Modular construction is changing the way the world builds. For residential and commercial projects, modular offers plenty of advantages, from speed, quality control and cost-saving advantages to design flexibility. Because modular buildings are constructed in sections and then transported to be assembled onsite, it increases efficiency by streamlining the building process.

Yet finding the right products and systems that can be easily integrated during the construction process is a challenge for many modular builders. HVAC manufacturers are responding with smart, efficient solutions to meet the short and long-term needs of modular builders and owners alike.

These solutions include single package vertical HVAC systems that incorporate “in-closet” design and can be installed as part of the modular assembly process, increasing efficiency while delivering great performance. More modular builders are choosing single package vertical systems because they are compact, reliable and offer customizable climate control along with many other advantages, including:

1) Design Uninterrupted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

In modular construction, maximizing space and ensuring nothing interferes with the beautiful design of a building’s interior or exterior is essential. Single package vertical cooling systems eliminate the need for multiple through-the-wall units. Self-contained and out of view, they include a condenser, compressor and evaporator inside a compact unit that fits in a small mechanical closet, improving interior design and eliminating the need for bulky outdoor equipment.

For example, Friedrich’s Vert-I-Pak® packaged units are increasingly popular with commercial modular builders that require a simple, efficient, self-contained, quiet and streamlined solution. Unlike split systems that involve multiple outdoor condensers, long duct runs and refrigerant lines, or chillers that lead to complicated piping and wiring, Vert-I-Pak provides modular builders with a compact, packaged profile that fits into a closet.

Individual vertical package cooling systems also provide a clean, attractive outdoor aesthetic. The “eliminations” add up–no clutter of outdoor condensing units that comes with split systems, no rooftop cooling tower with a chiller, and no need for refrigerant lines to run between floors.

2) Simple as That: Easy Installation and Maintenance

Single package vertical systems are easy to install, fitting seamlessly into the modular manufacturing process. They come prewired, charged and piped accordingly, with individually controlled wall-mounted thermostats.

On the modular manufacturing assembly line, the system is simply installed in a small dedicated utility closet built to exacting standards for ease of access, service and reduced sound transfer. Once onsite, electrical, drainage and duct connections can be done by a single technician in minutes. Installation is straightforward and saves time—a huge bonus during the construction phase.

High-end modular commercial projects that have turned to single package vertical units include Magnolia by the Lake, a 125-unit senior-living modular apartment residence in Keego Harbor, Mich. Champion Commercial Structures, the modular builder responsible for the project, incorporated Friedrich’s Vert-I-Pak units right into its own manufacturing process.

While the system’s “in closet” design helps keep upfront installed costs low, it also simplifies long-term replacement and maintenance. That’s a major advantage for modular multifamily and commercial projects like Magnolia by the Lake because it helps reduce the risk of an entire building becoming uninhabitable if the system needs to be repaired or replaced. Single units can be maintained individually, without impacting the rest of the building.

3) Breath of Fresh Air: Exceptional Indoor Air Quality

With a focus on creating efficient, comfortable environments, improved indoor air quality is a top priority for modular builders. That’s also what makes the latest single package vertical systems such a breath of fresh air.  

With patent-pending make-up air capabilities and sophisticated humidity control that includes onboard sensors that monitor and adjust compressor speeds to enhance dehumidification, Friedrich’s award-winning VRP® system has earned notoriety for exceptional indoor air quality performance. VRP helps building owners meet ASHRAE 62.1-2013 for IAQ, bringing in up to 70 CFM of conditioned, MERV 8-filtered outside air, without the cost or complexity associated with large dedicated outside air systems.

4) Perfect Fit: Powerful Performance in a Small Package

Single package vertical systems prove that power can come in a small package—particularly important for modular buildings where maximizing space is always a challenge.

Size varies based on capacity, but units as small as 23 inches wide and deep are available. Larger units, such as 1.5-ton sizes, are a minimum of 32 inches high, and 2-ton units are just 47 inches high. AHRI-certified models are available with cooling capacities ranging from a nominal 9,000 BTU to 24,000 BTU. The units also offer heat pump with backup electric heat.

When it comes to energy saving, Friedrich’s VRP® technology highlights the latest advancements happening in the industry. As the first to use variable speed compressor technology in the product category, VRP’s variable capacity matches the unit’s output to actual demand for increased comfort, lower energy consumption and improved humidity control.

With the ability to precisely modulate capacity versus having to fully turn off and on to maintain a consistent temperature, VRP can automatically adjusting capacity to meet specific cooling needs. As a result, it can achieve efficiencies of up to 20 SEER and 13.0 EER. It also features exceptional low-ambient heat pump operations down to 15 degrees, potentially saving hundreds of dollars per year. Plus, it reaches desired temperatures faster than conventional systems.

5) Quiet by Design: Beauty in What You Don’t Hear

Modular builders take pride in solid, tight construction that delivers maximum comfort for their occupants. That includes sound reduction. The smart product design of single package vertical systems means that quiet is now part of creating a beautiful interior environment.

For example, to help eliminate vibration Friedrich’s Vert-I-Pak solution features a free-floating chassis that slides into a patented telescoping wall plenum and is held firmly in place by a sealing gasket, without the need for permanent metal fasteners such as screws or bolts. The compressor is mounted on extra thick, vibration-absorbing rubber grommets on a durable base for bolstered acoustic integrity. Excellent insulation drastically diminishes sound in modular buildings, making them smart from the start.

Efficient, comfortable, beautiful and practical, smart design comes standard with today’s modular buildings. And now, thanks to the industry’s latest innovations and advancements, there are also plenty of exceptional HVAC solutions to match.

Since 1883, Friedrich has upheld the tradition of offering innovative and premium products. For the past 60 years, Friedrich has been a forerunner in durable, energy efficient room air conditioning solutions built on years of innovation and customer feedback. Today, that depth of experience delivers VPR® and Vert-I-Pak® models engineered for maximum comfort and operational cost savings.