Is Solar Power for your Home a Viable Option?
When showing properties in Los Cabos and the Todos Santos area that are not served by our electric utility company, CFE, I’m often asked what I know about outfitting and living with solar power, so I thought I’d share some general information and my personal experiences with you.
I’ve been living in an “off the grid” home for the last 26 years and have become used to moderating my power usage according to available sunshine. Although we are blessed here in Southern Baja California with an abundance of cloudless, sunny days, there are times when I need to augment my power by running the backup generator; usually because we are hosting a party or have had several cloudy days and the system can’t keep up with our power usage. This is a minor inconvenience as my solar system has allowed me to live comfortably in an area I love without foregoing all the modern necessities like refrigeration, satellite tv, lighting, fans, a/c and so on.
As with most technologies, the price of solar equipment has dropped substantially in recent years affording a relatively quick return on investment, as the price per kilowatt generated has become competitive with grid power. My system has paid for itself many times over, I am happy to say. I spend no more than one hour per month doing maintenance on the system which includes cleaning the solar panels, inspecting the exterior connections and cables and servicing the batteries. In addition to the cost reductions in the actual equipment, new sealed batteries and high production panels now leave almost nothing for the homeowner to do except for inspecting the system occasionally.
The nearby neighborhoods of El Pescadero and Cerritos Beach have recently received electrical service from CFE, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of solar power to help save on the cost of operating a home here and have backup power available when CFE power fails. Today, grid-tie systems are also available allowing the homeowner to produce a percentage of their own power and reduce their monthly power bill. CFE power can be quite expensive and those who use more pay more, so these grid-tie systems can make a huge difference if your home has a pool or if you’ll be entertaining and using multiple air conditioners, etc. Grid-tie systems are connected via meter directly to the power grid, so while the sun is out you are actually sending power back into the power utility system. I have friends with this setup that recognize substantial savings every month!
Finally, I’d like to also mention the ecological benefit to installing a solar system, either stand-alone or grid-tie. All power in Southern Baja California is generated by large power plants burning oil for fuel. So all power produced by solar energy reduces the pollution we put into the atmosphere and oceans and reduces the carbon footprint of any home. To me, protecting our incredible, unique environment is the most important benefit of installing solar power whether in a newly constructed home or existing residence. We should all take advantage of the sun and not just for a beautiful tan. Shine on!