Electricity problem!

Discussion in 'Living in Cancun' started by Steve, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. Steve

    Steve Administrator Owner

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    Possibly another one of those "it could only happen here" stories.

    Our fridge freezer broke down a few days ago. A while back our water dispenser cooling system died and we've had three lightbulbs literally explode and a ton of others stop working long before they should.

    Turns out the electricity we are getting at some points of the house is 280 volts when we should be getting 220. In the house it's not constant just surges, but measured at the point of entry it's a constant 280 presumably it's semi controlled some way before it reaches the house. Luckily I have surge protection on my PC's.

    Hopefully the fridge freezer is fixable it cost us 14,000 pesos and is only 2 years old... apparently it's computer controlled and it shut down due to the high voltage before any major damage occurred, but we cant try to have it repaired until the voltage is fixed. We've had to throw away a lot of food and we are told (I am no electrician) that as a result of the high voltage our meter has been running fast, we've probably paid more for the electric than we should have and also have a higher risk of electrical fires occurring.

    A call to CFE resulted in being told their system was not working and to go and queue at the main office to report the problem.

    I foresee a long wait and a lot of $$$ incurred through no fault of our own that we wont be reimbursed for.

    Dont you just love it!
     
  2. eddie.willers

    eddie.willers Enthusiast Registered Member

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    Steve
    Sorry for your troubles with appliances - I have lost count of the number of coffeemakers I have lost to high voltage.

    The CFE is regulated by law to provide a nominal 127 volts per phase, with a tolerance of +/- 10%. This means that the legal voltage range is 114 to 140V per phase (or 228 to 280 volts across two phases).

    This is a problem for small appliances built for the US market as they are rated at 120V. Light bulbs sold here in Mexico also seem to have the same rating, which is why they don't last very long.

    The meter will not run any faster if the voltage is higher as its rotational speed depends on the current consumed. If anything, higher voltage means less current so your electricity bill should actually decrease by a small amount - in theory!
     
  3. Life_N_Cancun

    Life_N_Cancun Guest

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    Its no secret that the power here can be dangerous to appliances.

    I don't have 220 here but just "110" and my multimeter has never registered less than 135 so over voltage seems to be the norm and its not especially "clean" power either frequency wise.

    You can get "whole house regulators" but they are a bit pricey. Other than that I can only suggest that you invest a few hundred dollars in several appliance regulators for the high dollar items and make sure that the outlets you use with them are properly grounded. (otherwise the regulators and surge protectors do little good)

    Hopefully your freezer just needs to be reset, and perhaps there is even a button or something on the back that you can push yourself or if your feeling ambitious, you can take off the back panel and check for any obvious fuses or computer type cables, that might go the the control box. (which you could then cycle; unplug then reconnect, to possibly reset the computer or discharge any buildup in the cables, much like you would on a normal computer)
     
  4. mixz1

    mixz1 Guest

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    Actually, here in the ZH the meters do run fast. Besides being on the high side of the legislated tolerence, which means 137 VAC, we do not get a solid 60 cycles per second (CPS).

    The digital clocks in our appliances (stove, microwave, VCR and a couple of our DVD recorders) do not keep time because being cheapies, they rely on line frequency instead of an oscillating crystal. The clocks pick up more than 5 minutes in a week. They stay in sync with each other, but not with the real time. This is a common event with each of the 18 houses in our condo. After Wilma CFE built a new substation at around KM 13 on Kulkulcan. We never have surges but we do have fast clocks.

    There are many variations of model numbers on appliances and entertainment devices sold NOB and here. Generally, Sony uses a beefier power supply in their SOB devices, as does GE/Mabe and Whirlpool. They do it to cut down on warranty claims.

    When we built our kitchen we purchased our appliances directly from Maytag in the US (it pays to know people, sometimes). In 4 years we've replaced 2 circuit boards, 1 internal fan and 1 icemaker, all due to overvoltage. In one case, the Mexican replacement part even had different connectors and pinouts and the tech and I had to sit at the kitchen table with a VTVM figuring out which pin went where.

    Lesson learned is buy local and buy stuff designated for this market.
     
  5. RiverGirl

    RiverGirl Guest

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it extremely rare for houses here to have properly grounded electricity? Our house wasn't grounded when we bought it, so we put a 6-foot grounding rod in at the bottom of one of the flower beds.
     
  6. Karl

    Karl Enthusiast Registered Member

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    electricity

    Hola Steve

    I have a digtal load meter and can tell you what you are getting. And test your neutral and ground to see if a addition ground rod would help. Tom P. has my number if you want me to run down today. CFE will fix the problem if you are above the 10 percent . I think you meter is bad. Karl
     
  7. mixz1

    mixz1 Guest

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    We had to explain what ground was to our "contractor". We also had to import Ground Fault Interruptors from the US because at the time no one in Cancun even knew what they were. Then, to establish ground, we excavated down to one of the vertical corner beams holding the place up and used 0 gauge welding cable drilled and tapped and then spot-welded into the beam. I believe in overkill.

    Then we had a major argument about the grounding lug on the stainless steel sink. He would not believe that it was for grounding the sink and it finally came down to just do it or leave, all for a bit of wire. BTW, the lengths (or lack thereof) that they went to to save wire was astonishing. Some of the sockets that went in before I caught on have so little slack that if they need to be serviced you have to hire a minature person with teensy-tiny hands or graft on extensions in order to be able to re-attach things.

    My favorite memory was when we installed a GFI and some additional sockets in the master bathroom. When we opened the wall, all the wiring was the same color, white, and the electrician learned his way inside the wall by wetting his fingers and pinching wire ends. I couldn't watch.

    In the end we tore it all out and redid it with proper colors and proper gauge wiring and proper wall boxes and wire nuts, and I told the electrician if I saw him make even one connection or splice just using plastic tape he was fired.
     
  8. Life_N_Cancun

    Life_N_Cancun Guest

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    If it were not for all of the houses here being built with concrete Cancun as a whole would burst into flames in a giant electrical spark! :shock:

    Even the CFE people here lack the basics (by American standards at least) for wiring and electrical safety.

    I honestly cant understand why all of the "electricians" WANT to use the same color wire for everything, as it just means more work later and the cost difference is negligible... and even if you buy the wire yourself they will resist using more than one color. :?

    I have even known two people to wire their new constructions/renovations to US code and then have CFE refuse to install the meter because they cant make since of it!

    Its just one of those things that you have to learn to ignore, just look up on any street corner and notice the undersized wires feeding power into the houses...
     
  9. jenleib

    jenleib Addict Registered Member

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    Oh yes, the CFE know about grounding.... just the electricians don't :lol: and they don't care about safety.

    When I bought my apartment, I had TO DEMAND a ground cable. The electrician, I mean the ARCHITECT, opened wide eyes (porque????????), and I had to insist: it is what I want, and it is what you will do. Ah... pero... no se puede.... I don't give a damn if it is possible or not, you do it. Period!

    And yes, Steve, the CFE will pay, if you prove it is their responsibility. They paid for my computer -not easily though-, because they cut the power 13 (thirteen) times in 2 days, and every time I called to ask if I could restart, they said yes, it is finished. So it was screwed. BUT THEY CAME TO CHECK IF THE INSTALLATION WAS GROUNDED so of course they know :evil: Also if I had a surge protector.

    Most of my appliances come from France or Canada and work in 220V. A guy from the CFE came as an extra job to redo all my installation, and it is a very good work. I have a nice and understandable board. I had no problem so far (but I pray every day :lol: ). But I shopped around all over Cancun to find the parts I needed, they know nothing about 220V. I found only one store on Uxmal who knew.

    Of course I can't ask for more miracles and they used plastic tapes when I ran out of the connectors I brought from France.
     
  10. RiverGirl

    RiverGirl Guest

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    We did this as well. I came back from the US one trip with a suitcase FULL of electrical "stuff", I was very glad I didn't get a red light in Customs that day. Hubby had dictated a huge list of electrical items for me to buy in the States, I didn't know what half the stuff was, but he had emailed me photos of things.

    We rewired the whole house and put in all US outlets and switches, with GFIs in the baths and kitchen. My husband is not the most confident electrician (he was nervous), but when we interviewed potential electricians not one knew as much as hubby did so he opted to do all the work himself. And so far all has been well.

    This kind of crap makes it hard to be a renter here. If you want grounded outlets here you pretty much need to buy a house and rewire it yourself.

    Speaking of which we also grounded the electricity in our rental condo. I'll bet it's the only rental in the area that has grounded outlets...should I be charging more for rent???
     
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