Random Things I Love in Nicaragua: #4 The Practicality of Solar Energy

Last year we hired Nicamisol, a company out of Managua, to install our home’s solar system. What a game changer!

It is hot living by the beach in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Yesterday was one of the few days I can remember in almost 6 years of being here that I hiked the beach mid day and didn’t sweat at all. In other words, most days it’s so hot that I start sweating as soon as I walk out the door.

Our house, a modern concrete/rebar structure with lots of glass facing west, was designed more for the views and to resist earthquakes than for cross ventilation. So we rely on air conditioning and ceiling fans to keep us cool. This wouldn’t be a problem in the United States where affordable Central Air Conditioning is the norm in hot locations. Not so in Nicaragua.

Electricity is very expensive here. Our monthly bill averaged around $300/month. And electricity is not reliable here. Power outages are routine. Water outages are also routine. We have a large backup water tank which kicks in when the water is out, but it requires a pump. And the pump requires electricity. Inexpensive high-speed fiber-optic cable also became available in our development last year. Which is awesome. But it, of course, also relies on electricity. So when the transformer out on the street would routinely blow and the power would go out, we’d start sweating indoors within minutes and start swearing at not having internet, and doubly so if the water was also out.

Now, with solar energy, and lithium batteries (which were themselves a game changer for the solar industry), we have solar-powered air conditioning, solar-powered internet, and solar-powered backup water. And no electric bill. My husband John, the environmentalist that he is, has always wanted to live off-grid. But it only truly made affordable sense for us to do so once we were living here.

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