When using Revit, do you ever get irritated with a family opening up in the family editor when you accidently double-click on the family while working in a project? I do (when on a different computer than my own). Revit added this great feature a few releases ago to enable easier access to modify families so that you don’t have to select the family and then choose the Edit Family command. However, I have found this feature to be more annoying than helpful when in production mode.
If you are utilizing Revit for electrical engineering design, then you are using electrical panels and likely electrical panel schedules. While the process of inserting electrical panels and connecting basic circuits to them is pretty straightforward, there are some items that are good to know to help you better utilize panels and their associated schedules.
First off, a requirement in this process is to make sure that after you place an electrical panel in the Revit model, you set the Distribution System for it. Otherwise, you will not be able to connect any electrical device or other electrical equipment to the panel. The Distribution System is shown in both the panel’s Properties palette, and on the Options Bar on the ribbon.
Panel Schedules in Revit are a report of the information that is contained in the electrical panel, and schedules cannot be created without having a panel family placed in the project file. They are not like a spreadsheet where the numerical values are entered into the spreadsheet. The values shown in the panel and on the panel schedule are a result of connected loads to the panel and are only as good as the information in the items connected to the panel.
As someone that creates a lot of Revit families, I always appreciate Revit enhancements and new features that help with creating or working with families. Reference Planes are a critical component of families and Revit 2017 has some interesting changes in regards to them.
When creating Revit families, it is important to easily see the entire family model in plan view while you are creating or modifying the family. While this may seem obvious, by default Revit does not necessarily provide this ability. You may add some information, such as an extrusion, to the family and have it “disappear”. I have “been there, done that” when I added an extrusion based upon a higher reference plane and then had it disappear when I finished the extrusion. If you don’t understand what just happened, it can alarm you and frustrate you.
Architects and Engineers that collaborate on projects using Revit will typically link their models together to see the other discipline’s design within their model. Part of that process often includes one discipline using the Copy/Monitor function within Revit to copy specific model items from the other discipline’s model into their own model. Revit has a new twist on the coordination review feature when you monitor items between different project files.
(Please note that this article only addresses the new twist and does not explain the process of linking files or using the copy/monitor function.)
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Not very long ago, I was talking with some Architects about Revit and they made the comment that Revit doesn’t work for residential design. I was surprised at their comments, especially with Revit’s roots being in residential design. After talking with them, I learned that they use AutoCAD now and they were just interested in producing 2D construction documents and didn’t care about any 3D features or any intelligence that might be inside Revit. They all had used AutoCAD for many years and had their AutoCAD blocks created and systems in place to produce 2D documentation quickly. They were very efficient at their system, didn’t see any reason to change, and only looked for excuses to not make any change.
I will state that Revit works fantastic for residential design and can produce construction documentation quickly.
If you are like me, you tend to accidentally double-click on families in a Revit project file and then end up opening them in the Family Editor when that is not what you want to do. It seems that the faster that you work, the more likely you are to have this problem, which compounds the issue. You can stop this from happening easily starting with the 2014 version.
Have you ever used the Drag ‘n Drop method of adding a file to Revit and wondered why it seemed to work differently than the last time you did that? Well, there are actually several variables involved in that process.
First off, you may ask what I mean by Drag ‘N Drop files. That is typically when you have a session of Windows Explorer open, pick on a file, and use the mouse to drag a file from Windows Explorer to Revit and release the mouse button when it is over Revit (drop). This method can be much faster than using one of the commands within Revit to add a file and is commonly used.
Sometimes in building design, it is helpful to know where specific building components are located throughout the building and the quantity of those components. A schedule is a great way of doing this through listing the specific rooms which contain that component.