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Keeping commercial spaces comfortable in California can be quite costly, especially if the building still uses traditional HVAC equipment. Luckily, various modern heating & cooling options have proved to be very energy efficient. One such option is the installation of a VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) HVAC system. 

This ductless system was invented more than 30 years ago in Japan and works like a mini-split unit, cooling, and heating with refrigerant. Since then, the system has gained popularity in other areas including the USA due to the several benefits it offers commercial buildings. But, what exactly is a VRF system, and how does it even work? Read on to find out! 


What’s a VRF HVAC system for commercial buildings? 

A commercial VRF HVAC system is an advanced version of ductless mini-split type systems. As a result, it allows more indoor heating and cooling units to be connected to a single outdoor unit. Moreover, it provides additional features like heat recovery as well as simultaneous cooling & heating. As an example, it allows for cooling and heating in different zones at the same time. This helps to increase the occupants’ comfort while improving the energy savings further. In addition to cooling & heating commercial spaces, a VRF system provides improved humidity control and a quiet comfort experience. Better still, it offers individual set pints for each indoor unit. 

Note, commercial VRF systems in HVAC aren’t operated by ON/ OFF switches. Instead, they work at a different speed, thus reducing the energy load conditions. More notably, this helps them to save about 55% energy consumption compared to conventional HVAC systems. 

In essence, VRF systems consist of an Air Conditioning Unit inverter. Also, they vary both the refrigerant flow and motor speed depending on the needed comfort conditions. More importantly, these systems largely involve automatic operation. 

How Commercial VRF systems in HVAC work!

In general, a VRF system comprises a single outdoor condenser with up to forty indoor fan coil systems. The condensing unit sends a variable amount of cooling and heating to each indoor fan coil unit. While separate evaporation components either send cooling or heating to specific parts of the building to meet the unique needs of each part. This makes it possible to cool and heat different areas simultaneously. 

Another thing worth mentioning is that each indoor fan coil operates with a different fan speed and refrigerant flow. Hence the name ‘Variable Refrigerant Flow’! All in all, these variations provide an incredible level of control over the atmosphere in each area of the building. 

Why do commercial spaces need VRF Units? 

As we’ve already mentioned, VRF systems are suitable for commercial buildings. But why? First, these systems allow you to consider each building space as an independent unit. That way, you can keep the employees more comfortable while working in strenuous conditions. Or protect the items stored in the warehouse by maintaining a cooler environment. Also, in retail or office areas of a MUD (Mixed-Use Development), a VRF system will enable you to maintain a slightly warmer temperature.

Moreover, a commercial VRF system allows you to put specialized needs into consideration. For instance, it will allow you to maintain a warmer atmosphere in the storage area, but with lower fan speeds. On the contrary, computer rooms require cooler temperatures and higher fan speeds 


Why choose VRF systems over Traditional HVAC Systems?  

Variable Refrigerant Flow systems are relatively compact. This gives HVAC contractors, engineers, building owners, and architects various options for optimizing the usable space. Besides, these units have fewer parts, thus reducing the initial equipment costs. Similarly, the installation costs are reduced since they have smaller diameter refrigerant lines. These lines are much easier to install compared to the long ductwork that runs through the walls in existing commercial buildings. Better still, these systems are easy to operate after installation and offer precise comfort to every space in the building. 

In addition, these ductless systems have unlimited options for commercial building applications. For instance, they can be used in historic building renovation or heating & cooling universities, schools, manufacturing facilities, hospitals, etc. 

Is a VRF HVAC unit right for your commercial building? 

Commercial VRF systems are flexible in design and versatile in function. For that, they’re suitable for use in various commercial spaces. For instance, they can be used to offer reliable temperature control in churches, banks as well as office spaces. 

Even better, most VRF units are naturally scalable. As a result, they can be built one part at a time, regardless of the required size of the resulting VRF system. More notably, this makes them ideal for older structures undergoing extensive renovations or large new buildings under construction. Besides, VRF systems do not need any ductwork, so they can be installed almost anywhere, regardless of the existing type of HVAC unit. 


VRF units are a flexible, efficient, and cost-effective HVAC solution for commercial buildings. However, this ductless systems technology is rapidly changing. Yet not all HVAC experts in California have adequate training to keep up with the emerging technologies. For that reason, it’s important to find a VRF professional if you’re thinking about installing this new technology in your commercial HVAC project. 

To learn more about Commercial VRF systems, contact Innodez Design & Engineering. Our HVAC experts have created the best VRF System design for most commercial spaces in California! 

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