Let the sun shine… umm, 360 days a year, more or less

May 21, 2011

Paul and I are so happy that the rainy and gloomy Pacific Northwest weather is just a memory – we love living in sunny Mazatlán.  We love all the new plants we can grow and waking up every day knowing we can enjoy the outdoors.  But lately we have been pretty jazzed to finally be taking advantage of the sun for a practical purpose.

Earlier this week we had two solar hot water heaters installed on our roof.  Originally we had ordered one 240 liter but they were on back order so we ended up with two 150 liter setups.  It couldn’t have gone easier for us. This is more capacity than the two of us need but since our house is large we fit the system to the house.

For those of you not familiar with the way our water system functions, I’ll describe it – we have a pressurized system on the house that is in place because the person we bought from chose to install a whole house water purification system, and it requires pressure. Water doesn’t come to your house under pressure in Mazatlán. Most people receive their water at the street and it travels up to the roof to their tinaco, or water storage tank.  Our house also has a cistern, a large underground storage tank.

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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. That is one nice looking installation. We just installed one on our caretakers casita. The problem we had is that our roofs are covered with tile, so it is a little harder, but we figured it out, especially after adding a couple of skylights to our kitchen last month.
      So our house is next on the plan, but since the rains have started, I think it will be not until after our rainy season has come to a halt.
      Maybe I’ll post our water system here at the ranch, it is a combination of solar powered pumps, and gravity feeds, with AC backup since we do have spells of poor sun for weeks at a time.
      How often do you change your UV tubes? Do you have a backup when the power goes down ? or do you turn your water off at that time?
      You have plenty of room for electric panels too, I read that CFI has a few test areas for allowing customers to connect and feed to the grid….

      1. Hi Tancho,

        We are really happy with the setup so far, I’ve been told steam will come out of the pressure relief valve in the heat of summer! To answer your questions, we change our UV tubes about every year, more like every 14 months. We have the people come and do it since those long glass tubes are expensive if you break them. When the power goes off we just hang tough… we can bail water out of the cistern to flush toilets but it seldom is off more than an hour or two and that’s usually in the middle of the night. Our solar installer is just doing his first electrical panels with the reversing electric meter now, once he has finished it up and connected, etc., we’re going to have him come and analyze our system and give us a bid.

        We are lucky in that Mazatlan’s electricity is subsidized in the summer (May 1 – Oct 31) and since we have two meters (our house has access to two streets, hence two addresses) we don’t go over the threshold into the high user category. But we would love to use solar, it is such a natural here. And for snowbirds it could be wonderful with the meter spinning backwards all summer while they are gone and then they can have free electric when they are here in the winter.

    1. Nancy,
      That is a good looking installation. Please keep track of you gas bills and let us know if there is a significient savings. It is good to see that you are able to use the sun to help heat your water. I, and I am sure others, am curious to see how much you reduce your gas bill.

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