Facility leaders must manage their building’s HVAC energy spend in addition to their many other responsibilities. It’s no small task balancing occupant health and comfort while regulating the energy demands heating and cooling equipment makes.
What’s more, these days it seems that everyone is an expert on the topic of energy savings and has no problem trumpeting their “quick fix” solution.
Many small steps can be taken to reduce your energy spend – manage energy supply cost, improve the building envelope, adjust ventilation and change behavior. We’d like to offer up a comprehensive, long-term solution that may make perfect sense for your application: Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF).
In this blog, we’ll define VRF technology and look at the various ways VRF can be a wonderful fit for many commercial buildings and facilities.
While Variable Refrigerant Flow may sound a little exotic, it really isn’t. In fact, VRF systems have existed for decades, originating in Europe and Asia. The technology took hold in North America only within the last 10-15 years.
Most of us are familiar with typical HVAC systems: evaporators, condensers, compressors and metering devices all working in concert to deliver heating or cooling to the space. Pretty basic. VRF systems share many of those same components, but they go about the process differently.
Here’s how: VRF systems circulate refrigerant via pipes between an outdoor condensing unit and multiple indoor fan coil units. This approach allows different areas within a building to be cooled or heated simultaneously. And because of the different cooling and heating demands placed on a unit’s compressor, designers added an inverter-driven motor to adjust the power to it.
Less demand on the compressor allows it to work less. And, obviously, less compressor work equals energy savings. What’s more, since the compressor motor has not shut off - only slowed – wear-and-tear on it also has been reduced.
Energy savings and healthier compressors aren’t the only perks of operating a VRF system.
Remember when we said earlier that VRF systems allow for simultaneous heating and cooling in a building? That’s important because we all know that people’s internal thermostats differ. Some like a warm office and others prefer an ice box. VRF systems make both options possible.
Improved climate controls lead to happy, productive building occupants, which means you get fewer complaints. Now you can focus on completing preventative maintenance measures and other important tasks. And we haven’t even mentioned installation and space advantages!
Not every facility leader oversees a new facility. In fact, many of us maintain buildings built 35, 70, even 100 years ago. Before air conditioning!
With a VRF system, you can avoid the hassle of installing invasive ductwork in your building. Why? There’s no need!
As we mentioned earlier, in VRF systems refrigerant passes through pipes from a single condenser to fan-coil units, and it’s those fan-coils that distribute air into an area. Therefore, ductwork is unnecessary. So is the hassle of working around brick walls, cramped ceiling space and the web of wires and pipes winding their way throughout a building.
Like anything mechanical, VRF systems must be maintained. Filters need to be changed, and condensate drains must be managed. Careful care of these systems, however, will lead to many years of reliable service.
While VRF technology is not new, it has only become more common in North America in recent years. If you have been considering replacing your current HVAC system due to age or inefficiencies, we encourage you to consider a VRF system.
These systems are ideal for many commercial buildings types. They are reliable, efficient and easy to maintain. And the energy savings you likely will enjoy can’t be overstated.
Would you like to know more about VRF technology or see if it’s the right fit for your building or facility? For more information, please email Jonathon Goering by clicking here or call 316-265-9655.
Knipp Services Equipment works with commercial and industrial building owners to identify solutions to reduce downtime and increase building efficiency. We provide services that enable building owners to have a high-performance building.
Topics: Variable Refrigerant Technology