Revit Electrical Panel Load Calculation Issues

I was recently exposed to an issue with electrical panel loads that illustrated what I feel are unique characteristics of how Revit circuit loads and Load Classifications affect the values that you see on the electrical panel schedule.  If everything is utilized in Revit exactly as Revit is designed and intended, everything works fine.  However, that rarely happens.  Engineering firms create and customize families, and change or set Load Classifications which can impact the proper loading calculations.

Many companies have electrical panel schedules which display the Loads Summary at the bottom of the panel.  This summary section separates each Load Classification into its own line so that you can see how much Connected Load exists for each different type of Load Classification and the Estimated Demand for each Load Classification.  Those load values are then displayed as the Total Connected Load and the Total Demand Load that should include everything on the panel.  The Total Connected Load is then displayed on a Switchboard panel schedule from which that panel is served.  There are many different variations of how this information is displayed, but the general process is the same.  Subpanels may also be involved, but the same issues exist with those loads.

In reviewing the issue, there were 2 different problems that were manifested in the panel loading.  This article is an attempt to describe those 2 problems to help others understand what may be happening when load numbers don’t add up.  I recommend everyone read the Autodesk Knowledge Network’s explanation of how Load Calculations are supposed to work.  Read it at About Load Calculations.

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SketchUp 2016

Trimble has announced the release of SketchUp 2016.  SketchUp has been a popular 3D design software for several years as it is used by designers desiring an easy to use software to visualize a project in 3D.  While I do not personally consider it a software to use for documentation purposes, it is a great tool for design and visualization and I know designers that do use it for project documentation.

Trimble has 2 versions of SketchUp:

  1. SketchUp Make is the version for personal use and is free.  Note that it is not licensed for commercial work, so you cannot legally use it for professional services.
  2. SketchUp Pro is the version for commercial use and must be purchased if you plan on using the software to professional services.  The price for the Pro version is $695.00.

If you have never experienced SketchUp, I recommend that you check it out at

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Unload Revit Link Per User

Autodesk has just released the Revit 2016 R2 update to users that are on the subscription program (both maintenance and desktop).  Autodesk has started providing these R2 releases mid-year and can include significant improvements.  While there are reportedly 25 updates in this release, there is one that I particularly like as a user working on a model with multiple other users.  That is the ability to unload a Revit link on a per user basis.

Prior to 2016 R2, if I unload a Revit link and Save to Central, the file will be unloaded for other users when they Save to Central or Reload Latest.

Being able to unload a Revit link on a per user basis means that I can unload a linked file and I will be the only user affected.  I can save the file to central with the file unloaded and when other users Save to Central or Reload Latest, their version will still have the link loaded.

There are definitely times when I want to increase my Revit’s performance and memory usage and I don’t need a loaded link throughout the day, but I can’t unload it because others need to have the link loaded for their purposes.  You can really annoy other users by unloading a link that they want to use or see.

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Revit Family Creation Expertise Needed

As a company moves into using Autodesk Revit for the design of buildings, they quickly learn that families are an important part of the process.  Families represent entities within a project, such as walls, doors, windows, furniture, water heaters, drains, sinks, condensers, air terminals, receptacles, electrical panels, light fixtures, etc.  Revit provides many families with the software installation, but there are never enough or they never look or function the way that the Revit user’s organization desires.  As a result, custom Revit families are created for use within their organization.

Unfortunately, many organizations utilize inappropriate people to create these custom families.

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Managing Menu Tabs in Revit

When using Autodesk Revit software, the display of tabs across the top of the software can be annoying or helpful.  Revit allows you to easily adjust the order of the tabs, as well as which discipline tabs are displayed.  Turning off unnecessary tabs is very helpful if you are discipline specific (as are most users) and don’t want to see and work around the tabs for commands for disciplines that you never use.  Less is more.

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Show Different Detail Levels for Different Categories in Revit View

Revit has three Detail Levels that can be assigned to a view, which are Coarse, Medium, and Fine and these control how much detail is shown for model elements in the view.  When assigning the Detail Level, everything in the view gets assigned that Detail Level by default throughout the view.  However, there are times when you want to have different Detail Levels for different categories of model elements in the same view.  There can be various reasons for this, but a couple of examples are:

  1. You want some information to display more detail than others to accent certain items, such as only wanting walls to display the outer wall lines (Coarse display) while information such as furniture in the room shows a high level of detail (Fine display).
    1. This is common with MEP designers as they often don’t want the walls to show all finishes within the wall.  An earlier blog post addresses this situation.
  2. You want to show a category like Cable Tray with a Fine detail, but show the Conduit as a single line which requires a Coarse or Medium display level.

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Controlling Material of Nested Revit Families

Being able to control the displayed materials and finishes of nested families is an important part of creating complex Revit families.  As families are created to provide more options or be more efficient, additional families are created and placed into a Host family.  The use of Nested families has a couple of key advantages:

  1. When the same component is used multiple times in a family, it can be advantageous to make that component a Nested family.  An example of this is a wheel assembly family that is used four different times for a cart.
  2. When a family needs to have multiple options from which the user can choose.  An example of this is a door assembly that has various door panel family options, such as full glass, half glass, solid, etc.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify the difference between a Host family and a Nested family.  A Nested family is one that exists inside another family.  For instance, when family F1 is loaded into F2, F2 is the Host family and F1 is the Nested family.  Typically, F2 is then loaded into the Revit project file.

Anyway, as you create a family with Nested families, you want to be able to control the materials and finishes of those Nested families directly in the Host family Properties palette after it has been placed in the project file.  For instance, you may want to control the material/finish/color of a door panel that is actually a nested family in a door assembly.  If you don’t set the family up correctly, you will not be able to do this without opening the door panel family and changing it in the family editor.  You do NOT want to be required to do this.

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