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

DOE has published a  Federal Register notice pertaining to energy conservation standards for air-cooled, three-phase, small commercial air conditioners and heat pumps and air-cooled, three-phase, variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (EPCA), prescribes standards for small, large, and very large commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment, of which air cooled, three-phase, small commercial air conditioners and heat pumps with a cooling capacity of less than 65,000 Btu/h and air-cooled, three-phase, variable refrigerant flow air conditioners and heat pumps with a cooling capacity of less than 65,000 Btu/h are categories. EPCA requires DOE to consider the need for amended standards each time the relevant industry standard is amended with respect to the standard levels or design requirements applicable to that equipment, or periodically under a six-year-lookback review provision. For the three-phase equipment that is the subject of this notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), DOE is proposing amended standards that rely on new efficiency metrics and align with amended efficiency levels in the industry standard. DOE has preliminarily determined that it lacks clear and convincing evidence required by the statute to adopt standards more stringent than the levels specified in the industry standard. 

  • DOE will accept comments, data, and information regarding this NOPR until May 31, 2022.
  • Interested persons may submit comments identified by docket number EERE-2022-BT-STD-0008, by email (AirCooledACHP2022STD0008@ee.doe.gov), Federal eRulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov).
  • DOE will hold a webinar on Monday, May 16, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Click here to register for the webinar.
  • 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 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://energy.gov/eere/buildings/public-meetings-and-comment-deadlines

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

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

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


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