Building owners and operators are continually looking for ways to reduce the energy and cost required to heat and cool their buildings. Responding to this need, many US and overseas manufacturers are now manufacturing and selling Variable Refrigerant Flow systems (VRF).
These systems are being marketed as a more efficient and flexible alternative to traditional split DX, packaged rooftop and chilled water systems. Benefits are stated to include:
- Higher energy efficiency Simultaneous heating and cooling More flexible zoning
- Quiet operation
- No duct work
However, these newer systems may not necessarily be right for every building or application. Things to consider before purchasing and installing a VRF system include:
- Not all VRF systems provide simultaneous heating and cooling.
- First cost can be higher, especially for heat recovery systems that provide simultaneous heating and cooling.
- Minimizing or eliminating duct work may not be possible in larger rooms / areas.
- Separate 100% outside air systems will likely be required to meet current building and energy codes. Benefits of minimizing duct work are offset by the need to have a fully ducted 100% outside air system.
- Maintenance requires more knowledge than split DX and simpler packaged roof top units.
- Energy savings in large part can be due to capacity modulation and zoning, which may not be as applicable to all building operations.
If you are considering installing a VRF system in your new building, or replacing your existing system with a VRF system, give us a call. We can help you confirm that the decision is right for your building
Mark Fratto, P.E., LEED AP BD+C