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How Do VRF Systems Work?

Unlike chilled water systems in which refrigerant is used for cooling/heating of circulating water, VRF systems utilize the refrigerant itself which circulates between multiple indoor air handling units. True to the name, the VRFs use variable motors, and refrigerant flow is adjusted according to the temperature needs of a space, thereby using less energy. This high level of efficiency can save over 50% in utility costs.

VRF systems consist of at least one outdoor unit, multiple indoor air handlers, refrigerant piping, and communication wiring. Each indoor unit is controlled by its own wired panel. Some systems offer wireless control option as well as centralized controllers that are able to operate all indoor units from a single location. All of the indoor air handlers exist on the same refrigerant loop.

Because the indoor and outdoor units are separated, the indoor units should have a source of fresh air. This can come from windows or a dedicated outside air system. (building codes?). The team at Spaeder can determine a well-suited ventilation method for your building.

Citizens Bank VRF System by Wm. T. Spaeder

What Are the Benefits of a VRF System?

Other than significant energy cost savings, VRF Systems offer a number of additional benefits over traditional systems.

  • Variable motors. Traditional systems are either off or on. In VRF systems, the compressor load is increased according to demands, avoiding massive temperature fluctuations.
  • Ducted or ductless. You can choose to hide the or expose the indoor units depending on your preference and spatial restrictions.
  • Small Footprint. Outdoor units are conservatively sized, fitting into smaller spaces than the units in other HVAC systems, and usually do not require roof support.
  • Adaptable. Modular. Scalable. Indoor units can be added to the system as needed.
  • Quiet. Some VRF indoor units are as little as 27 decibels. (Normal conversation is about 60 decibels.)
  • Temperature Zone Control. Users can set rooms to their ideal temperature.


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