Sunday 25 October 2015


After we arrived home late yesterday afternoon, there was a fair amount of sorting out to do, and it was dark before I got out the car keys. For the last five months our Focus estate had been stood in one place, just up the bank from Erin Mae's mooring, soulfully (I fancy) awaiting our return.

I stood at the front of the boat, and pressed the button on the key fob, hoping to see an answering wink from the car. Nothing happened. Not a flicker!

It was all too reminiscent of what had happened after we spent three months out a couple of years ago, and had to get the AA to come and start it. The Focus seems to use more than its fair ration of electrons when you'd think everything was turned off.  But this time I had a 7 watt solar panel sitting under the windscreen, plugged into the lighter socket. I thought about going up to investigate, but if I wanted to try starting the engine I would have to disconnect the panel, and I was interested in knowing whether its green activity light was still lit before I did so. Since it was now dark it wouldn't be lit anyway and I didn't want to disturb it. So I waited till this morning.

What with the clocks going back, there was reasonable daylight by the time I got up. I popped up the bank and found the activity light was indeed on. The key fob still didn't work, so I opened the car door manually and disconnected the solar panel. The alarm started going as I did so – actually a very good sign, as it meant the car knew someone was disturbing its slumbers. Key in the ignition, and all the lights came on. Joy ineffable! I resisted the temptation to try starting it before the heater lamp had gone out (it's a diesel), but when I turned the key, the engine started without a hitch.

So I am very pleased. Cars apparently have various levels of sleep, and five months was enough to make it unresponsive to the fob. I am relieved to find that it was still sucking in daylight juice at a rate at least equivalent to what its systems were using. I am also relieved that the solar panel passed its first major test – one failed by the first panel I'd tried (a 2.5 watt version from the AA shop).

1 comment:

  1. Its the simple things in life that excite us, like the car starting, been there done that many a time. :)