In general, VRF technology provides the ability for multiple indoor units or zones to operate on the same system. VRF systems can either be a heat pump system or a heat recovery system, which provides simultaneous heating and cooling.
The term VRF indicates the ability of the system to vary and control the refrigerant flow through multiple evaporator coils to provide individual temperature control in various mechanical comfort zones.
VRF systems act as multi-split systems, connecting multiple indoor units with one centralized outdoor condensing unit assembly, providing simultaneous heating and cooling and heat recovery in various zones as follows:
- The VRF heat pump system provides heating and cooling for all indoor units at a specific time (see Figure 1)
- The VRF system provides non simultaneous cooling and heating at any time
- Heat-recovery systems provide simultaneous cooling and heating as well as heat recovery, transferring the energy from cooling zones to heating zones of the building
All of the above features are accomplished by VRF-enhanced technology using:
- Variable-speed and capacity-modulated inverter duty compressors
- Outdoor fans with variable frequency drives motors
- Indoor units with Electronically Commutated Motors (ECM).
Heat pump systems are used in restaurants, lobby areas, clubhouses, or religious facilities where there is a defined cooling or heating mode of operation. All indoor units will operate in either cooling or heating mode (non-simultaneous).
Heat pump systems with heat recovery are used in historical buildings, schools, office buildings, assisted living facilities, hotels, banks, and other commercial buildings where simultaneous cooling and heating is a design requirement.
- Increased energy efficiency and energy savings, for an average of 20% to 30% energy savings relative to variable air volume systems with reheat and constant air volume systems with gas heat
- Very good part-load performance due to inverter-duty variable-speed compressors modulating the capacity from 10% to 100%
- Good zoning control, providing simultaneous cooling and heating with heat recovery
- Reduced ductwork and duct losses are confined to the ventilation air system (approximately 20% of the conventional HVAC system).
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