What is VRF Air Conditioning? Variable Refrigerant Flow Explained
Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) is a highly efficient, highly versatile type of air conditioning technology. Also known as variable refrigerant volume (VRV), it was first introduced by the Japanese AC manufacturer Daikin back in 1982.
Though you may hear the terms VRF and VRV used interchangeably, the latter is actually a trademark of Daikin Industries Ltd., with the former referring to variable systems produced by any other manufacturer.
In this post, we take a closer look at VRF technology, its common applications and its benefits.
What is VRF Air Conditioning?
Variable is the key word in the acronym VRF. These systems - consisting of an outdoor unit attached to multiple indoor units - are capable of varying refrigerant flow based on the needs of each individual space. Essentially, they allow you to operate the internal units independently of each other. This is known as zonal control.
Like all modern AC systems, they can both heat and cool a space, though their full capability depends on the type of system installed:
Heat pump VRF systems will only heat or cool at any given time.
Heat recovery VRF systems will both heat and cool simultaneously, and use otherwise wasted heat energy from cooled zones to meet part of any heating requirements.
How Does VRF Air Conditioning Work?
VRF systems are able to vary refrigerant flow because of their use of inverter compressors. Inverter technology allows the compressor to ramp up or slow down its speed - i.e. adjust refrigerant flow - based on precise temperature requirements.
Each indoor unit dictates the required capacity based on the current temperature of the space, and the desired temperature set via its controls.
This means that, as well as facilitating zonal control, VRF air conditioning systems ensure only the minimum amount of energy is used to achieve comfortable conditions - lowering costs and carbon emissions.
What Are the Benefits of VRF Air Conditioning?
We’ve already mentioned one of the biggest benefits of VRF technology - its variable capability and precision make it highly energy efficient. But that’s not the only plus side to these AC systems: