As an HVAC contractor, you have probably heard coworkers and industry professionals talk about VRF systems. But do you know how they work and the benefits they can provide to a job? While it may be a common term that gets brought up in the world of contractors and builders, more often than not, there are many misconceptions surrounding this technology that are mentioned as well. Since VRF systems haven’t been around as long as your typical HVAC unit, we thought it was time to bust the myths and get the cold hard facts about VRF systems to help you discover how you, and your customers might benefit from this state-of-the-art HVAC system.
What is VRF?
VRF stands for variable refrigerant flow, and while it has been in use around the world since the 1980s, VRF didn’t become readily available in the US until about 15 years ago. If you’ve heard of ductless mini-splits, it’s not much different – a VRF system performs similarly by varying the capacity of refrigerant it provides to its indoor units, but has more advanced control functionality and can also provide simultaneous heating and cooling. Here are some unique features of VRF to help you understand the difference:
- Inverter-driven compressors: The outdoor unit features one or more compressors that are inverter driven, meaning their speed can vary based on the building’s heating and cooling demand.
- High-capacity performance:While the precise design and performance capabilities of a VRF system vary based on its application, it can meet the high heating and cooling loads of very large buildings.
- More precise zoning:Various VRF controller types are available, with a central controller capable of monitoring, scheduling, and controlling up to 50 indoor units. Plus, several central controllers can be networked together and tied to the building management system, providing the ultimate zoning and control in large facilities.
- Heat pump and heat recovery modes: VRF can perform just like a heat pump system, or it can enter heat recovery mode to provide simultaneous heating and cooling throughout different areas of the building.
Myth: VRF is Only for Commercial Applications
VRF comes in single-phase electric configurations, and with its advanced control capabilities, it can be combined with various HVAC products and can be scaled to meet the comfort needs of any size building, including single-family homes.
Myth: VRF Units are Bulky
On the contrary, VRF is compact and sleek in comparison to traditional HVAC equipment. It’s ideal anywhere space is limited and minimum clearance is required.
Myth: VRF Equipment Offers Comparable Efficiency to Other HVAC Systems
Variable refrigerant systems perform about 30% more efficiently than conventional HVAC systems. This is largely thanks to the inverter-driven compressor, which meets precise heating and cooling loads while reducing energy usage.
Fact: VRF Can Heat and Cool Simultaneously
Both heat pump and heat recovery systems provide heating and cooling, but a heat recovery VRF is ideal when you need heating and cooling at the same time. The system uses refrigerant to transfer heat from one area to another, exhausting surplus heat to the exterior as needed.
Fact: VRF Systems Provide Better Indoor Air Quality
While VRF systems transfer heat between zones, they don’t circulate the air itself. This reduces the spread of airborne allergens and minimizes the risk of occupational illness.
Fact: VRF Systems Run Quietly
Traditional HVAC systems turn on and off with a loud bang, and noisy air rushes at high speeds through the ductwork. VRF systems operate at low decibels, reducing ambient noise both inside and outside the building.
Fact: VRF Equipment is Easy to Install
VRF systems are smaller in size, lighter in weight, and don’t require ductwork, making them easier to install than traditional HVAC equipment. Remember, trained installers are still required to perform the job safely.
Have a project in mind that could benefit from a VRF system? Now that you have a better understanding of what VRF is and what it can do for you and your clients, we here at CE are here to get you what you need. Contact us today to get started.