EP 26: VRF Systems Provide Flexible Heating & Cooling Options: 10 Minutes To A Better Building

On this episode of 10 Minutes To A Better Building, Host Tyler Kern talked with Jason Lawrence, Ductless Technical Specialist at Boland Trane, which provides HVAC solutions and a network of more than 360 locations throughout the United States and Canada. They dove into VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow), the ins and outs, and when VRF is a good design application.

“Most VRF is heating and cooling equipment, and it’s a split system,” Lawrence said. “We have a condenser outside, and then we have indoor units. We could have up to 50 indoor units, or as something as simple as a condenser with one indoor unit.”

What makes this system different is that it’s a VX refrigeration system. It has refrigerant in it, but the compressor is actually modulating various capacities. And it’s the same thing with the fan motors, Lawrence explains. VRF systems provide energy savings, smaller zones, heat recovery, and reduced duct losses. While a simple Google search might show that a VRF system is ductless that isn’t always the case.

“Ductless is almost an improper term,” Lawrence said, “…but there’s a lot of ducted units, as well, that have air ducts on them. The difference being we may have a smaller duct system on a VRF unit.”

VRF systems offer many benefits. For example, in a home, there’s a thermostat, and it’s hot out. The home unit comes on at 100 percent of its capacity, cools it down to the thermostat temperature, and then turns off. A VRF system is similar to a car in that it’s able to match the load. It will require more energy when it starts up, but it’s easier to maintain once it’s going.

“We want it to match the load,” Lawrence said. “It stops so much of the slamming on and off, so it’s very energy efficient.”

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