Trending: Variable Refrigerant Flow is the Wave of Your HVAC Future

Every Tuesday for approximately 10 weeks during the Fall and Spring season, we at Suburban Companies invest in our staff and host training sessions to get us up to speed on the latest and greatest technologies in the HVAC industry.

We’ve spent this Fall getting up to speed on Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC systems, which are quite an impressively bolstered piece of technology in our industry. VRF HVAC systems offer the most heating and cooling comfort in a property – from commercial to large-scale residence units – with multiple ranges of environmental comfort needs.

Here are the basic advantages of a VRF system:

  • Consistent comfort
  • Quiet operation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Installation flexibility, great for tight spaces
  • Heat and cool simultaneously in myriad zones
  • State-of-the-art controls
  • Fewer breakdowns/less downtime

The most common question we’re hearing out of the gate is, “what is a Variable Refrigerant Flow or VRF HVAC system?”

VRF HVAC systems have been the popular HVAC system of choice in Europe, Japan, China and other parts of the world for quite some time. Over the past half-decade or so, the technology has become increasingly popular on domestic soil here in the United States – especially in areas of populace congestion such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York City.

VRF HVAC systems are, for all intents and purposes, like traditional central air conditioning systems in that they’re air-cooled and refrigerant-based, using outdoor condenser units and indoor fan coil units – but that’s where the similarities end. VRF systems rids itself of typical bulky, noisy units that often times sounds like a plane taking off when it fires up. Instead, the VRF technology employs smaller, individually controlled handlers.

The term variable refrigerant flow, or VRF, refers to the system’s ability to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to each of these small air handlers. This sophisticated new VRF HVAC technology is capable of providing not only cooling, but also heat, and, wait for it, it can even make both heating and cooling happen simultaneously to different areas within the property. Now that’s pretty amazing. The use of multiple indoor units provides the ability to create zones that can be individually controlled. What’s more, these VRF HVAC systems are very quiet and energy-efficient because the variable-speed compressor runs only at the capacity needed for the current conditions. These units are perfect for:

  • Large homes
  • Apartment complexes
  • Restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Offices
  • and so much more…

5 Reasons to Choose a VRF HVAC System

1. ENERGY EFFICIENCY. VRF HVAC systems are designed to provide the exact the amount of cooling needed for the current environmental conditions, which means it runs less frequently and at a lower capacity. The VRF HVAC system is also designed to capture heat from the cooling process and reuse it in other areas that may need heating.

2. QUIET OPERATION. As mentioned the new technology is consists of smaller indoor air handlers which are quieter than a traditional split system.

3. HEAT AND COOL SIMULTANEOUSLY. We mentioned this above, but seriously, this is awesome… The VRF HVAC system captures residual heat absorbed from the air during the cooling process, and redirects that heat to other parts of the building that need heat. That means you can have air conditioning in the living room for a party, while you heat the bedroom where the baby is sleeping. Or you can have heat in the winter for cooler window offices, and air conditioning in the central conference room for a large meeting. VRF HVAC technology measures the precise requirements of each zone, and sends the precise amount of refrigerant needed to do whatever the job calls for. As a result, each area of your space is consistently comfortable with well-controlled humidity and no hot or cold spots.

4. LESS DOWNTIME. Since the VRF HVAC system is designed to run only when needed and under partial-load conditions, there is less wear and tear on the parts. This means fewer breakdowns – which is a great cost savings benefit, honestly. Also, if something goes wrong with one air handler, often the others are unaffected. That means your whole space won’t be compromised without air conditioning all at once.

5. MODERN CONTROLS. For residences, you can take advantage of mobile control technology that lets you adjust temperature settings for each zone from your mobile device. For commercial settings, the VRF HVAC system’s built-in controls may allow you to skip purchasing expensive building management software.

A single VRF system can power up to 64 independent indoor units, depending on the system. This provides superior zoning because the refrigerant flow can vary from location to location, delivering only the necessary capacity to each zone.


For all your heating and cooling needs, contact us at Suburban Companies and take comfort.