We have gone solar
One of our main objectives was to be as green of a facility as possible. When we started Costa Rica Retreat @ Ser La Luz almost 3 years ago, we had wanted to install Solar. The only thing available here in Costa Rica was Solar Hot Water. The laws and technology wasn’t quite available for producing our own electricity until now. So we installed the Solar Hot Water within a few months of moving here to help us be more green. Before then was just a small on demand electrical hot water system that was barely big enough to give you a halfway decent warm shower.
With the plans we had for bringing groups here, the small on demand tank would not have been able to handle the demand. So for around $2,000 we had an 80 gallon Solar Hot Water system installed. WOW what an amazing feeling of having that installed. We have already had groups of people here and not a single issue with not having enough hot water. Our next project was to have solar installed as soon as it became available.
Late in 2017 it finally became available here in Costa Rica. It’s a long process to get a system installed. Not like the USA where you just come out and install it. Costa Rica only allows 15% of an area to have solar energy. It’s part of the energy companies wanting to still make money. So we pay the fee to have the feasibility study done to see if we fit inside the 15%. Luckily the process is so new that we were one of the first in the area to go through the process. We were approved to have the system installed and they give you a 6 (six) month window to do the installation.
After a few days of looking over the property to see exactly where the system should be installed, we decided on the perfect location. One that gave us almost 12 hours of sunshine a day, was out of the way and didn’t require a new structure to hold it. With all our buildings having solid wood beams and ceilings, we needed to have the ability to remove pieces of the metal roofing in order to spray for termites yearly. It could be done but it would add to the cost of spraying because the system would have had to be taken apart then put back together again.
We have an area called the “rancho” or covered area. It is a steal beam construction and meta roof with no ceiling at all. The problem was in the windy season the area wobbled in the near tropical storm winds. So we had to retrofit the entire structure PLUS replace the rusty room panels. It took a few weeks to do this but it’s a much stronger structure and we shouldn’t have any roof problems for a few years.
So with the metal reinforced and the new roof on, we were ready to have the solar panels installed. A lot of work to prepare the structure as you can see from the previous picture to this one. We even extended the wall to give us more privacy and to hopefully prevent someone from trying to steel the panels. Here in Costa Rica it’s all about safety and protecting your property.
It didn’t take them long to install the system from start to finish. With all the construction we have had done on the property with renovations, we were VERY impressed with the quality of their work. They literally had to run wiring from the rancho area, along the wall towards the front of the property. From there it had to go to the electric meter AND another meter had to be added to the system. Many contractors that we have used liked using plastic pipes to hide electrical wiring. We figured that’s just the way things are done here. These guys did it all with metal and then anchored it to the wall so it would not move.
We are now producing our own electricity during the daytime and using almost nothing at night since we have all LED lighting and energy saving devices where they can be used. Battery backups here are very expensive so we’re connected to the grid. We’re looking at adding some batteries to the system so in the event of a power failure certain areas have some electricity. Our system is designed to turn off when there is no electricity from the grid. It’s a safety feature designed into their systems here in Costa Rica. We even have a portable solar generator that we brought back from the states when we moved here and that helps to provide electricity for our outdoor lighting that we have on the terrace
Here’s an arial view of our property with the solar panels on the roof. The solar company took these pictures for us as well as an arial video of the complete installation. The pictures don’t show all the property OR all of the buildings, but what a view. The 2 smaller panels on the roof of the building in the middle are from our solar generator that we shipped here from the states.