Mike Bregenzer, general manager, Daikin AC Americas

Variable refrigerant technology has only recently gained the attention of contractors and engineers in North America.

According to Mike Bregenzer, general manager of Daikin AC (Americas) Inc., “It is an established and proven global technology. There are over a million Daikin Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV®) systems in use throughout the world.”

The NEWSEditor-in-Chief, Mike Murphy, spent a morning at the North America Daikin Sales office and talked with Bregenzer.

NEWS:Why is VRV technology catching more attention in North America?

Bregenzer:It is really just in the last few years that the North American populous has become more environmentally conscious. VRV is very energy-efficient and works with R-410A, which has no ozone depletion potential. VRV technology addresses many of the issues that are becoming relevant in North America, such as ease of installation, flexibility of design, advanced zoning, low sound levels and, of course, energy efficiency. The residential market has been a single-speed, on-off system. Variable-speed systems meet current customer expectations.

The training room at Daikin AC Americas has nearly 6,000 annual visitors. Mike Bregenzer, general manager of Daikin, said that education and training are the keys to long-term success for any newer technologies in the United States.

NEWS:There are a variety of perceptions about VRV technology. What do you hear in the marketplace?

Bregenzer:Contractors who are accustomed to applied systems are used to more sophisticated products and controls, these companies embrace VRV. Even though the residential and light commercial contractors see a lot of electronics in today’s equipment, VRV is sometimes perceived as different and therefore some people have been hesitant.

However, once they install one system, they’re onboard. The residential contractors are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Single-phase VRV-S meets their needs. The commercial contractor is looking for ways to shorten his turnaround time on a jobsite. Floor-by-floor installation allows the user to occupy the space sooner, and gives the contractor’s work force an opportunity to begin another site. The VRV technology, performance, and installation sessions are key components of our Daikin University training that receive tremendous praise from the attendees.

NEWS:How long has Daikin been working with VRV?

Bregenzer:Daikin launched its VRV product in the U.S. in 2004, but pioneered the VRV/VRF concept and launched its first product in 1982, with a European launch in 1987. Seven generations of that product have evolved into today’s refined product, and we are very proud to be celebrating its 25th birthday in 2007. We chose to bring the VRV technology to the North American market as demand warranted, and the skyrocketing cost of energy has been a primary emphasis for the recent interest and success of our state-of-the-art technology.

NEWS:What is one of the best advantages?

Bregenzer:Everybody has their own control. The sensor on the wall is not a traditional thermostat; it is able to electronically meter the refrigerant flow. VRV is very popular in the high-end residential market. High-end residential contractors have been looking for economical ways to provide zoning, and they are open to using ductless technology, especially now that VRV is available.

NEWS:How can a commercial contractor benefit with VRV?

Bregenzer:The pricing for a commercial project can be less than a four-pipe system. The cost of sheet metal in some markets will tend to drive costs up; a lot of money can be taken out of a job by using VRV. We may be 60 percent of the total cost of a job, but now the installation costs are reduced considerably.

Electrical requirements are greatly reduced on this type of system. You can’t go hardware to hardware; you have to look at installed costs.

NEWS:What is the biggest challenge that Daikin faces?

Bregenzer:The biggest challenge is education. While these systems are well-known and accepted worldwide, it is still considered new in North America. Though we train more than 3,000 people every year, the inertia of getting architects, engineers, and contractors to adopt the technology is a slow, but steady, process. It is reminiscent of the slow acceptance of VAV many years ago, which is now considered old technology. In the Northeastern U.S. and the West Coast, the engineering community is rapidly adopting VRV technology in their designs.

VRV is an excellent application when efficiency, zoning, and sound are important. Traditional products that have challenges meeting these requirements will lose out. In fact, we are already anticipating the future efficiency needs that will be imposed upon our industry.

Publication date:11/12/2007