Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Electricity 101 & Water 090

We think this is our lot.
By now you all are ready to learn a bit about two items that are very precious commodities when setting up a home in Mexico.  Our lot is equipped with these modern conveniences and I would like to show you and explain the working of this up- to- date facility.

From big boxes come power!
Electricity -  As you all know electricity is created somewhere out in space by either Bill Gates, Donald Trump or Warren Buffet. Then it flows through big wires many, many miles to a big junction box where it is finally distributed throughout the city or town in your area.

It flows along other lines to a large pole located just outside your home, or in our case, lot.  Once it is there, wonderfully friendly Mexican electricians climb up these poles and connect the pole to a wire that is run across the street. This wire is just high enough that you think you are going to rip it down with your camper.

Hooking to power looks random.
From my experience these electricians look at the mass of wires at the top of the pole and touch practically everything.  Then they climb down and take a break.  In a while they climb back up the pole and touch all the wires again. Finally they hook the big wire into the huge bundle of wires; I presume using some kind of twisty thing that puts two wires together.  Then they run the wire down to a meter set in a cement pole at the front of your lot.

Our modern breaker box. Code que pasa?
The meter then transfers the power to a modern breaker box that then allows the power to the lot to be turned on or off. In our lot a series of six power plug-in boxes and five lights run off this one breaker. This may seem like quite a lot of power running through this one conduit, but you must consider that four plug-in boxes and three lights are broken and cannot be used. My thought is that in Mexico you can put as many power plug-in boxes and lights on a given line, because they assume that half of those will never function properly. You can’t overload a circuit!

The un-grounded plug we need for power.
There is one more factor in the electricity process that must be mentioned. This one item was the cause of all our power problems with the camper. In Mexico they do not believe in the need to ground any of the power going through your system.

The entire lot is one circuit with no ground connected. This caused our camper to have automatic breaker shut downs because our entire system has ground fault power plug-ins and a big surge protector that monitors incoming power. Without a ground the system would not work.
Doug grounds our plug.

 The reason for not grounding power sources plumb evades me. I have personally witnessed twice since I have been here that Mexican electricians use grounding as a test to see if a circuit is working properly.  What they do is take of their flip flops and touch the circuit in question.  If they get shocked, something is wrong, if not, everything is fine.

Once we grounded the plug in leading to the camper, all our power worries were over (Well not quite, more on this later).  Keep all this in mind when you travel down to Mexico and need to use electricity.

The hub of our water system.
Water – Somewhere in Melaque is a big well that is sunk into the ground where large quantities of water are pumped up and into a big reservoir. The water then flows via gravity down into the public water systems where it is dispensed into each lot. Nowhere along this flow is the water pumped and thus our biggest pressure provider is caused by the pull of Mother Earth.

The hub of our water storage system. Pump, hoses and tank.
The water to our lot stopped two days ago. To us this was a big deal.  We panicked and went into emergency mode. “What if there is no water to this lot the entire time we are here?” Linda asked. I got that look in my eyes and shook my head. We both agreed that this was a deal breaker and if we didn’t have water we would have to develop a secondary plan and execute it.

The water came back on today.

Our pila, used for dishes and where Linda does our laundry.
As we searched for answers about the water we found out that historically this happens throughout the year. For the lot owners, it became a non-event.  They developed back-up plans to deal with outages. Dean and Linda, however, had not been told of any of these water back-up plans, nor had it been explained that this happened occasionally.  Thus when it happened, we panicked.

Water flowing into the pila.
Today we took measures to provide a back-up source to our water needs.  We were provided a 50 gallon barrel that I cleaned and filled. Now we have water in our camper, the pila (a water cistern system) and the 50 gallon barrel. I had brought a 12 volt water pump with us and now it is an intricate part of our lot's water system. We are all set! The Big Adventure continues.

1 comment:

Jodi said...

And I was worried you guys would get bored. Every day is an adventure for you!