Friday, April 18, 2008

Power Problems in Costa Rica

Most of you know about the power problems is Costa Rica. The country relies on a hydro-electric power source which is great but the problem occurs during the dry season when a lot of the rivers just trickle. We tried to prepare ourselves by buying a crank system radio and stocking up on flashlights and candles. The radio turned out to be worthless and we’ve only used the flashlights a couple times now.

I can’t speak for everyone in Costa Rica but let me tell you about our experiences with the power issues here. First off, mostly they are brownouts not blackouts. We generally only lose power for 5-10 minutes. This occurred more when we first moved here. Then we received a newsletter from the water and electric company stating that they were working on a new substation to relieve the outages in San Rafael and it would be completed by January.

Well, I didn’t believe the news but sure enough sometime around January we stopped experiencing so many brownouts. BUT we were warned by some people that during the dry season the water would be turned off for many hours during the days to help conserve. Then I read in the Tico Times that the government was trying to prepare for the water/electric problems during the dry season by purchasing more generators.

So, now it’s April and the dry season should be ending soon. The last two Sundays our power has been out from 2-3 hours. I kind of liked the quiet but this past Sunday when the power wasn’t on by 5pm and the sun was setting, Patrick started to worry a bit. The power did come back on by 5:30 so all was well.

Now I would suppose these were planned outages but since we don’t read the local newspaper in Spanish and the Tico Times doesn’t carry this kind of news, I can only guess. The outages don’t bother me as long as they are during the day. The thing that did concern me happened Wednesday when the power kept turning off and on again for several minutes. That can not be good for the appliances! As a matter of fact, I’m sure this is why our computer died last fall.

I hope the country can figure out a good solution to this power problem.


TICA MACHA said...

If I had to choose between having water or electric, I'd go for the water. I've lived without both for extended periods. Once, the power in the whole country went out, I think about 2 years ago.
You have a pretty good attitude about it. Be sure to have a voltage regulator at the meter and of course, powersurge, battery backup for your computer.
Pura Vida

P & K Ashland said...

Why does it bother you at nite time to have a power outage. Aren't you sleeping then?

BTW-Iron River has power outages all the time. In fact the day of the last snow storm the power was out most of the day and fried the phone system and one computer.

Jones Family said...

Thanks for your suggestions. We do have a surge protector on the computer. We need to get a UPS backup. Plus, Patrick says he thinks we have a voltage regulator at the meter but we'll be sure to check. As far as being out of water, been there done that too and we agree that we would rather have water than electicity!

Jones Family said...

You're right. I don't care if we don't have electricity at night but that particular night we didn't have any food unless we cooked it on our electric stove. I need to make sure we always have bread for peanut butter sandwiches!