Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) is an energy-efficient HVAC system that is growing in popularity around the world. It’s not a new technology, but it only recently entered the U.S. markets. Japan has been using it since the 1980s, and it’s a popular choice in many other parts of the world.
What VRF Systems Do
While conventional HVAC systems deliver a consistent amount of refrigerant, VRF systems can use a different amount for each evaporator. This lets you adjust the temperature for each part of the building, using a single HVAC system. With some VRF systems, you can even heat and cool different parts of a building.
There are currently four kinds of VRF systems:
- Cooling-only systems
- Heat pump systems, which can be used for both cooling and heating, but not at the same time
- Heat recovery systems that can heat and cool simultaneously.
- Water source systems have the features of other VRF systems. However, they are more efficient than air source systems because water carries heat more efficiently.
Is VRF the right choice?
VRF can cut energy costs by as much as a third. This makes them environmentally friendly as well as cost-efficient for many people. If your company is trying to get a green building certification, a VRF system may help you achieve that.
The upfront cost of VRF may explain why some people are slow to adopt it. A VRF system can cost twice as much as a DX system, and sometimes more. However, the energy savings can often quickly make up for the initial costs.
VRF systems are most popular for small buildings, but they can also be a smart choice for larger buildings with variable heating and cooling needs. Take into account your own building’s needs, and you’ll know if VRF is right for you.