How to Make a Small Fortune in Mallorca

Start with a large one and buy an old finca!

I know. It’s an old joke, but there’s some truth in it (assuming you had any kind of fortune to start with – and we certainly didn’t).

This time last year we had to have our roof renewed and buy new gates. We’d hoped that we wouldn’t be spending any more large amounts of money for a long while. But in recent weeks our solar-powered electricity system has been requiring an increasing amount of generator back-up. Every evening we were having to run the generator for an hour or so to prevent it kicking in on auto-start during the night, because of the power drain caused by the fridge/freezer.

Eventually The Boss decided to switch off the auto-start before we went to bed: we really didn’t want the generator bursting into life in the wee small hours and startling the local sheep (or, of course, our neighbours in the valley). Although running our solar power system is ecologically sound, generators aren’t: diesel is horrible stuff and it’s expensive.

Winter Draws On

With winter ahead (and The Boss not keen on going out late at night to traipse down the field to the power house in bad weather), we knew it was time to replace our solar polar batteries. A few years ago we were told that we’d be lucky if they lasted five years; they managed nine. Once again we’ve had to shelve any dreams of a holiday, to spend the equivalent of several holidays on replacing our old batteries with a set that will hopefully last at least a decade.

Out with the old and exhausted . . .

Out with the old and exhausted . . .

Thanks to our finca, we’ll never have a large or even a small fortune, but we do have the good fortune to have a reliable and consistent electricity supply now and a sturdy roof over our heads – and, having seen the TV coverage of the heartbreaking devastation in the Philippines, we’re counting our blessings, if not our banknotes.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2013

11 thoughts on “How to Make a Small Fortune in Mallorca

  1. Sorry to say the obvious, that is, if you have a battery powered system you must make a write-off plan and make a monthly allowance to replace them after 8 to 10 years.
    Another observation is if you have an electric fridge/freezer it can easily be switched off during the night and still keep the necessary low temperature. Use a timer for this. Also the fridge/freezer can be power hungry if it is not of the most up to date type. If much off the battery’s capacity is frequently used, battery life will expire significantly sooner. We have a butano fridge/freezer, which is sufficient for us. We recently had to replace it but old one was twenty years!


    • Thanks for the advice, Anders. We actually have a fund – optimistically called the holiday fund. As we live here all the time
      and not just for holidays, we wanted a system that would enable us to lead a ‘normal’ life, and we had no problem running
      the fridge/freezer overnight before our last batteries started to die. There was a butano version here when we moved in
      and we had nothing but problems with it. We were relieved to see the back of it when we finally got electricity. Guess we
      were unlucky with it.

      • Jan,
        I do not doubt that the fridge worked ok overnight as long as the batterys were ok but the batterys might have had a longer lifespan if the fridge/freezer were disconnected during the night.

  2. Jan,
    Forgot the following observation. Isn’t living on Mallorca the eternal Holiday
    And the sick butano fridge/freezer perhaps expired because of old age like ours.

  3. Hello jan, we own a house in valldemossa and are exploring the idea of installing solar panels. The electricity is incredibly expensive. Have you any suggestions. When we bought the house 8 years ago, we removed the big old solar panels as they weren’t working, so some infrastructure is there. Grateful for any advice! Kind regards and thanks.

    • Hello Marilyn! Good to hear from someone else on this lovely island. Yes, GESA electricity is expensive, but you should check out the situation regarding the new Spanish solar power tax before making any decisions. There’s been a lot of recent press coverage about this and you’ll be able to find information by doing a Google search. It’s absolutely bonkers. We had no choice but to have solar, because GESA wouldn’t connect us, due to our location. You’d need to get some definitive advice on the new solar tax laws, I think, before committing yourself to going down that route, because installing a solar power system is quite an investment.

      I’m no expert, but you’d need panels, batteries, and an invertor – the number of panels and batteries would depend on your electricity requirements. Presumably you’d want to keep GESA for back-up, so wouldn’t need a generator. You’d be well advised to talk to someone who really knows about this subject. After a disastrous initial installation (I could write a book about that one!), we had to replace our invertor (the original caught fire), and have recently renewed our batteries. Depending on the quality, these can last about 10 years. Before our original installation was properly finished we changed to another company – Tallers Servera in Llucmajor – and they have been very good. They also supplied our generator.

      Perhaps any other readers of this blog would like to add their own views/recommendations on this subject?

      Good luck, Marilyn! You have a home in a lovely part of Mallorca.

  4. Jan,
    Why not write down your experiences of the “disastrous initial installation”? It could help others avoid similar problems.
    Regarding the new stupid “Spanish solar power tax “. and
    I agree that it is best to wait and see as it is possible that it can be stopped as it is against EU rules. We will have to keep our fingers crossed. Luckily we are in the same position as you with no connection to GESA.

    • Thanks, Anders. One day I may get around to writing something about that initial installation – although it’s something we’ve
      tried to forget, if I’m honest! I think others are unlikely to have similar problems as the installer in question is no longer
      involved in the solar power business (I think he realized he simply didn’t have the technical ability). But there are points
      I could make, and I will do so at some stage.
      Let’s hope the Spanish solar power tax is blocked by the EU. This must be the type of stupid situation that the EU can influence.

  5. Hi,
    We can offer the very latest in battery regeneration, no additives used which will shorten battery life. We aim for 90-100% regeneration, depending on the condition. And if all else fails we can offer you probably the best supply and fit prices on Mallorca.
    Best wishes Dave Allen

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