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VRF HVAC Systems

What is a VRF HVAC System?

VRF stands for Variable Refrigerant Flow. VRF HVAC systems offer a solution that is efficient, compact, and provides superior comfort that is often difficult to achieve in commercial buildings.

VRF HVAC systems are heat pump systems, which means it can heat and cool your building with the same equipment – no furnace necessary. Some kinds of VRF HVAC systems, called Heat Recovery VRF systems, can heat and cool your spaces at the same time and save energy while doing it.

Similar to residential ductless systems, VRF uses refrigerant as the heat transfer medium to deliver heating and cooling to each zone. Refrigerant is contained in small, insulated piping that connects the indoor and outdoor components of the VRF system. Using refrigerant to heat and cool your Dallas-Fort Worth commercial building is more efficient and requires less space than using conditioned air delivered through ductwork.

Benefits of VRF Systems to Building Owners

VRF systems offer a wide variety of benefits to commercial building owners. First, because a variable refrigerant flow system delivers heating and cooling to a space using refrigerant, rather than air, it is the most efficient type of system available to building owners today. That means a much smaller energy bill for years to come.

The VRF outdoor units are also significantly smaller in size than traditional equipment of the same capacity.

The space savings continue inside – with small refrigerant piping being used in place of larger, bulky ductwork. This makes VRF systems ideal for renovations or projects where ceiling space is at a premium. For new construction projects, this means less building material, faster installation, and simpler coordination with other trades.

VRF systems are also more reliable than traditional system types. Because the compressor operates at the speed required to keep spaces comfortable – rather than 100% speed when it isn’t necessary – there is less wear and tear that would result in downtime. Also, if one indoor unit incurs an issue that requires service, the other indoor units on the system can continue to operate.

Traditional vs VRF Systems

Benefits of VRF Systems to Occupants

HVAC VRF system diagram

Many people love living and working in spaces that have a variable refrigerant flow system installed. One of the main reasons is because each indoor unit can operate at a unique setpoint and fan speed. Imagine a row of offices where each person has control of their own temperature settings: a VRF system will end the thermostat wars!

Also, VRF systems are much quieter than traditional HVAC systems. Many people have experienced sleeping next to a window where a noisy outdoor unit kicks on and shuts off throughout the night as the unit responds to temperature changes in the room. By contrast, VRF systems operate continuously at very low volume. A VRF outdoor unit is so quiet, occupants may not even realize it’s on…or that it exists at all!

What Equipment Makes up a VRF HVAC System?

A VRF system will always contain the following components:

Outdoor Units

The VRF outdoor unit contains the key mechanical components to heat or cool the refrigerant. The outdoor unit is typically located outdoors and is about a third of the size of a rooftop unit of comparable capacity. A VRF outdoor unit includes a compressor, refrigerant accumulator, condensing coils, and a fan to draw air across the coils.

The compressor operates at a variable speed, which is unique compared to more common HVAC system types. Most traditional HVAC systems operate at a single compressor speed (full speed or off), and some newer types of traditional HVAC equipment offer staged compressor operation (such as 50%, 70%, and 100% operation modes). The compressors in VRF equipment are completely variable and can operate at speeds as low as around 10% and modulate up or down in very small increments. The result is enormous energy savings.

Indoor Units

VRF indoor units are located within each space that will have its own setpoint. For example, each resident suite in an assisted care facility would have its own indoor unit and therefore, individual temperature control. Indoor units are very quiet and contain the cooling and heating coil, a fan, and a valve that will automatically adjust the amount of refrigerant that enters the coil. This ensures the space will stay at an even temperature and reduce temperature swings.


VRF systems come with their own controls built-in on every component of the system. While many residential thermostats simply communicate an “ON” or “OFF” signal, the VRF on-board controls are constantly communicating about the precise heating and cooling needs of every connected space, and adjusting automatically. For this reason, VRF systems use special space controllers for each indoor unit in place of traditional thermostats. Central controllers, to view all indoor units connected to VRF systems, are also available.

Leading The Way As Your Local Dallas VRF Experts

VRF HVAC systems have been sold in the U.S. for over 20 years, but there are still relatively few contractors that are trained to install and service them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Advent Air Conditioning has invested in training our team on the unique technology of VRF systems. Contact us today about installing a new Carrier® VRF system in your commercial building.

We are also able to service other VRF systems such as Mitsubishi VRF, LG VRF, Daikin VRV, Samsung VRF, Lennox VRF, and more.