5 Benefits of Selling VRF HVAC Technology
Originally published: 09.10.21 by Emily Newton
Summary: Professionals who install and service air-conditioning equipment or are otherwise involved in the HVAC industry must know the advantages of the latest trends and technologies. Having that information makes them well-equipped to help clients make smarter buying decisions.
Variable refrigerant flow systems offer various perks that could cater to a customer’s immediate and long-term needs. Check out this overview of some of the top benefits of choosing VRF technology.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine discussing the latest industry innovations and trends.
Professionals working in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry often consider whether a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system would best suit their needs. A VRF HVAC system usually has an outdoor condensing unit connected to numerous evaporation components located indoors. These setups can modulate how much refrigerant each evaporation element receives, providing individualized control to each room. Here are some of the main advantages of this technology.
Good energy efficiency is a common desire of homeowners and property managers alike. Keeping costs down while maintaining comfort makes any HVAC system more practical. Many people ultimately choose variable refrigerant flow systems due to the energy savings they offer.
Statistics show that a VRF system can demonstrate 40%-50% better energy efficiency than some rooftop units. Additionally, the heat recovery-type VRF systems can warm certain areas of a building while simultaneously keeping others cool. That capability eliminates the possibility of unnecessarily heating or cooling a room and wasting energy.
Andrew Lehrer is the practice leader of high-performance buildings at Environmental Systems Design Inc. He explained, “heat recovery VRF systems allow for additional performance efficiency by providing the capability of capturing heat from a zone that requires cooling and reusing it in a zone that requires heating. This allows multiple diverse zones to be connected to a single set of central compressors, possibly resulting in a lower installed overall nominal tonnage when compared to using multiple independent systems.”
VRF HVAC systems also support clients’ environmental sustainability goals. Brian Nelson, principal at Nelson Mechanical Design Inc., sees VRF as a solution that fits into a future where people take more responsibility for the planet. This is especially true as more government authorities set climate-related milestones for fossil fuel reduction.
He explained, “Everything will be going electric — solar PV, wind, etc. — and you can’t cool your home with a propane boiler. But you can heat and cool a building with VRF and solar PV. We see that Massachusetts has made the governmental decision to promote VRF and discourage fossil fuels, which is great if you choose to dive into VRF.” The state has numerous rebate programs for eco-friendly upgrades, including variable refrigerant flow systems.
VRF HVAC systems are comparably more compact than other setups, largely since they require less ductwork. That’s one of the reasons why people in high-end or historical homes see them as appealing options.
VRF is viable if a homeowner lacks the space for traditional ductwork or wants to preserve certain aesthetics. A VRF-based system only requires ducting for the ventilation system. Moreover, it can be smaller than conventional ductwork, reducing a building’s height requirements and the associated costs.
Plus, customized ductwork providers can minimize the system’s footprint even further. Some companies stock fittings ranging from 4-24 inches in diameter and have on-site machinery to efficiently fabricate customized pieces.
VRF systems are also ideal when clients want climate control solutions that pay off in the short term and for years later. Although some upfront costs are often higher than other options, the expenses tend to balance out in the long run.
One reason is that many leading companies offering VRF options provide prefabricated parts. Those are usually easier to install, as long as the professionals doing the job have the necessary education. Many companies make obtaining the knowledge as seamless as possible by publishing learning modules and operating technical support lines for installers to use and get advice about challenging jobs. Thus, the associated labor costs can go down.
Additionally, customers that want to pursue retrofitting when getting VRF would allow installers to use some of the existing infrastructure for the project. That also makes VRF a cost-effective solution.
Once clients begin using a VRF system, they’ll benefit from other money-saving advantages, like increased energy efficiency. Using other advanced technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, can also help clients experience the benefits of predictive maintenance. Better insights can prevent catastrophic and costly failures.
A VRF HVAC system allows people to set zones based on the temperature requirements of each area of a building. That’s one reason for the increased interest in VRF technology among people responsible for managing university housing.
For example, a residential building typically has numerous activities happening at any given time. The people participating in them have varied temperature requirements. Most occupants probably want heat during the winter months, but that’s not necessarily true in all areas. Those using a building’s fitness room would appreciate a cool environment to make their workouts more enjoyable.
Additionally, as college campuses become more populated while COVID-19 remains a risk, administrators may need to temporarily close certain parts of a residence hall or the entire building to deal with suspected outbreaks. Some institutions may have fewer residents than usual if more students opt to stay at home and commute to class. VRF makes it possible to deal with those occupancy fluctuations by only heating and cooling the parts of a building requiring temperature control.
This overview shows why many people decide that a VRF HVAC system is the best option for their climate control upgrades. Making the best decisions requires clients to think about their specific needs and listen to advice from experienced installers. Knowing the benefits of VRF systems helps HVAC professionals guide their customers’ choices.