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Electrical Design Basics in Revit

Posted on October 6th, 2020. Last updated on January 11th, 2024.

If your company decides to shift some or all of its electrical design to Revit, you will likely need to attend Revit training courses (or do research on your own) to learn about the software and the workflow for your discipline.

The Revit feature set is vast, so most training courses will focus on the material that applies to the most Revit users. Unfortunately, that means they will typically spend little to no time explaining the electrical design workflow.

To help you wade through the learning resources available to you, this article provides a checklist of the basic Revit knowledge required to start designing electrical systems. For those planning to transition to Revit from Design Master Electrical for AutoCAD, we will compare Revit terminology with our own to help you connect the dots.

We created the video below to introduce many of these concepts. The Working with Electrical Components article from the Autodesk Knowledge Network also provides basic details for most of the topics on this checklist.

⃞  —Families

In Revit, every element that exists in the model has a corresponding file, referred to as a Family, that contains a 3D representation of the element and various information about the element. Rather than define a panel or receptacle from scratch as you would with DM Electrical for AutoCAD, you load a predefined family into the model and insert an instance of that family on the plan.

Families vary widely in how they’re made and what information they store, but if you know generally how families are built, used, and modified, that knowledge will translate.

⃞  —Parameters

Similar to the way DM Electrical for AutoCAD stores information about your devices in the database so it can be used and updated across labels and calculations, Revit uses Parameters to store information in families and instances. Revit provides several parameters by default, but you can also use Shared Parameters to track and display more information.

As with families, as long as you know how Revit parameters and shared parameters are defined, used, and modified in a general sense, you’ll be able to use them in the context of electrical design.

⃞  —Panels and Transformers

Design Master uses “distribution equipment” to refer collectively to panels, transformers, and similar devices. Revit calls them Electrical Equipment.

You will need to know:

  • How to insert them in the model
  • How to assign a voltage (defined by Revit as Distribution System)

⃞  —Receptacles, Light Fixtures, Etc.

Design Master uses “branch circuit devices” to refer collectively to devices such as receptacles, junction boxes, light fixtures, and switches. Revit refers to light fixtures as Lighting Fixtures and the rest as Electrical Devices.

You will need to know:

  • How to insert each device type in the model
  • How to set loads on the device

⃞  —Equipment Connections

Design Master treats motors and other equipment connections almost the same way as any other branch circuit device. Revit, on the other hand, tends to treat them as Mechanical Equipment used by the mechanical designer, which the electrical designer borrows. They are also sometimes categorized as Electrical Fixtures, the same term Revit uses for receptacles.

You will need to know:

  • How to insert them in the model
  • How to set loads on the equipment
  • How to coordinate them with the mechanical designer

⃞  —Circuiting Panels and Devices

The Electrical Circuits system that Revit uses to connect your panels, transformers, and branch circuit devices is relatively straightforward once you’re exposed to it, but the process may not be intuitive for new users.

You will need to know:

  • How to create and modify power circuits
  • How to connect devices to and remove devices from a circuit
  • How to draw homeruns and loops on a floor plan

⃞  —Panel Schedules and Loads

Revit, like DM Electrical for AutoCAD, provides a panel schedule template that will show basic information about the panel, circuiting, and load calculations. The templates can also be customized to show additional shared parameters.

Unlike DM Electrical for AutoCAD, which defines load types for you, Revit requires that you define load classifications and their demand factors. Further, while their calculations work for most situations, certain sections of the NEC will require a separate program to give you accurate results.

You will need to know:

  • How to create and modify panel schedule templates
  • How to create a panel schedule
  • How to define and modify load classifications and demand factors
  • How to assign load classifications to devices
  • How to configure load calculations

For ElectroBIM Users

ElectroBIM, our Revit add-in, overrides some of the electrical functions in Revit. If you plan to use ElectroBIM, here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Modifying parameters: While other Revit users make changes to devices by modifying their parameters directly, ElectroBIM users must use the appropriate ElectroBIM commands to make changes. Any changes made to the parameters will be overwritten by the last information fed into ElectroBIM. See the Making Changes page in the ElectroBIM user manual for more information.
  • Voltage drop: ElectroBIM uses its own calculations to perform voltage drop. Any training material that covers Revit voltage drop calculations can be ignored.
  • Wire sizing: ElectroBIM uses its own wire sizing calculations. Any training material that covers Revit wire sizing can be ignored.
  • Breaker sizing: ElectroBIM uses its own breaker sizing calculations. Any training material that covers Revit breaker sizing can be ignored.
    • Schedules and tags that use the Revit MCB Rating shared parameter for main disconnects on panels will need to be modified to use one of the ElectroBIM shared parameters for panel main disconnects instead.
    • For overcurrent protection sizes, the Revit Rating shared parameter is still used, but must be edited using the Panel Edit and Circuit Edit commands. Do not modify the Rating directly.

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