A first look at a circuit diagram may be confusing, but if you can read a subway map, you can read schematics. The purpose is the same: getting from point A to point B. Literally, a circuit is the path that allows electricity to flow. If you know what to look for, it’ll become second nature. While at first you’ll just be reading them, eventually you will start creating your own. This guide will show you a few of the common symbols that you are sure to see in your future electrical engineering career.
Wiring diagrams use standard symbols for wiring devices, usually different from those used on schematic diagrams. The electrical symbols not only show where something is to be installed, but also what type of device is being installed. For example, a surface ceiling light is shown by one symbol, a recessed ceiling light has a different symbol, and a surface fluorescent light has another symbol. Each type of switch has a different symbol and so do the various outlets. There are symbols that show the location of smoke detectors, the doorbell chime, and thermostat. On large projects symbols may be numbered to show, for example, the panel board and circuit to which the device connects, and also to identify which of several types of fixture are to be installed at that location.
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