Electricity in Costa Rica
Geothermal electricity generatated bythe volcano, Rincon de la Vieja, Guanacaste, Costa Rica..
A wind farm in Costa Rica for electric power generation.
Costa Rica is blessed with abundance of natural renewable sources for generating electricity. Through its federally regulated authority, the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE), the bulk is generated by hydroelectric (76%) sources and geothermal energy (the heat under the ground). There are also wind farms and solar electricity generation. In fact, Costa Rica has been so successful at generating power it exports its excess electricity to the neighbouring countries, north and south. However, as far as electricity reliability goes, Costa Rica is still like a third world country.
Recharging at Blue River
The advent of electricity and more recently, the rechargeable battery have added a bright “spark” of life-changing convenience to our lives. Fortunately, like our bodies, after running them down they simply need a recharge; and off we go again. For our recharge many of us choose a vacation and even though Costa Rica is a favourite vacation destination, we need to take precautions to, even at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs. For most people the first priority is a comfortable room.
At Blue River Resort & Hot Springs we offer 720 Sq ft of rustic-luxury in every Cabana. Complete with comfy beds, air conditioning, a hammock and chairs on the balcony, in lush rainforest surroundings with a view of a majestic volcano – what else can you ask for? However, in your room you also need to plug in and/or recharge your valuable electrical equipment; like a camera, cell phone, video camcorder, laptop, etc. To ensure that this equipment remains undamaged by the electricity supplied by the Costa Rica power grid, this article looks to educate and offer recommended safety precautions
Electric Power in Costa Rica
The electric power in Costa Rica is a standard 110V-120V, 60 Hz supply, just like the power in the USA and many other countries. Blue River Resort & Hot Springs provides (clean) 110V power to the cabanas directly from the republic’s power grid and adds surge protection in the main panel. But sometimes this isn’t enough to protect your equipment. Like anywhere else, the supply may have a few spikes (or peaks), which can occur anywhere at any time. No matter the location in Costa Rica, protecting your sensitive, expensive electronic equipment when connected to the power grid is important.
In many developing countries, like Costa Rica, the power generated at its source is 220V (50 cycle or 60 cycle like in the USA). The power is transmitted via two ‘legs’ of 110V with a neutral line. Customers hook-up one ‘leg’ and a neutral at the destination and ‘viola’ 110V power. In some locations, both 110 V legs when connected along with a neutral leg produces, 220V power.
Electrical Protection and Power Outages
Surge protection is very important. Developing countries like Costa Rica suffer from power outages often. Sometimes just for a few seconds and sometimes much longer. A surge may be noticeable when the ceiling lights flicker or dim. This is not good news for your equipment. The resort has installed surge protection in the main panel, but even then, we have found that this is not enough. A transformer, a voltage monitor or a surge protector will provide additional power protection. Those three will ensure that your expensive electronics remain “un-fried” by any electrical mishap.
You may also notice that all appliances at the Resort are connected into a surge protector that plugs into the electrical outlet. See the recommended guide (below) to prevent damage. This is how it is in Costa Rica.
Power outages or “black-outs” can occur unexpectedly anytime in Costa Rica. At Blue River Resort and Hot Springs, there is a back up diesel generator, which powers most of the resort, but not everything. During long power outages, the generator needs to be turned off periodically. Guests are provided with candles or flashlights when necessary.
Guide for Protecting Electronic Equipment
Following these guidelines is recommended for the protection of electronic equipment almost anywhere.
- First plug in a voltage filter and surge protector (A)
- Then connect a transformer (B) [if you require 220V current and you have 110V available].
- Then connect a fused power strip (C) with USB connections.
With this setup, you can go anywhere in the world and safely recharge your batteries (even in your home).
- The All-in-One Travel Adapter Plug with a built-in surge protector, and a USB port for plugging in a cell phone or other USB device. It sells for around US $22.00, and operates at both 110V and 220V. The unit offers four different plug configurations; they work in Costa Rican and other international hotels.
If your appliance requires 220 volts, you’ll need a transformer. It can be plugged into the surge protector (above). Prices vary but this should cost less than US$50.00. This portable device ensures the conversion of the available power for safely charging and operating sensitive equipment.
To charge a few items at the same time you will then connect a power strip.
Power Strips: Most modern power strips have USB connections built in to recharge cell phones and MP3 players as well.
Recharging: Always monitor the progress of your recharges and disconnect batteries and chargers when completed.
Note: For as an additional safety caution, unplug everything when not in use.
Later this month there will be another spectacular full moon rising over the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and National Park. This is another great opportunity for a breathtaking nighttime photo session.