AHRI certification logoThe Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) recently announced its new certification program for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) equipment. “It’s the first certification program for this type of equipment in the world,” said Bill Tritsis, AHRI vice president, certification. “So it’s catching a lot of interest from around the world. It’s an exciting new technology, and it’s taking ground and becoming more popular in the U.S.”

According to Tritsis, this program is important for contractors to be aware of because it provides them with “assurance that the unit actually performs as claimed.” He added, “They now have the proof they have always been looking for and [want to] provide to their customers. A product that is manufactured by those who participate in our certification program indeed performs as proclaimed by the manufacturer.”

Program Development

As VRF technology became more popular, the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) worked with its members to meet the need for an industry standard for VRF equipment. As a result, according to certification engineer Jon Lemmond, AHRI began working on Standard 1230, Performance Rating of VRF Multi-Split Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Equipment, in 2005. Since Standard 1230 was finalized in August 2010, AHRI has now launched a certification program to ensure VRF equipment is rated and tested to the standard.

The VRF program is AHRI’s 37th certification program. “We have the major manufacturers in the program already, and more have applied and will be joining next year,” Tritsis said. Currently, five manufacturers are participating in the program: Carrier, Daikin AC (Americas) Inc., LG Electronics USA, Mitsubishi Electric, and Sanyo. All of their certified VRF products can be found in the AHRI directory (accessible at www.ahrinet.org and via the mobile tag included in this article).

Covered Products

According to AHRI, the new certification program “covers VRF multi-split systems and heat recovery VRF multi-split systems [including] multi-split, matched system air conditioners and heat pumps irrespective of their type of electric power source, or secondary fluid (e.g. air-to-air or water-to-air).”

The program currently covers systems that “use distributed refrigerant technology with cooling and heating capacities for outdoor units from 12,000 Btu/h [3508 W] to 300,000 Btu/h [87,692 W] and indoor units from 5,000 Btu/h [1,462 W] to 60,000 Btu/h [17,538 W].”

Looking ahead, Lemmond said that AHRI intends to expand the capacity of outdoor units up to 760,000 Btu/h [222,734 W] and indoor units up to 144,000
Btu/h [42,202 W].

Tritsis added that AHRI anticipates that the Department of Energy will eventually accept AHRI Standard 1230 as a national standard. This will allow the standard to apply not only to commercial but also to residential VRF equipment; currently, systems sized under 65,000 Btu/h are certified to AHRI Standard 210/240.

Equipment Testing

Testing for certification is conducted at an Intertek testing facility in Plano, Texas. According to Lemmond, Intertek has built part of its lab specifically to test the VRF units. “Essentially, what they have is one large room split into four quadrants, so you can have different conditions in each room,” he said, noting that this allows Intertek to test the unit’s capabilities for simultaneous heating and cooling. He added that the testing lab is booked until the end of the year.

“We expect to see a lot more interest and demand for these products in the future,” Tritsis said.

Publication date: 10/24/2011