Revit, Revit MEP

Lighting in Revit®: MEP vs. Architectural

If you have ever explored within Revit®, you may have noticed that there are two seemingly different paths to inserting lighting components into a model.  First, in the Imperial Library, lighting is divided into MEP and Architectural subfolders.  Then, when it comes to placing lighting in the model, there are two ways to access your components.  One way is to use the Component button on the Architecture tab, navigate to the lighting component desired, and place it in the model.  The other way is to use the Lighting Fixture button on the Systems tab.  You may be wondering if there is any advantage to using one component or placement method over another or if there is even a difference between Architectural and MEP lighting within Revit®.  

Differences between MEP and Architectural Lighting

In Revit®, there is one major difference between Architectural and MEP lighting component families: the way they are placed.  Lighting fixture components loaded in through the MEP folder in the Imperial Library will be work plane based or face based families, meaning that they must host to a plane or element face.  While typical faces include ceilings, walls, or floors, it is possible to host MEP lighting to the face of another component.  

Conversely, lighting fixture components loaded in through the Architectural folder are hosted to either the floor, wall, or ceiling, as appropriate to the fixture.  For example, sconces host to the walls only whereas floor lamps host only to the floors.  Thus, architectural lighting cannot be swapped for MEP lighting (or vice versa) as they reference different hosts.  This is important to bear in mind if the design is going to change significantly in the future.

Similarities between MEP and Architectural Lighting

Where it matters most, MEP and architectural lighting are very similar within Revit®.  Both types of lighting can be connected to a power source and switching.  Additionally, both fixture types contain photometric data and a lighting source.  This means that both will calculate actual light level values in a space.  For rendering purposes, MEP and architectural lighting are interchangeable.  As they have the same parameters, both can coexist within a schedule and report the same data. 

Why choose one light fixture type over another?

Truthfully, there is no ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ way to model lighting in Revit®, but it is wise to consider which method will best serve your design or workflow.  For architects, using architectural lighting is adequate for showing lighting conceptually.  MEP designers can then use the Copy/Monitor tool to dive into the technicality of your lighting plans and update as needed.  

Generally speaking, MEP engineers use the MEP lighting.  It lives within their Systems panel and it is their native lighting method.  If you work closely with MEP designers in your collaboration, it is wise to use their preferred lighting components.  

Lastly, advanced Revit® users tend to prefer MEP lighting because it allows for greater flexibility and accuracy within the design.  The ability to host lighting to other component families (i.e. host a light to a cabinet) is very useful and allows for better, more creative designs.  

Why are there two ways to place lighting in Revit®?

Many years ago, Revit® did not offer much in the way of electrical modeling and was primarily used by architects to create 3D building models.  At the time, it made sense to allow architects to place lighting as they needed.  Now that Revit® offers greater building information modeling (BIM) capabilities for MEP engineers, it became necessary to provide a MEP-focused lighting solution.  Still, architects did not want to lose their workflow, so now Revit® provides channels to satisfy both.  

Want to learn more tips and tricks to maximize your Revit® productivity?  Check out Cadnetics U where you’ll find detailed, easy-to-follow training and mentoring designed to teach you what you need to know to do your work your way.

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