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VS VRV Part 1

ashrae Last week, we discussed about

Mar 4, 2016 how Vapor Compression Cycle
work in correlation to how the
split system works. While split
system is common, it may take up
too much space and has low
e;ciency, so big commercial
building have a tendency not to
use it. This is because there are
another way of air conditioning
system that best meets the
standard cooling and cost
effectiveness of the building.

There are 2 widely used ways of

cooling a large space without
using the split system which is
using Chillers or VRF/VRV. Both
chillers and VRV use vapor
compression cycle much like the
split system but with different
system and components. Below
are some explanations about both
systems. We will start from the
older of the two.


A chiller is a heat transfer device

that uses mechanical refrigeration
to remove heat from process load
and transfers the heat to the
environtment. Chiller are used by
plastics processors when they
need a lower process Euid
temperature than a simpler
system, such as an evaporative
cooling tower, can provide [1]

How it works?

Much like how the split system

works, a chiller works by removing
heat from a heat source to an
environment where temperature
must be maintained on our needs.
This heat removal process is
based on the principle that heat
will move from a hotter source to
a colder source. A chiller consist
of two main Euid circuit- a
refrigeration circuit which is
where the vapor compression
cycle takes place and a cooling
:uid where usually water is used
[2]. The cooling Euid is placed on
evaporator and condenser part of
the vapor compression cycle.

When refrigerant enters the

evaporator stage, the cooling
effect is transferred to the water
by heat exchange to make the
water cooled typically to 7°C. The
water is then pumped to the Air
Handling Unit or Fan Coil Unit
where air is conditioned by the
cold water before being
distributed to rooms. The result is
a cool air typically 22°C which is
blown through the ducting system
and into the rooms. In the AHU or
FCU, there can also be

Types of chiller

Chiller is divided as Air Cooled

and Water Cooled Chiller. The
difference is only in the
condenser. In an Air Cooled
Chiller, the fan will blow air to the
refrigerant coil into the air just like
the outdoor unit of a split system.
In Water Cooled Chiller, the
condenser is coupled to a third
Euid-water circuit to cool the
refrigerant. Heat is transferred to
the water more e;ciently by heat
exchange. The water will then be
sent to Cooling Tower to be
recooled. In a cooling tower,
cooling of the main mass of water
is obtained by the evaporation of
a small proportion into the
airstream. Cooled water leaving
the tower will be 3–8 K warmer
than the incoming air wet bulb
temperature [3]. The closest it
gets to the wet bulb temperature,
the better the cooling tower is.
Since water is a better heat
exchange media, a water cooled
chiller is almost always more
e;cient in terms of COP than air
cooled chillers. However, it needs
more components like cooling
towers which will need more
investment cost.


VRF or VRV is the same, the

original name is VRF, but Daikin
named it to the global market as
VRV. This system utilizes variable
refrigerant :ow (VRF) or variable
refrigerant volume (VRV)
technology and uses an evolved
heat-pump technology with heat
recovery systems and sub-cooling
built in, which increases
effectiveness and e;ciency. The
use of this evolved technology
makes these systems a good
option for certain kinds of
commercial construction projects
that require high levels of
Eexibility when it comes to
occupant comfort or for retroEt

VRV system is equipped with a

CPU and a compressor inverter
and has already proven to be a
reliable, more energy e;cient than
many aspects of the old air-
conditioning systems such as
central air conditioning (Chiller),
air conditioning Split, or Split AC
Duct. The system is similar to the
split system with alterations that
one outdoor unit can now be used
for multiple indoor air conditioner.

VRF/VRV is a proven technology

which can play a large part in
helping integrated building
services design to achieve high
energy e;ciency. It is based on
the simple vapor compression
cycle but must be fully
understood to exploit its full
potential, both at the design
stage, and in installation,
commissioning and service [4].
VRF systems operate on the
direct expansion (DX) principle
meaning that heat is transferred
to or from the space directly by
circulating refrigerant to
evaporators located in the indoor
unit within the conditioned space.
Refrigerant Eow control is the key
to many advantages as well as
the major technical challenge of
VRF systems [5].

How it works?

You can see in cgure above about

system VRF/VRV works with one
outdoor unit can drive multiple
indoor unit. VRV indoor units are
modern, technologically advanced
and come in ceiling mounted
cassette, concealed ceiling,
ceiling suspended, wall mounted
and Eoor standing models [6]. In
VRV’s outdoor units in generally
they have 3 compressors, cn
treatment, and especially in
VRF/VRV edition the outdoor have
Inverter. The outdoor unit
supplies refrigerant to the indoor
unit. The compressor varies its
speed to match the indoor cooling
and heating demand, therefore
only consumes the energy that is

When an inverter-driven system is

operating at partial load, the
energy e;ciency of the system is
signiccantly higher than that of a
standard cxed–speed system. It
saves energy according to the
AKnity Law of fans or
compressors. This is because
cxed–speed systems can only
operate at 100% or 0% (ON or
OFF), however, in real time
conditions, a chiller almost always
operates at partial load. This
means that if we are using a cxed
speed system that operates at
100% capacity while not needing
it, we waste energy.

Types of VRF/VRV

1. VRF heat pump systems

VRF heat pump systems permit

heating or cooling in all of the
indoor units but NOT
simultaneous heating and
cooling. When the indoor units are
in the cooling mode, they act as
evaporators; when they are in the
heating mode, they act as
condensers. These are also
known as two-pipe systems.

2. Heat Recovery VRF system


Variable refrigerant Eow systems

with heat recovery (VRF-HR)
capability can operate
simultaneously in heating and/or
cooling mode, enabling heat to be
used rather than rejected as it
would be in traditional heat pump
systems. Each indoor unit is
branched off from the 3 pipes
using solenoid valves. An indoor
unit requiring cooling will open its
liquid line and suction line valves
and act as an evaporator. An
indoor unit requiring heating will
open its hot gas and liquid line
valves and will act as a
condenser. The 2 pipe heat
recovery system has a central
branch controller with 2 pipes
from the outdoor unit and 2 pipes
to each indoor unit. For mixed
mode operation the branch
controller separates a mixture of
saturated liquid and vapour
delivered by the outdoor unit so
that each indoor can receive high
pressure liquid or vapour. In both
cases the liquid produced by
indoor units in heating

mode is then used to serve indoor

units in cooling mode and
improved energy saving is
possible [7]. Units are now
available to deliver the heat
removed from space cooling into
hot water for space heating,
domestic hot water or leisure
applications, so that mixed mode
is utilized for more of the year.

Piping System in VRF/VRV

In the text above, we mentioned

about 3 pipe system and 2 pipe
sytem. VRF/VRV can use both of
them. You can check it in the
schematic below

3 Pipe System

2 Pipe Sytem

As shown by the two schematics

above, the 2‐pipe system must
make a compromise

during mixed load conditions. The

system is physically unable to
supply both high

temperature gas & high pressure

condensed liquid through a single

pipe. No such issues MENU !


with the 3 pipe design [8].


[1] Tim Miller, Understanding

Chillers: Which is Right for Your

[2] http://www.thermonics-

[3] Trott, A. R., Welch T.,2000

,Refrigeration and Air –
Conditioning Third edition,
OXFORD: McGraw-Hill

[4] Air Conditioning and Heat

Pump Institute : VRF/VRV
Variable refrigerant volume (or
Eow) technology

[5] A. Bhatia, HVAC Variable

Refrigerant Flow Systems


[7] Air Conditioning and Heat

Pump Institute : VRF/VRV
Variable refrigerant volume (or
Eow) technology)

[8] Carrier, VRF Design


$ Re7gerators

Refrigerators 3: Chillers Vs VRF part 2 #