Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems vary the refrigerant flow to meet the dynamic zone thermal loads, leading to more efficient operations than other system types. This paper introduces a new model that simulates the energy performance of VRF systems in the heat pump (HP) operation mode. Compared with the current VRF-HP models implemented in EnergyPlus, the new VRF system model has more component models based on physics and thus has significant innovations in: (1) enabling advanced controls, including variable evaporating and condensing temperatures in the indoor and outdoor units, and variable fan speeds based on the temperature and zone load in the indoor units, (2) adding a detailed refrigerant pipe heat loss calculation using refrigerant flow rate, operational conditions, pipe length, and pipe insulation materials, (3) improving accuracy of simulation especially in partial load conditions, and (4) improving the usability of the model by significantly reducing the number of user input performance curves. The VRF-HP model is implemented in EnergyPlus and validated with measured data from field tests. Results show that the new VRF-HP model provides more accurate estimate of the VRF-HP system performance, which is key to determining code compliance credits as well as utilities incentive for VRF technologies. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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