Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Systems
Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) is an air-condition system configuration where there is one outdoor condensing unit and multiple indoor units. The term variable refrigerant flow refers to the ability of the system to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to the multiple evaporators (indoor units), enabling the use of many evaporators of differing capacities and configurations connected to a single condensing unit. The arrangement provides an individualized comfort control, and simultaneous heating and cooling in different zones.
Currently widely applied in large buildings especially in Japan and Europe, these systems are just starting to be introduced in the U.S. The VRF technology/system was developed and designed by Daikin Industries, Japan who named and protected the term variable refrigerant volume (VRV) system so other manufacturers use the term VRF "variable refrigerant flow". In essence both are same.
With a higher efficiency and increased controllability, the VRF system can help achieve a sustainable design. Unfortunately, the design of VRF systems is more complicated and requires additional work compared to designing a conventional direct expansion (DX) system.
This course provides an overview of VRF system technology.
OVERVIEW OF VRF SYSTEMS
The primary function of all air-conditioning systems is to provide thermal comfort for building occupants. There are a wide range of air conditioning systems available, starting from the basic window-fitted units to the small split systems, to the medium scale package units, to the large chilled water systems, and currently to the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems.
The term VRF refers to the ability of the system to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to each of the evaporators, enabling the use of many evaporators of differing capacities and configurations, individualized comfort control, simultaneous heating and cooling in different zones, and heat recovery from one zone to another. VRF systems operate on the direct expansion (DX) principle meaning that heat is transferred to or from the space directly by circulating refrigerant to evaporators located near or within the conditioned space. Refrigerant flow control is the key to many advantages as well as the major technical challenge of VRF systems.
Note the term VRF systems should not be confused with the centralized VAV (variable air volume) systems, which work by varying the air flow to the conditioned space based on variation in room loads.
★ The main advantage of a variable refrigerant flow system is its ability to respond individually to fluctuations in space load conditions. The user can set the ambient temperature of each room as per his/her requirements and the system will automatically adjust the refrigerant flow to suit the requirement;
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