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  1. #1
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    The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?



    With the rationing of R410a and the opportunistic suppliers boosting the prices, the squeeze starting to bite hard. Are we going to see the rapid demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    The slightly flammable R32 refrigerant might be a tolerable alternative for the small splits but large VRF systems running on R32 is too high a risk, and using R410a is getting way too expensive to install and repair systems with uncertain longevity.

    Consultants are moving away from VRF systems and looking at chilled water as the only sensible way to proceed. And the big suppliers are already shifting/adding chilled water equipment to their ranges as a response.

    But what of the aircon labour force that will be left high and dry. So many are employed with installation of lucrative VRF systems. What will happen to them? They will of course be able to install splits but there is not enough work there to keep the labour force gainfully employed, and the markups are much less than VRF systems. Most will not be willing/able to shift over into large water systems. So how will this play out?

    Any other thoughts?



  2. #2
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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    .

    Many years ago the refrigeration industry actively
    moved away from centralised plant consisting of
    large inefficient packs, long distance runs, multiple
    cases fed from only one or two packs with flare nuts.

    That was twenty or more years ago and at that time the
    AC industry actively promoted larger more complex
    systems centralised plants in the form of VRV and VRF.

    Not before time that they are being made to consider other
    methods of conditioning air that have smaller refrigerant charges
    instead of putting all their eggs in one basket re large refrigerant
    charges.

    Rob

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  3. #3
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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    Interesting topic. Been talk this part of world for a longtime that Consultants slowly moving away from VRF/VRV and back to chilled/heated water systems. Definitely more longevity out of central Chiller plant and chilled water system. Suppose the only real selling point about VRV/VRF was the heat transfer efficiencies from warm side of building to cold side and vice versa.

    Another Achilles heal of VRV/VRF (not so much for the suppliers) is longterm after sale support. Control systems on these VRV/VRF seem to get outdated and unsupported very quickly, requiring complete replacement of componant

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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    That's the trouble with any technology that's come along over the last 30 years, its designed with an inbuilt obsolescence so its not future proof. Often called "development," but only to maintain sales rather than longevity associated with build quality and service.

    There may be a return of the central system that's ducted and mounted on the outside wall on a back to back terrace. Or larger plant such as ammonia in a building at the end of the street, cycling low temperature glycol or a brine loop, and maybe a steam loop to homes and small business's as a utility like they do in Manhattan. Then metered accordingly.

    Maybe increasing demand for refrigeration engineers, plant and VAVs for air-con engineers in larger buildings and maybe increasing work for domestic heating engineers that don't need to be Gas Safe registered?
    Training may be finished but experience is never complete.

  5. #5
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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    [But what of the aircon labour force that will be left high and dry. So many are employed with installation of lucrative VRF systems.
    Time these cowboys went and retrained and actually upskilled! So many of these so called 'Installers' I have had the joy of working with and witnessed can hang some units, join some copper pipes and install a power/data link and bugger all else!
    Last edited by frank; 23-02-2018 at 02:53 PM.
    I love the smell of Ammonia in the morning!

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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    Well, there might be a cowboy like you say, Hookster, but I doubt those types will be much effected by this development. The difference between a split with R410a in it or R32 would make no difference to their day.

    No, I was thinking it would impact more on the better-trained engineers, the highly skilled ones that are more used to installing the mega VRF/vrv systems with the nice markups. R32 is not suitable for those bigger systems and R410a refrigerant is skyrocketing in price, squeezing consultants and customers away from VRF/vrv and into the arms of chilled water systems (or ductwork systems even).

  7. #7
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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    VRF global sales far exceed chiller sales & have done for a number of years.
    Before the 1990's VRF did not exist except in Japan.
    In the 70's & 80's there was extensive demand from consultants & AC contractors in Europe & other areas for a multi split DX AC type system which at that time was not available.
    The rapid adoption of VRF systems in place of chillers has been due in large part to the heat recovery / energy efficiency achieved with a lower installation cost compared to 4 pipe water system. The manufacturers could clearly see the demand for such a product & proceeded to develop the VRV / VRF products.

    But now governments of the world are responding to the global warming issue & phasing out high global warming refrigerants.
    F gas regulations in Europe will force all to manage with less HFC refrigerants or move to natural refrigerants.

    Greenpeace website state that all refrigeration & AC can be achieved with 3 natural refrigerants
    Ammonia = toxic & flammable
    Propane = highly flammable
    CO2 = Extreme high pressure
    Politicians look at the cooling industry track record & note that alternatives were rapidly adopted following the CFC phase down & the expectation is that the cooling industry will again again rapidly adopt low GWP refrigerants like the natural refrigerant available.

    None of the major manufacturers have yet developed mass produced packaged AC systems using natural refrigerants because of clear safety issues except for the EcoCute CO2 domestic heat pump water heaters & then only because the government in Japan provided funds for the R&D + yen incentives for end users.

    In the UK very small % of DX system sales have been using R32 over the last couple of years. Clearly the flammability issue makes this type of solution undesirable for contractors or endusers.
    Propane split systems have been available in the UK for many years but uptake has been minimal, again flammability safety issues.
    R32 is not a long term solution as it is an Fgas with higher GWP than natural refrigerants.

    If the large manufacturers were to produce small modular heatpump chillers with simultaneous heating & cooling using natural refrigerants propane / CO2 then that might be a long term VRF alternative provided safety issues can be minimized. But at the moment no such alternative is in mass production.

    In the long term Like it or not if global warming is perceived to get worse everyone in the cooling industry will have to get used to using natural refrigerants like the car industry, Daimler Benz being a notable example.

    This will be a major challenge for all AC & refrigeration contractors not just VRF installers.

    Will manufactures perceive a demand for natural refrigerant solutions & develop products or only adopt as a last resort like Daimler Benz ?

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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    An interesting post.
    Thanks Rep point added.
    Grizzly
    Despite the High Cost of Living it still remains Popular!

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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    .

    Yes indeed
    I have given rep points also.
    Very informative.

    Regards
    Rob

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  10. #10
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    Re: The demise of the VRF/vrv aircon systems?

    Off topic somewhat, but speaking of the time when VRV burst on to the scene, and was always VRV back then, not VRF.

    Was trained worked and lived in Ireland, worked for Cross Refrigeration out of Dublin. Daikin dealers back then and too this day. We got sent to London to install VRV into offices above the Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus. Bout 1988 -89 I think. Was time of massive building boom. How we got the job there I have no idea.

    Best part about the job was that company rented a house and paid for it, gave us 100 pound sterling cash living expenses, plus our usual away allowances and wages paid into our bank accounts back home. Back then the 100 pound sterling was heaps to survive on and get a good few beers in too. Plus my Irish girlfriend was living in London at the time and on the same Underground line, Jubilee line. Was happy days! Money, Beer, regular Sex, and a great site to work on.

    No wonder I associate Daikin gear with good times and always favoured it!!

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