Benefits of VRF for Healthcare Facilities

HVAC contractors are seeing a greater demand for Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology specified in healthcare facilities. VRF’s unique zoning and superior filtration make these systems ideal for medical centers like managed-care facilities. Below we highlight some of the main benefits these INVERTER-driven HVAC systems can offer:

Precise Comfort Control
VRF offers the ability to heat and cool simultaneously. With a variety of zones – patient rooms, medical centers and lobbies – this function is critical and provides year-round comfort with a single system.

Quiet Operation
Healthcare settings require a quiet atmosphere – your HVAC system kicking on shouldn’t cause disruption between a medical team and patient. Mitsubishi Electric’s latest commercial outdoor units, CITY MULTI® N-Generation, are near silent and equipped with four low-noise patterns for its redesigned fan, in addition to the rated pattern.

Indoor Air Quality
With VRF, each zone has its own filter compared to conventional systems that have one, centralized filter. This can help prevent stale air and keep odors at bay. With Mitsubishi Electric, filters last 10 years and are washable, with multi-state allergen filtration to remove particulates and contaminants from the air with continuous fan operation.

Lower Life-Cycle Costs
The total installed cost of a VRF zoning system is less than or equal to the total installed cost of most conventional systems. For example, the project featured below costs $1.04 per square foot per year compared to the average healthcare building at $2.71 per square foot, per year.* In operation, the systems only utilize the exact amount of energy needed to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

At Aireco Advanced Products Group (APG), we pride ourselves in understanding how to accurately specify and design VRF for a variety of applications. To partner with the APG team on any of your upcoming projects, contact us at APG@aireco.com.

*As per a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration

VRF for Managed Care: Coastal Hospice

Established in 1980, Coastal Hospice has brought caring and professional palliative care to the state of Maryland for many years. With their new facility, Coastal Hospice at the Ocean, redesigned by the architects at Becker Morgan Group, Inc., the building provides breathtaking views of the Ocean City skyline for patients and their family members. In choosing an HVAC system for this retrofit project, management wanted a system that could provide energy efficiency and make minimal noise. Allen & Shariff Engineering, LLC worked closely with APG on the project and ultimately specified a water-source Variable Refrigerant Flow system from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Joseph M. Zimmer, Inc., a very experienced CITY MULTI® contractor based out of Salisbury, Maryland, completed the install. Below, you’ll hear from the project’s engineer on the system and application.

Why was Mitsubishi Electric VRF specified? 

It has great zoning capability and can provide simultaneous heating and cooling. With VRF, we can put a cassette unit in every hospice room or every office, which we could not do effectively with traditional systems. Then there’s the ability to provide part-load capacity, the ability to passively dehumidify the space, the high-efficiency filtering options for indoor units and the overall energy efficiency of the system.

The energy efficiency was a huge factor. Hospice facilities often operate off of donations and small budgets, so we were looking at something that would have a small operating budget for them. So, zoning and efficiency were the two big drivers for selecting VRF.

A geothermal, water-cooled VRF system was installed. How did this translate to efficiency?

The facility was an existing community club house. The geothermal well system was existing and the owner wanted to reuse it (wells can be very expensive at first cost). Anything geothermal is usually high-efficiency. That’s when we tied it in with the VRF to make it a geothermal VRF system. The project become super high-efficiency once we did that as VRF systems only use the precise amount of energy required to comfortably heat and cool a zone.

Have you seen a trend in healthcare facilities switching to VRF?

Yes. At this point, my company has specified VRF for multiple medical centers including a cancer center and women’s health center. The cassettes that use the MERV-13 filters are huge for the medical industry. While VRF isn’t always suitable for a hospital setting, medical centers have been helped tremendously by the filtering and zoning capabilities that VRF systems offer – with either ducted or ductless units.

How does APG provide technical support?

Howard Bergman and Michael Stewart from APG provided me with design assistance including review of the equipment selections that I made using the Mitsubishi Electric Diamond System Builder selection software. They were also able to answer any questions that I had during design concerning application of the equipment and controls.
What makes you feel a loyalty to Mitsubishi Electric?

I’ve been specifying it since I started designing VRF systems, probably 10 years now. I’ve always specified Mitsubishi Electric and continue to do so. The support I’ve received from APG is also a big factor. Mitsubishi Electric has comprehensive training; I’ve been down to their factory in Georgia and have been able to take other classes as well. There is a comfort level and familiarity I have with their products. I know their systems. I know their selection software. And I haven’t had any issues with Mitsubishi Electric on any of my jobs. I know that when we specify Mitsubishi Electric, it’s going to be a good project.

METUS Equipment Installed:

  • (3) PQRY-PTSLMU-A WR2 Series Water-Source Units
  • (32) PLFY-EP30NEMU-E Four-way Ceiling Cassettes
  • (12) PEFY-PNMAU-E3 Ceiling-Concealed Ducted Indoor Units
  • (3) PKFY-P12NHMU-E2 Wall-Mounted Indoor Unit
  • (1) AE-200A Centralized Controller