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Design Software
Andrew W
2 Posts

Wot is the best design package for control panels. Autocad is good but expensive.
7 Replies
Andy Millar
1740 Posts
Several people I know use Solid Edge, which can be free depending on your status (e.g. it's free for start up companies). Despite being free it's proper full 2D CAD.


I couldn't find out how much it costs if you did need to buy it though (Siemens website sent me around in circles), but I'll admit I didn't try too hard!


Last time I looked, the costs were around £2,300 per year (rental only), it's the most expensive mainstream 3D/design package. As Andy says they hook you with the free version first, which can be limiting for some folks.
Next down in cost is Inventor (also rental only), then Solidworks, then Radan. I looked at over 15 systems - there are a lot out there!
For proper but affordable 2D try Bricscad (bricsys.com). If you are only drawing schematics that will be fine.
Rob Eagle
149 Posts
The Siemens website is a bloody nightmare.
Paul Skyrme
156 Posts
If you are looking at schematics/wiring of control panels, then look first to your customer base.
Some will only accept drawings completed in for example e-Plan, I believe that is all JLR accept. This is sometimes to do with back-office integration, sometimes to do with common formats, standard designs perhaps in the way of macro's that are supplied by the client for the integrator to use.
There are a few out there that specialise in schematics with varying levels of sophistication and automation.
It depends on whether you are designing several different panels a day, and whether these are variations on a theme, or whether you do one a month which takes all month, or whether you do two or three a year which take a day each.
I've used Eplan and AutoCAD Electrical - Eplan is the best by a long way (once you've over come the learning curve) but also the most expensive. I think you can get AutoCAD on a monthly subscription too which means you only need to pay for it when you use it. It definitely has a feel of something stuck on top of standard AutoCAD but for some people that's exactly what they want.
3 Posts
May I suggest looking at OnShape - a fully online Software-as-a-Service package descended from SolidWorks and now owned by PTC. It used to be free on a shareware basis for small user or trial purposes, with basic 3D functionality. You pay for full functionality, with private drawings and server space. It has the capability to work with sheet metal, and has its own programming language which permits creation of custom macros which can be added to equally customized menus.
Note: It is US-based, so defaults to US units, but you can easily change that to metric in the setup.
I've seen AutoCAD Electrical and Eplan most commonly in use. I'm not an electrical designer so I can't comment on the usability or features, but as a client receiving electrical drawings, the companies I have worked for have only accepted Eplan P8 drawings. 


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