Modeling Electrical Systems

BIM for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Curriculum

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  • Unit 4 | Multidisciplinary Collaboration
  • Lesson 3: Modeling Electrical Systems


In this lesson, students will learn how to model lighting and electrical elements in a project—lighting fixtures, electrical distribution panels, and switches—and connect them together by creating circuits, power systems, and switch systems. 

Students will start by placing lighting fixtures in an architectural model, and then copy those elements into an Autodesk® Revit® MEP model. They will model the different lighting and power systems used to connect these lighting fixtures as well as create power systems and switch systems.

The endpoint of the lesson will be an electrical model that can be used for analysis and shared with the other members of the design team and disciplines affected by the electrical design decisions.

Placing Lighting Fixtures in the Architectural Model

Designers often create lighting designs indicating the types of lighting fixtures and their layout as part of their preliminary design work. Similarly, you can place lighting fixtures in an architectural model to act as placeholders for items that will be specified in detail later by electrical designers on the project team. 

This two-stage approach enables you to consider the location of lighting fixtures in your early design decisions and indicate your design intent to other members of team.

As you choose lighting fixture components to load into your project and use for your design, make sure that they are MEP-friendly (include electrical connectors, lighting values, and electrical load data in their definition). All of the lighting fixtures included in the libraries installed by the 2011 versions of Autodesk® Revit® software products are MEP-friendly, but older components may not be. To be certain, edit the component and look for the special electrical connector parts in its definition.

Figure 4.3.0 - Lighting fixtures in the linked architectural model are copied to MEP file


Copying Shared Elements into an Electrical Model

Link the architectural model to a Revit MEP host model and use the Copy/Monitor tool to copy the placeholder lighting fixtures to use as the starting point for our electrical design tasks.

Modeling Electrical Panels, Circuits, and Switches

Add electrical elements to the host project to model the key features and assign these elements to electrical power and switch systems. 

Place components to model the essential features of electrical circuits. The components available in Revit MEP include:

  • Electrical equipment
    • Transformers
    • Distribution panels
    • Switch gears
  • Devices
    • Electrical fixtures—receptacles and junction boxes
    • Communication—intercom system components
    • Data—Ethernet and other network connections
    • Fire alarm—smoke detectors, manual pull stations, and annunciators
    • Lighting—lighting switches, daylight sensors, occupancy sensors 
    • Nurse call devices—call stations, code blue stations, and door lights
    • Security—door locks, motion sensors, and surveillance cameras
    • Telephone—telephone jacks
  • Lighting fixtures—ceiling, wall, and recessed lights

After placing electrical devices, you can:

  • Create power systems and switch systems.
  • Model circuits and wiring to link the devices together.
  • Assign circuits to panels.
  • Tabulate the loads on individual circuits.View the devices assigned to each system in the System Browser.

Modeling Electrical Receptacle Circuits

Add components to the Revit MEP project to model the placement of electrical receptacles or outlets. 

Many receptacle types are available to meet different architectural needs, including:

  • Number of outlets available—simplex (single outlet), duplex (two outlets), quadruplex (four outlets)
  • Placement location—wall, floor, countertop, weatherproof
  • Voltage—110V, 220V
  • Special applications—switched, isolated ground, ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI)

After placing receptacles, you can:

  • Create circuits and wiring to link the receptacles together.
  • Assign circuits to panels.
  • Tabulate the loads and view the devices assigned to each system in the System Browser.
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