Managing the Electricity Supply at Your Home in Mexico

When you’re living in Mexico and renting a house longer term or when you own a home here, you’ll need to manage your property’s electricity supply.

This article describes how electricity is supplied to homes in Mexico, how to plan for electric power cuts, how to find current electricity prices, and how to pay your electricity bill.

Electricity supply to homes in Mexico

All electricity in Mexico is supplied by CFE, a colossal state-owned electric company. Rates for domestic electricity are set by the government and include subsidies for homes that conserve energy as well as seasonal subsidies for homes in regions with very hot summers or cold winters. (See the section below for prices and bills.)

Electricity voltage in Mexico

Electricity to homes in Mexico is delivered at 120-140 volts at a frequency of 60Hz.

If you require a 220-240 volts circuit (for example, for certain types of air conditioning units, electric ovens, or high-end induction hobs), you will need to ask the electric company to supply you with a “bifase” circuit and have an electrician undertake the special wiring for you inside your home.

Electricity plugs and sockets in Mexico

Electric plugs (clavijas) and sockets (enchufes) are type A and/or B—identical to those used in the USA.

The older Type A socket plugs have flat pins whereas the newer plugs have a notch on one side and might also have a third (earth) pin that prevents them from being plugged in to an older Type A plug socket without the use of an adapter.

Older Type A sockets have two identical sized pin inlets that will accommodate all older Type A plug pins without an adapter; Type B sockets have a wider pin inlet on one side, allowing Type B plugs (with a notch) to be inserted, and they also have a third (earth) pin inlet to accommodate Type B plugs with three-pins.

All modern homes in Mexico have the newer Type B 3-pin plugs, but there are still many older properties that have the old two-pin plug that will not accommodate newer plugs, or plugs with three pins, unless you use an adapter.

Reliability of electric supply

Mexico’s electricity power grid has been undergoing a continual upgrade in recent years, making electricity supply here more reliable than it ever has been.

Most of Mexico’s electricity supply is delivered by overhead cables. Overhead cables are more susceptible to the elements and this affects the reliability of the supply, especially during the rain and wind storms.

Some towns and cities are beginning to create underground ducts for cabling; new developments are often designed with underground cable ducts now, but it will be decades —if not longer— before Mexico’s electricity system is principally delivered by means of underground ducting.

Power outages which were frequent a decade or more ago —and could last for days in some cases— are far less frequent now and, when they do happen, the outages tend to be quite short or temporary in nature.

How frequent and severe the outages depend principally on local factors. Different neighborhoods tend to have different ‘patterns’ of outages; and ‘good’ neighborhoods can suddenly begin to experience frequent outages for no apparent reason. Rural areas tend to experience more power outages than urban areas.

Old or failing local transformers (the ones you see strapped to lamp posts) are the principal culprits of localized power outages in Mexico, and the electric company has been working hard to replace these with newer and more reliable transformers.

In areas subject to the rainy season (May/June through October/November) power outages tend to be more frequent as heavy rains, wind, and lightning affect the transformers and electricity sub-stations.

Another issue to be mindful of is the fluctuation of voltage, so it’s prudent to protect sensitive equipment (for example, computers, high-fidelity electrical appliances) with power-surge protection boxes if you notice that the voltage fluctuates a lot in your area (light bulbs are a key indicator).

If you live in an area that is susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes, keep in mind that electricity supplies might be affected, perhaps for days or longer, after a storm or hurricane.

See also: Dealing with electrical power cuts in Mexico

Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS)

If you have electrical equipment that is critical to your work or well-being, an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS – wiki) can be installed in your home.

There are many types of UPS systems on the market, and you will need to do some research to decide which one is best for your specific needs.  Essentially there are two types: battery powered UPS and fuel-powered UPS.

  • If you want to keep low-voltage appliances (e.g., WiFi modems, computer monitors, and computers) running during regular outages which may last from a few minutes to a few hours then a battery-backup system will probably work for you.
  • If you must keep high-power appliances (e.g. refrigerators) running continuously, or lower power appliances running for long periods, then you will need a fuel-powered (e.g., diesel) generator on your property.

Battery backup units (Amazon Mexico) are affordable and easy to install and use as you simply plug your critical appliances into the unit, which contains a large battery.  When there is power, the unit charges its battery and passes electricity to your appliances directly. When there’s a power cut, the unit’s circuitry detects this and feeds electricity to your appliances from its battery power.

Fuel-based generators come in many sizes and research is required to determine which one is right for your circumstances.

Insurance coverage for your home in Mexico

Obtain a online quote and organize insurance coverage for your home in Mexico (whether you own or rent) in minutes with our home insurance associate, MexPro.

Quote and coverage: Get a quote and arrange instant coverage online

Electricity prices in Mexico

Prices for electricity in Mexico are set by the government and vary each month.  Also, the more electricity you use, the higher your rate is per kwH consumed.  This is done to help low-income families and to encourage users generally to conserve energy, by penalizing higher energy consumers and rewarding lower energy consumers with generous subsidies.

Current electricity prices in Mexico

You can get the current and historical rates from this page on the CFE’s website (Spanish).  Choose the “Domesticas – 1” option for residential electricity prices.

Seasonal electricity subsidies

Subsidies are applied in some northern cities and some southern cities in summer when air conditioning/heating uses rise. The subsidies apply from April to October in the south, and May to November in the north.

Electricity meters

All properties have electricity meters, usually visible to the street, so that the electric company’s representative can visit and read the meter for each bill. Mexico is gradually changing-out old-style analog meters to new-style electronic meters which are digital and can be read and controlled remotely.

Electricity bills in Mexico

Electricity bills in Mexico are dispatched every two months.

CFE workers deliver electricity bills in paper format by hand to homes across Mexico.  You can use the CFE’s smartphone app, CFE Contigo, to pause paper bills and have digital/electronic bills only (the app will alert you when there’s a bill waiting to be paid), although many people still prefer to receive paper bills as these can be used as proof of address for official purposes.

Electricity bills when you’re renting a house

If you’re renting a house in Mexico, the electricity bill will probably be in the name of the property’s owner, and for practical reasons, they will likely want to keep the bill in their name.

Even if the bill is not in your name, you can use the CFE app (scan the code on the paper bill), pay the bills, report outages and issues to the electricity company, and use original paper versions of the bill (not copies from the app) as proof of your address.

Paying your electricity bill

There are several convenient ways to pay your electricity bill.

You ought to pay your bill in a timely manner because the CFE is efficient at cutting-off supplies to homes and it can take between one and three days to get power restored to your home if you are cut-off due to late payment.

Convenient ways to pay your electricity bill include:

  • At any CFE automated teller.
  • Through the CFE Contigo smartphone app if you have a Mexican bank account/card.
  • Via online banking if you have a Mexican bank account.
  • In cash at one of Mexico’s local convenience stores.  Take the paper bill with you to scan the barcode, or show them the PDF bill you can download from your CFE smartphone app. A small service fee is added if you pay this way.
  • You can make a line at at retail bank or at the local electricity office and pay there, but we don’t recommend this as lines tend to be long, especially near paydays.

Late payments

The electric company is very efficient at cutting-off your power supply off if you are late in payment. If your property has a new-style electronic meter, your service can be cut-off remotely, without the need for a technician to visit the property and disconnect your service.

Getting reconnected if you’re cut-off

When you don’t pay your electricity bill by the due date, a technician is assigned and sent to your property to disconnect you. Digital meters are disconnected electronically using a special device carried by the technician.

If you are cut-off due to late payment, you will need to:

  • Pay the outstanding bill plus the penalty fee for reconnection; then
  • You need to request a reconnection, that is best done using the CFE Contigo app available at the Android and iPhone app stores, or otherwise via the CFE Web Portal; or in person at the local electricity office that deals with your property.

When you request a reconnection, the payment on account will be checked, and your service will join a line for reconnections.  A technician will be scheduled-in to revisit your home and reconnect your electricity supply.

Timescale for reconnection: According to this page on the CFE website, it takes between one and three days after your request for a reconnection to get your home reconnected following cut-off due to late payment.

Insurance coverage for your home in Mexico

Obtain a online quote and organize insurance coverage for your home in Mexico (whether you own or rent) in minutes with our home insurance associate, MexPro.

Quote and coverage: Get a quote and arrange instant coverage online

Taking care of your home in Mexico

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