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Experts: VRFs could still have a larger market share in Middle East

by Rajiv Ravindran Pillai on Feb 10, 2018

Industry experts claim that the VRF (variable refrigerant flow) market is growing at 10%-15%, and it is worth approximately $10bn, globally. More and more consultants and building owners in the Middle East region are reportedly adopting VRF technology more than ever before, as it offers flexibility, energy efficiency and reduced footprint.

Despite the demand, there is a general belief that VRFs could have a much larger market share in the region, provided there is greater clarity on issues related to piping length, fresh air and performance, as well as operational data. 

To debate on the above issues, MEP Middle East organised a roundtable on 10 January, 2018. The roundtable was sponsored by Midea Commercial Air-conditioners and it had consultants, contractors and suppliers as participants. Below were the list of participants:

Hassan Younes, director, Griffin Consultants, who moderated the roundtable.
Peck Zhao, senior marketing manager, overseas sales, Midea 
Hadi Ismail, senior director – energy solutions and mega projects, Taqeef
Muayyad Abu Khashabeh, mechanical lead, BK Gulf
Khaled Saab, senior manager, Khatib & Alami
Khaled Derhalli, operations director, Efeco

Younes started off by comparing VRF systems with traditional systems. He asked: “What are the selling points of VRF systems in terms of flexibility and energy efficiency? How do you convince a client or a consultant to use your system?” 

Zhao answered this by saying: “Regarding the selling points, first is flexibility. The most important thing is that one outdoor unit is capable of connecting up to 53 indoor units and a single unit capacity is up to 32HP (horse power). This means 26 tonnes. And with the mini VRF, we have around 2 tonnes. So, this is a very huge range for VRFs. This is quite wider than the splits. One system can give you a powerful capacity. 

“And the second thing is that a single unit is now having one or two compressors. In the case of two compressors, if one compressor fails, the other one can keep running. So it is a more durable system with a backup function. If you have a modular design, with two or three units, if one fails, the others keep running. 

“The third is about energy efficiency. Now, the compressors are DC inverter driving scroll compressors. So it is more efficient than the constant speed rotary compressors. We operate at the best efficiency range, and the condenser coil is of very big size. It can be very energy efficient in the part load operation.”