Tag Archives: Spanish Electrical

Dave Bull’s Guide to Utility Companies in Spain


Dave Bull’s guide to…
…and Movistar



firstly let me say that it is NOT LIKE BACK HOME when you deal with the utility companies here – especially bleeding Movistar, but don’t let me get started on them or we’ll be here all day. I thought we’d put together a little info that you may or may not already know – about the big utility companies that we have to deal with here. Now did I mention Movistar…?

When dealing with utilities the normal method is to settle bills via direct debit and believe me, it’s better to arrange for itemised bills to be sent in so you can check them and sort out problems straight away. Also regularly check that the bills are actually getting paid because they don’t hang around out here if they are going to disconnect you.

Most properties get their water from one of the main water companies here in Spain and that company is responsible for the infrastructure of the supply and must maintain it. That means it’s the same as the UK where they are responsible up to the meter.
You will usually get your bill every two months, although some companies invoice quarterly while others do it only twice a year (know how they feel…).

Not a lot of people know that…

What a lot of people do not know is that if you should have a problem with a leak and you’re left with a hefty bill – go and talk to the Aguagest office because if it is your side of the meter (and in reality – your problem) you can get an official plumbers receipt and claim up to 30% of the cost of the bill back! Be warned though that it must be a proper (licensed) plumber – not that dodgy bloke in the tatty car….

The whole of the Costa Blanca can turn its lights on in the evening and say ‘thanks’ to Iberdrola who are the only supplier. Whether you actually want to say thank you or not, they will bill you every two months for the power you have used and an additional standing charge for, well, being a good customer…?

Many small companies are beginning to spring up since de-regulation but, unfortunately for you, you will, more than likely, have to deal with Movistar at some point. Now, Movistar, where do I start? Well, perhaps their motto should be ‘don’t hold your breath’ because once you’ve dealt with them that is what you will say to the next person who asks your advice about contacting Movistar.

Quite frankly, Movistar is one of the most unprofessional, disorganized, inept companies every to grace the planet – and that’s the good bit… people have waited months and sometimes, years for a telephone line with no customer service to help them out. The have a customer service line (1004) which is about as useful as a bacon slicer at a Bar Mitzvah and if you want to speak to someone in English? Forget it, especially if it is a fault or complaint that you’re calling up about. If I had a choice, I’d sooner put my hand in a blender (again) than deal with Movistar.

The gas bottles that we use here are supplied by Repsol (orange) and Cepsa (silver) and contain butano mostly. Both companies have either depots or outlets such as garages where customers can exchange their empty bottles and in some areas home deliveries are made every week.

Mains gas is now arriving on the scene but with the relatively small demand for gas (especially in the summer) take up on that option is slow and the majority of homes still use the bottles.

For any appliances that use gas – you must use an approved plumber or risk losing your supply (and/or life).

If you are cut-off by any of the utility companies it is an absolute pain in the culo to get switched on again. You’ll be asked to pay into a bank account – at a certain time of day – then they’ll want you to fax the payment and all your account details to their office. Then it is understood they sit on it for a couple of days before, hopefully, you get switched back on within the promised ’48 hours.’ Oh, and then they’ll add a ‘reconnection charge’ on your next bill which is usually well out of proportion to the work involved. Trust me, don’t get disconnected – keep an eye on the bills and when they are due to make sure they get paid.

Be safe, portable power packs are a must have

Solar and Battery Power Packs
Solar and Battery Power Packs

Expats know that many of the countries we move to don’t have reliable electrical supply, of course we all know about the dangers of relying on electricity in African or Latin American nations where brownouts occur frequently, but expats moving to Spain should also be aware of the less than perfect electrical supply in some parts. Making sure we have surge protection, or portable power packs available is essential.

In the major cities brownouts are less common, but in the smaller villages or out ‘in the campo’, the Spanish name for rural districts, you can expect regular brownouts, perhaps even as often as several times per week. Brownouts are momentary blips in the supply of electricity, the lights might flash or dim, and you’ll hear machines like fridges shudder or slow and kick back on again.

Blackouts are full power outages, and luckily occur less often, but when they do, power can be disrupted for minutes to hours and in some parts of Spain might be frequent occurrences. Around Ronda and inland Andalucía, perhaps even parts of the Costa del Sol, you can expect a lot of brownouts, and during the winter rainy season frequent blackouts in the rural districts pretty much everywhere. The larger villages such as Arriate, Olvera, or Gaucín tend to get more maintenance work so their services are better.

The problem areas include isolated houses, small groups of campo houses, and several of the smaller villages, and brownouts may be a weekly occurrence, rising to daily occurrences during winter. Montejaque and Benaojan for example, two of the more popular expat villages tend to get less brownouts, but in the rainy season frequent blackouts can be a problem.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan a move to the Serranía or Spain, we believe most rural parts of Spain suffer from the same problem. It does mean however that taking precautions to protect sensitive electrical equipment should be a must. And dare I say it, if you choose to live in these areas, some kind of portable power pack that uses batteries or solar power should be considered a necessary investment.

A simple project you can do yourself is to buy a truck battery, and inverter, and a battery charging device. During blackouts this should be sufficient to power a lamp, laptop computer, or low powered cooking device. The downside is that if you don’t know what you’re doing you could electrocute yourself.

Considering how easy and practical gas cooking, heating and lighting is, most expats simply keep a spare bombona (gas tank) which can be used with a BBQ or camping lamp. The challenge is how to recharge mobile phones or laptop batteries when the power goes off, or when you’re travelling. I prefer a complete solution that doesn’t require any knowledge of voltages, or polarity, and doesn’t give my nearest and dearest heart palpitations when I connect electrical devices to it.

The most affordable battery/solar device we’ve seen in these parts that is capable of fully charging a mobile phone/blackberry/iphone, a laptop computer, or digital camera can be bought from Mobi Power Packs on the Costa del Sol, talk to Chris or Simone and tell them Ronda Today mentioned them to you. I believe they also have a helpline in the UK for expats who travel between Spain and the UK.

Devices that include batteries and solar panels for charging mobile phones or laptops seem to be marketed at travellers, the military, or aid agencies operating in third world countries, but my advise would be to ignore the marketing showing soldiers in full camo gear, and think about your own comfort and peace of mind. Believe me, I’ve lived in a small village, and a lone house in the campo, and I can assure when the power goes off you’ll be glad of the ability to recharge a mobile phone, especially if like many expats you don’t or can’t get a landline connected.

Pricing for these sorts of devices is very reasonable, in fact they’re price competitive with computer UPS devices or surge protection devices you could buy from high street retailers, and are not restricted to use in the home, they can be use in the car as well. Other manufacturers offer similar devices but I’ve yet to see them sold in Spain, which concerns me even if their prices are similar. Call me old fashioned but I want to be able to talk to them for the price of a local call.

Arunda Data Recovery Services

Ronda Hard Disk Repair

We are lucky in Ronda and the Serranía, to have the expert services of Arunda Data Recovery (ADR), a consultancy that is in most cases able to retrieve important data from failed computer hard drives, portable devices such as iPods, and USB pen drives.

With over 50 years combined experience in the computer industry, the team at ADR are very familiar with most problems their clients will encounter, and have solutions for most. From restoring family photo albums when a computer dies, to recovering important financial documents and accounting files, or retrieving personal documents in Word or Excel format.

Arunda Data Recovery use combinations of specialist equipment, some of it similar to the tools used by police and intelligence services, in addition to some repair of hard drives, to get your data off the old drive, and onto a new drive and in turn back onto your computer so that you can use it.

Working closely with several local computer retailers in Ronda and on the coast, Arunda Data Recovery have proved their abilities time and again, and are now able to offer their service direct to the public, although if your computer hard drive is still within it’s warranty period they recommend checking with your retailer first to see what can be done.

The procedure for recovering your data is simple, call ADR and tell them what happened. They’ll tell you right there on the phone how to proceed. Once the hard drive can be inspected a quote to retrieve the data is prepared, and on your agreement, your data is extracted and placed onto a second hard drive or DVD according to your needs.

ADR can also build custom computers for select clients, specifically when a computer is required to perform some specialist task that a retailer might find difficult to source. To contact the team at ADR, phone or email them, their contact details are below. Arunda Data Recovery are happy to deal with clients throughout Andalucía, and further afield.

Address c/ San Juan Bosco, 9
29400 Ronda (Málaga)
Telephone 952 874 610 or 669 412 298
Email info@arunda-data-rec.es
Website www.arunda-data-rec.es

Using British Electrical Appliances in your Spanish property

TVs, DVDs, Computers
TVs, DVDs, Computers

Welcome to Spain, and the joys of using British electrical appliances in Spain. We all know the move to Spain isn’t cheap, but the great news is that most of the appliances you bought in the UK will work here in your new Spanish property, and you don’t need to be concerned about the different voltage in most cases.

Continue reading Using British Electrical Appliances in your Spanish property