The importance of VRF in commercial air conditioning

Today, with such a wide range of commercial air conditioning products available in Australia, it can be difficult for building owners and developers to know which system is the best to suit their various projects.

As someone who is interested in commercial air conditioning, you probably want to find out more about Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems so that you save money in the long run!

 What is a VRF?

Variable Refrigerant Flow or VRF system (also known as Variable Refrigerant Volume system) was invented back in 1982 to serve commercial air conditioning purposes. Similar to a split system, a VRF uses refrigerant as a cooling and heating medium. The major difference, however, is that a Variable Refrigerant Flow has a single outdoor unit that can circulate the conditioned air to multiple indoor units throughout the building.

Therefore, it is ideal for commercial or office buildings that require a more complex climate control approach based on the different needs and preferences of the occupants.

What are the types of VRF available?

Typically, Variable Refrigerant Flow systems are available in two formats: 2-pipe and 3-pipe. Every category displays various models and capacities, created to optimize overall comfort while constantly focusing on energy-efficiency innovations.

  1. 2-Pipe

VRF is usually available for cooling only or heating only for all spaces of the building, depending on the season.

To overcome constraints, Mitsubishi Electric was the first company to invent a Hybrid VRF system. The “hybrid” is a “heating and cooling 2-pipe system” pioneer that uses refrigerant between the outdoor unit and the HBC (Hydro BC controller), and water between the HBC and the indoor units. This system is suitable for hospitals, hotels or offices.

  1. 3-Pipe

Widely used in commercial AC, a 3-pipe system has the advantage of simultaneously cooling/heating different parts of a building. Basically, these types of VRF systems can transfer the heat extracted from the spaces requiring cooling to areas demanding heating in order to deliver maximum comfort.

What are the main advantages of using a VRF system?

  • Flexibility – a heating/cooling integrated solution

In general, VRF systems provide a high level of flexibility through its ability to control small spaces independently. It is, thus, a multifunctional thermal system.

  • High energy efficiency and money saving solution

Since heat is extracted and transferred to areas where it is needed, less energy is wasted, which leads to lower operating costs. This way, the VRF system meets a key requirement for users.

Which brands offer high-end VRF systems?

  1. Panasonic – 2-pipe: FSV-EX ME2 and mini-FSV LE1 series – providing heating or cooling; 3-pipe: FSV MF2 series – simultaneous heating and cooling operation
  2. Toshiba – 2-pipe: SMMSe (Super Modular Multi System) – heating or cooling only, MiNi VRF (compact system ideal for small spaces). 3-pipe: SHRMi (Super Heat Recovery Multi) – simultaneous heating and cooling.
  3. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – KX series using Superlink control system. You can connect up to 128 indoor units and 32 outdoor units into a network.
  4. Mitsubishi Electric – City Multi-Hybrid VRF – simultaneous heating and cooling 2-pipe system
  5. Fujitsu General – VRF Airstage series – 2-pipe: J, J-II and J-IIS and V-II series – heating or cooling only; VR-II – simultaneous heating and cooling

In conclusion, with such a wide array to choose from, we are confident you will make the best decision for your project based on the building needs and priorities!

Until next time, stay comfortable and have a productive week!

Your friend and AC expert,

John Ricca