Variable Refrigerant technologies have become a mainstream HVAC application in urban environments over the past decade. The flexibility of unit design and layout configurations has made this a market niche for Air Ideal and other mechanical design/build firms in the New York metropolitan area. With a variety of indoor evaporators for floors, ceilings, walls and concealed spaces, they provide a simple solution for city projects with minimal space considerations for mechanical equipment. For many years SCAV (self contained air-cooled vertical) package units were the dominant city specified systems for individual tenant spaces, but they were notoriously inefficient and provided poor climate control and distribution across spaces with high diversity and multiple loads. Mitsubishi, Daikin and now LG and Fujitsu have all brought commercial products to the US city markets that provide solutions for office, retail, industrial and multi-dwelling residential projects.
These Asian manufacturers have also had the savvy to provide the necessary marketing expertise and design and application software to design/build contractors and engineers so that they can be properly specified, installed and commissioned. Each manufacturer and their individual distributors have been intelligent enough to provide direct training and certification for their equipment through local training and education centers located close to the metropolitan areas being served to further enhance their products diffusion to the marketplace. This also prevents poor installations as the result of lack of product knowledge and technical application inexperience.
The only barrier towards gaining major market share in urban HVAC applications has been the relative cost of these products. Equipment cost, import tariffs and three step distribution have been competitive disadvantages, but as more systems have been specified and installed, the economies of scale are ramping up and making these systems a viable alternative to standard unitary products. The partial load efficiencies of inverter technology from these products has also served as an ROI tool for convincing more owners and developers to include Variable Refrigerant equipment as a green alternative to standard unitary HVAC systems.