FAQ: Solar Power

What is involved in a solar power system?

Let’s keep this basic. Solar power utilizes, as the name suggests, the radiant energy of the sun to convert to electricity that can power your home and other things. Solar panels are interconnected in an array and the DC (direct current) power they produce is converted to the AC (alternating current) required by your home. Systems can be on-grid or off-grid but this is too broad a topic to get into here in depth. Instead, here is a link to a very good resource for more information. They also have some great YouTube videos that are worth watching.

Is solar power worth it?

Is free power from the sun worth it? Well it’s a fair question because it isn’t really free. Aside from the initial cost, solar equipment does wear out and need replacement over time so you need to consider all factors. Generally speaking though, and especially if you are a high usage consumer, it is worth the investment. Especially in a country like Mexico where the sun is available so much and the cost of high consumption is so expensive. But every installation is unique and to get a definitive answer you would have to analyze your usage and do a calculation. CFE online helps with the usage part by providing historical information.

Can I run my whole home on solar?

You can run all or only part of your home on solar. Unless you are off-grid there is nothing saying you have to provide 100% of your power from solar. Maybe you just want to generate enough to stay in the bargain rates of CFE power. It’s up to you.

Can I sell excess power back to CFE?

For a while CFE was not allowing this but they’ve now gone back to accepting grid-tie connections. This means you can generate more power than you need, either all year or just at peak times, and sell the excess back to CFE. They give you the wholesale rate for it. Here is a link to the information they provide on this topic.

Is it possible to live off-grid using solar?

It absolutely is possible and a lot of people in Mexico do it. But living off-grid involves more than just putting up a few solar panels. You will need an array of batteries too, unless you only need lights in the daytime, which is not likely. Actually, batteries are necessary in any case because consumption rises and falls but solar output does not usually match that consumption so the batteries are needed to “buffer” the power generation. Batteries add a lot to the cost of a solar installation but they do give you that true independence you need. If you don’t have consistent sunlight, you may also need to invest in a gas or diesel powered generator, depending on your needs.