VRF systems have been used in the United States for about 20 years. However, they’ve been popular elsewhere around the world for many years before that. With VRF technology, multiple indoor units or zones operate on the same system. VRF systems are designed with two components: indoor and outdoor. Multiple indoor units can be controlled individually by a single outdoor unit.
VRF designs are flexible, so they work in a wide variety of spaces. They’re simple to install because there is no ductwork involved. VRF systems are quiet and efficient. The compressors in VRF systems operate nonstop, which keeps indoor temperature consistently comfortable. They can heat and cool at the same time.
VRF systems (like Mitsubishi’s CITY MULTI systems) can be monitored and controlled remotely by energy management platforms. An EMS exponentially increases the advantages of VRF systems. Here are six actions a room-level automation system can perform when controlling VRF systems.
Centralize Facility Control
Streamline some of the routine tasks performed by facility engineers. An energy management platform allows them to monitor VRF system functions, troubleshoot potential problems, and even resolve some issues remotely. An EMS can be convenient for the facilities team and unobtrusive to occupants.
Profiles, sometimes called “schedules”, are climate control commands assigned to groups of room controllers. They are triggered by events such as summer/winter profiles, or VIP profiles. Profiles can even be based on the sunny and shady sides of a building. The VRF unit heat/cool/fan mode can be set, along with the temperature and humidity levels.
Offer Easy-to-Use Room Controllers
Today’s thermostats are so much more than temperature controllers; they can be entire room controllers. VRF units may be sophisticated designs, but that doesn’t mean the user interface needs to be. VRF and room controllers can be incredibly simple to operate: up and down arrows to adjust the temperature, buttons to switch from heat to cool to fan, etc. Or, an occupant can completely ignore the room controller and allow the smart technology to take the helm.
Set Temperature Ranges
Occupant comfort should always be a room controller’s number one focus, whether it’s in student housing, apartment units in an MDU, or a 4-star hotel. If occupants are unhappy, everybody is unhappy. A property can determine the temperature ranges that occupants can work within. This offers the property ultimate control, yet still allows an occupant the independence to change comfort settings.
Room controllers typically rely on occupancy sensing to make the most of occupant comfort while still saving energy. When occupancy sensors first hit the market, particularly in the hospitality industry, they earned a bad reputation. Mainly it was because they failed to detect sleeping guests, prompting room temperature to drift when it should not have.
Occupancy sensors have come a long way. State-of-the-art occupancy sensors rely on a combination of heat and motion detectors. They use passive infrared sensors (“PIR”), calibrated to extreme sensitivity, for precise measurements.
Additionally, light-level measurements come into play. In the middle of the night, when light levels are very low, an occupancy sensor can measure heat and movement for a longer period of time before making the determination whether a room is occupied or not. This goes a long way toward keeping sleeping occupants comfortable.
Monitor and Control Humidity
Some VRF systems feature reprogrammed humidity control sequences. Friedrich is one manufacturer of these systems. Essentially, the room controller sends an RH% (relative humidity percentage) to the VRF unit.
However, even if VRF systems do not inherently feature preprogrammed humidity control, a room controller can act as the humidity controller, by more aggressively cooling the space (“overshooting the setpoint”) when it is unoccupied, thereby reducing the RH%. The Mitsubishi CITY-MULTI is a VRF design that works well with RH% commands from a state-of-the-art room controller.
If you are considering installing VRF units at your property, you will be in good company. VRF usage is increasing. VRF room controllers can be star players in your setup, enhancing occupant convenience, health, and comfort.
Contact Telkonet to learn more about VRF controllers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-703-9398.