LG’s Ian Boyd takes a look at some of the installation and site developments which are making VRF systems quicker to install and offer consultants and contractors greater flexibility in gaining major advantages in energy savings
VRF has come a long way in a short space of time since its introduction, to the point where it is now the benchmark for all commercial sites of any reasonable size.
However, like all innovations it has become the norm, and VRF is now being fragmented into specialist areas with specific products which give the consultant, contractor and end-user significant advantages in terms of labour costs and energy savings.
All manufacturers are also striving for greater COPs – Co-Efficient of Performances – in order to save the customer money on energy costs, and enable the customer to claim tax benefits by using an efficient system. LG’s VRF system produces COPs of 3.9 in cooling and 4.1 in heating. This basically means that for every unit of energy you put in, you get an average of four times the energy out of the system. A good return by anyone’s standards.
The overall marketplace is still dominated by the needs of commercial users and property developers – with the residential market growing year on year. Taking this fact into account, VRF products need to be developed for the ever- changing needs of the industry. There are some fantastic advances being introduced into the marketplace and lifestyles are changing so quickly that residential installations are now a commonplace reality. However, it is not the mass market that all manufacturers’ dream of...yet.
Manufacturers are setting the pace in delivering ever more new products which are quicker to install, take up less space and give improved results in environmental comfort to the end-user.
There is always a marketplace with contractors for an energy efficient, space saving and quiet VRF unit, especially one that employs inverter technologies in both fan motors and compressors which can give summer cooling and energy-efficient winter warmth compared with heating using gas fuelled boilers.
LG: determined to be a major player in the VRF field
Site time can be saved by the three Ps – Planning, planning and planning. System design at the planning stage always saves much valuable time on site, as does following manufacturers’ installation instructions.
Products which are setting the pace are ones which are space-saving, quiet, and energy efficient: ones which can be sited inside a cupboard or a plant room with the fans facing outwards on a louvered wall or exterior grille, for example.
These types of units only need access to the front – thus allowing them to be mounted inside a cupboard in the living area of an apartment block, for example. The minimum installation space requirements are 900mm front access (service space), the rear of the unit can be fitted flush against a louvered wall, or ducting can be fitted if required (ESP can be increased if necessary up to 140 Pascals).
Again, side access is not required so the units can be placed alongside each other.
One of these units can control up to 16 indoor units including such market favourites as LG’s Art Cool or cassettes, ducted, wall mounted etc, and usually can be controlled via the internet, a PC, a deluxe or simple central controller.
Despite being designed with internal installation in mind, this type of product may also be installed outdoors if required – especially in external areas where noise levels need to be kept to a minimum.
The other point that a consultant or contractor needs to keep in mind is the amount of manufacturer technical support and just how readily available it is – site time is expensive so when a contractor needs an answer, they need an answer!