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Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems or Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) systems are a new kind of air conditioning in the US. They were originally developed in Japan in the early 80’s, but have only recently started to be used here. The systems take advantage of high tech controls to allow more than one hotel room to be connected to a single condenser mounted on the roof. The VRF units are very efficient and quiet, making them the most comfortable hotel room temperature control you could ever imagine.

But there is one catch. Multiple hotel rooms are connected to a single condenser and they share a common piping system for the refrigerant. If a leak occurs in a single unit, all the refrigerant in the system goes into one room. The resulting concentration of refrigerant can be lethal.

This danger has prompted many hotel chains, including Marriott and Hilton, to ban these systems from use in their hotels. There is an exception to this rule if costly refrigerant leak detection alarms are added to the rooms.

In this comic, the refrigerant began filling the room when the VRF unit was struck with the throwing star. The leak detection alarm might have saved the ninjas had it not been cut in half. Unfortunately, there is no NEMA rating that corresponds to “provides protection against ninja sword fights.”

Mark Robison, PE

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