Comparative analysis of the VRF system and conventional HVAC systems, focused on life-cycle cost
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As concern for the environment has been dramatically raised over the recent decade, all fields have increased their efforts to reduce impact on environment. The field of construction has responded and started to develop the building performance strategies as well as regulations to reduce the impact on the environment. HVAC systems are obviously one of the key factors of building energy consumption. This study investigates the system performance and economic value of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems relative to conventional HVAC systems by comparing life-cycle cost of VRF systems to that of conventional HVAC systems. VRF systems consist mainly of one outdoor unit and several indoor units. The outdoor unit provides all indoor units with cooled or heated refrigerant; with these refrigerants, each indoor unit serves one zone, delivering either heating or cooling. Due to its special configuration, the VRF system can cool some zones and heat other zones simultaneously. This comparative analysis covers six building types—medium office, standalone retail, primary school, hotel, hospital, and apartment—in a eleven climate zones—1A Miami, 2A Houston, 2B Phoenix, 3A Atlanta, 3B Las Vegas, 3C San Francisco, 4A Baltimore, 4B Albuquerque, 4C Seattle, 5A Chicago, and 5B Boulder. Energy simulations conducted by EnergyPlus are done for each building type in each climate zone. Base cases for each simulation are the reference models that U.S. Department of Energy has developed, whereas the alternative case is the same building in the same location with a VRF system. The life-cycle cost analysis provides Net Savings, Savingto- Investment ratio, and payback years. The major findings are that the VRF system has an average of thirty-nine percent HVAC energy consumption savings. As for the results of the life-cycle cost analysis, the average of simple payback period is twelve years.