In Spain there is a limited amount of electricity you can use at any one given moment, this is known as the ‘potencia contratada’ and is found on your utility bill. This is very different from the UK for example where a bedsit in Clapham could have a 23kW supply!!
Here it ranges from 1.1 to 9.2kW on domestic supplies.
So what does this mean?
In 2002 a law was passed that made it obligatory for an ICP to be installed. This device is an ‘interuptor control de potencia’. These devices were simply a circuit breaker that was fitted into a compartment of the fuse board that in turn was sealed by Iberdrola.
This meant that the old style analogue meter would spin away happily until you exceeded your contracted rate and the ICP in the fuse board would trip.
One big problem for the supply company is that it was possible to ‘remove’ the seal and bypass or put a larger breaker in its place. I have seen this on countless occasions
So many of my clients have paid for an upgrade, which involved a guy turning up changing things in the meter box and then doing something in the fuse board, usually bypassing the ICP and charging rather well for this service! So problem solved, they consume what they like, pay the bill, happy days!
Then the digital meter came along…
These have been rolling out on the Costa Blanca for the last few years and eventually will be standard. The big problem is these meters have the ICP built into them so when you exceed your contracted rate they switch off the power. You then have to turn off everything until they detect no load and will reset or worse still go to the meter and press the reset button.
This is a real problem for clients in blocks of flats who have no idea where the meter is, or others who have to walk 50m in the rain to the end of the drive to reset the button!
I have many calls about power upgrades, and a lot of people say “well I paid this company a lot of money to upgrade me and now the digital meter has been installed it trips when we are cooking, plug in a radiator etc.”
The truth is regardless of what you have paid or what anyone has told you, what it states on your bill is what you are contracted at.
The only way to upgrade these days is legally, this involves a test and inspection and then the issuing of a ‘boletin electrico’ which is a document that satisfies the supply company that your installation can be upgraded
This can only be done by an authorised installer
We as authorised installers can offer this service in house from start to finish, so if you have any questions, or would like free impartial advice on any electrical issue please don’t hesitate to contact me.