Books or Websites on Control Panel Design


Today’s post is in answer to a question from Josh:


Thanks for the informative site and your passion for teaching. I have found a lot of useful information on here.

I wanted to ask you if you could possibly refer me to some books, sites, or anything for that matter, on designing electrical schematics for control panels. I am asking for subject material like sizing wire, breakers, fuses etc. for control panel design. The UL508A is great material, but it can be too confusing.

Thanks! -Josh

This is an interesting subject related to a previous question from a couple of years ago. Doug asked for some elaboration on the panel design process and had also wondered if there were any books or websites on panel design. I did some research back then and was unable to find any actual books, but I did find several websites that discussed the subject.

One site that covered the same question was this topic on The original topic was started in 2005 but there are 215 comments all the way up to 2013. Another site where I found some good info was at

As far as sizing goes, my book also has some tables in it that I extracted from a handheld sizing calculator I got from Square D about 20 years ago. It was of great help when sizing wire and breakers for transformers and motors as well as showing the ampacity of conductors. These kinds of tables are in many manufacturer catalogs also and are presented in a better format than in the National Electric Code (NEC). I sometimes use the Allen-Bradley VFD specification guide for PowerFlex 700’s even when I need to size motors and fusing for other manufacturers.

I also usually post topics like this on Linked In forums; sometimes people know of good books or websites and may make a suggestion. If someone knows of a good site or book I will forward the information or update this post.

Now, as to why there aren’t any good books on panel design (or advanced PLC programming, something else we have discussed here…), here is my two cents worth:

It took me over two thousand hours to write my book. I really never had the idea of making much money on it, which is a good thing because there isn’t much to make for technical books. Also, most technical people aren’t writers. People are usually so busy earning money for what they do that the last thing they want to do is take their job home with them. An exception would be teachers and professors, but as far as I know there are no teachers or professors that know the details of panel design. Most of the engineers I know who are experienced designers have no interest in writing.

I have considered writing books on panel design/building and on advanced PLC programming for multiple platforms, I have even started the PLC manuscript, but after the 2-1/2 year process of getting my first book published I am not sure I have the energy to complete either book. It really is a tremendous amount of work, and I would have to do it through McGraw-Hill since I signed a contract. There is also a lot of research and documentation required by major publishers which takes a lot of time.

For those who have any book or website suggestions please post a comment here or on Linked In and I will ensure this post gets updated. Thanks!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

3 Comments on “Books or Websites on Control Panel Design

  1. I pretty much agree with you. I would have listed the same web sites, and a bit of searching also turned up no books. I’m also pretty much in agreement with you about industrial books.

    There are at least two books on the NEC:
    Electrical Wiring Commercial by Simmons and Mullin
    Interpreting the National Electric Code by Surbrook and Althouse

    However, I did not find anything comparable for UL508A, but that’s not surprising, because there is a much wider potential market for NEC books than UL508A books. It seems to me that most of these books are aimed at the trade school / college market, so there are books on the NEC, on basic PLCs, on basic automation, but an intermediate/advanced book has to be written by someone who wants to share their knowledge, or has corporate sponsorship.

    I have come across a couple interesting industrial titles:
    The High Performance HMI Handbook, 2008
    The Packaging Machinery Handbook

    On the good side, the situation is still a lot better for non-PLC programming books; plenty of advanced and niche books like Functional and Reactive Domain Modeling ( )are available (and yes, I do think that looks like a fascinating book).

    Final note: Ralph Grabowski of WorldCAD Access ( ) and author of many AutoCAD and related books, feels with the rise of extensive e-book piracy and youtube demo videos, there isn’t enough demand to justify writing technical books, and so is only updating/writing books when paid to by the vendor (e.g. BrisCAD).