Sometimes in existing construction, we just need to stick with the existing HVAC system. To meet this need, existing equipment, like chillers, AHUs, and refrigeration compressors, are being replaced with equipment that is available with the variable refrigerant concept. We are now seeing water source heat pumps (WSHP), dehumidifiers, make-up air units, chillers, refrigeration compressors, and heat pump boilers/water heaters using the VRF technology. This is improving energy efficiency significantly while also reducing noise, providing better temperature control, increasing the equipment longevity, and reducing maintenance. This technology allows us to save energy without compromising comfort.
When evaluating which type of HVAC system to recommend, customers are interested in: first cost, operating cost, maintenance intensity, audibility, and longevity of infrastructure. In my experience, VRF technology offers a superior product on all these counts, except first cost. But first cost is getting better as engineers and contractors become more knowledgeable about and comfortable with the products. So, rather than doing a complete HVAC replacement to VRF with a dedicated outside air system, this evolution of variable capacity compressors provides engineers and contractors with many solutions to economically save energy for their customers.