Daikin Adapting VRV Technology for North American HVAC Market
Developing equipment that will work in extreme weather conditions
ATLANTA — Daikin North America kicked off 2019 by highlighting new, advanced residential and commercial HVAC equipment at the AHR Expo.
“One thing that’s really evident is we’re seeing a big focus on integrated controls,” said Kelly Hernsberger, vice president, residential product marketing, Daikin North America LLC. “We were at CES, and it confirmed a lot of our belief that connected devices are a definite trend. We see a lot more inward focus on artificial intelligence inside the equipment, and you can see where we are headed with Air Intelligence. That’s a major theme in the residential market.”
According to Hernsberger, ductless is still the fastest growing product line in North America.
“We’re continuing the trend of equipment that is new and different by expanding inverters in North America, bringing that variable-speed value to the mainstream market,” he said. “Traditionally, inverters were only for the elite and well-financed. Now, we’re bringing an inverter set of equipment to the marketplace that most people will be able to afford. It’s exciting.”
Daikin is focused on adapting its VRV products to the North American market, noted John Schwartz, marketing and communications manager, Daikin North America LLC.
“We’re taking the next step, like we did with the VRV AURORA™,” he said. “The key with AURORA was to expand the heating and cooling capacities to make it work in Canada and Arizona — that’s the easiest way to put it — to make it work in the extreme cold and the extreme heat. That’s what we mean when we talk about adapting the technology to fit this market.”
Daikin is taking that same technology and applying it to residential products, as with its new VRV LIFE™ System. VRV Life is a single-phase VRV heat pump with optional gas furnace connectivity for residential applications. The slim, quiet, inverter-driven outdoor unit can accommodate up to nine indoor units with multiple ducted and ductless styles for design and application flexibility. All indoor units can be controlled and integrated using Wi-Fi-based controls.
“We’re taking the heating and cooling technology we inherited from our Asian markets, and we’re adapting it to our North American market, which means ducted and gas heating,” Schwartz explained.
Daikin also displayed its Fit™ system, which is a side discharge, smart HVAC system that provides comfort and connects to ducted solutions traditional to the unitary market.
Smaller, lighter Daikin Fit cabinet designs provide several installation and service benefits for zero lot-line homes, condominiums, and rooftop terraces in dense urban settings that would typically require a crane. Daikin Fit requires only 4 inches of clearance and is easily installed in replacement applications using existing ductwork and existing line sets.
“The difference with the Daikin Fit is this one outdoor unit connects with one indoor unit — it’s one to one,” Schwartz said. “But still, the benefit, just like VRV, is the variable-speed compressor, outdoor fan, and indoor fan. So in a standard HVAC system, when your thermostat wants heating or cooling, the system either comes on or turns off. It’s 100 percent or zero percent. These systems come on at a partial load. It ramps up and down at whatever capacity it needs to cool down however many degrees, which makes it much more efficient.”
The Daikin One™ Ecosystem was also debuted at the AHR Expo.
“The central hub of the Daikin One ecosystem is the Daikin One+ smart thermostat,” Schwartz said. “It’s different from smart thermostats that turn the systems on and off, can do geofencing, and can be operated with a mobile app — this can do all of that too. But a smart thermostat cannot take advantage of all the things our equipment can do, such as ramping up and down. Not only are we adapting it to our existing products residentially, but we’re going to use this one thermostat across all of our products.”
In combination with the Daikin One ecosystem, the Daikin One+ smart thermostat offers IAQ modules, including the Daikin One air cleaner, Daikin One home air monitor, and Daikin One zone monitor, all working together seamlessly.
For example, homeowners are notified when a contaminant event occurs and have the option to run the HVAC system to help reduce contaminants. The thermostat design features a double-square structure that pairs a sophisticated high-resolution digital color touchscreen on the left side with the proven functionality of a classic analog dial control on the right side. This arrangement reflects well-established patterns of cognitive interaction (reading from left to right). For fast, on-the-go temperature adjustments, the dial is the perfect tool. For more involved control, such as setting a schedule, a refined capacitive touch interface offers an easy-to-understand menu system. A simple touch on the display reveals access to the full range of settings.
On the commercial side of the market, Daikin introduced its new VRV IV X heat recovery systems.
These heat recovery systems integrate Daikin’s patented vapor injection technology and advanced variable refrigerant temperature (VRT) technology to deliver year-round comfort control, energy efficiency, and reliable operations.
They offer a wide heat pump heating operation range from minus 13° to 60°F and a wide cooling operation range from minus 4° to 122°. A hot gas bypass circuit with improved control logic allows installation without the need for a base pan heater. The inverter circuit board features a unique, controlled refrigerant cooling circuit to maintain temperature and performance of the circuit board. The new service and commissioning window feature allows ease of commissioning and troubleshooting.
“Being able to use gas heat and provide the tenants or occupants their preference of utility balance they want to play with is key,” said Madhav Kashinath, director, VRV Products, Daikin North America LLC. “If electricity is cheaper, then we use electric heat pump heating. If gas is cheaper, use gas heating. It’s allowing them to adopt energy efficiency, but not at a premium cost. Energy efficiency always comes with a bunch of dollar signs next to it — it’s very premium. We’re breaking that concept. We’re saying … It should be affordable.’”
Kashinath agreed there is definitely more focus from a controls perspective, since that is where there is a lot of innovation in the next generation of connectivity, citing the Daikin One+ thermostat as an example.
“Most manufacturers in the industry tend to have a different control for residential and commercial applications,” he said. “We’re again breaking that barrier because I should be able to control the thermostat in my office the same way I control it at my house. Most people don’t want to touch the controller in commercial applications — it’s too complicated, and they’re too intimidated by it. But, if it’s like the controller at my home, you’re taking away consumer hesitation to interface with HVAC. The only interaction most people have with the HVAC system is the thermostat that sits on the wall. That’s another way of looking at how consumers look at HVAC. It’s changing the way people think about what HVAC is — it’s not just heating and cooling anymore, it’s comfort.”
Publication date: 2/18/2019