Philippines building standards vary from town to town and village to village. Although the standards and codes are now set in law, enforcement is limited due to resources and generally only in the big cities.
I am hoping that some of the subjects I cover in this article will help you spot the issues when you build your home, and I hope you will ensure that they are rectified.
So, in my previous article, we looked at how some of the electricians in the Philippines will try to wire your home and how dangerous it is. With that covered, let’s look at some other potential issues.
Generally, in Europe and the USA, our power supplies are stable and constant. In the Philippines, the voltage and also frequency can fluctuate. Electronic systems and cooling systems with compressors (AC units and fridges) do not like this fluctuating supply.
When you get the power company to supply your property, see if you can get your own transformer installed on the pole. This will help to some extent; however, you may need to invest in some voltage stabilisers for the house.
I would also suggest you invest in some UPS systems (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) for your computer and security systems. This will then give the generator chance to get up to speed without your systems re-booting.
Both the voltage stabilisers and UPS systems will also help protect your electronic gear.
Electrical supply in the Philippines is not exactly reliable. Investment in the infrastructure is helping address this, but it is still many years away. So, you are certainly going to need a generator if you want constant power.
So, at the point, you want to go out generator shopping you need to do some maths.
You need to look at your house electrical system.
This will give you the number of kilowatts you need your generator to supply. Match this to a system and also your budget.
I have seen a lot of generators for sale in the Philippines. The cheap ones generally come out of China and are unbranded. Yes, they are cheap, and yes, they may supply the power you require but will they last? A few friends of mine who purchased these cheap generators watched them blow up after about 18 hours of constant use.
It would help if you had a generator that will turn on and off automatically. Also one that will last as long as required and not blow up after a few hours. Power failures in the Philippines can last days.
Also, look at generator fuel. You can run them on diesel, and this is the normal method. Personally, I am going to look for an LPG solution. Then I can have the kitchen stove on gas and the same supply for the generator.
Solar Power systems
So we have all heard the salesmen giving it the hard sell to get solar power into your home, but let’s quickly look at the small print.
In the UK, we have a scheme called “Buy Back” this is where any excess power generated from your home solar panels is routed to the main system, and effectively, the power company buys that excess from you and offsets your bill.
Currently, I do not think this system is available in the Philippines.
The sting with this is that the solar system controller will automatically shut the solar system down if it sees the power to your home is lost. This is to prevent your home from sending power up the lines and hurting someone working on them. Thus this system is of no use in a power cut.
You would need a completely separate solar system wired into your house to isolate it from mains.
The main selling point is when the salesman tells you it will pay for itself in 10 years on average. However, he doesn’t mention (and this goes for electric cars, too) that you will need to replace all your batteries in around five years, and battery replacement will cost almost as much as the initial purchase.
So, my advice is that if you are in the province and mains electricity is too far to bring to your property, then yes, a solar system would be the way to go. But if you already have mains electricity then buy a good generator.
Solar Water Heaters
This is definitely a no brainer. If you want a constant source of free hot water, then get a solar water heater for your roof (the best you can afford). This can also be expanded to heat the water in your pool at a later date if you decide to get one.
There are several types but make sure you can get easy access to keep the panels clean or make any required repairs.
There is a tendency to bury the power cables in ducting inside your concrete walls. The problem with this is if repairs are needed, it can be costly and difficult to replace the duct or cable.
Make sure cables are run logically and as per standard. Also, make sure the cable is the correct size for the current flowing through it. There are plenty of calculators and books on the internet that will tell you exactly what cable you need.
If you get this wrong, then at best, your cable will melt and break. At worst, it will set fire to your new home. I have watched electricians on youtube using the cheapest cable possible for mains systems, and I know that within a few weeks, those cables will have burnt out.
Do your homework and make your decision on what renewable power systems you are going to install, keeping in mind that currently, batteries cost a small fortune.
Protect your expensive electrical items..
Check the electrical circuits on the drawings and ensure you know the current requirement for each circuit. Once you understand the requirements, then check the size of the cable your electrician is putting into your house.
Next week I will look at some building practices that, even as a non-builder myself, I can not see the reasons behind them.