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This is Peter and Maureen Scargill's Spanish website. We live in Galera in Andalusia (for clarity, that is the English spelling - Mid-Spain they spell it Andalucia and pronounce it "And-a-loo-thee-a").

We've had a home in Spain for more than 14 years and it is now our permanent base though we retain a small home in the UK.

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Archive for the ‘Spanish electricity’ Category

End of another Summer

Velez RubioThe summer is well and truly over here in Galera with temperatures plummeting to maybe 8c at night and rarely getting over 20c or so during the day. Still a million times better than back in the UK but I’m sitting here with the heating on in my office.

I’ve been looking back over the summer – which started with my trip to Boston in July – a great adventure marred only slightly by incompetent Iberia Airlines who managed to misplace my baggage, finding it only at the very end of my trip. That started a communications saga via their Facebook page – and only now in November have they finally agreed to cough up for the clothes I had to buy. I’ve not yet figured out a way to punish them for the state of my feet (I took light sandals on the plane and so after walking several miles to restaurants etc. my feet suffered somewhat. They couldn’t have given two hoots of course.


Other than that the summer went very well, it’s amazing how many places, friends we’ve visited and the good times we’ve had. With temperatures as high as 40c and a comfortable 25c in the evening, reasonable general prices and dirt cheap fuel, there is absolutely no comparing life here and in the Northeast of England. Sure, it has it’s downsides, I’ve fought with couriers who should not be delivering crisps never mind packages and as in previous years I’ve struggled to get parts I would easily find in the UK.

CountryBut this year more than others we’ve found ways around issues and discovered that materials are indeed widely available here as in Britain – you just have to look harder. Outside of the towns there are a myriad of industrial buildings that look like you really should not be there. In fact many of them are open to the public and are jam-packed with goodies – who knew !!

Meanwhile my home control projects are starting to come together thanks to taking the summer out and away from the FSB – something I’ve never done. Before the FSB it was business keeping me occupied all the time and so I’ve never really stopped and spent the time needed to really get as heavily into interesting projects as I’d like. As they say – there IS more to life.

I’ve finally started to make a break with Skype – I’ve had a Skype telephone number for many years – indeed since Skype first introduced “Skype In” – I started with a London number and migrated (when they screwed things up) to a Newcastle number. Last week they made a major gaff, sending out an email to their subscribers to announce an unfeasible price hike. By the time they announced they’d gotten it wrong, many of us had already told them to shove it. I’ve been researching other operators and those offering standard SIP IP phone lines. I’ve chosen one and now have both English and Spanish incoming numbers – both for less than I was paying Skype for one. I spent the afternoon making sure everyone knows the new numbers.

And there it is – my new modem has just arrived, we’ll be spending a little time in the winter in the UK with a break in the USA in the middle of it…  and when we return, the cottage in the UK will once again be holiday rented – I want to ensure that guests have a totally isolated WIFI setup while leaving me with full access to everything – the new TP-Link router should do that job for me.


As the weather cools off I’m missing the sun already as are my solar panels which now struggle to handle the (bright) outside lighting for more than a couple of hours or so. When we come back I’m bringing batteries as the electricity here is prone to un-announced failure.

I think I should probably have been born in a hot country… Time yet however, according to the ever-inaccurate forecasts we could be looking at clear skies and 23c toward the weekend. Fingers crossed.

Shock Horror – the TRUE cost of electricity in Spain

After reading some time ago on the web that the average cost of electricity in Spain was something in the order of 14p per KW/H (I’ll explain later) I was shocked to say the LEAST to actually sit down with LED fire surround lightinga real modern bill now that we have “proper” electricity – the basic cost per KW/H isn’t bad – but by the time you add in the standing bill (ie payment for nothing) and all sorts of other perks and then the dreaded VAT (which most of us have to pay and can’t claim back) – the TRUE cost of electricity at least around here is currently around 22.4p per KW/H. That’s a LOT.

To put that in perspective for those who don’t do maths – the little dial in the electricity meter is usually marked in KW/H – might be marked to 0.1 KHW or just to the nearest KW/W

How does this work? Simply – if you run a gadget that uses a Kilowatt (Microwave) – for an hour – you’ve spend 22.4p. If the gadget uses 2KW (maybe an oven) it’s costing you 44.8p an hour.

Mainly SOLAR and LED lightingSo why am I showing you my new lights (temporary setup) – because thanks to LED technology which most of these are, the display you’re looking at comes to around 50w all in a running cost of around 1.1p per hour – not too bad, all except for the distant green rope light which is going!! 

I can’t do much about hot water and washing machine etc.. until we get organised and get a solar heat panel – friends recently told us they’d used no electricity for hot water since May! I figure using that same feed for the dishwasher and washing machine would reduce their electricity use by a massive amount also – but that’s for the future. For now with Compact Fluorescent (and some LED) inside and solar outside we’ve made a start at a decent lighting setup without running up huge costs. The lights are all able to take on any colour.

A Perfect Day – Well, Sort of!

Another cracking day here in Galera and we took a walk down to the village this morning to get an early lunch and grab a sandwich.  It turns out our long-missed car was ready and friends here VERY nicely took us to go and get the car at Caravaca De La Cruz. Sure enough it was NOT the battery as the roadside technician had concluded but a filter issue which had then gone on to cause damage elsewhere – the upshot being a bill in excess of 500 Euros!!   Having said that, the car now works perfectly and we took a drive over to Huescar for provisions and a new storage unit for my electronics stuff before returning to Galera.

Baked potato sitting outside at the Galera HotelView from the Galera Hotel at nightThis evening we ventured out to the Galera hotel where there were doing, as they do on Friday nights, baked potatoes the size of which I’ve never seen before – those of us who had them were totally beaten by the end but they were REALLY, REALLY nice!!! Interestingly we met a Geordie there who used to have a shop in Bedlington and knew a pal of mine, Davy Milne from years back – what a small world.  A great time was had by all and now we’re back early, totally beaten by the food.

Tomorrow we’re off to Huescar again having been alerted to a new supermarket out there and to get some round staples to replace the ones that friend Cyril loaned to us so we could light up the tree on our communal roundabout!

It’s 10pm, still warm as you like outside and the view is excellent. Perfect… how, if we could just get the electricity to work properly.

Late sunset in Galera

This photo is that of the wiring to our place…… this is what effect years of regulation poured upon regulation has had… ZILCH! Yes, that’s an un-armoured mains cable – with electrician’s tape covering the joints – outside – on the top of our hill!! Lovely.


Trials and Tribulations of Temporary Electricity

It SEEMS that after a lifetime of working off "builder’s electricity" we’re now in the hands of the electricity board (we THINK). I had expected "proper mains" but when we got here we were disappointed to find that the lights seemed to be bobbing up and down even more so than usual. This morning I ran some tests…  off-load the mains coming to our place is around 220v – which is fine.. BUT – run a single standard kettle and the mains voltage immediately drops to under 200v and stays there.

Indeed, typically resistive elements as you find in kettles take MORE juice as they get up to temperature and though my digital meter isn’t well suited to instant readings I can quite safely say the power drops to 185v or lower as the kettle turns on. As you can imagine, this means the hot-tub and anything else heavy duty is a no-no.

I did some quick tests as I now have a decent meter here…  with only TWO domestic items turned on, apart from (efficient) lights, it is clear that the power would not support more than one group of us here at once and is not even good enough for that!! This is MUCH worse than it was in February and before.

Rubbish Electricity

In the above example the effect is obvious – with the vacuum running, turning the Microwave on causes the vacuum to slow down dramatically. Left for any length of time this would cause damage. If you’re local and reading this – this WILL damage some domestic equipment so it is vital we sort this out ASAP. Our lack of Spanish makes it difficult to argue with electricity company hence this info for anyone who wants to have a go. Mains voltage would normally be expected to be in the range of 210 to 240v but when it starts dipping down to 170 or so – you’re looking at heaters being useless and motors getting into dangerous ground.

Update 07/06/2012 – the lights continue to vary and on several occasions during the last 2 days the power has momentarily failed altogether just for a second – just enough to reset various devices… this is really completely unacceptable as a service.

An interesting Week in Galera

Bedrock  -up in the mountains outside of Galera

If you’ve read my previous blogs we’re here at Bedrock to get the place ready for the summer – the usual – holes appearing in walls etc. and the plan was to get some paint and cement and start the process early this week.

That was kyboshed when our Spanish-registered car packed in on the way over here. I can’t remember ever being without a car… it’s an interesting experience… not half as bad as I expected but we were beginning to wonder how to get the next set of groceries up the hill (it’s a BIG STEEP HILL) when one of our local friends who’s been talking to the garage in Caravaca De La Cruz for us informed us that it’s a wiring issue (so much for the road-side mechanic and his BATTERY theory) and we can pick it up tomorrow –AND it’s not going to break the bank. We’re so grateful for offers of help we’ve had – nice to have decent neighbours.

Meanwhile it turns out there is still an issue with some paperwork stopping us getting the electricity sorted and so we’re ok as long as we don’t go above 2-3Kw – which means no hot-tub…

On the upside the broadband is working a treat and the weather has been SUPERB – it’s 33c out there as it was yesterday also – BEAUTIFUL sun-bathing weather with a nice breeze to stop you frying.  Maureen is alternating between outside jobs and watching the royal celebrations – I on the other hand have two genes missing – one for watching sport – the other for following the royals – so instead I’m alternating between plugging holes in the walls, doing a spot of programming and buying cheap Chinese crap on Ebay – I managed 30 minutes in a deck-chair and that was it – too many things to do, too little time.

We just found out today that Lorca has a decent shopping centre with an Eroski supermarket so no doubt we’ll be taking a trip there before long. But first… a trip to the local bar for a beer and pizza.

Bedrock  -up in the mountains outside of Galera

The temporary nature of things

Ultimately, everything we do is temporary, even the giant stainless steel and glass structures won’t last forever – but the builders here have taken temporary to a new art form…

See image below – electricity meter just down the road from us. Work of art.

electricity meter

The weather was so nice this afternoon we went for a walk – and I always have the camera ready… here’s something else we spotted on the way, looks like Dyson’s going into the caravan business. Cute, huh!

Nearby Caravan

Not much else happening, sun is going down, it’s going to be a cold night and so a night in front of the fire is likely. Huescar market tomorrow morning – and the week’s treat at the market – CHUROS – or fried dough if you want to be basic about it!