Ductless Continues to Mature in the American HVAC Market
VRF and multi-zone functionality are gaining traction across the country
ORLANDO, Fla. — The U.S. is embracing ductless HVAC systems.
A report from Navigant Research reinforces this assessment, stating that annual revenue from ductless systems will grow to more than $9 billion by 2020, up from $3.9 billion in 2013.
And, according to the ductless and VRF system manufacturers exhibiting at the 2016 AHR Expo, the market is absolutely thriving.
VRF IN DEMAND
“The commercial segment of the HVAC industry is seeing increased demand for solutions that increase efficiency and provide comprehensive controls,” said Kevin Miskewicz, senior manager, commercial marketing, Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating. “Owners and managers want lower utility bills and more operational control while end users are asking for a more convenient and effective way of ensuring their personal comfort. We see the effects of this demand in all corners of the industry, such as the attention turning toward the Internet of Things and in the increasingly stringent body of energy-efficiency regulations.”
Fujitsu General America Inc. introduced the J-II Series as part of its Airstage VRF line. The J-II single-phase VRF is a heat pump serving ambient 3- to 5-ton heating and cooling applications, which makes it work for large residential and small commercial installations. It offers multiple design flexibilities, providing up to nine individually controlled zones, each of which can be controlled independently to deliver customized climate control.
Nortek Global HVAC launched a VRF multi-zone line of commercial equipment in the Westinghouse, Mammoth, and Reznor brands.
“VRF technology gives contractors true zoning with dedicated indoor fan coil units for each zone,” said Kari Palutis, director of marketing communications, Nortek Global HVAC. “Our heat recovery units also allow simultaneous heating and cooling, which works for offices, schools, and other environments with varying loads.”
LG’s Multi V S is an outdoor unit that supports up to nine individual indoor units with a two-pipe refrigeration circuit and allows individual control of room temperatures while offering overall increased flexibility and efficiency for commercial installations. The Multi V S requires single-phase power rather than the traditional three-phase required for most VRF systems and can provide heat down to an outside temperature of minus 4°F. The system requires little to no ductwork, resulting in smaller space requirements for piping to maintain the integrity of the exterior of buildings.
“Life’s good, and business is good,” said Kevin McNamara, senior vice president, commercial air conditioning, LG Electronics USA, during an AHR Expo press briefing that focused on LG’s VRF push.
The ease of installation, both commercially and residentially, was a running theme among exhibitors and extended beyond just a singular zone.
“We’re seeing a big shift from single-zone spot cooling and heating solutions to whole-home or whole-building solutions,” said Erin Mezle, director of marketing, Fujitsu General America Inc. “With ductless systems, contractors can install more systems in less time, helping them to meet deadlines, stay under budget, and satisfy customers.”
Malcolm Persaud, senior manager of business development for Panasonic Corp. of North America, said the largest trend in the ductless sector is multi-systems. “It’s the shift from single-zone systems to multi-zone systems. To explain the difference between them, a single-zone system consists of one outdoor unit and one indoor unit. In multi-zone systems, there is one outdoor unit and up to five indoor units. Contractors benefit from this trend because they install this solution at a lower cost than an air zoning system.”
At the AHR Expo, Panasonic introduced both three- and four-zone systems to complement the current two- and five-zone systems.
“Apart from the versatility of two to five zones, Panasonic also has the capability to use wall-mounted, ceiling-semi-concealed, and ducted indoor units,” said Persaud. “These enhancements and combinations allow flexibility of applications to provide whole-house cooling and heating solutions for almost any residential property.”
Daikin Applied’s VRV IV-S-Series is a single-phase, air-cooled, outdoor unit that operates up to 10 indoor units and accommodates extensive piping networks up to 984 feet. VRV IV-S-Series incorporates Daikin’s variable refrigerant temperature (VRT) technology. It is capable of connecting a wide range of 11 different types of indoor ductless and ducted models to choose from that include cassettes, concealed-ducted, ceiling-suspended, wall-mounted, and floor-standing models.
“Very few OEMs are producing what we call dedicated outside air systems [DOAS], said Kirk Thorne, executive vice president of sales, marketing, and aftermarket, Daikin Applied. “It is starting to develop, but most are smaller sizes. We’ve built a full line of DOAS and taken a proven template and product in the Rebel [rooftop system] and created it to be an outdoor air handler that will connect with either VRV or traditional DX cooling splits.”
Samsung is focusing on ensuring its ductless products, as part of its entire product line, are becoming more connected and Wi-Fi-enabled.
“Our newest line of mini splits is now coming with a complete Wi-Fi control and may be connected to all Samsung Wi-Fi products,” said Russ Tavolacci, senior vice president for Samsung HVAC. “We can go to our smart home app from this ductless product and connect everything on the same Wi-Fi platform. This connectivity is innovative and in response to what consumers are looking for in a general appliance mindset. Connectivity is becoming the biggest thing, and, now, you do not need a wall thermostat to serves as the interface. It is there, built-in, and user-friendly.”
On the accessories side, RectorSeal Corp.’s Big Foot Stands are square, tubular, galvanized metal equipment supports with eight-inch-square nylon footings that distribute weight evenly and absorb condenser vibration. They assemble in less than 10 minutes with only eight bolts and provide a solid foundation for condensers as well as other HVAC equipment. The stands support up to 386 pounds, and the VRF/VRV designs support up to 1,323 pounds. The stand holds one condenser but is scalable by connecting extender stands in tandem to accommodate as many additional condensers as needed.
Publication date: 2/22/2016