What’s new in Lumion 9

By Vicky Browne, Marketing at SolidCAD                                   

Lumion has always set out to define what rendering should be: fast and stress-free with exceptional results. Now, with Lumion 9, you’ll do more than feel the space. You’ll instantly breathe life into your project while capturing realistic environments faster than ever before.

Add the one-touch Real Skies to cast a new light on your scene and instantly create a beautiful, unique setting for your designs. Let realistic rain communicate cozy spaces, which you can now decorate with furry rugs and fluffy blankets. For the true-to-life garden shot, apply the new Customizable 3D Grass materials and you’ll almost feel the freshly cut lawn beneath your feet.

New streamlined scene-building tools help you create complex environments in minutes. Add to the improved workflow, Lumion’s jaw-dropping rendering speed and outstanding images and videos are within your reach, on all your projects. Use Lumion 9 to show the true beauty of your designs and form genuine connections with your clients.

Sky Light 2 and Real Skies(Real Skies are Pro only)

Instant, beautiful skies to take your breath away. With 39 Real Skies and their pre-configured Sky Light settings in Lumion 9, it takes a single click to give your design the perfect clear blue morning, stormy afternoon or unforgettable sunset.

Change the sky and your design’s entire lighting changes with it, putting you within reach of an awe-inspiring render in literally seconds.

Customizable 3D Grass(Pro only)

Spice up your landscape designs and add a variety of configurable, realistic grasses to your parks, gardens, lawns and any other surfaces with the new Customizable 3D Grass materials in Lumion 9.

Atmospheric Rain and Snow (Pro only)

Express the real feeling of your designs with the new Atmospheric Rain and Snow. With just a click, you can create everything from the light drizzle to a full-blown downpour, the winter flurry to a whiteout blizzard. The Atmospheric Rain and Snow is located under the Precipitation effect in Photo and Movie mode.

Interested in seeing more of Lumion 9? Contact us.

The touch, smell and feel of engaging architectural renders

Furry materials (Pro only)
Soft to the touch. Colorful and fluffy. For the ultra-comfy blanket or rug, the new furry material provides charm and warmth to any surface in any space.

112 realistic new materials
With 112 highly realistic, new materials in Lumion Pro, it’s easier than ever to quickly convert the blank skeleton of your 3D model into a lively scene teeming with color, depth and feeling.

From the new marble flooring to the cobblestones and bricks for heightening outdoor realism, the new materials in Lumion 9 are the secret ingredient to “touch” the smooth wooden floors, “smell” the suede sofa in the living room, and “hear” the sound of rain battering the roof tiles.

New objects in the Content Library (Some Pro Only)
Infuse your designs with the energy of real-life spaces and environments with 634 new HD objects available in Lumion 9.

While most of the new objects cater to kitchens, ranging from refrigerators to cooktops to deliciously designed cabinets, you’ll find a wide assortment of lighting fixtures, storage items, cabinets, lounge and office chairs, sports cars and 3D people. This way, you can instantly capture the lived-in look of kitchens, living rooms, hallways, bedrooms and more.

Lumion 9 also comes with highly detailed palms and broadleaf trees, as well as a plethora of various stones for achieving jagged hillsides and rough shorelines.

Ready to explore what’s new in Lumion 9? Contact us.

Quickly build believable environments for unbelievable renders

Updated OpenStreetMap
Need urban context, fast? In Lumion 9, OpenStreetMap has gone through a major update to bring you higher quality city context at faster speeds than before.

Lean scene-building workflow
The fastest rendering engine just got a boost into high gear. Natural and intuitive scene building. One-touch controls for quickly adding objects, materials, effects and more. From zero to beautiful render in record time.

Save groups
Save the perfect table arrangement, load the picturesque bedroom. Your favorite object arrangements and groups are uniquely yours, saved now and forever!

Intuitive object placement
Placing objects is now more intuitive, easier and faster. Smart object technology via easy-to-use hotkeys can help ensure the right object placement while saving you valuable time and streamlining your scene building processes.

Instant object focus
A double-click takes you anywhere throughout the scene, so you’ll never lose sight of your model again.

Updated import edges
Take it to the edge. In Lumion 9, the edges of your models can be imported as separate material assignments. Using the dedicated “Import Edges” button, you can easily create wire-frame models and highlight the outlines of interior and exterior geometry.

Updated eye-level camera
Ever wonder what your model looks like from a real person’s point-of-view? Now, as you build your scene in Lumion 9’s Build Mode, you can simply click the eye-level camera and see what your design will look like in real life, as you build your scene.

Thanks for joining us for a look at all the new features available in Lumion 9. If you’re looking to buy or upgrade to Lumion – contact us.

Making more beautiful, realistic, and detailed renders in Revit

By Thomas Morrissey, AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

3D visualization is an essential part of architectural illustration today. Renders allow you to communicate your vision and intent to clients and colleagues. This is why models or drawings are often sent out to be professionally rendered. This is an expensive but usually necessary process. However, it is possible to make high quality renders in-house using Revit or through the cloud.

What makes a beautiful render? Like many things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is in the nuance of the materials you select, the lighting, the details you choose to include, and any post-production editing.

Here are a few thoughts on how to start making more beautiful, detailed renders in Revit.

I’ve wrapped them all up in a short video at the bottom of this post.


Materials are the foundation of every Revit render. They are what gives an element in Revit its color, context, and texture. They are part of the scene and should be adjusted accordingly.

The default color in Revit is grey. Leave the materials on their default setting and when you hit the render button, you will get a series of grey blobs with no information or appeal.

Luckily you can easily change this by adding texture to the material. Look in Revit’s image library or Google JPEG’s or PNG’s with your desired texture. Remember that you can also experiment with attributes like reflectivity and transparency to get the textures looking just right.


It is the details that make a render feel realistic. Buildings do not sit in a vacuum. Neither should renders. The more detail you are able to add to your render, the more more realism there is to your images especially when you work with real-life details. Beautiful renders are photo-realistic. As in photos – trees, people, and other outdoor elements – create the scale and real-life feel. Real pictures are never perfect and a hundred percent clean so neither should your render be.

Sun and Artificial Light

Light is the most important aspects of a rendered image. The lighting of your building should match the lighting of your surrounding. Everything should look like it works and is meant to be together. The shadows should look good and the lux, luminous or wattage should be correct on the artificial lights you are using.

Although you can adjust the exposure afterward rendering you don’t want to be spending all your time doing adjustments. Try to set up the image correctly from the very beginning. This becomes even more important if cloud credits are involved.

Tip: It’s a good idea when trying to render your design to have lights hidden away from the building. This will add some hidden light in the hidden corner or in the back of the camera to give some illumination to the building, just make sure to delete them where they are not needed.

Editing the Render

You can adjust the render after you have rendered it. This is a good way to make minor changes without having to render all over again. You can make things darker or lighter. Change the color make it warmer or cooler. It is sometimes essential to work on some area of the scene to add some dramatic shadow or to correct some texture. You can do this within Revit without having to export to another software like Photoshop and it will hopefully save you time and money..

Walk through the rendering process with me

Energy analysis – Realize the greatest benefit of BIM

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

Many engineers do not realize the power of Revit and prefer to trust the process of designs they have been using for years, such as Excel, manual calculations or their company templates. In fact, they have implemented Revit solely for the purpose of producing construction drawings. They miss the point that Revit can be used for improving performance and collaboration, not only for the drawings to look correct on paper.

In reality, engineers use Revit in conjunction with other third-party software. However, this disconnects the Revit model and calculations, lowers the level of accuracy and results in multiple recalculations.

In fact, Energy analysis is easier to perform in Revit than in any other program. Using Revit for heating/cooling calculations ensures that any changes that were made in the architectural model will be reflected in energy calculations. If you plan on performing energy analysis in Revit, you must define Energy settings, as well as spaces/zones at the beginning of the modeling. To do so you must verify that all spaces are set up with space elements (shafts, plenums, sliver spaces), spaces are added to zones other than the default zone and building/space settings are customized for the project.

Energy analysis runs on an Autodesk Insight subscription. To use it, you must be signed into Revit with a subscription-enabled Autodesk account. To use Energy Optimization for Revit, ensure that the user interface option for Energy analysis and tools is enabled. If not, icons will be greyed out.

Using the Analyze tab > Energy > Optimization pane, you can define Energy Settings, Location, Generate Energy Model,  and Optimize Performance:


You can run Energy Analysis in the beginning stages of the project using conceptual masses. However, more advanced analysis for MEP runs on building elements.

When preparing your project for Energy Analysis, you need to make sure you set up Energy Settings properly.

  • Go to Analyse > Location > Specify geographic location of your project. It is allowing to use a nearby weather station data for Analysis.
  • Select Architectural link and make sure Type properties is set to Room Bounding.
  • Go to Architecture Tab > Room & Area > in drop down click on Area and Volume computation. Set computations to Area and Volume. For Heating/Cooling, Energy Analysis and Lighting calculations, you need to calculate Volume for the spaces. When the option is set to Area, Revit will perform faster but volumes will not be calculated. If you notice that space Volume is 0.000, you need to toggle this setting.
  • Open the Energy Settings dialog. Click Analyze tab > Energy Optimization panel >Energy Settings > Other Options> Change Building Type Data from drop down options.
  • In the same window, change Building Operating ScheduleHVAC SystemOutdoor Air InformationConceptual Type.
    Set Export category to Spaces. MEP Energy analysis model runs on spaces. When it is set to Spaces, Revit passes the following information for use in the analysis: Space object name and number, Occupancy, Lighting, Equipment, and Zone.

Note: you can access Energy Settings from Manage Tab > Project information

  • Change Schematic Types from Building default, which was generated from the information in Conceptual Type. You can override Material Thermal Properties in Categories from the drop down menu to define Envelope elements U-values.

  • Create Spaces and check that all the spaces are set to room bounding elements – floor, walls, ceiling, roof.
  • Once everything is set up, you can run the Energy simulation. To do so, go to Analyze tab > Generate.

Revit will send the energy model to the cloud for simulation and analysis. It creates geometry used for energy simulation engines such as DOE 2.2 and EnergyPlus. When the analysis is finished, you will notice a pop-up window telling you the process is completed. You will be able to access the 3D Energy Model View in the Project Browser. You will also receive an email from Autodesk Insight: “Your Analysis is complete. You can access the results on Insight”.

The calculated results will provide you with a total for Energy use. It will build graphs showing how much Energy and what proportion of total Energy is used by each system. Energy and fuel consumption depend on the MEP system chosen for the building. You can visualize results in graphs and compare cost savings between different options.

You can use Autodesk Insight to understand, evaluate, and adjust design and operational factors to improve building performance.
After reviewing results, you can use Energy Optimization for Revit to create an energy model and perform energy analysis with improved settings. You can compare results based on different simulations, print Report to PDF, and compare two different models in the same project side by side. Insight also allows you to collaborate by adding other members to the project. They will have access to the Energy Model and Model Performance.

Today’s demanding business environment is pushing towards more efficient, better quality and cost-effective building design. Energy Modeling and Analysis is a complex and time-consuming process. It is usually done for a Compliance Report, where time and budget allow. With Autodesk Insight, Energy modeling can be done with high accuracy and a high level of precision because it creates an Energy Model directly from an architectural model. Use Energy Optimization for Revit at all stages of design, from schematic design to design development, in order to improve building energy performance. It can be used for projects of any size without straining the budget or delivery time.

Contact us to find out more about Revit for MEP and how we can help you get the most from it.

The 3 Main Types of Panel Schedule Templates in Revit

By Olena Kryzhanivska, AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

Panel schedules are an essential part of any electrical design and provide a level of coordination that ensures accurate design and documentation.

Panel schedules can be created before or after circuits are connected to the panel. Once a Panel is placed in a model, a panel schedule is listed in the Project Browser. Using the Analyze >Panel Schedule tool, you can create Panel Schedules using a default template. You can create one or multiple Panel schedules from the Panel Schedule dialog. You can also simply select a Panel in a model and the Panel Schedule tool will become available for this Panel. Keep in mind, you will need to associate each Panel with a Distribution system. This parameter is available in Instant Properties under the Electrical-Circuiting group. The Distribution System is defined under the Manage tab > Electrical settings.

Revit provides 3 main types of panel schedule templates: Branch panelData panel and Switchboard.

On the Manage tab, select Panel Schedule Templates and click Edit a Template.

Branch panel

This type of template can only be used with a Panelboard device. Devices that are assigned to the Power system type are associated with a Branch panel template.

You can specify 3 different panel configurations for Branch panels, which can be used for lighting or power systems.

Branch Panel Configuration:

  • Two Columns, Circuits Across. This is an imperial template, widely used in USA and Canada.
  • Two Columns, Circuits Down. This is another configuration of an imperial template.
  • One Column. This is a metric template configuration.
Branch panel schedule with circuits in two columns

To create a Branch panel schedule with circuits in two columns:

  1. In the Edit a Template dialog, select the template type. The template type determines the options in the Templates pane.
  2. If you select a branch panel template, also select the configuration by choosing one of the drop down options.
  3. Select the template to edit and click Open.

The template displays in Edit Template mode. Use the commands on the Modify Panel Schedule Template tab to edit the template. Here you can set the total width of the schedule, number of slots shown as variable or fixed number, format of displaying loads, etc.

  • Click on Set Template Options
  • Define General settings
Set General settings

Set Circuit table
Set Loads Summary

Revit panel schedules are highly customizable. You can add Electrical Equipment, Electrical Circuits, and Project Information categories to a panel schedule template. For example, you can add electrical equipment and project information to the header and footer parts.  Only electrical equipment parameters can be added to the loads summary. Circuit parameters are automatically pulled to the circuit table part from the model. You can also insert a Notes parameter in the template so that the Notes information can be entered and saved in the panel schedule.

Modify Panel Schedule Template

You can modify the Panel Schedule Template in order to customize it to your company’s standards. Use the commands on the Modify Panel Schedule Template tab to edit the template.

• Remove a parameter – select a cell, then click Remove Parameter. The column is cleared of parameters.
• Combine parameters – select a cell and click Combine Parameters.
• Freeze or unfreeze the height and width of all rows and columns – click Freeze Rows and Columns. You can continue to resize frozen rows and columns using Resize Column and Resize Row, but you are prevented from resizing them using grips.
 Insert a column – select cells, then select either Left of Selected or Right of Selected from the Insert Column drop-down menu.
• Insert a row – select one or more rows, then select either Above Selected or Below Selected from the Insert Row drop-down menu.

You can insert text notes in Schedule Header Notes and Schedule Circuit Notes. These are instant family parameters. They can be edited from the Property palette or from the Panel schedule itself. However, if you just type text instead of associating it with a Notes parameter, this text will be lost when you are updating the schedule.

Data panel

This type of template can only be used with a data panel device. The primary purpose of a Data panel is to identify circuits and data outlets and associate them with telephone numbers. Data panels can be connected to anything except power devices. Typical devices connected to a data panel include telephones, fire alarms, and security devices. Data panels display a single circuit column.

Data panel schedule with one circuit column

Switchboard Schedule

This type of template can be used with a switchboard. Switchboard schedules display information about the Switchboard and the connected Panelboards or other devices.

Switchboard panel schedule with one circuit column

You can customize Circuit Tables for Switchboard panel schedule.

Circuit Tables options for Switchboard panel


As you can see, you have a lot of flexibility in producing Panel Schedules in Revit. Using the Rebalance Tool you can redistribute loads with one click in order to make the loads as equal as possible on each phase. You can move circuits up and down within the Panel Schedule without effecting any other circuits. You can assign open slots in a panel as  spares or spaces. Also, a spare, space or specific circuit can be locked/unlocked to the slot. You can create multi-pole circuits by grouping a single pole circuit and spare together.

You can change the circuits description, as needed, from the Panel schedule. This allows you to create a Schedule Template which will comply exactly to your company standard or create a unique template to match a client’s standards. It will make creating and managing electrical systems and schedules in Revit easy and efficient, saves design time and reduces possibility of error.

Are we beyond BIM?

If everybody is so proficient with the change to a BIM process, then why aren’t building projects embracing it more widely? Why aren’t those firms who have embraced it finding the efficiencies that it promises? Why are our buildings not being constructed with less problems? Most importantly, why are those people who build those buildings still not convinced that the move to BIM has improved the quality, capability, efficiency and functionality of their products?

BIM has been around for over 15 years and still many architectural firms are struggling with how to actually leverage its potential. Engineering firms are not utilizing the information in the data-rich models being created. Contractors are spending valuable time remodeling the digital information created by their design teams so that they can utilize them for their purposes. Finally, these models are not of much use to the owners and even more work needs to be done for them to get a true digital repository of the structures they have created.

What has gone wrong? Why can we not create a true digital model of a building that can be used for design; then passed onto production of construction documents; then passed onto the contractor him/herself to build and extract useful data from; and finally passed to the owner to utilize throughout the building’s life-cycle. Along the way, why isn’t this data-rich model used for a myriad of additional benefits? A true building information model should exist throughout the life of a building.

The answer is that WE CAN! The secret is that all of these participants have to want to work together to achieve a set of common goals. The only person who can define what these are is the person paying the participants; yet that person does not have the experience or knowledge to do what is necessary. Until we can get together as one team pulling for that elusive set of common goals, the building process and the resulting building will be a disparate set of activities producing a result that reflects that lack of cohesiveness.

It is time that we got together and came up with a better way to use BIM so that everybody in the process can benefit.

BIM 360 Design – the next gen of Collaboration for Revit

By Vicky Browne, Marketing at SolidCAD                                   

As of April 9, 2018, Collaboration for Revit is available as BIM 360 Design – Autodesk’s next-generation cloud work-sharing, data management, and design collaboration product.

This is part of several changes to the Autodesk BIM 360 portfolio of products.

Collaboration for Revit (C4R) background

Collaboration for Revit (better known as C4R) was one of the most successful products from Autodesk. It was a simple product, but it provided a service not available affordably through any other means.

Collaboration for Revit gave users on project teams, not in the same office, the ability to work together in one model. Prior to its release, Revit worked well within an office; not so well between offices. With the arrival of C4R, in one fell swoop, those barriers were eliminated.

What has changed?

BIM 360 Design is the next generation of Collaboration for Revit (C4R). It enables the cloud worksharing you’ve come to love in C4R but connected to the next generation BIM 360 platform.

With the new changes, everyone will have more seamless access, whether in BIM 360 Docs or Design (C4R) as they will both sit on the new Autodesk BIM 360 platform.

You will have access to the Design Collaboration and Document Management modules in BIM 360, in addition to the existing C4R functionality.

The following table describes the modules included in each product:

BIM 360 Docs BIM 360 Design
  • Document Management
  • Insight
  • Project Administration
  • Account Administration
  • Document Management
  • Design Collaboration
  • Insight
  • Project Administration
  • Account Administration
  • Access to Revit Cloud Worksharing
  • Access to Classic C4R
  • Access to BIM 360 Team

What does it mean for you?

  • Current Collaboration for Revit subscribers:
    • Can activate access to BIM 360 Design via a link in their Autodesk Account; and,
    • Will be eligible to renew to BIM 360 Design with access to BIM 360 Team.
  • Current BIM 360 Team subscribers will be offered access to the new BIM 360 platform via Autodesk Account.

What about compatibility between the two environments?

Because BIM 360 Design (C4R) will be running on the new BIM 360 Docs, files stored in the old – “Classic” version of C4R will not be compatible with those on the “New Generation” version. Therefore, it is crucial that one has the proper number of Classic licenses before upgrading.

In addition, if you will be sharing a project with other firms, it is also important that they have adequate licensing.


Q & A for the Next Generation BIM 360 Platform

The following are some key questions based on Autodesk’s FAQ for the BIM 360 platform.

1. Can classic services and next-generation BIM 360 modules be utilized on the same project within a customer account?

No. BIM 360 Glue and BIM 360 Build subscribers must select whether to activate next-generation BIM 360 modules, or to activate classic services, when setting up a new project.

BIM 360 Team projects and data will remain separate from the BIM 360 platform. Projects and data created in one will not be visible in the other.

2. How will renewals be handled for Collaboration for Revit?

Collaboration for Revit subscribers will be eligible to renew to BIM 360 Design.

Collaboration for Revit customers that maintain active subscriptions to BIM 360 Design will retain access to their projects and data in BIM 360 Team and will also have access to the BIM 360 platform with new and improved features and workflows including greater file- and folder- based access controls, unlimited storage, facilitated model exchange, and change visualization.

3. How will renewals be handled for BIM 360 Team?

Existing BIM 360 Team subscribers will be eligible to renew their BIM 360 Team subscriptions at the same price. Customers that maintain active subscriptions to BIM 360 Team will retain access to BIM 360 Team projects and data and will also be provided access to the new BIM 360 Platform.

If BIM 360 Team or Collaboration for Revit customers decide to NOT renew, upon the end of a subscription, all project files can be downloaded. Project data will be maintained in customer accounts after the end of the subscription for a period of time as specified in the Autodesk Trust Center.

4. Will current C4R subscribers be able to continue to use the product as they do today?

If you are an existing Collaboration for Revit subscriber and you maintain an active subscription of Collaboration for Revit, you can store, access, and manage project data and perform cloud worksharing in either BIM 360 Team or the new BIM 360 Platform.

5. Which Revit versions will work with Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360 Design?

  • With Revit 2015 to 2018.2 and earlier versions, you can cloud workshare in Collaboration for Revit.
  • With Revit 2018.3, you can cloud workshare in both Collaboration for Revit as well as BIM 360 Design.
  • With Revit 2019, cloud worksharing will be exclusive to BIM 360 Design.

6. Where can I find more technical information?
The Autodesk Knowledge Network has published this guide to BIM 360 DesignContact our Support Desk if you need more information.

Revit 2019: Essentials for MEP Engineers

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

Getting started with Revit can feel daunting. It’s an unfamiliar program that may not work like your current software. But, like anything new as you become more familiar with it you will start to see the benefits of the basic modifying tools – Copy, Move, Align, Offset, Mirror, Array – as well as the special tools it offers like Systems, Analyze, and Collaborate all within a 3D environment.Layers, often an irritation, don’t even need to be thought about in Revit. Revit will place every object in the correct layer. You do not need to switch Ortho on/off or change Snaps. Revit will show alignment lines, angles, snap points on the go.If you are just starting out in Revit, here is some basics that you should know:

    • Model
      Revit creates a virtual 3D representation of the model with the established relationships between elements.You can create as many views as required by the project. Every view of the model is a live view of the parametric elements. If an element is moved in one view, the position of that element in all of the views is instantly updated. Therefore, changing the elements will change the model instantly and all changes will be reflected on each view and plot sheets.
    • Model elements
      All of the elements in Revit are Families and represent real objects. Families are grouped and sorted by category in the content libraries and in the Project Browser. The families, such as air terminals, plumbing fixtures, and mechanical equipment, are loaded into the template of the project or into the model from the Revit library or an external source. For example, from the manufacturer’s website or Autodesk Seek. All Families in Revit are parametric.
    • Instance and Type properties
      Model elements in Revit represent physical instances in a model. When placed in a model they are visible in all views.

      • Type properties for the family are common for all types of the same family and contain information that applies to all instances of the same family type in the model. For example, type properties for an air terminal will be size – length x width. Changes made to type properties affect all instances of the family created from that type.Revit allows to change the family with a different type using the Type Selector. It is easy to create a new type within the family using the Duplicate function in the Type Properties dialog.
      • Instance properties contain information related to a specific placed instance of the family element in the model. For example, instance properties for an Air Terminal will be Air Flow. Changes made to instance properties affect only that instance of the family.
  • Annotation elements
    Annotation elements are also families that are used to add dimensions, notes, and tags to a view.

The first Revit project can be a frustrating one. You will be learning the program while you are working on your project. Even if you had some training, you’ll quickly find that not everything will work like it did in your training sessions in a real project. All the elements are drawn to real size and you need to be attentive to clashes while working on your model.

There are some little things you’ll want to remember:

  • Remember to place Air terminals or Electrical fixtures at the right elevation. Default for Air terminals is 0.000 and needs to be changed to match ceiling height. You also need to assign Flow to Air terminals.
  • As soon as you start a layout of the ductwork, Flow will be calculated through the system. You do not need to insert fittings working on ductwork or piping layout, Revit will do that for you.
  • Keep the section or 3D view of the area you are working on open. Don’t create sections just because you can; create one vertical and one horizontal, move them around as needed; create a new one when necessary and delete it once you are done.
  • When you have placed MEP elements into a model, you can generate a duct or pipe layout manually, or Revit can generate it automatically from different layout solutions.
  • A parameter that defines the system is the Connector that is located within model elements and has pre-defined classifications within Revit. If you cross two ducts or two pipes with the same system classification on the same elevation, Revit will join those systems by creating a fitting. If this is not what you intended, place the systems on different elevations.
  • One Model element can have a number of different connectors with pre-set system classification, so elements can be assigned to a number of systems. A set of logically connected elements creates a system.
  • All components and systems can be seen in the System Browser – a tool that displays a hierarchical list of all system components in each discipline in the model.
  • Annotations are view-specific; they appear only in the view in which they were placed. Annotations can be copied from view to view, but any changes made to them in one view will not be transferred to any other views.

Now open Revit, select the System tool, drop some Air Terminals, place some ducts and now you can see the system you created in 3D. Wow! It looks impressive. But more impressive is the fact that you have not only created a system, and sized the ductwork with one click, you have also produced a section and a schedule which will be updated as you are working on the model. Revit has the ability to perform calculations such as pressure loss and static pressure, size ducts and pipes, and perform energy analysis on the design.

Contact us to find out more about Revit for MEP and how we can help you get the most from it.

Auto-numbering parking stalls using Dynamo

By Camila Lima Pires, AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

This article describes how to use Dynamo to number parking stalls. Numbering parking tags can be tedious doing manually. If you have to number or renumber parking stalls and you are looking for tools to do it in an efficient and quick way, this can be a great opportunity to use Dynamo and automate all this work. The process demonstrated in this post was tested in Revit 2017, Revit 2018, and Revit 2019 using Dynamo 2.0.

  1. Place the parking stalls and load the parking tags into your project.
  2. Select Tag All under Annotate tab then select the Parking Tag family and click okay.


  1. Download the dynamo script and save on your computer. Open the Dynamo player and select Browse to Folder to navigate to a directory containing Dynamo scripts and click OK.
  2. Select Run Script on the right side of the dynamo script you are going to use.

  1. Another window will pop up asking for the inputs. Draw the spline over the parking stalls and click Select under Select Model Element in Dynamo Player. Then click at the spline
  2. Under Number, write the number that will represent the start number.
  3. Press Run Script again to activate the command.

Download the Dynamo script for auto-numbering parking stalls.

The following screencast describes the entire process.

Revit Family Guide – Master Revit Families in 10 Steps

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

A Family is a group of objects that form a building component such as a door, a wall, a window or a chair. All families are associated to a specific category and contain a set of properties (parameters) and a graphical representation associated to these properties.

Understanding how to create and edit Revit Families is a must if you want to take your Revit skills to another level. Revit’s Family Editor has all the tools you need to create custom components for your Revit projects, and here you will learn 10 steps to master this environment.

#1 – Understand family types

There are different Family Types in Revit:

  • System families – Generally, assemblies (walls, roofs, floors, ceilings, etc). Our flexibility here is limited, we can create different types of system families, but we can’t add parameters to control their graphical representation.
  • Component families – Families we can create from scratch and load into the project. Can be extremely flexible and customized based on your needs. In this blog post, we are going to focus on them. They can be hosted, free standing or work plane-based.
  • In place families – ‘One-off’ families created inside the project environment that do not require geometrical flexibilization. Should be used with caution, as they can increase the size of the file and impact model performance.

#2 – Understand the use of parameters

Parameters are used to define and modify elements in Revit. They give flexibility to project components. By changing the parameters assigned to a family we can create different versions of the family, called types. Each family type has an identical set of parameters called “type parameters”.

When placing a family type in a project, you create an instance of that element. Each instance has a unique set of parameters called “instance parameters”. By changing these parameters, you can apply changes independent of the family type, that will only apply to that specific element in the project. Keep in mind that if you make any changes to the family type parameters, the changes apply to all element instances that you created based on that type.

It is up to the person creating the family to define its parameters, and to determine if a parameter is going to be applied to the type or to the instance level. The following pictures are a good example of that statement. These two doors are very similar graphically, but each one has different instance and type parameters – for example, one door has a parameter called “Door Material” and the other “Panel Material” with, essentially, the same function. Why? Probably just because they were created by two different Revit users.

#3 – Plan before you start

Planning is a key process to successfully create a family in Revit. Sketch you family in a piece of paper, to make sure you don’t get carried away in the process. It is common for new Revit users to feel that they should “model everything” in full 3d, but following this road usually leads to over modelled elements that are hard to use and manage.
Answer the following questions before you go to the next step:

  1. Is there a family in Autodesk’s library that is similar to the one you want to create? Consider copying, renaming and modifying the existing family to save time.
  2. Where will the family be viewed? Is it only showing in plan? Is a 3D representation required? Will it be rendered? Can we get away with 2D lines? Only model in 3D what is necessary.
  3. How do you want it to graphically show in different views? What is the level of detail you need based on the scales of the drawings in which it will be represented? Consider setting visibility controls.
  4. What is the level of flexibility you need? What properties do you want to be able to control? What parameters must be created? Is a property dependent on another? Consider creating formulas to create relationships between parameters.
  5. Will the family be scheduled? Is a parameter going to be scheduled? Consider using shared parameters.

#4 – Select an appropriate template

Revit comes with a variety of templates based on object categories. Go to File > New > Family and select an appropriate Template for your family.
Categories will determine the behaviour of the family – for example if the family goes from level to level, or if it is hosted in another element. If you are not sure what category the object falls under, then create it as a generic family and you can modify the category later going to Create > Properties Panel > Family Categories and Parameters. Be aware that object categories are what control the display of objects in Revit and several categories are “non-cuttable” in Revit.

#5 – Create the family framework

Most templates come with, at least, two pre-defined planes. The intersection of these two planes defines the origin of the family. If you want your family to be able to change in size, you need to build a framework using reference planes and/or reference lines (used to constrain angles).

Use reference planes to set critical positions in the family. Later, we will constraint the geometry of the family to these reference planes so when they move, the geometry follows.

The picture below shows the reference planes you would create if you wanted to create a table – reference planes in plan view for the table top, and reference planes in an elevation to set the top and underside of the table top.

#6 – Dimension the framework

Go to Modify > Measure Panel, select a dimension tool and dimension your framework. Then, create constraints defining both flexible and static conditions.

  • Select and lock a dimension.
  • Select and set a group of dimensions as equal with the “EQ” option.
  • Label a dimension with a parameter to be able to control its value dynamically. Select a dimension, go to Label Dimension Panel and click Create Parameter. Give the parameter a name, a group and define if the parameter will be applied to type or instance (you can change this later). Notice that if you select a dimension, the dialogue defaults the parameter type to dimension, and length.

In our example, the table top length, width and thickness are flexible and labeled with parameters. Equality constraints have also been included so when Length and Width change, the center remains in the same position. The Height of the table, on the other hand, is fix and locked as 970 mm. No parameter was created, because there was no need to make it flexible.

After setting your parameters, you can edit them inside Modify > Properties panel > Family Types.

The blue heading bars in the picture above are the groups under which you can create each parameter. Make sure you group your parameters in a logical and ordered manner (you can move parameters up or down and edit their groups if you need).

The name of a parameter is also very important. Use short but descriptive names and don’t use ‘-‘ signs because Revit may confuse them as formula values. Also keep consistency for naming conventions – will they have first letter cap, all caps or all lower case?

Notice that parameters can also be driven by formulas. In the example below, the Width was set to be half the Length. It is also possible to insert conditional statements. Conditional statements can contain numeric values, numeric parameter names, and Yes/No parameters.

Before going to the next step, test your parameters and see if the reference planes are moving the way you expected. Insert new values and hit Apply. Use values outside the anticipated range. If your framework has a glitch, now is the time to fix it.

#7 – Model and constrain the geometry

After creating the framework and the constraints, and making sure they are going according to plan, it is time to add the geometry. Go to Create > Forms Panel and select an appropriate massing tool – Extrusion, Blend, Revolve, Sweep, Void.

Draw the geometry and constrain its edges to the reference planes using the align tool. Finish the sketch and align/lock the geometry in other views if applicable.
Once you have locked the geometry to all applicable reference planes, it’s time to run additional tests to see if the family is working properly.
Avoid creating addition dimensions and reference planes inside the Sketch Mode. They will not be visible once you leave the sketch and will make it hard for you to manage the family in the future. Additionally, avoid constraining modelled elements together – always prefer to constrain modelled elements with reference planes instead. This will reduce the risk of having family crashes and corruption down the road.

Repeat the process to include all the geometry you need in the family – create a framework, constrain the framework, add geometry, constrain geometry to the framework, test it. Keep in mind that creating a family in a slow-paced manner, running constant tests, is the best way to succeed. If something goes wrong in your parametrization, you might have a hard time to find and fix the problem if you implemented several untested changes all at once.

#8 – Improve your family

Improve your family by creating additional geometry, parameters and relationships.

  • Add shared parameters for information you need to schedule or tag in your project.
  • Set materials to your geometry. If the material of an element will always be the same, select the element, go to Material field and hit the “…” to select a material. If the element may have different finishes, create and apply a parameter by clicking on the box on the right side of the Material field (marked in yellow in the picture below).
  • Set visibility yes/no parameters to elements if you want to be able to control if they are visible or not. To do that, select the element and define a parameter by clicking on the box on the right side of the Visible

  • Use nested families to make changes more efficient and shift from one family type to another using a “Family Type” parameter – see how leg types are controlled in the example below.

#9 – Add visibility controls

By selecting each element and setting a Visibility Setting, you are able to control the level of detail and the view types in which your elements will be visible. This can be useful, for example, if you want to use simplified 2D lines to represent a family in plan and elevation but wants to see all modelled components of that family in a 3D view.

For greater control and flexibility, Revit allows you to create subcategories of the any category in the family editor. Go to Manage > Object Styles and create a new subcategory. Then, select the element and apply it using the Properties Window.

#10 – Create Family Types

Before you load your family into a project, go to Modify > Properties Panel > Family Types and create default types. Use descriptive names that reflect the type parameters that are part of the family.

Now it is your turn

In this blog post we covered the main concepts and tools for you to create powerful and flexible families for your Revit projects. Now it is up to you to create your first family. Start with a simple family and go through all the steps listed above.

Creating Revit families can be intimidating at first but, once you understand the concepts and get used to the process, you will be able to explore endless design possibilities without depending on 3rd parties’ content.

New in Revit 2019 – MEP Engineers improvements to primary/secondary hydraulic

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

Revit 2019 has arrived, and with it comes a number of great new features and enhancements for different uses.

• BIM 360 Design is the re-branded C4R
• Open Dialog Enhancement to show version of the Revit file
• Publish Settings Dialog changed
• Multi-Screen Support & Tabbed Views
• Graphic Filters – added “or” variable in the view filters
• Levels in 3D
• Uncropped perspective views
• Double fill for complex graphical rendering
• Split Railing
• New Steel Design Tools
• Dimensions for Curved Objects
• Vertical Text Alignment in annotation tab
• Hydraulic system loops separation
• Parallel Pumps Sets (Duty/Standby)
• Analytical connection

The main improvement for mechanical engineering is in flow and pressure drop calculations for hydronic piping networks in hydraulic system loops and Parallel Pumps Sets (Duty/Standby). With this new version of Revit, complex networks can be separated into primary/ secondary loops using the Hydraulic Separation feature. In this post we will take a look at how this hydraulic system separation feature works, how to enable visibility and how to set up parallel pump sets for these calculations.

Hydraulic Separation for Hydronic Piping Systems (Primary/Secondary)

Hydraulic Separation is a continuation of the improvements added for closed-loop hydronic networks. The pressure drop is calculated independently for each loop. The “Add Separation” Button and the Loop Boundary parameter has been added to pipes assigned to hydronic systems. This is the read-only parameter and was added to the pipe parameters to indicate whether it is a boundary for the loop.

In the process of design, you need to configure primary/ secondary loops and understand where to input data when defining the piping system. This is an important step because without it, separation of primary and secondary loops will not work. However, when designed properly, Revit can calculate flow and pressure drops in the network.

In order to take advantage of this new separation feature, you need to configure your system as a real working system. Also, you must check the “Enable analysis for a closed loop hydronic piping network” property in the Mechanical Setting dialogue to enable this feature. By default, Revit will calculate the pressure drop using the Colebrook Equation. However, the Haaland Equation is also an option if selected in the drop-down menu in the Pressure Drop tab.


How does this feature work?
It separates primary and secondary loops of the piping system to calculate the flow and pressure loss for each loop.

How to design it:
You need to create a hydraulic system, a direct return or a reverse return loop system. A closed loop hydronic piping network must contain:
Hydronic piping networks are defined as having:
• A single source equipment component, such as a boiler or chiller. This component is optional.
• A single pump or pump set per loop (primary, secondary, tertiary, and further) if you want to calculate flow and pressure drop for each loop.
• Any number of loads, such as radiators or fan coil units on the secondary and/or additional loops. Radiators and other terminals can be piped in series.
• Any number of pipe segments in the supply sections and return sections of the network.
• The primary loop configured in a loop or using a header.


You will see the loop boundary separation in your drawing shown as a ‘V’ mark at the connection. Pay close attention to these markings as they can appear very small in drawings.


Make sure Hydronic separation symbol is turned on in Visibility Graphic dialog box.

Parallel Pumps Sets (Duty/Standby)

Autodesk added capability for Mechanical Models to utilize pumps operating in parallel conditions to strengthen flow and pressure loss calculations.
The setting up parallel pump set determines the number of pumps that are running on Duty/Standby mode at a time. This information is used by the flow and pressure calculations for proper sizing of the branches and header of the pump set.

We can specify or change the number of pumps on duty and on standby in the Edit Piping System tab for each pump set.

Select Pump > Go to Edit Piping System tab > Add Pump to Set button > Select Pumps you wish to add to set > Specify numbers of pumps on duty and on Standby > Finish editing system.

This information is used by the flow and pressure calculations for proper sizing of the branches and header of the pump set.

Analytical connection

The analytical connection uses a point on the perpendicular projection from the connector on the family. If a perpendicular point doesn’t exist, the connection is added to the closest end of the pipe.
If the selected pipe has an open-end connector, the analytical connection will attach to the open pipe connector. You can turn off the display of analytical connectors, and the flow and pressure properties from the equipment will continue to be used with the network calculations. On the View Control Bar, click “Hide Analytical Model”.

You can assign a pressure drop in the Type Properties dialog for Analytical Pipe Connections. The property defaults to zero.


With new great features of Revit 2019 you can now design separation loops, which greatly helps with calculations and increases productivity. This includes primary and secondary separation loops, pressure drop and flow calculations for each loop, and setting up parallel pump sets. There are also new Calculation settings in the Mechanical Settings Dialogue that defines the calculation formula and enables the analysis.