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Famliy mod to create height off level parameter


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We do Electrical Coordination modeling with other trades for the schools we are working on. What I’m trying to find a better method for is, we’ve done is create a comment the reports to the light fixture tag the height of the fixture off the floor (AFF). The trouble is it’s not careless/idiot proof. So it the light gets bumped down but the modeler doesn’t think to change the comment, the installer has bad info.


I'm looking for a way to modify Lighting Families that I get from manufacturers website, to embed something that will report the height AFF to the point (that we’d place on the bottom of the fixture, whether it’s face base is on the bottom/top/top of pendant, or hosted to the ceiling or a reference plane or it’s suspended/surface/recessed.


Any ideas?


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My response won't answer your question directly, but I will give you my own approach. We stopped downloading manufacturer's content long ago in my office. We built our own Families and we have a very robust library now that takes care of most of your typical light fixtures. They work, they work well, they're in our Template with all our own parameters put in that benefit us greatly. It only takes minutes to edit a schedule for the LxWxH + Clearances of each LTG Fixture Family to our submittal data. 


We realized it doesn't matter if, for instance, a suspended light fixture shows the curve of the lens. A LxWxH rectangular box with two flexible hanger rods work just fine for spatial coordination. 


Going this route we never have to add parameters to new Families, modify Families to look right, deal with hosted/non-hosted issues, etc. Again, doesn't directly help you, but gives you an alternative view to this issue. 



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I will say that the larger philosophical issue here is the idea of automating metadata vs. putting in information where the burden is on the user to remember to alter all that unseen data every time someone makes a small adjustment. 


@yrnomad, I've never really had good luck with invisible data like that in drawings. Because having the ability to insert data means that either it's completely useless because everyone HAS to double check it, or the person at the end of the line has to assume they're getting correct information. 


It's a catch-22, so I'm just following along to see  what others say. 

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Thanks to both of you for your comments… Yes, it seems like a catch 22, or “slippery slope”.


Originally, I wanted the parameter style so it would self-report. I wanted this for two reasons… that the info would be there for the field, and it would be a visual back check for the modeler to see if there were any odd ball heights in a room.


When none of our people knew how to make the automation possible, I settled for the manual comment function. At least the field would know, and we only put that version of the tag on one light in the room, or the first in the row at that height.


We used to use our family library more, it's not very big, but was consistant, and usually effective for most situations.

But about a year and a half ago, we had some artsy pendent light fixtures in a series of schools. So, we ended up using the factory family for those, and some of the other more detailed lights on those jobs. We’ve never really gone back to the more generic look.


Based on our typical budget, I try to keep the focus more space representation than detailing the whole project, choosing to focus most of the detail on conduit racking and cable tray. But the other two folks in our department don’t always follow that path as strict.



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Since hosted families are so troublesome for MEP design and manufacturer's families are inconsistent from one manufacturer to the next and even from the same manufacturer, we try not use them. Instead, we use our own and put the manufacturer's information into our very generic level based families. These families have an offset or mounted height parameter that defines the elevation from the floor. 

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