Variable Refrigerant Flow Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

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As defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “variable refrigerant flow multi-split air conditioners” means a unit of commercial package air-conditioning equipment that is configured as a split system air conditioner incorporating a single refrigerant circuit, with one or more outdoor units, at least one variable-speed compressor or an alternate compressor combination for varying the capacity of the system by three or more steps, and multiple indoor fan coil units, each of which is individually metered and individually controlled by an integral control device and common communications network and which can operate independently in response to multiple indoor thermostats. Variable refrigerant flow implies three or more steps of capacity control on common, inter-connecting piping. 10 CFR 431.92 

As defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “variable refrigerant flow multi-split heat pumps” means a unit of commercial package air-conditioning and heating equipment that is configured as a split system heat pump that uses reverse cycle refrigeration as its primary heating source and which may include secondary supplemental heating by means of electrical resistance, steam, hot water, or gas. The equipment incorporates a single refrigerant circuit, with one or more outdoor units, at least one variable-speed compressor or an alternate compressor combination for varying the capacity of the system by three or more steps, and multiple indoor fan coil units, each of which is individually metered and individually controlled by a control device and common communications network and which can operate independently in response to multiple indoor thermostats. Variable refrigerant flow implies three or more steps of capacity control on common, inter-connecting piping. 10 CFR 431.92 

Manufacturers have been required to comply with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) energy conservation standards for variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps since 2012.

Current Standard | Current Test Procedure | Ongoing Rulemaking for Standards | Ongoing Rulemaking for Test Procedure | Helpful Links


Recent and Ongoing Activities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issues a pre-publication Federal Register notice of open teleconference/webinar for the variable refrigerant flow multi-split air conditioners and heat pumps (VRF multi-split systems) working group.

  • The webinar will be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. To register, please click here.
  • Foreign Nationals interested in participating in this webinar must be screened by DOE Headquarters Security prior to being granted access. Please email Regina.Washington@ee.doe.gov to complete the necessary documentation at least two weeks prior to the scheduled meeting date.
  • Additional webinar registration information, participant instructions, and information about the capabilities available to webinar participants will be published on DOE’s website: https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/public-meetings-and-comment-deadlines.

The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) has published a Federal Register notice announcing the next series of meetings for the Variable Refrigerant Flow Multi-Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps (VRF) working group. DOE will be holding public meetings for the VRF working group as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 901 D Street SW, Suite 930, Washington, DC 20024.
  • Thursday, October 10, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 901 D Street SW, Suite 930, Washington, DC 20024.
  • Wednesday, October 23, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585-0121.
  • Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585-0121.
  • Wednesday, November 6, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Federal Mediation & Conciliation Services, Room 7008, 250 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20427.
  • Thursday, November 7, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Federal Mediation & Conciliation Services, Room 7008, 250 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20427.
  • Wednesday, November 20, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585-0121.
  • Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585-0121.
  • If you plan on attending the meeting in person please register by sending your name and company information via email to ASRAC@ee.doe.gov. In addition, you can attend the public meeting via webinar. To register for the webinar please visit the VRF Working Group page.
  • Foreign Nationals interested in participating in this meeting, either in person or via webinar, must be screened by DOE Headquarters Security prior to being granted access. Please email Regina.Washington@ee.doe.gov to complete the necessary documentation at least two weeks prior to scheduled meeting date.
  • Additional webinar registration information, participant instructions, and information about the capabilities available to webinar participants will be published on DOE’s website: https://cms.doe.gov/eere/buildings/public-meetings-and-comment-deadlines

DOE has published Federal Register notice publishing an analysis of the energy savings potential of amended industry consensus standards for certain classes of variable refrigerant flow multi-split air conditioners and heat pumps (VRFs). DOE is also initiating an effort to determine whether to amend the current energy conservation standards for classes of VRFs for which DOE has tentatively determined that the ASHRAE Standard 90.1 levels have not been updated to be more stringent than the current Federal standards. This document solicits information from the public to help DOE determine whether amended standards for VRFs would result in significant energy savings and whether such standards would be technologically feasible and economically justified.

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, ASRAC met and recommended to form a VRF multi-split systems Working Group to meet, discuss, and, if possible, reach consensus on a proposed rule for the energy efficiency standards for VRF’s. DOE published a notice of intent to establish a working group for VRF multi-split systems to negotiate a notice of proposed rulemaking for test procedures and energy conservations standards. 83 FR 15514 (April 11, 2018).

For the latest information on the VRF working group please visit the ASRAC website.

For the latest information on the planned timing of future DOE regulatory milestones, see the current Office of Management and Budget Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. All planned dates are preliminary and subject to change.

Standards

DOE has published Federal Register notice pertaining to energy conservation standards for variable refrigerant flow multi-slit air conditioners and heat pumps. 84FR32328 (July 8, 2019)

DOE has published a Federal Register notice of public meetings for Variable Refrigerant Flow Multi-Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Working Group. 84FR12528 (April 4, 2019).

DOE has published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the first public meeting for the VRF working group. 83FR34498. (July 20, 2018).

The VRF energy conservation rulemaking docket EERE-2018-BT-STD-0003 contains all notices, public comments, public meeting transcripts, and supporting documents pertaining to this rulemaking. 

Public Meeting Information:

There is no public meeting scheduled at this time.

Submitting Public Comments

Comment period is closed.

Test Procedure

DOE has published a Federal Register notice of public meetings for Variable Refrigerant Flow Multi-Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Working Group. 84FR12528 (April 4, 2019).

DOE has published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the first public meeting for the VRF working group. 83FR34498. (July 20, 2018).

DOE has published a Federal Register notice initiating a data collection process through this request for information (RFI) regarding test procedures for variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps. 82 FR 34427 (July 25, 2017).

The VRF working group rulemaking docket EERE-2018-BT-STD-0003 contains all notices, public comments, public meeting transcripts, and supporting documents pertaining to this rulemaking. 

Public Meeting Information

There is no public meeting scheduled at this time.

Submitting Public Comments

The comment period is closed.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Request for Information


Current Standard

Variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured and distributed in commerce, as defined by 42 U.S.C. 6291(16), must meet the energy conservation standards specified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 10 CFR 431.97.


Current Test Procedure

To determine that variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps that are currently manufactured or distributed into commerce are in compliance with DOE standards, manufacturers must follow the test procedure methods specified at 10 CFR 431.96.


Helpful Links

Compliance

DOE has established regulations on certification, compliance, and enforcement in the CFR at 10 CFR Part 429.  These regulations cover statistical sampling plans, certified ratings, certification reports, record retention, and enforcement.  More information on these regulations is available here.

Waivers

For information on current test procedure wavers, see DOE’s Waivers webpage

For information about obtaining test procedure waivers, see 10 CFR part 431, subpart V.

Exceptions

DOE's Office of Hearings and Appeals has not authorized exception relief for variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps.

For information about obtaining exception relief, see 10 CFR part 1003.

Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions

For information on further guidance and answers to Frequently Asked Questions on all covered products, see DOE’s Further Guidance database

State Exemptions to Federal Pre-emption

DOE has not exempted any state from this energy conservation standard. States may petition DOE to exempt a state regulation from preemption by the Federal energy conservation standard. States may also petition DOE to withdraw such exemptions. For details, see 10 CFR part 431, subpart W.

Contact information

For more information related to this product, please email:

ApplianceStandardsQuestions@ee.doe.gov


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