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Channi


Jun 19, 2011, 1:44 PM

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Central Air Conditioning

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I have several trips to Merida under my belt and am currently engaged to a wonderful Mexican national there. I will relocate from the US when my house sells (?).

I would like to know if anyone has the benefits of using central air-conditioning in the Yucatan? The heat in Merida is oppressive- I don't care what anyone says.

I know the per room mini-split technology and may have to go that way, but central A/C is ergonomically better because it is more consistent throughout the casa. The idea of being hold up in an A/C'd bedroom with a fan for half the year is totally unappealing.

I also realize that concrete block construction presents a bit of a technical problem, but Florida solves this with roof down air ducts- so is doable. I am really disappointed that solar energy is not more available in Mexico with the powerful daily sunshine- but...

Your experience and consultation would be most appreciated,

Channi



Vichil

Jun 19, 2011, 6:02 PM

Post #2 of 35 (37158 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Electricity is expensive in Mexico.


YucaLandia


Jun 19, 2011, 8:52 PM

Post #3 of 35 (37140 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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We've seen expats rack-up $800 USD electricity bills keeping just 3 rooms cool 12 hr per day here in Merida. If you average 850 kWhr per month, you get put into the DAC rate category, and all of the 80% govt. subsidies and lower rates go away until you get your annual average usage below 850 kWhr per month. If you do central AC on just 4 rooms, and gain significant heat from duct-work exposed on rooftops, you could easily hit $1,000 - $1,200 USD or higher CFE bills, due to paying the roughly 5X higher DAC rates.

We use small-ish floor fans pointed right at us during the daytime and cool off our bedroom for an hour or 2 at bedtime = roughly $600 peso per 2 month billing cycles with the 80% subsidy on most of our power.
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Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Jun 19, 2011, 10:18 PM)


Channi


Jun 20, 2011, 7:08 AM

Post #4 of 35 (37092 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] Central Air Conditioning

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Thanks for your qualitative response YucaLandia.

Your direct Yucatecan experience, of course, takes precedence- however my electric utility usage here in the Midwest on average is less than 2/3rds of the prohibitive 850 KWH monthly number- i.e. with 1200+ sq.ft. and 9 ft.+ ceilings being additional variables to the equation. Obviously construction makes a significant difference. Other factors are that I grew up in San Diego- so I am horribly spoiled and seek to maximize comfort in my advancing years.

Also, I am willing to spend more than 300 pesos per month for a more blissful interior existence.
Thanks again, Channi.


joaquinx


Jun 20, 2011, 7:34 AM

Post #5 of 35 (37078 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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YucaLandia has given you fair warning on the cost of electricity in Merida/Mexico, however, since you have or will have the cash to pay for the cost of whole house air conditioning, I'd say do it. Let us know how things work out for you.
_______
My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.


YucaLandia


Jun 20, 2011, 9:08 AM

Post #6 of 35 (37057 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Hey Channi,
It may not be realistic to compare your US Midwest power usage to Merida's conditions. Have you factored in the big differences in construction?

If your new home in Merida is like most homes here, it will not act like a typical Midwestern US home for cooling. There are both insulation issues (very low R-values) and heat retention issues (very high U-values). Most roofs here are coated in moh - a black organism that's a combination of algaes and dynoflagellates. The moh makes the concrete roofs absorb even more heat during the daytime. After the sun shines on the roofs and walls all days, the mamposteria (stone) or block construction absorbs lots of heat (big heat sinks = high J-values) and re-radiates it for another 6-8 hours after the sun goes down. Combine the high J-value construction that absorbs and stores heat, with very low R values of poor-to-no insulative doors, windows, etc, and you have construction here that is almost the opposite of typical Midwest US construction.

This means that your US Midwest electricity usage is likely much lower than your future Yucatecan power usage, if you use A/C in more than one room for more than 2-4 hours per day. Four rooms cooled to about 77º from 10:00AM - midnight here will give you roughly 1,200 kWhr usage per month, ($4,000 peso per month for just A/C), which is one reason that there is very little central air installed here.

In addition to lots of un-solicited advice, I invite you to come to come to Merida Men's Club breakfasts when you get here, for even bigger doses of codgerly advice. 1'st & 3'rd Tuesdays at the Hyatt. All the smoked salmon you can eat, and a nice mix of some snowbirds and many ex-pats with Yuca-sposas.

All the best for you in your move and romance,
steve
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Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com


Channi


Jun 20, 2011, 10:15 AM

Post #7 of 35 (37029 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] Central Air Conditioning

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Steve- thanks for the good information and the INvite- probably see you at the Hyatt one day...Channi


DavidHF

Jun 20, 2011, 4:06 PM

Post #8 of 35 (36989 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Solar power is readily available in Mexico. We live near Lake Chapala where there are currently over 70 homes with solar electric systems.


Channi


Jun 20, 2011, 4:16 PM

Post #9 of 35 (36981 views)

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Re: [DavidHF] Central Air Conditioning

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Hi David, any idea on install cost? My limited understanding is that purchase and start up cost is high...Channi


DavidHF

Jun 21, 2011, 8:42 AM

Post #10 of 35 (36942 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Our 1.54kW system cost under $10,000 US. It's providing over 90% of our power. Our CFE bill went from $2,800 Pesos to $198 Pesos. A far better return that one can get from any safe investment. Invest your cash on your roof, it'll pay you every month!


Channi


Jun 21, 2011, 9:26 AM

Post #11 of 35 (36928 views)

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Re: [DavidHF] Central Air Conditioning

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David, wondering about the square footage of your space- ceiling height, and if you use air conditioning? If I recall you are located in a cooler part of northern/western Mexico- not the dreaded Yucatan? Finally, may I ask what your total KWH usage is for one month. I really appreciate your information for my extrapolations...


DavidHF

Jun 21, 2011, 10:34 AM

Post #12 of 35 (36916 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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We live in the Lake Chapala area, so no A/C. Average consumption is 700 Kwhrs/billing period (60 days). House is ~3000 sq. feet, living/dining are ceilings are ~12', remainder ~9'.


yucatandreamer


Jun 21, 2011, 2:41 PM

Post #13 of 35 (36889 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Most of us here in the Yucatan live an inside outside sort of life and use our verandas and patios quite a bit. It makes perfect sense to air-condition a few rooms with mini-splits for those days when you cannot stand it. If your house is designed to catch a breeze and you have fans you can live quite comfortably most days and still be able to wander in and out at your leisure. A fully air conditioned house is closed up and not conducive to enjoying the outside. The cost alone would prevent me from even considering central air even if it were something commonly done. I am not one of those who prides themselves on using tiny amounts of electricity and do run my air conditioning at night. I also have several computers running and various fans and appliances. My opinion is that the mini split is the perfect solution to cool the room you are in and still leave the rest of the house to the breezes. One thing I have learned living here in Yucatan is to do things the way they are done and not waste time or energy trying to do something that is not the norm. Of course if you have a high tolerance for heartbreak and frustration and very deep pockets--go for it.


Channi


Jun 22, 2011, 6:54 AM

Post #14 of 35 (36843 views)

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Re: [yucatandreamer] Central Air Conditioning

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Yucatandreamer, thanks for your pragmatic thoughts- I appreciate your candor.

Would you be able to tell me specifically what your monthly KWHs, interior square footage, and monthly cost is?

I was the architect for my home here and I enjoy good design and ergonomics. I am in contact with an architect in Merida and I feel that we could improve interior living conditions on a new construction as I experienced it there in middle and upper middle class Mexican homes.

My main concern is the dramatic contrast between AC'd rooms and otherwise. That difference is distractive (unhealthy ?) to a balanced physical, intellectual and spiritual existence. Am I overthinking this? Thx., Channi


yucatandreamer


Jun 22, 2011, 7:48 AM

Post #15 of 35 (36831 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Due to the fact that I live in El Centro in an old mamposteria house with leaky windows and roof with original wood vegas, it will not be much help. My house is approx 1600 square feet. My last bill which aside from September is one of the highest runs from Mar 16th to May 16th was 2507.95 with the subsidy. Without it it would have been 4726.82. We used 1475 kwh. I air-condition the bedroom at night which is upstairs and hot as hell due to a poor breeze situation.

Building new certainly gives you more options and having a good architect will also be a help. However you need to be aware of the fact that your architect is only going to be as good as the albiniles that are on his crew and this is not a sophisticated lot. They are excellent at what they do but do not think outside of the box. I do think that running your air conditioner full time would throw you into crazy pricing. You would lose your subsidy year round and it is difficult to get back.

I usually only air condition at night for sleeping have good ceiling fans and use my swimming pool to cool off during the day. It is always an option to spend the day at movies for free air conditioning or go out to the beach for the breeze.


Chapala Payaso

Jan 22, 2012, 12:27 PM

Post #16 of 35 (32681 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Channi: You state in part, "Also, I am willing to spend more than 300 pesos per month for a more blissful interior existence."

You should check with CFE or someone living in your area to be as to rates there. Here, the more electricity you use, the more the cost per kwh. The billing period is 2 months. Here, in Ixtlahuacan, the rate jumps after 500kwh per billing period. I have a 2300 Sq. Ft. house which has neither central heat nor ac. I use about 320kwh/billing period cycle and so remain below that critical number of about 8kwh/day. (8 times 60 days = 480kwh) A lot depneds on the electrical creature comforts you have. For instance, an electric clothes dryer will drive you into the higher rate. Gas is less expensive. Refrigerators, toasters, and microwave ovens suck up the juice as well. Big flat screen televisions likewise. My bimonthly electric bill runs around $535 pesos which is not far off from your $300 per month figure.

For me the thing that makes things oppresive is the humidity more than the heat itself. Ceiling fans help on the few nights it is in the low 90's. I think you had better put a pencil to the kwh usage of any cooling devices you are looking at to help you with an informed consent. Also, as an example, figure the hourly kwh of your various televisions, toasters, etc. and multiply all of that by the anticipated usage. How many hours of TV, for instance plus all of the other gadgets. Doing this will help you get a better idea of the charges you are facing.


Channi


Jan 24, 2012, 5:58 AM

Post #17 of 35 (32603 views)

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Re: [Chapala Payaso] Central Air Conditioning

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Thanks Chapala Payaso for your suggestions...turns out my prospective brother-in-law is a retired executive for CFE- his electricity is free for life! Anyhow, I will allocate about the same $150 USD per month that I pay here for energy in the US- should be workable for my budget. Channi


YucaLandia


Jan 24, 2012, 7:42 AM

Post #18 of 35 (32587 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Channi,
In what part of Merida are you expecting to live?

The area you live in plays a large role in your cooling needs, due to both home construction and design and the heat island that is Centro. Centro is just 1 mile from our home, but due to all the concrete roofs - connected row houses with no gaps between - and all the blacktop - no front yards and minimal greenery - make Centro temps a full 5 degrees higher than other adjacent parts of Merida. The heat island of Centro where Yucatandreamer lives is not representative of most of Merida, because all the near wall-to-wall concrete construction and blacktop also holds the heat long into the evenings and nights.

As you go north, temperatures typically drop as much as 10 degrees in more modern and green colonias and fraccionmentos. The old construction materials and old tenement row house designs of Centro homes, like Yucatandreamer's, almost forces them to live in their patios as they describe. The 14ft - 18ft high ceilings of old Centro homes trap the heat up in the top of the room - so air flowing through the windows down low does not flush out the heat, even at night. Then when Centro home owners run their ceiling fans, it pulls the hot air off the ceilings, making a light breeze which feels a bit nice but actually raises the room temperatures down where we walk, sit, & live - which forces some Centro residents out into their gardens or into the street.

Centro's 20 block by 30 block of solid tenement style building-joined-to-building solid blocks of homes with no gaps in between them also block cooling breezes vs the colonias and fraccionmentos north of Centro. If you have a 3'rd story patio in Centro, you can get nice breezes up there, but the air is mostly hot & stagnant at street level, even at night, because of the ultra-high-density construction.

Centro homes also have to deal with streets that have a lot more traffic than out in the Colonias, so, Centro-living expats keep their front doors and window closed tight to keep down the noise and bus exhaust. No natural breezes due to tenement style construction and closed windows and doors for no cross breezes keeps Centro homes much hotter during both days and nights.

If you drive around Centro in the evening, you see people hanging out in the street, which makes for conviviality, but demonstrates Centro's excess trapped heat that is not present in other parts of Merida. All the expats we hang out with outside Centro, and our family members all live indoors most of the time, because our newer style constructions, space between houses, lots of greenery and daily breezes, don't trap heat and hold heat like old colonial homes in Centro.

If you live north of Centro, in a home built in the last 40 years, your power bills will likely be much lower than Yucatandreamer's, due to these factors. We run computers all day, run a floor fan to circulate cool floor level air both all day and all night (vs circulating hot ceiling air with inefficient ceiling fans), run a big TV and satellite receiver to hear some English and track the business news all day, watch movies or sports at night, cook several meals daily, and aircondition one upstairs bedroom for several hours at bedtime (because upstairs rooms get hotter than 1'st floor rooms) - and our typical monthly bill is between $220 pesos and $300 pesos vs. Yucatandreamer's Centro home's $1,200 - $2,300 peso monthly bills.

$1,500 pesos a month in added energy costs for Centro translates to about $14,000 USD every 10 years. Centro homes cost less, but it means choosing a more energy intensive lifestyle - more A/C, a pool, fans, etc.

You mention that you have a local Yucatecan significant other, which means they likely do not live in Centro, because the locals recognize both the charm of Centro, but prefer the practicality of living outside Centro. Real estate prices in Centro are generally much cheaper though, because local Yucatecans realize these things and find Centro to be a less desirable place to live.

Different strokes for different folks.
steve
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Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Jan 24, 2012, 8:16 AM)


Channi


Jan 24, 2012, 8:31 AM

Post #19 of 35 (32563 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] Central Air Conditioning

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You are so correct Steve. We- i.e. mi amorcito and me, do prefer the north, or even slightly outside Merida for exactly the reasons that you outline. My significant other was born in north Merida and she has foreknowledge and demonstrated talent for locating the very best values. Ergonomics in the Centro are of a lesser quality of life and are suitable for visitation only, in our opinion.


yucatandreamer


Jan 24, 2012, 9:31 AM

Post #20 of 35 (32547 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Ahh but we can walk to the symphony on Sundays and the Santiago Mercado and English Library any day. It all depends on how you live.


sfmacaws


Jan 24, 2012, 10:29 AM

Post #21 of 35 (32530 views)

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Re: [yucatandreamer] Central Air Conditioning

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Gee Steve, you calling my house a tenement? I think you have some good points but you are not factoring in construction and design of the house. Many of the houses in the outlying colonias have what I consider low ceilings, under 12', and thinner concrete block walls. If you have vertical openings which act like a chimney and wicks hot air out, the temp inside your house will be greatly reduced. I've found that the difference in temperature between the street and the inside of my house here in el centro is around 20°F. In the winter, I let the afternoon breezes in from the street to warm up the house but in summer I open them only at night and use the garden openings and the long openings to the sky to cool the house.

What I would not do is live full time in AC. My bias perhaps but I believe you will never acclimate to the climate here and you will be trapped inside for much of the year. You might as well live in snow if you have to stay inside to be comfortable. Also, most people find an increase in colds, flus and illness when constantly breathing processed air. It doesn't take long to acclimate and the rewards are many, you are free to enjoy the beauty of your garden, your city, the many outside events available to you and you are comfortable. Keeping yourself dependent on canned air is voluntarily taking on a large disability that you can avoid.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




YucaLandia


Jan 24, 2012, 11:50 AM

Post #22 of 35 (32516 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Central Air Conditioning

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Similar for us on the AC usage. We only use AC in the hot season, between 9:00 and 11:00 PM to cool off the upstairs bedroom. I tend to think of rowhouses - sharing common walls with the neighbors - as tenements, but that's actually not strictly true. Blocks of nothing but row houses in D.C. & Chicago tended to be called tenements when I was growing up, because the people who lived in them were mostly renters. Clearly, you are not renters - with all the beautiful additions and changes you and Yucatandreamer have made.

Are the thermal siphons you describe a common feature in Centro homes? I have only been inside about 25 Centro rowhouses and only one of them had thermal siphon chimney features, and another had a north courtyard-facing ojo - both of which naturally created a nice draft of cool air from ground level garden inlet points. I have built and installed 4 different steel and polycarbonate techitos to cover slightly larger 2m x 3m thermal siphons in north Merida homes - and if you build the little roof over the siphon properly, you can actually create enough draw to blow papers off a desk.
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Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com


sfmacaws


Jan 24, 2012, 3:47 PM

Post #23 of 35 (32491 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] Central Air Conditioning

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I've seen a lot of similar thermal set ups in renovated homes here in el Centro. Of course, it depends on the owners wishes and the architect. What we have is a long, wide hallway with a 17' long pond against one wall and all of the first floor rooms opening off of it, there is no ceiling over the narrow pond and it goes up 2 stories also venting the terrace off our bedroom. You can walk over to the opening upstairs and feel the hot air coming up. There is a mosquito netted cover on this patio but other than that it vents to the upper roof. The same thing but smaller exists in the other rooms upstairs. Even a small screen covered patio in the center of the house with other rooms opening onto it functions in the same way. In the heat of April and May we open all of the double doors to the sala, office and kitchen downstairs when we go to bed, leaving the ceiling fans on. When we come down in the morning we close them off and the rooms remain cool all day.

We've never gotten around to installing an AC in our bedroom although we put one in the guest bedroom. We keep saying that if it gets uncomfortable we'll put it in, so far after 4 years in this house it hasn't been an issue. We did put one in the office and on really hot spring days we can turn that on and retreat in the heat of the afternoon. I'd guess we do that 4 or 5 times a year.

Comfortable temperatures are a very personal and variable thing but it is true that we are resilient creatures that can adapt to much more than we give ourselves credit for. If I were uncomfortable, I'd pay whatever and put in AC. The point is, I'm not uncomfortable and I enjoy the warm languid nights of summer. I would never criticize anyone for saying a place is too hot or too cold as long as they gave themselves a reasonable chance to adjust, it's those who come down from a cold climate and want to duplicate it in the tropics that I find a bit odd.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




BraeleJ

Jun 24, 2013, 12:56 AM

Post #24 of 35 (25734 views)

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Re: [Channi] Central Air Conditioning

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Split ACs are more energy efficient, I'd say for me, helping to conserve both energy usage and the money that would otherwise be spent on it. They are easy to install and use, long lasting, and offer benefits such as the ability to create different temperature control zones within the home.


robt65

Jul 19, 2013, 7:50 PM

Post #25 of 35 (25365 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Central Air Conditioning

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Two thoughts come to mind . . . . . one being I hope this fellow knows not to expect an "architect" here in México, to have the same knowledge or expertise as a NOB architect, as an architect here is more of a draftsman than a real architect It has been my experience here, if one is really needing the services of an architect, one might be further ahead to hire an engineer. . Secondly why aren't "swamp coolers" used more here in México, I have always wondered about that. one can buy them pretty reasonably from Tractor Supply Stores NOB. I know about the salt air and all but most are constructed from galvanized metal as well.

Having lived for a year, my first year here in México, in Madera (Tampico) on the Gulf, I found a dehumidifier a big relief for humidity removal and it really did feel cooler. A good capacity one NOB used can be had for about a hundred bucks or so. I finally had enough of the humidity and moved here to Querétaro higher up in the mountains where it is dryer and pleasant most of the year round.

Regards,

Robt65


(This post was edited by robt65 on Jul 19, 2013, 7:54 PM)
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