Electricity in Spain
The Spanish domestic power system is 220 or 225 volts AC and standard continental two pin plugs and three pin plugs (with earth) with round prongs are used. A two pin plug will fit in a three pin socket.
Your bill will consist of various items, including a charge for units consumed and also a standing charge.
The standing charge will vary depending on the capacity (“potencia”) that your contract allows, and which is controlled by a trip in your main circuit breaker box. Common potencias are 3.3Kw, 5.5Kw and 8.8Kw. The higher your allowance, the higher the standing charge you pay. The potencia can be upgraded – but at a considerable price.
Live and neutral are not distinguished – plugs can go into sockets either way. Plugs are not individually fused. Appliances with UK sockets can be adapted to work with Spanish sockets either by replacing the UK plug or using a cheap and widely available adaptor.
Smart meters will over the next few years be replacing the traditional electricity meters in Spain. Royal Decree 1634/2006 established a meter substitution plan, and for those customers who are contracted for less than 15kw will have their traditional electricity meters replaced with the new smart meters by the end of 2018.
An electric Smart Meter is one that records power consumption and communicates that information to a monitoring station for management and billing purposes. Smart Meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central control system. Real-time sensors provide information about power outages and power surges.
Smart meters have a modern style digital screen which displays your power consumption and other important usage statistics. The meter is connected to a separate two-way communications hub, which transmits the data back to the energy companies central control system via the mobile data network.
The upgrade will mean that the manual reading of meters and estimated billing will be a thing of the past, saving the energy companies money in the process. The meters can also be remotely monitored and the software upgraded, making the system a lot more efficient all round.The energy companies believe that the customer will also benefit from the changes. As smart meters provide users with real-time usage data, it should allow you to better manage your energy consumption and better understand where you can make savings.
Three major energy players act in the country, Endesa, Gas Natural Fenosa, and Iberdrola, with a market share of almost 95%. Spain is a country with 46 million inhabitants and approximately 26 million electricity customers.
Iberdrola intend to replace 10.3 million traditional meters with Smart Meters within the next five years. The project requires a total investment of some €2 billion and involves 80,000 transformer stations being adapted with remote management and monitoring capabilities.
Spain operates a power rating system (potencia) where a household calculates its average usage and the supply received is based on this. This can cause small blackouts if too many appliances are used at once.
It is worth knowing that during peak electricity usage periods and storms the electrical supply may be cut, this happens regularly in many regions. A supplementary generator or UPS system for computers can be installed at business or home that depends on power.
A power surge protector is also recommended to protect appliances (computers, TVs, fax machines) when the power supply is resumed.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and surge protectors
An Uninterruptible power supply (UPS), also known as a battery back-up, provides emergency power and, depending on the topology, line regulation as well to connected equipment by supplying power from a separate source when utility power is not available. It differs from an auxiliary or emergency power system or standby generator, which does not provide instant protection from a momentary power interruption. A UPS, however, can be used to provide uninterrupted power to equipment, typically for 5–15 minutes until an auxiliary power supply can be turned on, utility power restored, or equipment safely shut down.
While not limited to safeguarding any particular type of equipment, a UPS is typically used to protect computers, telecommunication equipment or other electrical equipment where an unexpected power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, serious business disruption or data loss. UPS units come in sizes ranging from units which will back up a single computer without monitor (around 200 VA) to units which will power entire buildings