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Electrical Design Software

Electrical Design software, also known as Electrical Drawing software, is used by electrical engineers to model, document, and estimate future systems or reorganise current ones while staying in compliance with industry standards. Find the best electrical design software for your organisation in Australia.

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Electrical Design Software Buyers Guide

Electrical design software is the name given to software solutions that have been created to assist electrical engineers with the creation of electrical diagrams, as well as the preparation of layouts for circuit boards. This allows professionals working in this area to create new electrical layouts or restructure existing layouts to improve performance or so that they follow a more logical pattern. On top of this, the software may be used to create system flowcharts or to create and store documents, such as performance reports.

Many software solutions in this category will provide users with a built-in library containing different wires, buttons, and other electrical components. These can be used to create diagrams and animations, so that plans can be made and shared with others or so that existing electrical circuits can be understood more clearly. The best electrical circuit design applications will also allow system layouts and designs to be saved and reused in the future.

In many cases, software will include some built-in computer-aided design (CAD) features, or options to integrate the program with third-party 3D CAD software packages. Outside of these core features, electrical planning software of this kind can also be used to check compliance with industry regulations and to serve as a central repository for other useful information, such as commonly used symbols, key documents, and a list of electrical components. There may also be options for sharing designs through the software or communicating with other electrical engineers in real time, which can enhance collaboration.

The various features associated with electrical design software and the intended uses mean that solutions in this category are often compared to electrical contractor software and building information modelling (BIM) software. Indeed, electrical design solutions can function alongside these tools—or even be integrated with them—and for more basic needs, electrical design solutions may remove the need to acquire those other packages.

While precise features will vary from one solution to the next, there are a set of core features that define the software, as well as some common features, which are seen in the majority of apps of this kind. With this in mind, acquiring a good electrical design solution will allow most users to:

  • Design electrical diagrams, including blueprints, flowcharts, and context diagrams
  • Examine diagrams or schematics, and make sure they comply with industry regulations and safety standards
  • Create, store, and manage important documents, including performance reports
  • Save system layouts generated through the software and reuse them in the future

What is electrical design software?

Electrical design software describes a category of software solutions that have been specifically built to assist with the creation of electrical diagrams, the preparation of circuit board layouts, and a variety of associated tasks. Software of this kind is most commonly used by electrical engineers, and professionals working in similar roles, but can be useful to anyone with needs related to electrical design, diagram creation, and electrical compliance.

Ultimately, the purpose of this software is to facilitate the core work of electrical engineers, including the creation of new circuit layouts, the restructuring of existing layouts, and the production of flowcharts. Electrical design or electrical drawing software also allows electrical engineers to share their designs and diagrams with other professionals working in this field, while many solutions will include a number of other built-in, real-time communication tools. This then allows for improved collaboration and greater clarity when working together on shared projects.

Diagrams are often created using various computer-aided design (CAD) features and a built-in library of the most common components and symbols that facilitate circuit design and amendments. In addition to those primary functions, electrical circuit design software will usually serve as a centralised repository for important information, including documents, performance reports, and a list of components and electrical parts. The software can also be used to carry out calculations related to circuits.

What are the benefits of electrical design software?

The benefits of electrical engineering software are mostly centred around the objectives of making electrical systems easier to understand, while making electrical diagrams easier to create, store, access, and reuse in the future. Nevertheless, it can be important to explore some of the specific advantages associated with acquiring this software in greater depth, as this can help to highlight the true value of the software. Some of the most significant benefits include:

  • Visualisation of electrical systems: one of the primary benefits associated with electrical CAD software is the ability to visualise electrical systems. This allows electrical engineers to view existing electrical systems—or plan out hypothetical electrical systems—and see them clearly. Visualisation is aided by a variety of options that are included within most software solutions of this kind. For instance, it will almost always be possible to see a visual diagram, which includes the various electrical components and utilises common electrical symbols in order to aid understanding. However, many solutions will go further, providing tools for creating 3D models so that systems can be visualised as they would really appear, as well as animations so that the diagram can be more easily understood. Aside from assisting electrical engineers, this visualisation component can make it easier for electricians and similar professionals to explain concepts to those who do not have specialist knowledge or expertise in this area.
  • Efficient diagram creation: acquiring high-quality electrical planning software can greatly enhance the overall efficiency of diagram creation. One of the reasons for this is the inclusion of an in-built library containing common symbols, components, and other features of electrical diagrams that can be added and removed. Furthermore, the ability to save diagrams and reuse them, or use them as a starting point for a new diagram, can also help to reduce the total time spent on this activity. The very best solutions may even be able to automatically complete diagrams through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. This improved efficiency can help to boost overall productivity and allow more time to be spent on practical work.
  • Customisable electrical models: through the use of electrical design software, electrical engineers are able to create fully customisable diagrams and models, and these can then be exported and used to inform other processes. Most software will provide options for users to create symbols and add them to a built-in library, and these can also be used for the creation of circuits, layouts, flowcharts, and other visual diagrams. Moreover, existing diagrams can be loaded into the software or accessed from a built-in repository, then edited or adjusted. The process for creating these electrical diagrams can also be customised with many of the best packages, allowing new keyboard shortcuts to be added or providing options to import saved components.
  • Built-in collaboration tools: another benefit that is sometimes overlooked when utilising electrical design software is related to its ability to enhance collaboration between electrical engineers, or between engineers and those working in other roles. Many of the best solutions will include built-in communication tools, allowing users to communicate and share ideas in real time. However, even beyond this, diagrams and electrical layouts can be easily shared, allowing a second engineer to cast their eye over a circuit and offer their own insights. Of course, this also means that the software can play a valuable role in training and coaching activities, with trainers or coaches using the software to design problems before asking those who are learning to come up with a viable solution.

What are the features of electrical design software?

The features of electrical design software are intended to assist electrical engineers with a variety of tasks, including the creation of electrical diagrams, the planning of electrical systems, and the restructuring of existing systems. Beyond this, the software will usually allow users to collaborate more effectively with other professionals working in this field and can help to centralise important information, so that it can be easily accessed in the future. Here are some of the most common features of electrical design software:

  • System design/CAD tools: create diagrams and electrical systems through built-in tools. Many of the best systems will include a combination of easy-to-use design features and more advanced CAD tools. Examples of some of the electrical diagrams that can typically be created through the use of software of this kind include blueprints, system flowcharts, context diagrams, and entity-relation diagrams. These can be created with the use of an in-built library of components and symbols. Many solutions will provide drag-and-drop functionality or provide support for keyboard shortcuts, and this can help to make electrical system design as efficient and user-friendly as possible.
  • Document management: create, store, edit, and otherwise manage a variety of important documents that are relevant to the work of an electrical engineer. Aside from the aforementioned electrical system diagrams, the document management component of software in this category can be used to store performance reports, client instructions, compliance documents, and much more. Most solutions will provide built-in search functionality that allows users to find a specific document or even specific words or phrases within all of the stored documents. There may also be options to send documents to other people, while it may also be possible to set up access permissions so that certain documents can only be viewed by those who are authorised.
  • Collaborative tools: communicate with team members, colleagues, other electrical engineers, or professionals working in other fields through a variety of communication tools. This can include a messaging system, live chat, support for video calls, and other real-time and time-delayed communication options. Best-in-class solutions will allow users to access previous communications, which can be invaluable for collaborative efforts, allowing advice to be referred back to, or questions to be answered in full. This helps to facilitate teamwork and the sharing of ideas, which can be important for achieving the best possible results. The electrical design software can also serve as a logical central location for managing relevant communications and for reaching out to other professionals.
  • Parts management: maintain an internal database, containing information about electrical components. For each component, technical specifications can be added, and it is often possible to add customisable notes, which can explain where and when the component is most likely to be used. Depending on the nature of the business using the software, it may also be possible to add pricing information or links to suppliers who are able to provide that component or part. For users with more basic needs, this can essentially serve as a list of components and parts, and these parts can be inserted into diagrams. For those with advanced needs, it serves as a central repository for important information that can be valuable for all electrical engineers using the software.
  • Symbol and design library: create, manage, and access a library containing commonly used electrical symbols and ideograms. This library can be continually added to, amended, and referred to in the event that a user is unsure about what a particular symbol means. Beyond this, the built-in library feature can also be used to save electrical designs. These saved designs can then be imported back into the software, used as a starting point for a new design, or deployed as teaching material for training and coaching activities.
  • Compliance management: analyse electrical diagrams or schematics and assess whether or not they comply with established safety protocols, industry regulations, business standards, and wider legislation. The visualisation tools provided by electrical drawing software can make it easier to pinpoint potential problems, highlight those problems to decision-makers, make adjustments to plans, or restructure existing systems to make them fully compliant. This helps users create high-quality solutions based on an understanding and awareness of compliance issues, and the very best options on the market may also be able to automatically detect problems through the use of artificial intelligence. In some cases, alerts can also be set up, drawing attention to possible issues and suggesting potential fixes.

Using the Capterra electrical design software directory, buyers can sort through the available options, filtering them based on the features they offer, as well as the features that are not included. This can significantly speed up the process of finding the right software because the search can begin with users only seeing options that are likely to be relevant.

What should be considered when purchasing electrical design software?

When purchasing electrical design software, there are many different considerations that need to be carefully worked through because buyers need to find the ideal solution for their needs rather than simply finding the best all-round option. A great way to go about this is to think about some of the top priorities, ask a series of questions, and use the answers to form a buying decision. Some examples of good questions to work through include:

  • Does the software provide integration options? It can be important to explore whether software being considered for purchase provides integration options, allowing it to work in conjunction with third-party applications. Some of the main tools that may be beneficial for integration purposes include electrical contractor software, calendar applications, and various communication tools. This then has the potential to boost time management and communication options, resulting in improvements to business outcomes. However, beyond this kind of direct integration with different third-party applications, it is also worth considering the file formats that are supported by the software and whether or not files created in external CAD software can be imported into the application. This can be especially important when trying to introduce a new electrical design solution into an existing work ecosystem.
  • How much does electrical design software cost? The issue of cost is important when acquiring any software, but it can be especially important when investing in software that is going to be integral to day-to-day work, and this is the case with electrical design solutions for electrical engineers. At the most basic level, it is worth comparing the price of different products and trying to ascertain which option delivers the best value for money while delivering on all key requirements. Yet, considerations need to go further than this, as there can be less obvious costs that start to add up in the longer term. For example, how much will it cost to set up the software and store the data? How much will it cost to train all electrical engineers in an organisation to use the software? Are there subscription fees attached to the software? Is there likely to be a need to upgrade to a premium version or to buy new updates? Once all of these factors are taken into consideration, it becomes easier to compare the total cost of ownership. Nevertheless, it may still be worth paying more in return for a more complete or more user-friendly package.
  • Can the software perform calculations and analysis? System design for electrical engineers goes beyond simply placing the right components in the right place on a diagram. There are often complex calculations that need to be made, and circuits may need to be analysed to see if they can be improved or further optimised. With this in mind, it can be worthwhile to spend some time exploring the capabilities of different solutions on the market and evaluating what they have to offer in this area. High-end applications will often make use of artificial intelligence capabilities in order to carry out calculations in real time, flag any potential problems, and make intelligent recommendations for steps that can be taken to enhance an electrical system. It is also a good idea to look for an option that can display relevant information in a user-friendly way so that the information can be easily understood.
  • Does the software support 2D and 3D drawings? It is always worth taking the time to explore the kinds of electrical diagrams and drawings that can be created and imported into a chosen software solution. Some of the more basic solutions will only provide support for two-dimensional diagrams of electrical circuits, which may be sufficient for those with more simple needs in this area. However, the best options will provide support for three-dimensional diagrams, which can then be rotated and explored in more detail. The use of three-dimensional drawings can be especially important when trying to teach concepts or explain some of the more complex ideas. Support for the creation of 3D diagrams can also assist with the creation of physical 3D electrical models.
  • What collaboration features are included? A final consideration for buyers looking for the best electrical design software is to explore the range of collaboration and communication features provided by different options on the market. Even those with relatively simple needs should look for a solution that allows diagrams and documents to be easily saved and shared with others, and it is useful if notes can be added to diagrams in order to explain decisions or share thought processes. However, those with more advanced needs should look to options that either integrate with messaging, email, and video calling solutions or include options for this kind of communication directly through the software. Many electrical engineering projects require input from multiple people, and quality communication features can make teamwork easier while reducing the need to move between different applications.

The most relevant electrical design software trends also need to be taken into account before committing to a purchasing decision, because understanding these trends can help to shape an eventual buying decision. Professionals need to know that the software they invest in has been designed with a knowledge of relevant trends, as this will help to ensure the software remains useful in the future. A good example of how an awareness of trends can save money was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. With electrical design, key trends include:

  • Increased need for mobile access: Electrical engineers are likely to require access to electrical design software wherever they are. Mobile accessibility may be essential to provide access to key tools, like electrical design software, to users working remotely or in the field. Some software packages will provide their own mobile app, which will offer many of the same features as the desktop software, while it may be possible to access cloud-based solutions entirely through a mobile web browser. In all cases, however, the software needs to have been designed with an awareness of this trend in mind because mobile phones and tablets use smaller touchscreens, meaning displays need to be optimised, and the interface needs to be user-friendly on these devices.
  • Support for 3D printing: One of the more interesting trends for electrical engineers and their employees to be aware of is the growth of 3D printing. There are a number of potential benefits associated with the use of 3D printing within roles of this kind, including the potential to reduce costs, minimise waste, and reduce environmental damage. Some solutions are already beginning to implement options to turn computer-aided designs made in electrical design software into 3D printed objects. Ultimately, this can result in electrical models being accurately reproduced in 3D so that they can be fully understood and shown to decision-makers. In the future, there is also the potential that software of this kind will be able to be used to print components for use within real electrical systems.