VRF Installation Practices

VRF Installation Practices

A few years back, I was asked to look at a home with a VRF system that wasn’t working correctly. I showed up and found sagging refrigerant lines and Y joints that were improperly installed.

VRF is an amazing mechanical cooling technology that is efficient and quiet. However, it takes proper designing AND installation for the equipment to work as intended. When I showed up at this house in Reno, I went into the crawl space and found refrigerant lines that were sagging and Y joints that were installed incorrectly. They were vertical instead of horizontal.

Why are sagging refrigerant lines bad? In every air conditioning system, RTU, split system, VRF, mixed in with the refrigerant is some amount of oil. The oil acts as a lubricant where it lubricates the moving parts of the compressor, similar as in a car engine. If there are areas where the refrigerant lines sag, it can cause oil to collect and not make it back to the compressor. Not lubricating the compressor can lead to wear and early failure of the compressor. It’s important to always install refrigerant lines straight with minimal sagging.

And why can’t you install Y joints vertically? Short answer: Gravity.

If you install Y joints vertically, gravity naturally prevents refrigerant from going into that top branch. This means that any fan coils coming off that branch doesn’t get the refrigerant it needs to operate properly. And then THAT leads to under cooling/heating in that zone. They need to be installed horizontally so refrigerant can flow to both branches equally.

With any piece of equipment, it needs to be installed properly or else it won’t work as intended, or at the worst, lead to early failure of the equipment. There are trainings available for each manufacturer. If you need training, please reach out and I can direct you to where you need to go.

Three Reasons Why Building Owners Should Use VRF

Three Reasons Why Building Owners Should Use VRF

Variable Refrigerant Flow is THE best technology for mechanical cooling. Here are 3 reasons why:


VRF is extremely efficient compared to older technologies such as rooftop packaged units and chilled water systems. How is this possible? VRF systems use variable speed compressors at the outdoor unit and fans with EC motors at the indoor fan coils. By using these, the compressor will only use the appropriate amount of energy to send the refrigerant to only the zones that need it and the fans will only move as much air as it needs to to hit set point.

Real world analogy: when driving, you wouldn’t floor the gas to reach driving speed, let go, floor it, let go, etc. to maintain 65 mph. It’s EXTREMELY inefficient. You would depress the pedal slowly and smoothly to reach 65 mph and hold it to maintain it. This is how variable speed compressors work.


VRF technology is scalable, meaning you use it from small applications from an elevator room to large applications such as hotels and college campuses. We can do this because the equipment is modular. Using various size ODUs and combining them to form larger systems, and then grouping these systems and controlling them via a central controller allows us to tackle any size project.

We also have different styles of indoor fan coils, from wall mounted, ceiling cassette, ducted, and using PMV kits, we can use any 3rd party AHU, which means we have a solution that we can use in any space.

Cost Effective

Using VRF can be cost effective over the life of the equipment. Since the systems are very efficient, they use less electricity to operate saving the building owner thousands over the life of the equipment.

It also uses a small footprint compared to other systems. Refrigerant piping takes up a fraction of the space of the equivalent ductwork of a RTU system or CHW/HW piping of a chiller/boiler/cooling tower system. You are able to place the outdoor heat pumps on the roof and eliminate mechanical equipment rooms, or even entire floors dedicated to mechanical equipment and open it up to leasable space. More leasable space to rent out to tenants and generate more money for the building owner.

If you’d like to see if VRF systems are right for your application, please reach out to schedule a lunch and learn.