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09/04/2019

Reading Industrial Electrical Blueprints for Industry Beginners

Electrical blueprints play an important role in a building’s overall architectural design. They show how wires, light fixtures, receptacles, and other parts of an industrial electrical system should be installed.

Although the lines and symbols appear complicated to an average person, trained electricians can easily figure them out. The plans come with all the keys required to decode crucial information. Understanding the blueprint is a matter of accurately interpreting these details.

Different Types of Industrial Electrical Blueprints

Blueprints are 2D drawings which are made to scale. Electrical drawings for a project include:

  • Site Plan: This shows the overall location of a building as well as any external wiring.
  • Floor Plans: They’re more detailed because they show the layout of electrical systems on every level of the building.
  • Wiring Diagrams: These show the various physical connections and electrical circuits that will be installed.
  • Schedule: It shows how long the electrical installation will last. This gives all parties involved a good idea of the pace required to finish it on time. Schedules could include information such as payment intervals, contractor’s working hours and information release dates.

Blueprints may be in the form of schematics or diagrams. A schematic represents the elements of a system through abstract, graphic symbols. A diagram, on the other hand, does so using more realistic pictures.

Due to subtle differences, some are referred to as schematic diagrams. They usually include details such as:

  • Incoming power lines, including their rating, voltage, size, and capacity.
  • Transformers, their connection, and method of grounding.
  • Major switches and tiebreakers.
  • Components such as batteries, generators, HVAC units, and their voltage.
  • How electrical wires will be interconnected and switched.

How to Read Electrical Blueprints

The following step by step instructions make electrical drawings easier to understand:

  • Begin by Studying Architectural Floor Plans: Other than showing room names and the general layout, they also contain details you won’t find in the electrical plan. Once you understand what space is intended for, you should know exactly how to do the wiring.
  • Analyze the Symbol Legend: Every electrical component is represented by a symbol. The legend interprets what each one means. It’s commonly found on the title page of the particular building’s plans, or on the first page showing electrical drawings.
  • Review the Wiring Diagrams: These show the path taken by wires from each electrical installation all the way to the panel. A number is indicated on these wires. This reveals the breaker that every wire will be on. By understanding wiring diagrams, you can tell which items are grouped on each breaker.
  • Understand Phasing Options: Phasing refers to grouping electrical components together depending on their functions. As such, lighting and equipment may be grouped on separate breakers. By studying the building layouts and intended fixtures, you’ll know which phases each item should be assigned to.
  • Assess Lighting Plans: In most instances, lighting plans are separate from wiring diagrams. They show details concerning lighting fixtures across the building. They can also be interpreted using the symbol legend.
  • Understand the Specification Manual: Some sets of blueprints also contain a detailed manual, also known as a spec book. It provides electrical requirements and specific materials to be used for particular jobs.

Benefits of Understanding Electrical Blueprints

Having a workforce that’s properly trained on how to read electrical blueprints is important for the following reasons:

  • It Saves Time: Without a blueprint, most jobs last longer than anticipated. Electrical diagrams allow one to have an overview of the entire project and identify potential problem areas. Examples are wet spots, tight walls, and sharp corners. Being aware of their existence allows you to formulate a solution even before you get there, which saves time.
  • Saves Money: A detailed plan shows you exactly what length of wire, types, and the number of components you need. Having all this information prevents shortages during installation, so you don’t have to make costly pauses to the project. Purchasing all necessary materials at once is more affordable, and contributes to an overall reduction in overhead costs.
  • Improves Safety: This is arguably the biggest benefit of understanding electrical blueprints. As a technician, you can tell which parts of the building present safety hazards. This prevents workplace injury, as well as the accompanying costly delays. Potential safety hazards are sharp objects and electrocution from exposed live wires. Electrical diagrams foresee, correct, and prevent issues that might derail not just that particular installation, but the entire construction project.

Are You Eager for your Workers to Master Electrical Blueprint Reading?

NTT Training is your company’s best bet for a comprehensive understanding of various electrical diagrams, construction blueprints, and components. Your team will also be exposed to troubleshooting skills which will enable them to comply with NEC compliance rules.

These skills are beneficial to anyone who works with electrical components. Other than electricians, these include mechanics, machine operators, apprentices, HVAC technicians, facility managers, and plant engineers. NTT Training Inc. is an ACCET-accredited institution. Contact us today for more information on all the benefits there are to formal blueprint training.

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