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Types of Electrical Diagrams or Schematics

Electrical circuits can be represented in three ways: wiring diagrams, schematic diagrams, and pictorial diagrams. The most commonly used types are wiring diagrams and schematic diagrams. Below is a comparison of these two types of diagrams.

Comparison Between Wiring and Schematic Diagrams

Wiring Diagrams Schematic Diagrams
1. Emphasize connections between elements of a circuit or system. 1. Emphasize the "flow" of the system.
2. Use horizontal and vertical lines to represent the wires. 2. Use horizontal and vertical lines to show system flow.
3. Use simplified pictorials that clearly resemble circuit/system components. 3. Use symbols indicating the function of equipment, though they do not look like the actual equipment.
4. Place equipment and wiring on the drawing to approximate the actual physical location in the real circuit. 4. Drawing layout is designed to show the "flow" of the system as it functions, not the physical layout of the equipment.


Pictorial diagrams are not commonly found in engineering applications due to several limitations. The example below illustrates how a schematic diagram compares to a pictorial equivalent. It is evident that the pictorial version is less useful than the schematic, particularly when attempting to gather enough information to repair a circuit or understand its operation.