Revit 2021 Electrical enhancements

Martin Schmid April 13, 2020

4 min read

With this release of Revit, we are pleased to announce several enhancements for electrical functionality.  Here are a few of the highlights, focusing on three themes:  Globalization, Distribution System Logic, and Ease of Use.


The area we tackled within Revit that historically has been very US-focused is the way circuits are numbered.  For example, in 3-phase branch circuit panels, typically, circuits 1 & 2 are on Phase A, 3 & 4 are on Phase B, and 5 & 6 are on Phase C… then the sequence repeats.

However, in the UK, circuits are identified by ‘ways’ and phase.  Ways is the grouping of three circuits spanning the three phases.  Further, the phases aren’t referred to as A, B, and C, but rather as L1, L2, and L3.


Image: Circuits numbered using the UK ways and phase convention (left), and wires tagged using this circuit naming scheme.

Similarly, in France, circuits may be identified by their load classification.  For example, all lighting circuits are prefixed with L and receptacle circuits are prefixed with R.  To enable that, we’ve added an abbreviation property on Load Classifications, which you might find useful, even if you aren’t working on projects in France.


Image: Circuits numbered using the load classification abbreviation and circuit naming index.

Both of these examples can now be accommodated by defining a circuit naming scheme.

Electrical Circuit Naming

Recognizing that it is not likely that all circuit naming needs can be covered by the built-in parameters, this feature also supports creating your scheme using Shared Parameters, and it supports not only power circuits, but also low voltage circuits such as data, fire alarm, and the like.

In order to make this feature more discover-able, we’ve also updated the UK and French templates and associated content… so make sure to check those for example settings.

Our initial implementation of this feature set was focused on UK and French needs; however, we have heard from customers in other countries that these improvements will suit their needs as well.  We would love to hear from you if your needs aren’t met.

Distribution System Logic

There are two main areas of improvement for how Revit deals with elements in the distribution system.  One set is related to switchboards improvements, and the other is related to branch panelboard improvements. These two improvements were initiated from feedback we received on the Revit Ideas site.

Switchboard Improvements

The first improvement enables you to set the electrical phase of 1- and 2-pole circuits connected to the switchboard, as requested here.

Switchboard Circuit Phase Selection

The second switchboard improvement addresses the issues raised in this request.  In short, switchboard schedules had rows conforming to the Max #1 Pole Breakers parameter.  We’ve modified this behavior on switchboards to have a more straightforward Max Number of Circuits parameter.  This should simplify your use of switchboard schedules, as you can now take advantage of the ‘Variable based on max number of circuits’ parameter.  This also addresses an issue where circuits could become disconnected during sync with central operations.

Switchboard Circuit Quantity

Panelboard Improvements

The panelboard improvements were primarily initiated by feedback from European customers, however, there are also potential benefits to US based users.

The problem we’ve resolved is that historically, Revit didn’t properly deal with single-phase (line-to-neutral, single bus) panels.  We also resolved a problem that allowed users to feed a panel from another panel with fewer poles (for example, feeding a three-phase panel from a single-phase line-to-line panel), which is not only illogical, but would result in circuit loads not tabulating properly.  There is a minor impact when upgrading projects; refer to this AKN article.

MEP Single Phase Panelboards

We’ve also heard feedback from US users that the single-phase line-to-neutral panel can be used to logically represent an emergency lighting inverter panel.

Ease of Use

The last theme has a few smaller enhancements that all electrical users should find beneficial.

First, the Project Browser now lists panel schedules under the sheets on which they are placed.  This provides consistency with how quantity schedules work.  This also enables the Project Browser search functionality to help you find on which sheet a particular schedule is placed.

Panel Schedules Under Sheets in Project Browser

We’ve also enabled a few parameters on Spare and Space circuits.  Specifically, Spare circuits now support the Frame Size parameter, and Space circuits now support the Number of Poles and Schedule Circuit Notes parameters.

The last improvement was something released with Revit 2020.2, but worth mentioning here.  When in a panel schedule view, you can now modify any property of the circuit, panel, or project.  When you click a cell in the schedule, the Properties palette is context sensitive.  This is a great shortcut to modifying the number of circuits in the panel or setting the circuit name if you’ve defined a scheme that uses shared parameters.

We hope you find these improvements beneficial to your electrical design and documentation workflows.  Check out the What’s new in MEP for Revit 2021 overview blog here.  For updates on what’s in the pipeline, head over to the Revit Roadmap.  Did we miss the mark on something, or do you have other ideas?  Let us know by submitting your feedback on the Revit Ideas site.

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