Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Green"-ery on the ceiling: Our new LED lights

Photo by Victor Cruz/Estilo Arquitectura
It's very exciting, for me, anyway, to see pictures of the new ceiling lights in our sala. I know, I am a nerd. They look like plain little fixtures that you'd see anywhere. Nothing as impressive as a dramatic arch or beautiful tiles.

But they are LED, which means they will use hardly any electricity, which in Mérida, and all over México, is quite expensive and produced by highly polluting methods.

The new LED lights go along with our solar hot water heater. It is a wonderful feeling to stand in a hot shower and know there's no gas-fired tank at the other end of the pipe. I often hear people say these things are not economical; that is, they don't pay for themselves, or at least not in a decent period of time. Neither do cars or many other nice things, but that's another discussion.

 The economic argument for solar water heating is actually pretty strong in México, anyway. Here in Canada a solar water system can cost $7,500 or more (US or CDN, your pick) and because the light is weaker here, it doesn't provide sufficient hot water for a household. With Mérida's broiling sun, you need no backup (though you might need a second one for a large household), and it costs $1,500 U.S. or less, installed, including an electrostatic water softener.

 I'm not sure why they cost so much more in Canada. But the cost made it a no-brainer here. Sure, it's a lot more than a new gas-fired water tank that will rust out in a couple of years, but for me part of the attraction of living in Mexico is the idea of living more lightly and reducing our resource footprint.

 If I had a ton of money, I'd get a photo-voltaic solar system to replace at least part of the household electricity. Mexico has a net-metering program so the electical utility company will give you credit for feeding excess power from a PV system back into the state power grid. Haven't yet met anyone who has done this, but it's a long-term dream.


  1. Debbie, This looks like something we should explore for our house. Can you send me the details of company, etc. Thanks!

  2. Whether at home or in the outdoor versatility, brightness and clarity of theled lighting in combination with their ability to work in power, and low minimum production of heat makes it ideal for almost any application.

  3. Hi Carlos and Pat,
    I believe our new LED lights came from this company:
    Our architect Victor at Estilo Yucatan tracked them down. He also sourced the solar water heater. Many companies are now supplying and installing them, including local company Yaaxtec (, and Impulsor (email: and Niplito stores apparently carries them. Good luck!

  4. Thanks for this info, Debbie. This is something we are very interested in. I wonder if something similar could be used to help warm the pool water in the cooler months. Our pool was already getting a little too chilly in early November.

  5. Hi John and Alan,
    I haven't looked into it, but I have seen solar heating for pools here in Victoria, and I notice the Mérida company Yaaxtec, for one, mentions pools on its website: I'd love to know more about this option if you pursue it further.

  6. Hi-
    I'm sitting in a Vancouver, BC Denny's eagerly scarfing up your latest post.
    Last summer I bought a Chen Bech house on 44th that I'll (finally) get to occupy in in mid-January. Its got an unheated pool that I'd dearly love to make sun-heated. Any ideas in this regard? It seems an experienced Merida solar pool installer might be scarcer than an eclipse. All the best.

  7. Hi neighbor!
    The question about finding an experienced installer is a good one. Certainly the equipment is available in Merida, at Yaaxtec for example, but I know that here in Victoria some people have had problems with faulty installation of solar heating systems. I've become more diligent about checking references.

  8. Debbie, We just wanted to say that your house is looking great and we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

  9. Thank you Sara and Ty, it's been great following your adventures in moving and your stunning renovation on your blog over this past year. I hope to get to meet you in person in 2012!

  10. Just as a footnote, yes, electricity is expensive in Merida and Mexico, particularly if you use a lot of it. (escalating rates with higher usage)

    However, about 10-12 years ago, the coal fired power plants of Merida were mostly supplanted by gas turbine plants (burning natural gas). If you have to burn something to create electricity, natural gas is about the best you can do.

    Personally, we'd like to see much more solar and wind power in Yucatan. The sea breezes are fairly reliable. Anything that would help eliminate *burning* period, would help.

    We love our solar hot water too. So nice not to hear that boiler come on and think about draining the gas tank (which is yet another expense).

    Great article!

  11. Thanks YucatanMan,
    I wonder if you might have any tips about cleaning the surface of the solar heater. I'm not sure if it can be treated like a regular window and squeegeed with a bit of vinegar or ammonia every once in a while to keep it nice and clear.

  12. I also recommended the use of LED lights to my friends because it's more energy efficient, and the quality of light an LED bulb produces is cooler to the eye. And although Mexico is a tropical country, I admire the people there for using the heat of the sun wisely by powering water heaters for the night. I wish I can do the same thing here in the US.

  13. Our solar heater consists of an insulated steel tank having descending glass tubes. The cooler water falls to the bottom and rises to the tank as it heats. We occasionally wipe off the glass tubes with water and vinegar as you mention. Just tap water alone might leave minerals, but really this time of year is a bit dusty so the minerals arrive one way or another.

    If your solar water heater has a sheet of flat glass, I'm sure that would work just fine as well.

    I was reminded that Merida didn't have coal power plants, but diesel. It's a constant confusion to me, as I recall the black smoke more than the fuel being used. :-)

  14. Just purchased a home in Centro and am very grateful for this info on solar hot water heaters. I've got to replace the existing heater and this seems to be the way to go.

    Great blog...I'm including a link to your site on mine.

    Again, thanks for the info!