Total renewable energy production and consumption continue to reach record highs in the United States and Canada,1 making alternative energy systems a more commonly encountered property characteristic to consider when estimating replacement costs.
Verisk’s 360Value® offers users alternative energy estimating options that can be easily selected from a drop-down menu and included in any replacement cost estimate, regardless of roof cover material or other home characteristics. Alternative energy options in 360Value include photovoltaic solar systems, wind turbines, and battery backup systems. Users can enter the options either as attached to the home or as separate detached structures.
Estimating alternative energy systems in 360Value
A photovoltaic solar system is a system of panels containing cells that convert solar radiation into direct current (DC) electricity. When estimating the replacement cost for a photovoltaic solar system, select “Photovoltaic Solar System” from the 360Value “Alternative Energy” drop-down menu and then enter the system’s total wattage. Note that average household electricity consumption requires about 5 kW (5,000 watts) for complete self-sufficiency. Most homeowners will choose to supplement only a portion of their electric bill and will select either a 1-kW (1,000 watts) or a 3-kW (3,000 watts) system.
Photovoltaic solar systems are often paired with solar thermal collectors used to capture solar radiation, generating heat for home heating purposes. This type of alternative energy application can be entered as a “User Defined” option in the 360Value “Additional Features” section.
Wind turbines (sometimes referred to as wind generators or wind chargers) come in many shapes and sizes. They’re used to convert kinetic energy to electricity, with the energy they generate measured in watts. When estimating the replacement cost for a home equipped with a wind turbine, select “Wind Turbine” from the 360Value “Alternative Energy” drop-down menu and then enter the system’s total wattage.
The DC energy produced by these two systems is normally stored in a battery backup system. Most buildings use alternating current (AC) and require the stored DC electricity to be converted to AC electricity by running it through a power inverter. 360Value measures the storage capacity for a battery backup system in watts. When estimating for a battery backup system in 360Value, choose the “Alternative Energy” drop-down menu and then select the type of battery backup in use, such as “Photovoltaic Battery Backup” (per watt) or “Wind Turbine Battery Backup” (per watt).
If a home has a 1-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system with a 1-kilowatt battery backup system, 360Value allows users to choose the “Alternative Energy” drop-down menu and select “Photovoltaic Solar System” (per watt) and enter a quantity of 1,000 watts. Click the “Add” link to add an additional row, then click the “Alternative Energy” drop-down again and select “Photovoltaic Battery Backup” (per watt) and enter a quantity of 1,000 watts.
For a home with a 3-kilowatt wind turbine system with a 3-kilowatt battery backup system, 360Value users can choose the “Alternative Energy” drop-down menu and select “Wind Turbine 2.1 Kw and Above” (per watt) and enter a quantity of 3,000 watts.
1 Production and consumption of energy from wind and solar were at record highs in the United States in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The same year, investment in clean energy in Canada climbed 88 percent to nearly $11 billion, according to a report from Clean Energy Canada.