Reading Electrical Schematics

Learning how to read electical schematics will help you understand your home’s electrical wiring and systems. Each symbols indicated will tell you something about how to wire your home.

When you look at the wiring diagram that your architect created as part of your house plans, it might seem to you as if he was providing some sort of ancient hieroglyphics to you. Fear not, this isn’t an ancient language; it’s just a symbolic representation of your home’s electrical wiring and systems. Each of those symbols tells you something about how to wire your home.

Essentially, the wiring diagram of your home is a copy of the floor plan, with symbols showing the locations of all your electrical switches, lights and outlets. The curved lines are the wiring running from switches to the lights and ceiling fans; showing which switches should control which lights. They are curved, because the exact location and routing of those wires is left up to the electrician making the installation.

What the Symbols Mean:

Breaker Panel

Electrical Service Panel

Electrical Switches


3-Way Switch

4-Way Switch

Dimmer Switch


Surface Mount Ceiling Light

Recessed Ceiling Light

Landscape Light

Wall Mounted Light

Ceiling Fan

Multi-Light Bar

Track Light

Fluorescent Light

Electrical Outlets

Standard Outlet

GFI Protected Outlet

Switched Outlet

Waterproof Outlet

Quad Outlet

Floor Mounted Outlet

240 VAC Outlet

Signals & Communications

Smoke Detector

Telecom Outlet

Stereo Outlet (speakers)

Television Outlet (antenna)

Doorbell Button

Doorbell Chime

Doorbell Transformer