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Variable refrigerant flow system

Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems use a combination of indoor and outdoor units to provide cooling and heating to conditioned spaces within a building. In a typical VRF system, each room is served by an indoor unit located in or near that room. Indoor units may be unducted (attached to the ceiling or wall of the room) or ducted (located in the ceiling plenum or closet). Each indoor unit contains a refrigerant-to-air heat exchanger and a fan (typically multi-speed). All of the indoor units are connected to an air-cooled condensing unit located outdoors using a common set of refrigerant pipes. Outdoor units contain one or more compressors and an air-cooled condenser.

In some applications, the indoor units may be able to handle a portion of the outdoor air load; however, a dedicated outdoor-air system is typically used with a VRF system.

Multiple configurations are available for the indoor and outdoor units. Using a heat pump outdoor unit allows the system to operate in either the cooling mode or heating mode. Using a heat recovery system allows some zones to operate in the cooling mode at the same time other zones operate in the heating mode.

Figure 3–22

Variable refrigerant flow system

indoor units office 1 office 2 office 3
indoor units
office 1
office 2
office 3
flow system indoor units office 1 office 2 office 3 outdoor unit Application considerations ■ The

outdoor unit

Application considerations

The indoor units are modeled with multi-speed fans. The VAV Minimum controls on the Airflows template or Airflows tab of Create Systems can be used to define the supply airflow when

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the space temperature is within the thermostat deadband. The default is 10% of design supply airflow.

If

a VRF Heat Pump outdoor unit is selected, the zones served

by that unit will either all operate in the cooling mode or all operate in the heating mode. If a VRF Heat Recovery outdoor unit is selected, some zones served by that unit can operate in the cooling mode while others operate in the heating mode.

In

some applications, the indoor units may be able to handle a

portion of the outdoor air load; however, a separate dedicated outdoor-air system is often required. See “Dedicated outdoor-air systems” on page 4–45 for more information.

Related reading

“ASHRAE Standard 15 Applied to Packaged, Split, and VRF Systems,” Engineers Newsletter (volume 37, number 1)

Sample scenario

A VRF system is used to condition multiple spaces within a

multistory building. Electric resistance heat is employed as a

backup heating source, and the ventilation is handled by a dedicated outdoor-air system. Both a VRF heat pump and heat recovery system will be illustrated.

The following procedure demonstrates how to model the VRF airside system, cooling and heating equipment, as well as assigning the coil loads.

To model the VRF system, begin by defining the air distribution system.

1 Pick Variable Refrigerant Volume as the system type. Click Apply to save your entries.

as the system type. Click Apply to save your entries. 3 – 8 2 Cooling and

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2 On the Fans tab, select VRV Indoor Fan and enter 0.5 for the static pressure.

Note: If a ducted indoor VRF unit is used, the static pressure on the indoor fan will be higher.

Next, describe the cooling and heating plants represented by the VRF system and backup electric resistance heat.

3 VRF plants are considered Air-Cooled Unitary plants. Drag the appropriate icons from the Equipment Category section to define each plant. Rename the cooling plant as VRF and the heating plant as Backup electric resistance by selecting the plant and clicking the Edit button.

4 Select the cooling plant and click on the Cooling Equipment tab.

5 Choose the VRF plant that best matches the target performance and operation. There are two categories of plant available: VRF Heat Pump and VRF Heat Recovery.

6 Specify Backup electric resistance as the backup heat source.

Backup electric resistance as the backup heat source. Note: The VRF Heat Recovery option is able

Note: The VRF Heat Recovery option is able to recover heat from one VRF indoor unit and share it with other indoor units that are connected to the same refrigerant circuit. TRACE assumes that heat can be recovered between all zones that are assigned to the system. However, heat recovery outdoor units are available only up to a certain capacity (20 tons, as of this writing). To accurately model VRF heat recovery, the design capacity of all the indoor units (zones) assigned to the system should be no larger than the available capacity of the VRF Heat Recovery outdoor unit. This might require the creation of several systems and several cooling plants.

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7 On the Heating Equipment tab, refine your backup heating plant if necessary.

8 Finally, assign each coil load to the appropriate plant.

8 Finally, assign each coil load to the appropriate plant. 3 – 8 4 Cooling and
8 Finally, assign each coil load to the appropriate plant. 3 – 8 4 Cooling and

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