Studying variable refrigerant flow systems in Minnesota

January 4, 2024 by Kevin Frost

Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are a promising all-electric alternative to traditional space heating, in which air or water source heat pumps deliver heating and/or cooling to a building's spaces. VRF systems use refrigerant to move heat throughout a building (as opposed to water or air), which allows them to use energy more efficiently—and modulate the temperature in different zones of a building, thereby reducing wasted energy.

To prove the energy and comfort benefits in cold climates, Slipstream is conducting a field demonstration of VRF systems in Minnesota.

About the study

Slipstream and our partners will perform a comprehensive review of real-life installations of VRF systems in cold climates:

  • Reviewing the available products and market factors.
  • Recruiting building sites for field demonstrations.
  • Conducting VRF system audits and interviews regarding operations and comfort.
  • Monitoring energy performance and temperature data over several months.
  • Surveying building occupants to understand comfort.
  • Developing recommendations for utility energy efficiency programs.

This research was made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources through the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program, which is funded by Minnesota ratepayers.