics to consider, such as having a switch slightly lower in a child’s room so they can use it without straining. 

One best practice is to walk through a building while holding its electrical floor plans and imagine yourself as someone who spends time in it every day. Go through the motions you would if plugging in an appliance or turning on a light. This can help you envision what changes you could make so people have the best chances of loving their time there. 

Electrical Floor Plans Shape the Construction Process

This overview should reinforce why such documents are instrumental for a project’s success, whether you’re someone creating an electrical floor plan or studying it. Sufficiently designed content will give people the information they need to verify an electrical layout is safe and effective for those who will eventually use the building.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years experience writing articles for the tech and industrial sectors. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily at
DesignSpark Electrical Logolinkedin