Aesthetic Arrangements of components in control panels

Thread Starter


Joined Jan 31, 2021
I am presently designing a control panel. I want the arrangements of the components (breakers, terminal blocks, timers, wiring ducts, etc) to be orderly arranged in such a way that it is aesthetically pleasing and easy to locate components. Is there any software out there that I can use to "auto arrange" components aesthetically? Or are there websites or online e-commerce sites that can offer such as a paid service (like is for artistic and multimedia communication services, a kind of but for aesthetic arrangements of components. I hope someone can help with information. Thanks.


Joined Jan 18, 2008
Usually form should follow function. Most layout programs require you to place the components. Schematics are often drawn left to right as the signal gets processed. That is, inputs on the left and outputs on the rights. Once you get a usable board design,then you can apply aesthetics.

As for panel designs, again form follows function. Knobs usually turn clockwise for increasing whatever, even if what is being increased is an attenuation.

In brief, I have never seen a program for electronics that has an "improve aesthetics" button.


Joined Jan 21, 2019
Hmmm... once that button is in place we should not need: artists, architects, wiriters, musicians, poets... etc. What are we going to do? We’re already giving the remaining jobs to automation.
The brave new world aside, sounds like you need to hire someone.


Joined Apr 4, 2016
I sent many years designing control panels. As for the internal layout, there needs to be segregation between high voltage and low voltage and a "flow" of power:
Start with the main isolator (which may be door interlocked) then short connections to circuit breakers and power distribution, then power supplies, motor drivers and contactors.

Think about thermal considerations. Have the components that get warm (power supplies, motor/servo drivers, large contactors, etc.) towards the top of the panel. Leave the more sensitive low-power components (PLCs, timers, small relays, sensor connections, etc.) towards the bottom. If there is a lot of heat generated reinforce natural convection with fans - cool air in at the bottom, hot air out at the top.

Leave plenty of room for wiring. Trunking and ducts should generously sized. Are the external connections coming in from the bottom or the top?

As for the front door and controls, a totally symmetrical layout often looks a bit "naff" in my opinion but your choice! Make sure controls are well marked, in logical order of operation and at a sensible height for easy operation.

Hope that helps!


Joined Jul 10, 2017
I have designed automatic test systems. both large and small. Bearing in mind the technicalities that Marley mentioned, try to arrange the controls and indicators in associated groups and position the groups so that operating them is intuitive. There is nothing worse than a control panel that does not have things where you expect them to be. Think of the different vehicles you have driven. Most are laid out well but the badly designed ones are very awkward and annoying to drive.
One you have the panel laid out to give optimum interaction with the operator, then it is time to start refining the esthetics. That is the very last step, not the first.


Joined Sep 9, 2010
My 2¢. Stand on the shoulders of giants. By that I mean copy, copy, copy. If there are devices similar to yours, see how they did it. Keep the good, improve on the bad. If you're lucky, the design you're copying from has already undergone many revisions based on in-the-field feedback. Acknowledge and adopt industry conventions, no matter how informal, so that users have minimal confusion switching from one to another.

Test and get feedback from real users. Don't assume that you, the designer, "know better". You can always tell when something came straight from engineering without user input. Devices that are a joy to use got that way by respecting the users' opinions over the engineer's.


Joined Jun 8, 2013
Back in the day, there used to be an ANSI standard for the identification and placement of components on panels.
If I remember correctly, it was numbers left-to-right and letters top-to-bottom. If there were sections within a panel, it followed the same basic rules.


Joined Jul 18, 2013
There is a publication aimed at this, NFPA79 Electrical Standard for Industrial control
There is an older version out there in PDF
A word of advice, TEW etc takes up quite a bit of tray room, so I used to use TR64 which had much smaller insulation but rated sufficiently.
Place heat producing devices at the top of the cabinet.