solar panels in the Land of the Sun

I recall traveling in Mexico years ago and every house seemed to have a black painted water tank on the roof. What a concept!

These are tinacos and they are very common in Mexico. They are there because water pressure is typically low in Mexico and it can also get turned off or to merely a dribble. So they keep a reservoir of water on the roof and have gravity to create water pressure. There is a pump to pump water up there. Richer places also have hidden underground water tanks. This typically has nothing to do with solar power.

My apartment complex in the Philippines also has one of these. But nothing to do with solar. There is a pump that gets turned on several times per day to pump water to the tinaco (I don't know the Filipino word for it).

In Mexico my Spanish teacher explained to me that one of his daily tasks, besides taking the garbage out, doing the dishes, etc., was to turn on the water pump at a non-peak hour and then it would get turned off by a sensor when it was full.
 
These are tinacos and they are very common in Mexico. They are there because water pressure is typically low in Mexico and it can also get turned off or to merely a dribble. So they keep a reservoir of water on the roof and have gravity to create water pressure. There is a pump to pump water up there. Richer places also have hidden underground water tanks. This typically has nothing to do with solar power.

My apartment complex in the Philippines also has one of these. But nothing to do with solar. There is a pump that gets turned on several times per day to pump water to the tinaco (I don't know the Filipino word for it).

In Mexico my Spanish teacher explained to me that one of his daily tasks, besides taking the garbage out, doing the dishes, etc., was to turn on the water pump at a non-peak hour and then it would get turned off by a sensor when it was full.
Very interesting, thanks for the education. Now why are the toilets plumbed with 1.5" pipe such that toilet paper can't be flushed?
 
In California at least, solar power is peaking power, since hot summer afternoons are both when power demand and solar generation are at their maxima. But I think your point is that when solar becomes a really big component of the system, it will require either batteries or alternate base load capacity to carry the load at night.


In Hawaii, there is enough solar installed, that our peak demand time has now moved from the afternoon to 7-9PM. My solar system finally got switched on yesterday along with my 220 Volt charging for the Tesla. So this means I am going to charge the car during the day.

The final step in the process is one more city inspection, at which point they will activate my net metering agreement. This process can take anywhere from two weeks to 8 months. Fortunately, I don't owe any money and the clock doesn't start on my 20 year agreement until that is activated. So I am actually on the same as the electric company perfectly content if they drag their feet. Now this slow bureaucratic process maybe unique to Hawaii, but it does illustrate one of the problems of this distributed power generation.
 
In Hawaii, there is enough solar installed, that our peak demand time has now moved from the afternoon to 7-9PM. My solar system finally got switched on yesterday along with my 220 Volt charging for the Tesla. So this means I am going to charge the car during the day.

The final step in the process is one more city inspection, at which point they will activate my net metering agreement. This process can take anywhere from two weeks to 8 months. Fortunately, I don't owe any money and the clock doesn't start on my 20 year agreement until that is activated. So I am actually on the same as the electric company perfectly content if they drag their feet. Now this slow bureaucratic process maybe unique to Hawaii, but it does illustrate one of the problems of this distributed power generation.

Which raises an interesting question. Given that HI does not currently use Daylight saving time, and a good part of the load is likley cooking and dishwashing, will the state move to daylight saving time, to move the meal time into the time it is sunny? That would move sunset to 8:15 pm from 7:15 and help the peak.
 
Very interesting, thanks for the education. Now why are the toilets plumbed with 1.5" pipe such that toilet paper can't be flushed?
This is a question that millions of gringos have asked :) This article provides one detailed explanation:

Yucatan Living » Yucatan Survivor » Mexican Fosa Septica

A quick summary being that Mexican septic tanks are not designed for nearly as much paper usage as an American septic tank. So Mexicans never got into the habit of flushing paper. And this has continued even with more modern (non-septic) sewer systems as it is cheaper to build that way.


Also, from the same site, a detailed explanation of tinacos:

Yucatan Living » Yucatan Survivor » Yucatan Plumbing
 
Decades ago (70s) I had a subscription to Mother Earth News magazines and used some of their solar project ideas to reduce my electric bills. Some are still in use today. Probably the one DIY projects that I never got around to building but made the most economic sense was a batch solar water heater.

It was a simple black tank (from an old discarded water heater that was still clean inside from scale) in an insulated box with a reflective inside surface and a glass front. It was meant to be a splice in the water line between the water source and water heater to pre-heat the water.

On most days it could take source water at 65 degrees and bring it up to 100+ degrees before going to your water heater. I have my water heater set at 115/120 degrees because I don't see the need to heat water any higher and then have to cool it off to take a shower. It would easily pay for itself in a year (I live in Florida).

For really cold overcast days it could have an insulated cover and a by-pass valve. With the large mass of water in the tank (45+ gallons) freezing would not be an issue in at least half of the country and if left uncovered when sunny it still functions on cold days.

Can be used for both electric and gas water heating systems. It does not necessarily have to be on your roof as long as you have a sunny south facing spot in your yard. You can even get fancy and have an adjustable setting to angle the box for maximum efficiency at your latitude vs summer and winter solstice.

Cheers!
 

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