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NEA To Extend Energy Efficiency Requirements To Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Air-Conditioners

30 Mar 2020

The move will lower carbon footprint and energy costs of operating VRF air-conditioners

Singapore, 30 March 2020 – From 1 April 2021, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will introduce energy efficiency requirements for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) air-conditioners. VRF air-conditioners sold in Singapore must be registered with NEA, meet minimum energy performance standards and carry Energy Labels. VRF air-conditioners are common cooling systems used in small to medium sized buildings and landed residences. These requirements will improve the energy efficiency of VRF air-conditioners and contribute to Singapore’s efforts to fight climate change.

MELS and MEPS for VRF air-conditioners

2          From 1 April 2021, VRF air-conditioners sold in Singapore must comply with the Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) and Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). See Annex A for requirements.

3          The introduction of MELS and MEPS for VRF air-conditioners will help catalyse market transformation towards more efficient models. Besides reducing their carbon footprint, owners of VRF air-conditioners will also benefit from the lower operating cost of more energy efficient equipment.

4          Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector that wish to replace their existing air-conditioners with more energy efficient models, like VRF air-conditioners (rated four-ticks and above) or single/multi-split systems (rated four-ticks and above), can apply to NEA to tap on the Energy Efficiency Fund (E2F) to co-fund up to 50 per cent of the replacement project’s qualifying cost.

5          NEA will review the energy efficiency standards over time in order to keep pace with technological improvements.

6          NEA introduced MELS in 2008 to encourage consumers to choose more energy efficient models of electrical appliances such as refrigerators, air-conditioners and televisions. MEPS was introduced in 2011 to raise the average energy efficiency of the electrical appliances in the market. The energy efficiency of residential air-conditioners has improved by 42 per cent since the introduction of MELS and MEPS.

VRF air-conditioners installed for an office building
VRF air-conditioners installed for an office building

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For more information, please contact us at 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255 632) or submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application.


Details of Requirement – MEPS and MELS for VRF air-conditioners

Scope of MEPS and MELS for VRF air-conditioners

1          Effective from 1 April 2021, the proposed MEPS and MELS will cover 3-phase VRF air-conditioners of all cooling capacities. VRF air-conditioners are required to:

a)         be registered;
b)         meet MEPS, and
c)         be labelled with an Energy Label

2         VRF air-conditioners will be rated based on the Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER) [1] to take into consideration of VRF air-conditioner’s part-load performance. MEPS level for VRF air-conditioners is proposed at IEER 4.35.

3        VRF air-conditioners will be rated one-tick to five-ticks, with five-ticks being the most efficient. The Energy Label and rating system for VRF air-conditioners are as shown in Diagram 1 and Table 1.


Example of Energy label for VRF Air-conditioner
Diagram 1: Example of Energy label for VRF Air-conditioner

Tick rating

VRF efficiency, IEER

5 - tick

IEER 6.15 and above

4 - tick

IEER 5.70 to < IEER 6.15

3 - tick

IEER 5.25 to < IEER 5.70

2 - tick

IEER 4.80 to < IEER 5.25

1 - tick

IEER 4.35 to < IEER 4.80

Table 1: Energy rating system for VRF air-conditioners

[1] Based on the Air-Conditioning, Heating Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) Standard 1230, IEER is defined as (0.020*EER 100%) + (0.617*EER 75%) + (0.238*EER 50%) + (0.125*EER 25%), where Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is defined as ratio of cooling capacity to effective power consumption at a given set of rating conditions.