There are many options when it comes to choosing the right air-condition system for your commercial business, but there one system that offers the highest efficiency and increased control-ability. This system is called variable refrigerant flow, or VRF and was recently introduced to the United States. VRF is a configuration of an air-condition system that consists of one outdoor condensing unit and multiple indoor units. The term “variable refrigerant flow” describes that system’s ability to control the amount of refrigerant that flows to the multiple indoor evaporator units. This allows for individualized comfort control as well as simultaneous heating and cooling in different zones.
Daikin Industries in Japan designed a VRF system in 1982 known as “variable refrigerant volume,” or VRV. The VRV technology allows for individual climate control in differing zones by circulating only the minimum amount of refrigerant needed at that time. The Daikin VRV system has endless benefits: it minimizes energy consumption, has a design that can be adapted to the local environment, has a flexible layout, and allows for individual control within the building.
VRF and VRV systems are complex, engineered systems that use a multipart refrigerant and oil control circuitry. They can be used for cooling only, heat pumping, or heat recovery. There are two basic types of VRF systems on heat pump models – heat pump systems and energy-recovery:
- Heat pump systems allow for heating or cooling in all indoor units but not simultaneously. The units either cool or heat. These systems are applied successfully to open spaces, retail stores, cellular office or any other space that requires heating and cooling in the same operational timeframe.
- Energy-recovery systems are known as VRF-HR and can operate simultaneously in heating and/or cooling mode. This allows the heat removed from a cooled space to be used instead of rejected to the outdoor environment as in traditional heat pump systems. The enhanced features and design of VRF-HR systems has a great potential to produce significant energy savings. Each manufacturer has a proprietary design with unique valve arrangements. VRF-HR systems are best used in buildings where some of the spaces need to be cooled and other spaces need to be heated at the same time, such as medium to large sized buildings with large core space or in spaces on the north and south sides of the building.
Several advantages of a VRF system for your building’s HVAC needs include:
- User Comfort: the VRF system can respond to individual fluctuations in space load conditions. Each user can set the temperature in their space to their own comfort level versus one control for a variety of spaces in the traditional air condition system. The individuality of the VRF system also allows for separate billing in the case of multiple tenants within one commercial building.
- Design Flexibility: A single outdoor condensing unit can be connected to several different types of indoor units of varying capacity. Current systems allow for up to 48 indoor units to be connected to one condensing unit.
- Flexible Installation: VRF systems accommodate installation and commissioning on a floor by floor basis and they are lightweight and offer space-saving features.
- Energy Efficiency: Testing has indicated that VRF technology can reduce energy consumption by as much as 30 to 40% per year compared to a traditional compressor and it offers high coefficient of performance (COP). This system also minimizes ductwork, or completely eliminates it in some cases, which can reduce duct losses of airflow.
VRF systems might not suit all building situations, but when applied correctly they can greatly improve both the comfort and efficiency of your HVAC solution. Call the professionals at Action Air today for your free consultation on the best HVAC system for your business!