A variant refrigerant flow, or VRF, system is a large-scale, high-capacity heating and cooling assembly. A VRF system is a larger and more complex version of a residential mini-split set up and supplies multi-zone climate control. Most VRF systems are multi-split and provide concurrent heating and cooling service.
How a VRF System Works and Its Benefits
A VRF system typically utilizes a single outdoor condenser and multiple indoor units paired with a heat pump or heat recovery system. The VRF system is a highly efficient HVAC configuration. By using electricity as its sole power source, VRF systems offer distinct advantages compared to a typical air-to-air heat pump driven unit, including:
- better part-load efficiencies,
- an adaptable format that can accommodate building limitations,
- straightforward installation,
- smaller and more customizable heating and cooling zones,
- greater energy efficiency and reduced duct losses,
- lower operational costs,
- quieter operation.
VRF Systems vs. VAV Systems
A VAV, or variable air volume, system uses an air handling unit to heat or cool a building. This older HVAC system design is similar to a VRF system and provides excellent temperature control. In terms of efficiency, a VRF system is estimated to provide 40%–53% energy savings in comparison with a VAV system.
A primary distinguishing feature of a VAV system is that it uses flow control fans and an air handling unit to maintain airflow rates vs. a VRF system that uses refrigerants. Each climate zone uses a VAV box that controls temperature, airflow rate, and pressure.
VRF vs. VRV Systems
In the 1980s, Japanese HVAC manufacturer Daikin registered the phrase VRV, which stands for Variable Refrigerant Volume, and later, the acronym VRF became synonymous with that type of system. So while there are two acronyms, they refer to the same technology.
Types of VRF Systems
Coolant systems and pipe systems are used to classify VRF systems.
- Air-cooled VRF systems
- Water-cooled VRF systems
- Two-pipe heat pump systems
- Three-pipe heat condenser systems
- Gas-driven systems
Save with an Energy Efficient HVAC System Today
At Henick-Lane, we have more than 50 years of experience designing and installing high-efficiency VRF HVAC systems for commercial buildings. Request a consultation or call 718-786-7277 to get started if your building or facility needs a replacement or upgrade from its old heating or air conditioning system to a newer, more energy-efficient design. We look forward to hearing from you.