Can a building be heated by VRF system and old radiators can be eliminated?
Architects/Owners/Building engineers have likely heard of VRF systems but might be wondering what exactly VRF is – which stands for variable refrigerant flow – how it works and can be used for heating.
VRF systems have different types. We will discuss only straight cool or heat type in this article. VRF system is basically a traditional heat pump system using a refrigeration cycle in reverse mode. The difference between traditional split DX unit which is common in many buildings and VRF system is the compressor operation. VRF systems get their name from variable compressor operation. Compressor speed modulates based on the building demand which results high efficiency in cooling/heating system. When the VRF system is in heating mode, it can provide warm air to the space like a traditional heat pump system.
Can we eliminate radiators and use VRF Heating only?
The answer to this question is “Yes” but has some restrictions. VRF system can be the only heat source for heating but it depends on the location and the building load. Engineers check these variables and decide if the VRF system is viable option for heating. If the building load and location parameters acceptable, radiators can be eliminated.
Smaller windows and low heat loss can allow eliminating the radiators and using VRF system. Calculations shall be performed by engineer to make the determination.
Location is also a factor. VRF systems are much better in low ambient temperature operations than traditional DX heat pumps. Specifications and selections for the VRF heating has some specialties. Engineers specify the VRF requirements for low ambient temperature operation for the region.
Benefits for eliminating radiators and using VRF system for heating:
– Eliminates gas or fuel for heating
– Eliminates boilers or heaters and all required infrastructure
– VRF system is more efficient than any other DX system.
– VRF system can provide cooling and heating.
RM Breen & Associates are full-service Consultant Engineers providing high-quality, Mechanical, Electrical and Sustainable Engineering services to architects, owners and developers.