VRV or VRF Air Conditioning System: What's the Difference?

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You may have heard of the terms VRV and VRF when shopping for air conditioning systems. These terms refer to the refrigerant piping of HVAC systems, and how the cooling systems regulate the coolant to maintain an even temperature around multiple zones. In this article, we take a look at the difference between VRF and VRV systems:

VRV vs VRF Systems: What are They?

Interestingly, VRV and VRF are not two different hvac technologies, but are different terms that refer to the same technology. In traditional HVAC systems, refrigerant courses through the unit, evaporates, and draws heat out of the air conditioners to deliver cooled air.

In VRV and VRF systems, multiple indoor units are installed through the home, and refrigerant is moderated according to the specific needs of each area of the indoor units, hence variable refrigerant volume and flow.

What is a Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) System?

The VRV system uses a collective of indoor units across several air conditioning zones, and regulates the refrigerant supply that passes through these units according to the requirements of the space.

The main difference between the VRV HVAC systems, and VRF systems is the copyright of the term Variable Refrigerant Volume. VRV or “Variable Refrigerant Volume," is an HVAC system founded, developed and copyrighted by leading aircon manufacturer Daikin in the 1980s - making Daikin the only brand and company that can use the term legally.

What is a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) System?

Similar to the VRV system, the VRF system works with multiple indoor units scattered through a space. VRF, or "Variable Refrigerant Flow," is the term used by every other air conditioning company besides Daikin.

Refrigerant is the only coolant material running through one or multiple compressors in the outdoor unit of the system to heat or cool multiple zones simultaneously. Heat recovery systems also work with VRV/VRF technology: Heat pump systems with VRF/VRV systems can heat up multiple zones at a time by adjusting the refrigerant flow in each indoor unit.

What Are the Benefits of VRV/VRF Systems

While VRV air conditioners use the same VRF technology, they do take cooling systems to the next level with multiple benefits that make VRV/VRF systems suitable for large, multi-room spaces. Advantages include:

  1. All air conditioners connected to either of the two systems will easily provide ideal temperatures for a comfortable, and cool environment.
  2. These systems are very ideal for cities, and locations with constant temperature changes as the technology allows the indoor unit to adjust the temperature of the room automatically.
  3. Both systems are highly efficient and can save power and energy throughout their usage. This is largely due to the automatic features and control options located inside the systems that keep the electrical consumption in check.

Summary: The Difference Between VRV vs VRF Systems

The main difference between VRV and VRF HVAC systems is the copyright. Daikin owns the rights to use the term VRV, or Variable Refrigerant Volume. All other air conditioner and HVAC system companies use the term VRF, or Variable Refrigerant Flow, instead.

Factors VRV (Daikin) VRF
Budget Generally more expensive than most brands on the market. 2.5 out of 5 rating Range depends on model and brand. 4 out of 5 rating
Energy Consumption High energy-saving rating with the VRV S High Efficiency Series. 4.5 out of 5 rating Energy efficient models across multiple brands. 4.5 out of rating
Space Requirements Standard space requirements depending on the Daikin models. 3 out of 5 rating Various space requirements depending on brand, aircon type, and model. 4.5 out of 5 rating
Cooling Power Highly efficient with strong cooling capacity. 5 out of 5 rating Cooling power depends on the BTU of the brand and model. 3.5 out of 5 rating
Maintenance Low maintenance with regular aircon servicing. 4.5 out of 5 rating Low maintenance with regular aircon servicing. 4.5 out of 5 rating

The Verdict

In deciding between VRV or VRF models, the main difference would be the brand. VRV models are limited to Daikin models, which are highly efficient and energy-saving, but can be more costly than other brands.

VRF models, on the other hand, may have a wider variety of aircon models, but they may or may not have the same cooling efficiency you're looking for. When it comes to air conditioning units, always choose the model and brand that is most appropriate for your space requirements, budget, and maintenance frequency.

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