Variable Refrigerant Flow Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

Sign up for e-mail updates on regulations for this and other products

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

DOE has issued a pre-publication Federal Register final rule pertaining to energy conservation standards VRF multi-split systems. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (EPCA), prescribes standards for various consumer products and certain commercial and industrial equipment, including small, large, and very large commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment, of which variable refrigerant flow (VRF) multi-split air conditioners and VRF multi-split system heat pumps (collectively referred to as “VRF multi-split systems”) are a category. EPCA requires DOE to consider the need for amended standards each time American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1 is amended with respect to the standard levels or design requirements applicable to that equipment, or periodically under a six-year-lookback review provision. In this final rule, DOE is adopting amended standards for VRF multi-split systems that rely on a new cooling efficiency metric and are equivalent to those levels specified in ASHRAE Standard 90.1. DOE has determined that it lacks the clear and convincing evidence required by the statute to adopt standards more stringent than the levels specified in the industry standard.

  • The text of this rule is subject to correction based on the identification of errors as defined in 10 CFR 430.5 before publication in the Federal Register. Readers are requested to notify DOE by email at ErrorCorrectionInfo@EE.DOE.Gov of any typographical or other errors, as described in such regulations, by no later than midnight on March 16, 2023, in order that DOE may make any necessary corrections in the regulatory text submitted to the Office of the Federal Register for publication

  • The effective date of this rule is 60 days after the final rule has published in the Federal Register. DOE will send a follow-up e-mail once the notice publishes to announce the effective date. 

  • Compliance with the amended standards established for VRF multi-split systems in this final rule is required on and after January 1, 2024.

DOE has published a Federal Register final rule pertaining to test procedures for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) multi-split air conditioners and heat pumps (VRF multi-split systems). This final rule amends the test procedure for VRF multi-split systems to incorporate by reference the latest version of the applicable industry test standard. This final rule also adopts the integrated energy efficiency ratio metric in its test procedures for VRF multi-split systems. Additionally, this final rule adopts provisions in the updated industry test procedure relevant to certification and enforcement, including a controls verification procedure.

  • The effective date of this rule is November 21, 2022
  • The final rule changes will be mandatory for VRF multi-split systems equipment testing October 16, 2023. 
  • The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register November 21, 2022. 
  • The incorporation by reference of certain other publications listed in this rule was approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of July 30, 2015, and July 16, 2012.

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

Final Rule
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,Three-Phase, Variable Refrigerant Flow Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps
  • Federal Register, 87FR18290 (March 30, 2022)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Clarification 

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

  • Federal Register, 87FR14186 (March 14, 2022)
  • Federal Register, 87FR11335 (March 1, 2022)

Notice of Working Group Public Meetings

  • Federal Register, 84FR56949 (October 24, 2019)
  • Federal Register, 84FR12528 (April 4, 2019)
  • Federal Register, 83FR34498. (July 20, 2018)

Notice of Data Availability

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

Final Rule
  • Federal Register, 87FR63860 (October 20, 2022)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

  • Federal Register, 86FR70644 (December 13, 2021)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 

  • Federal Register, 86FR70316 (December 9, 2021)

Notice of Working Group Public Meetings

  • Federal Register, 84FR56949 (October 24, 2019)
  • Federal Register,  84FR12528 (April 4, 2019)
  • Federal Register, 83FR34498. (July 20, 2018).
Request for Information

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.


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


True