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VRF HVAC Technology: The Basics

VRF Technology: The Basics

 

Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems have been becoming increasingly popular over the years. With their many advantages, more offices and accommodation business have been replacing their standard heating and cooling air conditioning units with a VRF system. Although they have a higher up-front cost than many standard units, facility managers and building owners have been making the investment due to the ROI on this recent technology.

 

 

What exactly is a VRF HVAC system?

Generally speaking, VRF HVAC systems function just like traditional central air units. They continue to be refrigerant based with indoor fan coil units and outdoor condensers. A VRF HVAC system consists of an air or water source outdoor unit and several smaller air handling units rather than a traditional system of just one.

 

Is a VRF HVAC system something you should consider?

If you own an apartment complex, an office building, or a building where inside business operations require custom heating and cooling, you will greatly benefit from a VRF system. Here are some advantages:

 

  • Noise
    • Unlike a traditional split system, a VRF is much quieter. This is perfect for a hotel or apartment complex where people wouldn’t want to hear systems running.

 

  • Consistency in comfort
    • Because a VRF unit can detect accurate requirements for each air handler, each area of a building receives the appropriate heating/cooling without any inconsistency.

 

  • Reduced downtime
    • VRF HVAC systems only run when they are needed, so this leads to less wear on parts, which in turn leads to few breakdowns, which results in less repairs.

 

  • Controlling
    • Each indoor unit is controlled by its own panel. Also, built in controls can save you from buying building management software.

 

  • Simultaneous heating and cooling
    • Probably the best advantage of a VRF HVAC system is the ability to control temperatures in different areas. Offices with windows can be kept cooler, while other areas can be heated at the same time.

 

  • Efficiency
    • Because they are so accurate in their amount of cooling needed, VRF systems run at a lower capacity. Also, the system is designed to capture heat and then distribute it to where it is needed.

 

 

 

Variable refrigerant flow HVAC units are great cost-effective units that have several advantages. If you decide a VRF system is the best option for you, be sure to get in touch with a trusted commercial HVAC contractor. They will be able to lead in the right direction on what’s best for you and your building.

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Top HVAC Unit Brands and Which is Best for You

As a building owner or facilities manager, you want the best air conditioning unit for your building. You want something that will work hard at a good price and that will last for a long time. Choosing a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit is an important process as it is an investment for at least 10 years. There are several brands to choose from but determining the right one for your building within your budget will take some time and research. So, take your time, do your research, and choose wisely.

 

 

Here are some of the most recognized HVAC brands:

  • Carrier
  • Trane
  • Lennox

 

While all HVAC units do the same thing- remove warm air and circulate the remaining cool air that’s left-each different brand does this at different levels of efficiency. This translates into varying prices among brands throughout the industry. Here’s a quick overview on some brands we feel are great:

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Carrier

Carrier is regarded as a top of the line HVAC brand. Carrier uses the best quality material to manufacture their materials under strict quality standards. Even the Sistine Chapel uses Carrier units to preserve their artwork! Of course, there is a higher price tag to compensate for their top-notch quality. If you want something efficient with a longer life span, you’ll be happy with a Carrier unit.

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Trane

Trane has a solid reputation in the industry and is often regarded as the “Cadillac of HVAC systems”. New York’s Grand Central Station relies on Trane to provide cool air for them. Trane systems are durable and provide vigorous heating and cooling. They uphold warranties and offer 10-year warranties for their parts. While they are on the pricier side, it is worth it due to their durability and efficiency.

 

 

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Lennox

Lennox is mostly known for their efficiency. They work hard every year to create more efficient units. Lennox takes pride in creating units that will reduce users’ operating costs. Many of their units show case high SEER levels- as high as 23.5. While you will pay more upfront, these high SEER levels on their units can cut your energy costs by 60%. If you want an innovative, reliable, and efficient unit, you’ll be happy with a Lennox system.

 

 

While brand is important while deciding on a new heating and cooling system for your building, there are other things to take into account like unit type, distribution, and capacity. Do you need a rooftop unit or a ductless air conditioner? Make sure your vendor calculates your cooling capacity correctly.  Also, distribution is key. Your commercial unit’s placement will determine how air gets distributed in your building. A poor design will lead to your system not working properly and will not meet your needs.

 

Among these things, the most important thing to consider is installation.

 

It does not matter how much you spend on a high-quality unit if it is not adequately installed. You will not reap the benefits from a poorly installed system. Always hire a professional commercial HVAC contractor to perform your unit installation. There are too many mistakes that can be made that will greatly affect your unit’s performance and lifespan.

 

 

Once you decide on which brand to go with, be sure to license your system that way you can take advantage of any warranties offered. Most brands offer a 10+ year warranty on their parts, so make sure you are fully aware of what you are getting along with your commercial unit. It is also important to get into touch with a commercial HVAC contractor about getting your new system on a preventive maintenance plan. If you have your equipment regularly maintained, it’ll keep it running as efficiently and smoothly as possible.

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Choosing the Right Sized HVAC Unit for Your Building

When it comes to choosing the correct HVAC unit for your building, there are multiple things you should consider. Size matters, and there is such thing as too big. Taking the time to calculate what size unit your building needs is important to get your needs satisfied effectively and can even save you money in the long run.

A unit that is too small will be not be able to condition your building properly and break down faster, while a unit that is too large will waste energy and cost you more in energy bills.

Comfort, energy usage, and expenses are the three main factors effected by your unit’s size. The perfect sized system will comfortably manage temperatures at peak efficiency at the lowest cost. To accurately choose a system for you, a HVAC contractor can do a commercial load calculation to help you.

So, what goes into consideration when determining the perfect size?

Square footage is the most obvious factor considered when determining the size unit you need. A 900 square foot open concept office suite is not going to need a 5 ton unit, and a massive 2000 square foot warehouse is going to need more than a 3 ton unit to proper regulate the temperature. Climate also plays a role in which size unit you’d need. A hot, humid climate is going to require a system that can efficiently remove heat and humidity. A system that is too small will underperform, and an oversized system will short cycle.

The construction of the building also plays a factor in your decision. Is your building made out of concrete, brick, or wood? A concrete building will require __________________________, while a wood building is going to need ______________________________________. Insulation also something you should consider. A poorly insulated building is going to need a system large enough to sustain its temperatures.

The amount of sun exposure your building gets is also important to take into account. If a building is exposed to the suns rays and never gets any shade, it’s going to require more cooling. A shaded building is going to remain cooler

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How to Choose the Best HVAC Contractor for your Business

The commercial HVAC industry is always booming with demand. Businesses always need their units repaired and replaced. Naturally, a HVAC contractor is always within arm's reach. But how do you know which one is the right one for you? One size does not fit all in the HVAC industry. Choosing the right contractor to take care of you and your HVAC unit's needs isn't something you should take lightly. Here are some things for you to consider during your hunt for the right contractor:

·         Reputation:

o   Ask around and find how other business peers feel about their contractor. Find out if they are satisfied with their work, costs, and timeliness. Do they come when they say they will? Do they give them the run around? Are they sending knowledgeable techs to their business? A good company will not tolerate a bad reputation. Ask for references and check Google ratings to find out what people have to say about them.

·         Certifications and licensing

o   The state of Georgia requires licensing for HVAC contractors. Be sure that the company you are considering only hires licensed and certified techs to work for them. Also keep an eye out for any other credentials that may add value to the company. Technicians should also be certified through brands to help maintain your equipment warranties. A warranty becomes void if it is serviced by an unlicensed technician.

·         Communication

o   Make sure the company you are considering has an open line of communication. It is impossible to get a human on the other line? Do you have to sit through an automated phone list? Do they not respond to emails? These are sure signs of lack of accessibility show you that their company doesn’t care about your business. Also consider how they treat you once you are in communication with one another. A good company will take the time to sit down with you and discuss any concerns you may have. Avoid getting the run around and make sure whomever you speak with is clear and concise. Poor communication from the start means issues along the road that can cost you.

·         Insurance

o   Always ask for proof of insurance. A reputable company will make sure to be insured just in case one of their employees gets hurt on your property. Protect yourself and do not be afraid to ask for verification of insurance before you consider to hire them. Do not ever hire a company that refuses to show you any sort of credentials. If you are signing a contract and paying them for work, they owe it to you.

·         Values and Consciousness

o   Choose a company that shares the same values as you. If energy conservation is priority, hire a company that feels the same way. If your business benefits best from the most up to date services and technologies, don’t hire a company with a more traditional way of business. A HVAC contractor that puts its values forward is more likely to be honest and give you exactly what you need.

When you begin your hunt for a commercial HVAC contractor, keep these things in mind. Make sure all your questions are answered to your satisfaction to avoid any problems in the future. Do not hesitate in asking to review any sort of paperwork you may need before you make your decision. HVAC maintenance and repairs are expensive and should be taken seriously, so always make sure you are making the best choice for your company.

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The “V” in HVAC: Ventilation

The "V" In HVAC: Ventilation

 

You’re familiar with the basic cooling and heating functions of a HVAC, but how much do you know about ventilation? Ventilation is vital in maintaining your building’s air quality. Without it, you would not get fresh air inside your building and instead get stuffy, stale air.

 

The Importance of Proper Ventilation

Ventilation is responsible for circulating and purifying air in your space. It keeps air fresh and comfortable for building occupants to enjoy. Poor ventilation can cause a stuffy, smelly space and even lead to health issues due to toxins and unwanted air particles being trapped inside your building. Mechanical ventilation is important to keep things moving and ensuring the proper amount of fresh air is being allowed into your space.

 

Mechanical ventilation uses ducts and fans to bring in the appropriate amount of fresh air into your space. Too much air coming can affect the air balance and hinder efficiency. Unexplained door shutting and odor migration can be caused by too much air coming in. Not enough, and the air becomes stagnant and uncomfortable to be in. Smells and pollutants get trapped making your space be undesirable to be in. Your employees may constantly step out for fresh air and customers may not come to your business because of smells lurking around. The exhaustion of air is also important. Because ventilation also effected the humidity of the air, it is important that the air is expelled in an appropriate location so nothing is damaged.

 

ventilation

Ventilation is so important that there are even building codes addressing it and its effects on air quality. Commercial buildings are expected to maintain a standard for their ventilation and air quality. ASHRAE Standard 62.1 applies to commercial buildings and outlines all there is to adhere to.

 

Because ventilation is vital in its role to providing the upmost quality of your buildings air, be sure to be up to date with your commercial HVAC unit. Be sure your system is adequate for your surrounding climate and can meet your needs appropriately. Get in touch with an HVAC company to help get on the right track.

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HVAC Budgeting: How to Maintain Your Budget

As a facilities manager, it is your job to take care of the maintenance around your building and keep everything running while not going over budget.
An HVAC system can easily call for unplanned repairs and maintenance that you have already addressed in your budget, but here are some ways to keep these unpredictable costs at bay:
A routine preventative maintenance plan will be a life saver when it comes to maintaining a budget. Once you sign a contract with an HVAC contractor that you trust, you can expect and plan out services and repairs your system will need. Keeping your system maintained will help reduce the need for unexpected repairs and replacements at a minimum. A PM plan can avoid major blunders that can put you well over budget. Here’s what a typical PM plan may include:
Condenser coil cleaning:
If condenser coils are neglected and not cleaned from dirt and grime build up, they will not be able to properly release heat and cause your system to overheat and your compressor will break down. This is a costly expense you do not want to be surprised with. A PM plan will usually include an annual cleaning of your condenser coils.
Leaks:
Low refrigerant levels are a sure sign of a leak. This will lead to your space being not being cooled efficiently and in turn lead to your system overexerting to overcompensate. Instead of doing the easy fix of recharging your system, a PM plan will be helpful in repairing and preventing the unnecessary costs of recharging your system.
Filter Replacements:
It is important to stay on top of replacing filters to ensure proper filtration and to keep your unit working efficiently. A PM plan will take care of this for you so you can go ahead and include this in your PM plan budget.
Besides a PM plan, keep in mind that planning ahead for replacing parts can help maintain your budget. If you can recognize beforehand that certain equipment will need to replaced soon, you can avoid the unexpected expense in the long run.
Above all, make sure to choose a trusted HVAC contractor to help you maintain your budget. Choose a contractor that will help you decide on a PM plan that will meet your needs and also keep you within budget.

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Smart Roof Top Units: A Shift in Technology for Commercial HVAC

Everything around is being optimized to be as smart as a human. Our phones, cars, and computers have drastically shifted since their break through. These new, innovating technologies are designed to make our lives as consumers an easier and better experience. Don’t think a commercial roof top HVAC unit can follow this “smart” trend?
Think again.
Introducing the smart rooftop unit.
A standard RTU has and is a reliable system for commercial buildings, offices, and manufacturers. But, this new breed of smart RTUs is a game changer. In an article with ACHR News, Johnson Controls Commercial Product Marketing Manager Brian Wathen describes them as having the capacity to “monitor, adjust, detect, and diagnose itself and indoor environmental conditions to ensure proper building occupant comfort”. This isn’t the end of its capabilities. Wathen continues to elaborate that these new systems can also provide feedback to users on its conditions and possible issues immediately through wireless communication using an electronic device. One type of smart unit takes things a step further- Internet of Things enabled-where all data collected gets loaded to the cloud. Jim Macosko from Daikin tells ACHR News that an IoT enabled unit is able to use the data it collects, combine it with external analytics, and increases its IQ with the information it harvests. He continues to explain how the unit is able to use all this information to better help the building’s owner make decisions for its unit.
While a smart RTU comes with quite the price tag, it may be worth it for building owners to invest in. Chris Opie spoke with ACHR news on the clear advantages of a smart roof top HVAC. He notes that the unit provides better comfort control and energy efficiency because its ability to communicate with itself. They can monitor its surroundings such as temperature, air quality, and humidity and are then able to auto adjust themselves through sending messages to fans and compressors. Steve VanPeursem, also from Daikin, explained that smart rooftop HVAC are also easier to repair because of its abilities to send diagnostic messages to a dashboard. Rather than a service tech having to manually inspect a unit, they can quickly use the dashboard to view information about the unit and make repairs accordingly.
Opie speaks on how investing in a smart rooftop HVAC is worth it despite the obvious price difference. He explains the benefits of the machine’s life cycle and its ROI. Opie claims that a smart RTU will actually even pay back faster through energy savings and its ability to self-diagnose with can limit service calls. The wireless communication capabilities will also reduce installation costs as they can communicate with other systems and make things easier for the installer.
As these innovative rooftop HVAC units are making their breakthrough in the commercial and industrial HVAC industry, the response is taking slower than usual. Shaun Thomas from Rheem Mfg. Co points out that most business owners usually look for a smaller price tag rather than the latest technology. With time, smart roof top units will likely become the norm as their benefits are overwhelming.
Just like other innovations in technology, the consumer will need time to accept and adapt to the better choice due to comfort in what the standard holds. Before long, smart roof top units are expected to make their breakthrough and be on top of buildings everywhere.
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Restaurants: the Importance of Your HVAC System

A restaurant has more than just the job of feeding people. It’s a place that people meet for business meetings and events, for a specific ambiance, and for giving people a job. The temperature and climate of a restaurant has to be pleasant for someone to want to return. If a restaurant has its clients shivering throughout their meal or they can smell the fish being fried in the kitchen, it’ll make them think twice about coming back. Or if a cook is unhappy with the air quality in the back, they may seek a different job with better working conditions. An HVAC system can easily make or break the experience someone has at your restaurant. Keep these things in mind while accessing your HVAC and its needs:
 
 
 
Yelp can be your best friend or worst enemy. While someone may praise your spaghetti and meatballs, they may say they won’t be back because of how hot and musty it was inside. If your system is known to be faulty and inconsistent with producing the correct climate, do not let this cost you customers. Stay on top of your HVAC and make sure it provides consistent temperatures to your dining space. If you do not have the proper ventilation, unwanted smells will travel around your restaurant. No one wants to smell pork being roasted while they are trying to enjoy their chocolate cake for dessert. Do not let your HVAC issues be the reason people do not return to your restaurant.
 
 
Not only does the HVAC effect a diner’s experience, but it effects employees’ performance too. A restaurant that is too hot and humid is guaranteed to slow worker productivity. No one wants to carry heavy hot plates around a hot restaurant. On the other hand, it is also important that the kitchen is meeting ventilation requirements. Air quality is vital in order to provide a healthy work space for employees. An unhealthy work place can lead to disgruntled employees and even lead to a law suit if they become sick from the improper care of the air quality. Stay on top of maintain exhaust hoods and other components to keep air flowing.
 
 
 
 
To avoid any problems caused by an unsatisfactory HVAC, talk to an HVAC service provider about getting on a maintenance schedule. Being on top of any issues you may face will help you avoid breakdowns, keep the environment up to standards, and keep customers coming back.
 
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Facility Managers: How to Convince the Higher Ups it’s Time for an Upgrade

You’ve maintained your building’s HVAC to your best capabilities. You’ve dodged bullets, kept the unit maintained, and kept your facility’s temperatures where they need to be. But, its come that time where future repairs are just a band aid on a bigger problem. You want to approach your building’s owner about investing in a new system, but you’re worried you’ll be shot down and told to “make it work”. Since you know your buildings HVAC unit better than anyone else, you know that you’ve done everything possible to prolong its life. Here’s some points to help build your case in getting an HVAC upgrade:

 

 

SAVINGS
Money talks. Tell your higher ups that a new system will be more efficient than your current one and they will see big time savings on their energy bill. In return, they will see less repair bills too. Inform them how investing in a PM plan will also help prolong your new systems life. Show them you’ve done research and tell them about the new tax ruling for HVAC systems.

 

PRODUCTIVITY
With a new system, temperatures in your facility will be at their best capabilities. If you’re an office building, talk to them how temperatures in the work space greatly effect employee productivity (and there’s research to prove it). If they’re in the customer service business, show them how bad temperatures can drive away customers and send them elsewhere. Like mentioned before, money talks. Speak their language and they’ll listen.
Don’t be afraid to be straight forward with your higher ups about the need to upgrade. Ask them for 10 minutes of their time and physically show them the unit to help build your case. Give them details and even an instance where you avoided a major crisis with the system that could happen again. Show them you’ve done your homework and even talked to a reputable HVAC contractor on what an upgrade will cost them.

 

 

 

As a facility manager, your job is crucial as your work behind the scene to keep everything running and in check. Sometimes your hard work will go unnoticed, but you continue to do your best for the company’s sake. If you approach your cause with facts and confidence, your bosses will show their appreciation for your continuous efforts and listen to you. If you show them you have their company’s best interest in mind, they will be sure to approve the upgrade and will thank you for it.

 

 

Be sure to get in contact with a trusted HVAC contractor when you’ve won your case so you can continue to do your job at your best capabilities.

 

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The Lifespan of an HVAC System

How long will an HVAC last?

To answer the question with a simple answer, experts would say 10-15 years. But, many factors can play into this. Whether you’re on the fence about replacing your HVAC or if you want to know how long your recent investment is good for, consider these things:

1.       Age

If your unit is past its 20-year mark, stop what you’re doing and find a HVAC contractor ASAP. It is more than likely that your HVAC is past its days and it’s time to upgrade. If you just purchased a unit, your unit can last you for up to 20 years given it is properly maintained with a preventative maintenance plan and other measures.

2.       Service and Repair History

Repairs and service play a huge role in an HVAC’s life expectancy. It is without a doubt that a preventative maintenance plan will prolong the life of your unit. Whether it’s done quarterly or annually, a PM plan will reassure that your unit is running smoothly throughout the year. If you do not prioritize taking care of your system, be assured that you will pay the consequences with frequent repairs and a shorten life span of your equipment. If your current system is not already on a PM plan and it’s not too late into its life cycle, be sure to get into contact with a trusted commercial HVAC contractor and set up a plan. It is common ruling to replace your system if repairs exceed 50% of the cost of a new system.

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3.       Quality

Be sure that not only your unit is of good quality, but that your installation process is adequately done. Installation has just as an important role in your unit’s life expectancy as maintenance. Was your unit not installed by a professional? If you are not sure, contact an HVAC tech to come take a look at your current system to check if everything is up to par. Haphazard installation can affect your unit’s life span, so always hire a professional.

Keeping all things considered, a typical life expectancy for an HVAC can be efficiently utilized for 20 years if you properly maintain it. Do not expect a neglected system to function efficiently without costing you more than 10-15 years. Again, with proper care, your system and your investment in it can turn out to be good for 20 years. Be sure to contact a HVAC contractor to answer any questions about your unit’s life expectancy and how to efficiently prolong it.

Quick Tip: ASHRAE has a Service Life Database that you can check out to get information on the service life of all major component of an HVAC.

Willis Mechanical

  • Phone
    (678) 966 0094
  • Fax
    (678) 966 9420
  • Address
    1850 Beaver Ridge Cir
    Suite E
    Norcross, Ga 30071

Willis Mechanical

1850 Beaver Ridge Circle
Suite E
Norcross, Ga 30071

 

24 Hours: (678) 966 0094