Writing for Home Power Magazine

Home Power is a user's technical journal. We specialize in hands-on, practical information about small scale renewable energy (RE) systems. We try to present technical material in an easy to understand and easy to use format. Here are some guidelines for getting your RE experiences printed in Home Power.

Informational Content

Please include all the details! Be specific! We are less interested in general information, than in specific information. Write from your direct experience—Home Power is hands-on! We like our articles to be detailed enough so that a reader can actually apply the information. Please include full access data for the makers of equipment mentioned in your article. Home Power readers are doers. They want access data for the devices and products you mention in your article.

Article Style and Length

Home Power articles can be between 350 and 6,000 words. Length depends on what you have to say. Say it in as few words as possible. We prefer simple declarative sentences that are short (less than fifteen words) and to the point. We like the generous use of Sub-Headings to organize the information. We highly recommend writing from within an outline. Check out articles printed in Home Power. After you've studied a few, you will get the feeling of our style. Please send a double spaced, typewritten copy if possible. If not, please print.


We reserve the right to edit all articles for accuracy, length, and basic English. We will try to do the minimum editing possible. You can help by keeping your sentences short and simple. We get over three times more articles submitted than we can print. The most useful, specific, and organized get printed first.


We can work from any photographic print, slide, or negative. All color reproduction is best done from a well exposed photo.

Line Art

We can work from your camera-ready art. We can also scan your art into our computers, or redraw it via computer. We usually redraw art from the author's rough sketches. We can generate Tables, Charts, and Graphs from your data.

Got a Computer?

We would like your article's text on 3.5 inch computer disk if possible. This not only saves time, but also reduces typos. We use Macintosh computers. Please format all word processor files in "TEXT" format. We can also read text files on 3.5 inch IBM disks (720 KB, 800 KB, or 1.4 MB). Please format the IBM word processor files as ASCII TEXT. Format all Mac graphics in the EPS format. Use the Helvetica 10 point font for all text embedded within graphics.

You can send your article via modem to either the HPBBS at 707-822-8640 or via Internet. HPBBS address is: richard perez • Internet address is: [email protected]

Want your material returned?

Please include a stamped, self-addressed, return envelope, or box. Otherwise your material will not be returned.


If you request it, we will copyright your work in your name. Otherwise we will copyright the information in Home Power's name. The copyright on your material is yours for the asking.

Got any questions?

Give us a call. This saves everyone's time. Home Power Magazine PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 USA 916-475-3179

Internet Email via: [email protected]


12 VDC Lighting

Dear Therese Peffer, I've read two of your articles concerning 12V lighting. You seem to be well informed on the subject. One article closed with a sensical statement to the effect that not all lights fit all applications, and this is my reason for writing: To ask your advice and if newer products have superceded your earlier findings.

I am replacing auto taillight type fixtures in a trailer in which I intend to live full time. The quality and usefulness of lights are important to me as is conserving my battery.

My first area of concern is the portion of the trailer where I read, write and draw. My thinking is that Tek-tron's RV-12, 13W fluorescent light will be a good choice for illuminating that general area. Perhaps the 12V halogen light will make a good reading and writing lamp, at least in cool weather. I'm not convinced it will suffice for drawing and other close work. Right now I use a 120V drafting lamp with a color-corrected bulb or a 120V combo fluorescent/incandescent drafting lamp.

When this trailer is finally as I wish it to be, it will be electrically free from the grid in all modes. At this time I do not have an inverter, and storage is but one 12V marine battery. I have a ways to go, but I've chosen to be with what exists. In time I will have an inverter (my microwave and vacuum cleaner demand it) and greater amp hour capacity as well as some quality batteries. At that time, my work light needs will be solved. However, I will retain an interest in efficient energy use and seek to implement the best products available.

In advance, thanks for any note you send. Use my enclosed envelope. Jim Wirth, Carlsbad, CA

Hi, Jim. Therese has left Home Power to pursue a career in Architecture at the University of Oregon, Eugene, but I'll answer your question. The Tek-tron 12 VDC fluorescent light is very high quality and you are right—the perfect choice for area illumination in your trailer. Halogen incandescent lamps are available in a variety of sizes (wattages), so finding one that is appropriate for a reading lamp should be easy. The color correct drafting lamp is another matter. Almost all lighting technologies have an inherent color bias. Incandescent lamps tend to have higher light output in the longer light wavelengths (red and yellow). Fluorescent technologies produce more light in the shorter wavelengths (blue). This is why your color correct drafting light uses both lighting technologies. You can duplicate the effect of your drafting lamp by combining the light of a 12 VDC halogen and a 12 VDC fluorescent. You can balance the color by moving each light source either closer to or further from your drafting table. I suggest that you contact S&H Alternative Energy Products, RD3 Box 312, Putney VT 05346 • 802-722-3704. S&H specializes in custom built low voltage lighting. They could make a color correct 12 VDC drafting lamp for you if you don't want to make your own fixture.

If you already had your inverter, then I would recommend a 120 vac Osram EL-15R compact fluorescent. This compact fluorescent has bright, full spectrum light and a built-in reflector to concentrate the light on your drafting table. We use these Osram reflector lights at all the workstations here at Home Power. They run great on all types of inverters. They are very efficient and start immediately. They produce only miniscule electromagnetic pollution (no radio interference and below 2 milliGauss magnetic fields within two feet of the lamp). Richard Perez

Short Wave Radio Power

Dear Karen or Richard, I am looking at the C. Crane Co. catalog as I type you this short note. I am going in the next few months to purchase a short wave radio. I have not as yet decided which kind. I am however, very interested in other alternative sources of power for it.

I am looking at the MSX-10Lite 10 watt photovoltaic panel. I need something like it that converts solar power into electricity. I spend a lot of time in the field without any possibility of regular electrical power. Will such radios as Radio Shack work with other sources of energy? Please advise as to the quality when comparing the radios from C. Crane Co. and the larger (12") ones from Radio Shack. Everette W. Pouncey

Hello, Everette. The MSX-10Lite is more than capable of powering a shortwave receiver. And this could be a problem. Since most receivers operate on between 6 and 9 Volts DC, you will need a voltage regulator if you want to directly power the radio with the PV module (which is rated at over 16 Volts DC). The regulator is easy to build from Radio Shack parts (see HP#40, pages 104-106 or HP#38, pages 32-36 for the schematic). If you don't want to build your own regulator, then you can buy one ready made from C. Crane ($15.95 shipped free) or Radio Shack. They both offer regulators that accept 10 to 20 VDC as input and output a choice of 4.5, 6, 7.5, or 9 Volts DC. This regulator will allow you to power the shortwave receiver directly from the PV panel. Only problem now is that the radio only works when the sun is shining.

All portable shortwave receivers can be powered by replaceable batteries, including the Radio Shack models. For a specific example, I have a Sangean 803-A, an AM/SW/FM receiver sold by C. Crane. This radio is powered by six D sized flashlight cells and two AA sized flashlight cells. The six D cells (in series to make 9 Volts DC) power the radio, while the two AA cells keep the radio's memories alive. The six D cells provide weeks of intermittent listening and the two AA cells last about a year keeping up the memories. The best setup is to buy two complete sets of rechargeable cells for whatever radio you choose. I recommend NiCd cells; they will give you better service than most other commonly available types. Discharge one set of cells in the radio while you are recharging the other set from the PV module. See HP#36, page 78 and HP#19, page 18 for descriptions of recharging small NiCd cells from small PV panels. This way you will always have power for the radio, even at night, inside a room, or during long cloudy periods.You can also use the PV recharging setup to recharge NiCd cells for your flashlight.

I rate the quality of C. Crane's radios very highly and their customer service is outstanding (call for free catalog 800-552-8863 • FAX 707-725-9060). My Sangean is almost four years old and still works like new. C. Crane will sell you the same radio as Radio Shack for less money. And C. Crane offers radios whose performance surpasses the best that Radio Shack sells. For example, they sell a hot Grundig Satellit 700 model that already contains the above-mentioned regulator and will recharge its internal NiCd cells directly from the MSX-10 PV panel. Shipping is included and there is a 30 day no hassle return policy.

I started fooling around with radios when I built a 120 vac powered regenerative receiver (all tubes) at age ten. I can still remember the 1958 Motorola AM portable pocket radio I saved for months to buy.It had three transistors and ate 9 Volt batteries like peanuts.It received my local AM radio station (WHEB in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) within about ten miles of the station. I soon tired of WHEB's programming, but the wonder of portable radio stuck with me. I am a ham (N7BCR) and I've tried many kinds of receivers over the years.You can spend over a thousand bucks on a fancy shortwave receiver, but the truth is that most models in the $200-$300 range will work as well and also consume less power. What really counts is the antenna. Big antenna means big signal. Plan on taking a portable wire antenna with you (C. Crane sells a nifty roll-up model for $13.95). String it out when you are stationary and just about any receiver will work well. Richard Perez >fw

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