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I purchased a penthouse condo in Playa about a year ago. For those who are unaware, Playa is in CFE Tariff 1b, which means that sustained usage over 400 kWh/month (800kWh/period) places you into DAC rates and carries a steep cost - a neighbor, who rents their condo VRBO, recently received a $9000-peso ($500USD) CFE bill. Once you enter the "DAC Penalty Box," it's extremely difficult to exit, so expect to pay around $5-pesos/kWh ($0.30 USD).

So we recently had a 14-panel solar system installed on our roof deck. This is a "Grid-Tie" system, meaning there are no batteries because it passes surplus energy to CFE - in effect, they are our battery. We had to have a pergola constructed to fit that many panels on, but are really pleased with our decision. We installed the panels flat - we could have tilted them towards the sun and get another 5%-7% efficiency, but would have had to reduce the number of panels to prevent shadows from panels overlapping each other.

It took about 3-4 weeks to have CFE install a bidirectional meter. Was really frustrating to wait and watch the sun shine with no way to offset our DAC rates.....but eventually, the system started generating 23 kw's per sunny day.

Payback for our relatively large system is around 7-years. If we had opted for a smaller system that just barely got us out of DAC rates, payback would be around 3-1/2 years, but it's hard to be exact with the design. CFE rates have increased around 30% since 2010, so this is a hedge against future increases. Also, I'd imagine the much of the cost of the system will be recovered if/when we sell the condo.

Cost: I sought four quotes. In the end, I chose the installer I did because he was (a) experienced; (b) local and could remove the panels if a hurricane threatens; (c) he would do all the CFE paperwork (some installers didn't want to be bothered); and (d) cost was roughly comparable. For budgetary purposes, I would suggest anyone use a number of $1500 USD for installation, plus about $450 USD for each panel (including IVA). Typical residential panels are 39" x 65".

There are two options for inverters: a single large inverter for the entire system; or a micro-inverter on each panel. A single inverter is a bit more efficient and a bit less expensive, but micro-inverters work better if the system gets uneven sun due to shade, which applied to my situation.

Tips for anyone considering Solar:
1. If you're a geek, download and learn the NREL SAM model (National Renewable Energy Laboratory - part of the US govt). You insert the exact equipment configuration your installer proposes and it develops a full model based on historical weather patterns (my 14-panel system will produce an estimated 5600 kwhs/year).
2. Hold-back $500 until CFE installs the bi-directional meter
3. Check their mounting hardware - should be stainless steel and extruded aluminum. This is expensive gear, and an easy place to cheap-out.
4. Best panels are made by Solar World out of San Jose, CA (or, more correctly, were made by them - they are out of business). Almost everything is cheap Chinese knock-offs, but are pretty good. Enphase Inverters are the industry standard.
5. Check the warranties - should be 20-years on the panels. 10-years on the inverters.
6. Ask how much to have the panels removed if a hurricane threatens (I forgot this one). This is the #1 reason to find a local installer (I had folks from Cancun and Merida happily seek my business).
7. If you are in CFE's DAC rates, install solar ASAP. Period.

Good luck and don't hesitate to take the plunge!
 

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We have had our PV system for about two years now. We have 10 panels, tilted, pointing due South and hanging off the back wall of our property (the wall goes down rather than up). Our panels were produced here in Mexico (there are two kinds of panels - one a little better than the other - we went with the better ones). Our inverter is by Fronius (Austria). We are in CFE Zone 1 (250kwh/month). Really easy to go into DAC. Plus at the time we had a very slow dial-type meter which was saving us something like 15%. Now CFE has replaced all those meters with digital meters - so everyone saw their bills increase. Every month we pay 26 pesos to CFE (just the administrative fee on the account). We also have a decent kwh credit balance at this point.

As you say - maybe it will help us sell the place somewhere down the road. That and the tankless water heater we installed and the reverse osmosis system should help also. When the rains are over we are planning on putting in a much larger cistern as well.

Edit : Where about's in Florida ?
 

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We install solar too about 4 years ago just not to go innto DAC,, we ave 8 pannels and are bills are always small now,,
 

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I purchased a penthouse condo in Playa about a year ago. For those who are unaware, Playa is in CFE Tariff 1b, which means that sustained usage over 400 kWh/month (800kWh/period) places you into DAC rates and carries a steep cost - a neighbor, who rents their condo VRBO, recently received a $9000-peso ($500USD) CFE bill. Once you enter the "DAC Penalty Box," it's extremely difficult to exit, so expect to pay around $5-pesos/kWh ($0.30 USD).

So we recently had a 14-panel solar system installed on our roof deck. This is a "Grid-Tie" system, meaning there are no batteries because it passes surplus energy to CFE - in effect, they are our battery. We had to have a pergola constructed to fit that many panels on, but are really pleased with our decision. We installed the panels flat - we could have tilted them towards the sun and get another 5%-7% efficiency, but would have had to reduce the number of panels to prevent shadows from panels overlapping each other.

It took about 3-4 weeks to have CFE install a bidirectional meter. Was really frustrating to wait and watch the sun shine with no way to offset our DAC rates.....but eventually, the system started generating 23 kw's per sunny day.

Payback for our relatively large system is around 7-years. If we had opted for a smaller system that just barely got us out of DAC rates, payback would be around 3-1/2 years, but it's hard to be exact with the design. CFE rates have increased around 30% since 2010, so this is a hedge against future increases. Also, I'd imagine the much of the cost of the system will be recovered if/when we sell the condo.

Cost: I sought four quotes. In the end, I chose the installer I did because he was (a) experienced; (b) local and could remove the panels if a hurricane threatens; (c) he would do all the CFE paperwork (some installers didn't want to be bothered); and (d) cost was roughly comparable. For budgetary purposes, I would suggest anyone use a number of $1500 USD for installation, plus about $450 USD for each panel (including IVA). Typical residential panels are 39" x 65".

There are two options for inverters: a single large inverter for the entire system; or a micro-inverter on each panel. A single inverter is a bit more efficient and a bit less expensive, but micro-inverters work better if the system gets uneven sun due to shade, which applied to my situation.

Tips for anyone considering Solar:
1. If you're a geek, download and learn the NREL SAM model (National Renewable Energy Laboratory - part of the US govt). You insert the exact equipment configuration your installer proposes and it develops a full model based on historical weather patterns (my 14-panel system will produce an estimated 5600 kwhs/year).
2. Hold-back $500 until CFE installs the bi-directional meter
3. Check their mounting hardware - should be stainless steel and extruded aluminum. This is expensive gear, and an easy place to cheap-out.
4. Best panels are made by Solar World out of San Jose, CA (or, more correctly, were made by them - they are out of business). Almost everything is cheap Chinese knock-offs, but are pretty good. Enphase Inverters are the industry standard.
5. Check the warranties - should be 20-years on the panels. 10-years on the inverters.
6. Ask how much to have the panels removed if a hurricane threatens (I forgot this one). This is the #1 reason to find a local installer (I had folks from Cancun and Merida happily seek my business).
7. If you are in CFE's DAC rates, install solar ASAP. Period.

Good luck and don't hesitate to take the plunge!
Thanks for the informative post. I have solar hot water and have thought about solar electric as well. I would also go with a grid-tied system. I use very little electricity so the pay back time would be long. I would just do it to be more energy efficient. I think two panels would cover all my needs and one panel would drop my usage down to below where the minimum payment would cover it. I don't have hurricanes to worry about but that was a good point that you brought up.
 

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Your cost estimate is pretty close to what we got from our intended installer (6 panels + installation + dealing with CFE, etc.). Our firm estimate is 3900 USD in Ajijic. We are in US now, but returning in under 2 weeks. The solar panels will be done in August.

We opted for a 'stay just under DAC' configuration, though we have plenty of room to expand and in fact have that mapped into the layout.

I will post here on our installation once it is completed.
 

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Great info! Could you share your contact in PdC for all this fun stuff? I have a PH as well, but I doubt I have the space for 14 panels... Where in PdC are you? Tnx!
 

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Can you please provide the installer information as I need to get the solar installed as well. I have a system here in the US with PowerWall installed and we are almost off the grid but I will like to know if I can get similar system installed in Playa. Really appreciate all your help.

Also if you can connect me with the pergola installer then it will be great as well. We need exactly line your system installed.

Thanks

--
KJ

I purchased a penthouse condo in Playa about a year ago. For those who are unaware, Playa is in CFE Tariff 1b, which means that sustained usage over 400 kWh/month (800kWh/period) places you into DAC rates and carries a steep cost - a neighbor, who rents their condo VRBO, recently received a $9000-peso ($500USD) CFE bill. Once you enter the "DAC Penalty Box," it's extremely difficult to exit, so expect to pay around $5-pesos/kWh ($0.30 USD).

So we recently had a 14-panel solar system installed on our roof deck. This is a "Grid-Tie" system, meaning there are no batteries because it passes surplus energy to CFE - in effect, they are our battery. We had to have a pergola constructed to fit that many panels on, but are really pleased with our decision. We installed the panels flat - we could have tilted them towards the sun and get another 5%-7% efficiency, but would have had to reduce the number of panels to prevent shadows from panels overlapping each other.

It took about 3-4 weeks to have CFE install a bidirectional meter. Was really frustrating to wait and watch the sun shine with no way to offset our DAC rates.....but eventually, the system started generating 23 kw's per sunny day.

Payback for our relatively large system is around 7-years. If we had opted for a smaller system that just barely got us out of DAC rates, payback would be around 3-1/2 years, but it's hard to be exact with the design. CFE rates have increased around 30% since 2010, so this is a hedge against future increases. Also, I'd imagine the much of the cost of the system will be recovered if/when we sell the condo.

Cost: I sought four quotes. In the end, I chose the installer I did because he was (a) experienced; (b) local and could remove the panels if a hurricane threatens; (c) he would do all the CFE paperwork (some installers didn't want to be bothered); and (d) cost was roughly comparable. For budgetary purposes, I would suggest anyone use a number of $1500 USD for installation, plus about $450 USD for each panel (including IVA). Typical residential panels are 39" x 65".

There are two options for inverters: a single large inverter for the entire system; or a micro-inverter on each panel. A single inverter is a bit more efficient and a bit less expensive, but micro-inverters work better if the system gets uneven sun due to shade, which applied to my situation.

Tips for anyone considering Solar:
1. If you're a geek, download and learn the NREL SAM model (National Renewable Energy Laboratory - part of the US govt). You insert the exact equipment configuration your installer proposes and it develops a full model based on historical weather patterns (my 14-panel system will produce an estimated 5600 kwhs/year).
2. Hold-back $500 until CFE installs the bi-directional meter
3. Check their mounting hardware - should be stainless steel and extruded aluminum. This is expensive gear, and an easy place to cheap-out.
4. Best panels are made by Solar World out of San Jose, CA (or, more correctly, were made by them - they are out of business). Almost everything is cheap Chinese knock-offs, but are pretty good. Enphase Inverters are the industry standard.
5. Check the warranties - should be 20-years on the panels. 10-years on the inverters.
6. Ask how much to have the panels removed if a hurricane threatens (I forgot this one). This is the #1 reason to find a local installer (I had folks from Cancun and Merida happily seek my business).
7. If you are in CFE's DAC rates, install solar ASAP. Period.

Good luck and don't hesitate to take the plunge!
 

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Who does the DAC rate follow, the physical address or the owner? If you buy a property that has the surcharge, does the new owner inherit that or does it reset to base?
 

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It follows the property if you are a renter, but a buyer will establish a new account. That should create a 'clean slate'.
I'm going to disagree with that a little. When we rented we had to leave the account in the owners' name and when we left that house we had to take a photo of the meter while holding the front page of that day's newspaper in the picture and take that image to CFE to close out our usage.

When we purchased our house we obviously created a new account but we inherited the meter. At that time (no longer) the back of the bill used to have last 12 months of energy usage (rolling). The previous owners' had hardly used this house for at least a year before. Over the first few billing cycles we watched the back of the bill and realized we were about to enter DAC. No one from CFE ever visited the house to take an initial reading for us. Now - they did when we had a bi-directional meter installed. But at the same time - we often go through periods where they send us estimated bills as well...
 
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