Puerto Vallarta Real Estate | January 2007
|What Your Home Wants You to Know|
Jim Morrison - PVNN
Puerto Vallarta - The very first thing that Canadians and Americans learn when they come here to live is: We've been spoiled. Most Mexicans get by on a lot less, and with thinner margins of safety than most gringos are used to - especially around the house.
With no specialized knowledge, you can tell just by looking that electrical systems here are very different than what you're probably used to. Here's a quick primer on things you ought to know about Mexican electrical systems before you move here:
Mexican residential services have 120/240 volt and 60 Hz - just like the rest of North America. However, where 100 amp service is considered a minimum at home, most Mexican homes will have a far smaller service - some just 30 amps - which some buyers find alarming.
This is an issue of convenience, not one of safety. Smaller services mean that less electricity is available to the house at any given time. If you have a 30 amp service, and the combination of electrical appliances running at a given time exceeds 30 amps, the main breaker should trip.
It doesn't necessarily mean you did something dangerous (though you might have,) it just means you tried to do too much at once. When that happens, you should turn off the appliances you were using, and reset the breaker. If it trips again immediately, call an electrician.
Most receptacles you're likely to see will only accept a two pronged plug, though three pronged receptacles are becoming more common. If you are moving here, you'll probably need at least a few grounded adapters to plug your three pronged appliances into the two pronged plugs. Better yet, have an electrician install grounded receptacles for you wherever you need them.
Blackouts, brownouts, and power surges are a little more common here as well. To be safe, you should protect your valuable electronic equipment. For most basic appliances, a typical surge protector is enough. Your computer equipment should be plugged into a good quality uninterruptible power supply, which acts as a surge suppressor as well.
Most residents find that the summertime humidity will damage their most sensitive home and portable electronics. In addition, voltage drop, which is a very common issue in the States, is even more common here, and while it isn't dangerous, it can result in damage to sensitive electronics, so leave the plasma TV at home, and keep it more basic here. Don't say we didn't warn you...
Most older Mexican homes will have fewer electrical receptacles than what you're used to as well. There's nothing wrong with this, though the resulting daisy chain of extension cords can be dangerous. If you need an extension cord more than just occasionally, you should call an electrician and have additional electrical receptacles installed.
In most US and Canadian homes, wiring has several layers of protection. The copper wires that carry current are individually insulated. They are then encased in plastic sheathing, often they are also run through metal or PVC conduit and buried in a wall or ceiling, effectively placing four distinct barriers between you and the current - very safe. The wiring in many Mexican properties may only have one or two of those barriers.
It's important to know that while the residential wiring system in a Mexican house will be very different than the ones you might be used to, it isn't necessarily dangerous. The best thing to do if you have any concerns is to call a professional to check it out and make any necessary repairs.
Casas del Mar is a property services firm that manages, rents, and inspects homes all over the Banderas Bay area. Their philosophy is simple: "Listen to your customers, and dont quit until they are happy. Ever." You can send them your questions at info@CasasDelMarPV.com. They are your real estate resource.
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