Variable Refrigerant Flow

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) can simultaneously heat and cool different spaces in a facility. It allows greater temperature control while conserving energy. VRF can achieve 34% energy savings compared to older systems.

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GPG Findings 006, December 2012, Variable Refrigerant Flow. Opportunity: How much energy is used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) in U.S. office buildings? 34% of energy goes to HVAC. 3% of U.S. office buildings rely on VRF. Primary HVAC system in Europe, Japan and China. Technology: How does VRF work? Provides independent temperature control to rooms throughout building. Uses refrigerant as cooling and heating medium; substituting thin pipes for ductwork. Measurement and Verification: Where did M and V occur? Pacific Northwest National Laboratory drew from a wide variety of sources to evaluate the performance of VRF for GSA buildings. Results: How did VRF perform in M and V? 34% energy savings projected relative to code-compliant HVAC. Thin profile advantageous in historic buildings with limited room for ductwork. Cost-effective when the premium is less than $4 square foot compared to code-compliant HVAC.  Deployment: Where does M and V recommend deploying VRF? Pilot projects. Research on field performance is limited. [PDF - 231 KB]

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Last Reviewed: 2022-11-19