Access Inc Blog


Why is VRF Technology the Right Choice?

If you’re considering replacing the HVAC system in your commercial space or high-end residence, there’s a new type of HVAC technology on the market that you need to know about. It’s called Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) and it’s the latest and greatest in heating and cooling comfort. But why is VRF technology the right choice?

These are the multiple advantages to a VRF system:

  • Consistent comfort
  • Quiet operation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Installation flexibility, great for tight spaces
  • Heat & cool simultaneously
  • Zoned heating & cooling
  • State-of-the-art controls
  • Fewer breakdowns/less downtime

What is a Variable Refrigerant Flow or VRF HVAC System?

Here in the US, many people are hearing about them and wondering what is a VRF system. But VRF systems have actually been around for decades. Variable Refrigerant Flow, or VRF HVAC systems, have been the HVAC system of choice in Europe, Japan, China and other parts of the world for quite some time. Over the past 5 to 10 years, VRF HVAC technology has become increasingly popular in the US and especially in large urban areas like New York City.

Like traditional central air conditioning systems used for residential and light commercial spaces, VRF HVAC systems are air-cooled and refrigerant-based, using outdoor condenser units and indoor fan coil units. But the similarity stops there. Instead of one large, noisy unit pumping out air to the whole space, a VRF HVAC system features several smaller air handlers that can be individually controlled and piped back to one system. The term variable refrigerant flow, or VRF, refers to the system’s ability to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to each of these small air handlers.

This sophisticated new VRF HVAC technology is capable of providing not only cooling, but also heat, and even both simultaneously to different areas within the space. The use of multiple indoor units provides the ability to create zones that can be individually controlled. What’s more, these VRF systems are very quiet and energy-efficient because the variable-speed compressor runs only at the capacity needed for the current conditions.

Spaces that are Ideal for VRF HVAC Systems

When space is at a premium and energy costs are high, residents and business owners are increasingly choosing VRF systems for these types of spaces:

  • High-end residences including brownstone townhouses and luxury apartments
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Office spaces
  • Anywhere that requires customized heating and cooling over multiple zones

Seven Advantages to Choosing a VRF HVAC System

VRF technology is the right choice as it offers multiple economic, as well as, customer advantages. Flexibility, comfort, quietness and energy efficiency are just some of the reasons why VFR utilization is growing. Access, Inc. Wisconsin and Access, Inc. Michigan are able to provide two different product lines to provide you the advantages that VRF has to offer:

  • Energy Efficiency
    • VRF HVAC systems use less energy for several reasons. The system is designed to provide exactly the amount of cooling needed for the current conditions, which means it runs less frequently and at a lower capacity. The VRF HVAC system is also designed to capture heat from the cooling process and reuse it in other areas that may need heating.
  • Quiet Operation
    • In a VRF HVAC system, the noisier condensing unit is typically outside, and the indoor air handlers are smaller and quieter than a traditional split system.
  • Heat and Cool Simultaneously
    • The VRF HVAC system captures residual heat absorbed from the air during the cooling process, and redirects that heat to other parts of the building that need heat. That means you can have air conditioning in the living room for a party, while you heat the bedroom where the baby is sleeping. Or you can have heat in the winter for cooler window offices, and air conditioning in the central conference room for a large meeting.
  • Modern Controls
    • For commercial settings, the VRF system’s built-in controls may allow you to skip purchasing expensive building management software.
  • Consistent Comfort
    • The VRF system’s compressor can detect the precise requirements of each zone, and send the precise amount of refrigerant needed to do the job. As a result, each area of your space is consistently comfortable with well-controlled humidity and no hot or cold spots.
  • Fewer breakdowns/less downtime
    • Since the VRF HVAC system is designed to run only when needed and under partial-load conditions, there is less wear and tear on the parts. That means fewer breakdowns. Also, if something goes wrong with one air handler, often the others are unaffected. That means your whole space won’t be without air conditioning all at once.
  • Requires Less Space
    • Since the air handlers are smaller and VRF HVAC systems don’t usually require ducts, they don’t require as much wall and ceiling space for the equipment. That means you get to keep those gorgeous high ceilings in your apartment.

What to Consider When Choosing a VRF HVAC system

Higher Up-Front Cost 
VRF HVAC systems may cost more than traditional central air systems up front. But this cost can be offset by lower energy bills and repair expenses over time. Ask an Access HVAC Sales Engineer to help you with a cost-benefit comparison.

Requires an Experienced Installer
These systems are extremely sophisticated and require a trained and experienced installer. If you choose a company that doesn’t understand the unique requirements of VRF HVAC systems, you’ll end up with sub-par performance and you’ll pay more in the end to have an expert come in to fix it.

May Require Supplemental Heating 
The VRF HVAC system may not be able to adequately heat your space during the coldest months.

Consider the Size of the Air Handlers
If space is tight be sure to ask an Access HVAC Sales Engineer to check the size of the air handling units when making a their recommendation.

Don’t Forget Service After the Sale – Maintenance

Like other HVAC systems, VRF HVAC systems do need to be regularly inspected and maintained by a professional. Parts need to may need to be replaced, and on occasion, emergency service need to be provided.

Access, Inc. has two teams of HVAC Customer Service Technicians trained to maintain and support VRF installations. In Wisconsin, your support team is ACSI. In NE Michigan and SW Ohio, your support team is ACS, LLC.

We also have two great parts departments, one at each location, to assist in parts identification and purchase.

Modified from the original by Michael Rosone in his blog posted December 18, 2018. The original can be found at https://aristair.com/blog/

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