Advantages – Energy Efficiency – Cooling | AiDomes

Dome sweet dome: Would you live in a dome home?

Maria Sonnenberg, For FLORIDA TODAY Published 1:12 p.m. ET Aug. 22, 2017 

Rockledge builder American Ingenuity makes kits for dome homes, a quirky alternative to a traditional square- or rectangle-shaped house.

Pay attention to Buckminster Fuller and forget the square or rectangle when building a house, and instead go for a geodesic dome.  To view article, click on Florida Today 8.22.17 Story about Aidomes

The forward-thinking Fuller, responsible for giving the name geodesic to the polyhedral dome, championed the dome as the perfect structure for its strength and efficiency. This ideal building form is being created daily in — drum roll, please — Rockledge, home to American Ingenuity, aka Aidomes, builder of dome home kits that are shipped around the world.

Ai founder Michael Busick launched his company in Brevard in 1976. Instead of wood and shingles, which can rot and tear off, concrete, galvanized and expanded polysterene were Busick’s materials of choice for his domes. He was granted a patent for prefab panels that make construction easier than stick-built and can be easily organized into kits that can be assembled by proficient do-it-yourselfers.

You need not sacrifice space with domes. Interior footage with Aidomes ranges from 172-square-feet mini-domes to 2,992-square-foot residences that share the dome’s inherent durability. The Rockledge company’s domes have been erected in 47 states and 15 foreign countries.

“As an architectural form, the dome is one of the strongest built by man,” said Glenda Carlin-Busick, vice president and plans coordinator for American Ingenuity. “The partial sphere (that is a dome) is an aerodynamic shape that is very stable in high winds and can withstand heavy snow loads. Domes greatly exceed the structural requirements of the major building codes in the United States.”

Th Ai domes carry a 225 mph and F4 tornado guarantee and are super energy-efficient.

“Our domes have 30 percent less exterior surface than box-shaped houses and have R28 insulation on the prefab panels with no wood to interrupt the insulation,” Busick.

She noted the electric bill for the company’s 3,700-square foot office of two attached domes averages $72 when the place is kept at 74 degrees during the peak of summer.

The houses are solid as a rock, perfect for whatever Florida weather can throw at it. The concrete construction, reinforced with galvanized mesh and fibers, has no rooftop to blow off in high winds.

One of Ai’s domes went through Hurricane Andrew and a tornado at the same time with no structural damage when the rest of the neighborhood was destroyed,” Busick said.

Builder Ray Vince hopes to tap onto the dome’s excellent efficiency in the community of homes he has planned for Titusville.

The Schoonovers built their geodesic home in Canaveral Groves in 1992. Watch the progress of its construction. The house is now for sale as the couple reaches retirement and looks to move out west. Video by Jessica Saggio and Tim Shortt Wochit

“I had originally thought of going with conventional prefab homes until I discovered that Ai was in Rockledge,” Vince said.

Vince hopes to start his project, aimed to further energize Titusville’s housing market, with a two bedroom/one bath 27-foot dome home that is linked to a 12-foot dome hosting solar panel battery storage.

Throwback:  Unusual homes in Brevard: Dome home

“It will be a super dome home,” said Vince, who is searching for a large parcel of land to build a community of dome homes in North Brevard.

With a price tag of around $160,000, Vince’s dome home is affordable, secure and efficient housing that won’t cost much to maintain.

“He wants to build the dome to be as close to off the grid as possible,” Busick said.

Although structurally very different than traditional houses, domes nevertheless are very cozy inside and are naturals for the open floor plan favored by today’s homeowners.

“Geodesic dome construction translates into a highly comfortable and livable building that has a maximum of floor area enclosed by a minimum of materials,” Busick said. “The building concept of a dome expands the range of simple and economic building options.”

Malcolm and Eva Jewell live in an Aidome on Pineapple Ave. in the Eau Gallie Arts District. The Jewells were not looking for a dome particularly, but the house’s location and its river views sealed the deal. The energy efficiency and strength were just nice bonuses.

More:  This dome home’s for sale. Interested?

“I had known about dome houses and I knew they were very good with hurricanes and wind,” Malcolm Jewell said.

The house is a 34-foot diameter two bedroom/two bath Aidome with 1,171 square feet on two levels. It connected to a 22-foot diameter dome that serves as a one-car garage dome with attic storage.

Settling into dome living for Jewell was a cinch.

“It was surprisingly easy,” she said. “The furniture fits very well.”

About the only drawback in dome living for Jewell is hanging pictures on the outside walls, since their concrete construction makes driving nails something of a bear.

With substantial increases in the cost of construction and energy, dome kits provide significant cost-savings, so expect more to pop up along the Space Coast.

“In the past decade, many people have discovered that the dome design offers a viable solution,” Busick said.

It looks cool, too.

For more on domes, visit aidomes.com.

 

Florida 48ft & 40ft Aidomes

The home dome is a 48 foot in diameter dome,  Its first floor was designed to have two bedrooms, two baths, living room, family room, dining room and kitchen linked to a 40′ garage dome.  The 48′ dome’s first floor is 1905 sq.ft. and second floor of 830 for total of 2,735 sq.ft.   The Home Dome has a second floor which includes master bedroom, master bath with two walk in closets and a study.

Ai has stock floor plan layouts for each of the ten size building kits we manufacture.  To view the stock plans click on Plans.  If you do not see a plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches and descriptions.  We are happy to explain the floor plan design process with you.  Besides designing the plans which are utilized to obtain a building permit, Ai manufactures the kits from prefab panels which when assembled result in the exterior walls and roof of the concrete dome.

The kit can be owner built or a contractor can be hired to assemble the panels.  The independent kit assembly consultant can be hired to supervise your workers or your contractors workers.

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Jamaica 45ft & 34ft Aidomes in Runaway Bay.

Robert Stephens purchased the two Aidomes after the building kits were assembled.  He and his crew beautifully finished the exterior and interior.  The domes will be presented for short term vacation rental and small functions such as intimate weddings with max 80 guests.

The floor plan layouts below were the original design; however the plans have been modified.   A 45′ dome can be designed with three to four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.  A 34′ dome can be a garage dome or a two bedroom two bath home.

The Dome building kits are shipped in containers from American Ingenuity’s factory in Rockledge Florida.  One 34′ dome can fit in one 40′ high cube container. One 45′ kit can fit in one 45′ high cube container and one 20′ container.  To obtain shipping quotes, email the receiving port name and Ai will contact a freight forwarder and obtain a shipping quote.  Email address is GlendaB.aidomes@gmail.com

At no cost to you, if you give your property address and building department name,  Ai will call the building department, email them a sample set of plans and find out what is required for them to issue a building permit on the dome.

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Ai Concrete Dome Kit Home vs Shipping Container Home

After reviewing several sites regarding converting a shipping container into a home and what the American Ingenuity (Ai) Dome Building Kit offers, we have the following comparison to share.  When comparing companies housing products, please compare apples to apples, not just the container cost.  

  1. Do the other companies back up their product against Hurricanes and Tornadoes?  American Ingenuity offers a warranty up to a 225 mile an hour winds and or F4 tornado. Click on, Aidomes & Acts of Nature to learn more.
  2. To reach the 780 sq. ft. of living space (average 27′ dome)  will require two to three 40 ft. containers, at an average price for used containers (in good shape, another issue posted) of $2,000. New containers run between $4,500 and $6,000 that is $13,500 (for 3) minimum before shipping. The closest shipping (for this Florida example) for a container would be Miami.  Current shipping costs are about $800 per truck within Florida ($2,400).  So your investment before your retrofit would be over $15,900!   Adding the retrofit, insulation and drywall will add another $10,000 or more. (not including custom windows, doors, electric, plumbing etc.) For an estimated total of $25,900 (before sales tax). Remember material costs to finish a home is over 50% of construction costs. Prior to Florida Sales Tax, the American Ingenuity dome kit w’ shipping cost to a Florida site based on the 27’ Kappa 11 plan is $26,152, a difference of only $252 and you receive a home with greater strength – 225 mph wind & F4 tornado warranty on the dome exterior walls.   Please see Ai Pricing Chart below.
  3. When looking at  container conversion, how is the interior of the home finished?  Do you have to cut and solder the units for windows, entryways and multiple units?  Do you need to tear the flooring out due to possible contamination (another potential problem)?  Attach the insulation and wallboard? Ai’s kit’s triangle and riser panels come with the R28 insulation and ½” thick DensArmor gypsum wallboard (by Georgia Pacific) already adhered with wallboard adhesive. After the kit panels are assembled, the drywall seams are taped with adhesive mesh tap and joint compound.  To blend the drywall seams and the drywall surface, skip trowel joint compound over the dome shell drywall.
  4. Does the product or kit contain insulation? What type, and what is the overall R-Value for energy efficiency? Our kits have standard 7″ thick rigid, nontoxic EPS giving the structure an overall R-Value of 28. From what we have read container homes have major insulation problems with both keeping the home warm in winter and cool in summer, which may present a problem in your area.
  5. Does the companies product have a finished exterior? If using a container then will you need to seal the container with nontoxic paint adding siding or stucco (many containers have lead based paint that needs to be properly sealed so not to contaminate you). The American Ingenuity (Ai) dome’s exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh & fibers with the seams between the panels & the entryways & dormers concreted on site. You do not concrete over the entire shell. After kit erection the concrete gets primed and painted.
  6. Like a container conversion, Ai’s dome panels contain no wood in them.  They are steel reinforced concrete, as opposed to solid metal which will/ can rust.
  7. Will the companies that do the retrofitting call your building department and verify the structure can be built on your site?  At no cost to our Buyers, we call their building department, email a generic set of building plans and talk to the Plans Examiner to assure the dome kit can be built.
  8. Do companies that specialize in shipping container retrofits, provide you with building plans (Ai’s current sale price for 27 Kappa 11 building plans is $851), engineer seal for your state (Seal for one dome on a slab is $600) and energy report  (Ai price to complete the report for one dome on a slab is $190)?  If so what do they charge? If they don’t provide these services, please be aware you will need to hire an architect, and an engineer to seal your building plans.  Just last week, a Florida Resident visited our dome offices and said that engineer sealed building plans for a four container home built in Florida would cost $8,000.

Please keep in mind that the cost to build a finished moderately priced home varies from state to state. As an example in Central Florida (based upon figures from Building-cost.net) the average cost to build is about $138.00 per square foot for a home that is 750 sq. ft.  This is not including the cost of land, land preparations, permitting/impact fees, and utilities. It would include all your interior finishing including kitchen,  HVAC systems and appliances and monolithic foundation (slab). So a home that is 750 sq. ft. would run about $103,000 to build (this would include the cost of our dome kit). The cost to build one of our kits runs about the same to build as a traditional home but our kit home has insulation comparable to  11” of fiberglass and has super-strength.  A traditional house would require 2×10 framing (see Finished Cost) to come close to our dome….but it would have wood interrupting the insulation while the Ai dome has no wood in or on the shell to interrupt the insulation, or to burn or to rot or for termites to eat.

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27′ Kappa 11 plan
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27′ Kappa 11 plan

 

On the Main Menu along the left side of our web site are 14 menu items to click on to view more dome photos. American Ingenuity has sold over 800 dome kits into 47 USA states and 13 foreign area.  Below are hyperlinks where we have summarized photos into categories. Please call our office at 321-639-8777 for a chat to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for researching our concrete homes. (Office Hours 9-5 Mon-Fri Eastern time).

Dome Exteriors

Dome Interiors

Entryways & Dormers

Stairs

This menu item contains photos of Energy Efficient Domes. Besides living in a super-energy efficient American Ingenuity dome home, several dome owners also drive fuel efficient cars. Ai dome owners care about saving our planet's natural resources. One of the pictures included in this photo gallery is of a dome built in Colorado in 2000. You will see that it looks like a brand new home versus a home that is fifteen years old.

(Click arrows on left and right of main picture to go to the next picture)

This page contains Ai Florida Dome Office Energy Recap and floor plan layouts.

Exterior office 34 with 45' with screen dome

American Ingenuity’s (Ai’s) 3,700 sq.ft. Office Domes
can be cooled for less than  $85 a month during Florida’s Hottest Months

To view Annual Electrical Bill Charts for Ai’s Dome Offices, click on links below named Ai Summary Electric Use. Our dome offices are a 45 ft in diameter dome linked to a 34 ft in diameter dome. Both domes are all electric with R-28 7″ EPS insulation.  For example the 2015 SUMMARY shows that it costs a monthly average of $84.85 to air condition Ai’s 3,700 sq.ft. Florida offices for each of the five hottest months of the year. The following describes how we came to this conclusion.  To view our office domes floor plan layouts, please scroll down to bottom of this page to find the pdfs to click on.

In March 2015 no Heat or AC were used, therefore the cost to run everything in our Office (computers, monitors, printers, backup power supplies, lights, well pump, refrigerator )  was $76.28.  To determine the monthly Air Conditioning costs, we subtracted $76.28 from each month’s electric bill to get that month’s Air Conditioning Costs. To obtain our 2015 monthly average Air Conditioning costs, we averaged the five hottest month’s AC costs.  The five hottest months in 2015 were June thru October to equal $424.26 divided by five to make an monthly average AC cost of $84.85 to air condition 3,700 sq.ft.during Florida’s hottest summer months. The thermostat was kept at 74 degrees 8 am -7pm  Monday thru Saturday and 77 degrees at night and on Sunday.

In 2013 we kept the thermostat at 76 degrees during the day not 74 degrees as we did in 2014 and 2015; resulting in increased 2014 and 2015 cooling costs.  Ai did not know it, but the air handler was not working properly during the summer of 2014 so we experienced higher AC costs than should have occurred. The air handler was replaced in December 2014 causing 2015 AC costs to be less than 2014 because the air handler was operating more efficiently in 2015.

SYI, heating Ai domes is even easier than cooling because when heating, the heat generated by computers, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes dryers, sunlight, etc.  is used and does not need to be overcome as is done during cooling.

To view info about South Carolina dome awarded EPA’s Energy Star, click on 40′ dome.

To view energy recap on a 34′ – 1,075 sq.ft. Florida Dome Home, click on Home Energy Recap.

As far as functioning in cold, snowy environment, American Ingenuity domes have been built in Canada, one built at 7,500 feet elevation in Utah and Aidomes have been built in all cold states in the USA except for New Hampshire, Rhode Island and North Dakota.

One of our customers in Pennsylvania built a 40′ dome on full basement. This is quote from them: ““We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9″ thick livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a GeoThermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system. Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 by 73 ft mobile home while building the Dome. Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.” To view pictures of their dome and other info, click on Charles Dome.

A picture of the dome at 7,500 feet elevation showing snow is one of the flashing pictures on our home page. The dome is off the grid and has increased EPS insulation from our standard 7″ R28 to 9″ or R36. Quote from the Utah dome owners: “Our house and solar electric system have met and exceeded all of our expectations. Our home is warm and spacious. Even with nighttime temperatures below zero, a fire in the masonry heater in the evening and a full day of sun warms the house to 70 degrees F. Our average summertime power consumption is between 150 and 200 kWh/month for 2700 square feet of living space. Wintertime consumption is somewhat higher. For comparison, our average pre-solar usage was near 600 kWh/month in our prior 2000 square foot suburban home.” To view info about Utah dome off the grid, click on Collar domes.

Question:  How did the American Ingenuity dome perform during the Energy Efficiency Study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy?  Superbly. Test findings were released from a year long study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Florida Solar Energy Center, a governmental consumer agency, in cooperation with the University of Oregon and the University of Central Florida. This study compared an American Ingenuity dome with an energy efficient conventionally built structure and a super energy efficient Styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional house and the Dow test house in being the most energy efficient.

Due to spam filters your email requests may not make it to American Ingenuity and our email replies may not make it back to you.  If you email Ai and do not receive a reply in one to two days, please call us – 321-639-8777.  While you are on the phone, we will send you a test email and have you send your email to us.

The first pdfs are recaps by year showing each month’s electric bill amount.  Our utility company is named Florida Power & Light.  In 2015 the cost per KWH was 11cents.  

2010 Summary Electric Use

2011 Summary Electric Use

2012 Summary Electric Use

2013 Summary Electric Use

2014 Summary Electric Use

2015 Summary Electric Use

2016 Summary Electric Use

2017 Summary Electric Use

To view the individual Florida Power and Light electric bills for 2013, 2014 & 2015.  click on the three links below for each year

2013 Florida Office Monthly Electric Bills
Jan. – April
May – Aug.
Sept. – Dec.

2014 Florida Office Monthly Electric Bills
Jan. – April
May – Aug.
Sept. – Dec.

2015 Florida Office Monthly Electric Bills
Jan. – April
May – Aug.
Sept – Dec.

2016 Florida Office Monthly Electric Bills
Jan. – April
May – Aug.
Sept – Dec.

2017 Florida Office Monthly Electric Bills
Jan. – April
May – Aug.

To view the floor plan layouts for our Office Domes, please click on the pdfs below.  The first floor layout is named Ai Office Dome Floor 1.  The second floor plan layout is named Ai Office Dome Floor 2. 

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This article covers Ai Dome in Hot or Cold Climates

Different angle of above 40 ' dome linked to 30 garage dome. Solar panel on top of link.

Different angle of above 40 ‘ dome linked to 30 garage dome. Solar panel on top of link.

How does the American Ingenuity dome perform in hot or cold climates?  Superbly.   For example American Ingenuity (Ai) can cool its 3,700 sq.ft. dome offices for less than $85 a month in the hot Florida summer months (May – Sept).  The office is kept at 74 degrees from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Mon – Sat and  77 degrees at night and on Sunday.  To view Ai offices electric bills, please click on Ai Dome Offices.

It is even easier to heat an Ai dome that to cool it.  To cool the heat generated from the following has to be overcome: sunlight, refrigerator motor, computers, dish washer, clothes dryer, stove. To heat this generated heat is utilized.  Klaus Kolb’s South Carolina Ai concrete dome house earned EPA’s Energy Star.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing.   He installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System.  Klaus’s 2003 total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.

Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings operate off the grid by using photovoltaic’s, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.

A Florida 1,075 sq.ft. Ai dome home can be cooled for less than $27 a month in the hot Florida summer months.  The home is kept at 76 degrees Mon-Fri 6 pm – 8:30 am.; 76 degrees Sat & Sun and 81 degrees when the homeowner is not at home. To view its electric bills, please click on Florida Dome Home.

American Ingenuity Domes are in the following Arizona cities: Lake Havaso, Hereford, Ganado, Prescot, Flagstaff. Utah cities of Roosevelt, Moab and Coalville. Such New Mexico cities as Albuquerque, Magdalene, El Prado, Carlsbad, Angel Fire, Las Cruces, Montezuma, Farmington, Ramah, and Sandia Park.

When building an Ai dome in a hot climate, paint it a light color such as tan, light green, light blue, etc. to reflect the sun light.  One of Ai’s Florida clients cooled their 2,600 sq.ft. dome home for less than $134 a month in the hot summer months when their prior 1,500 sq.ft. box shaped house cost $150 a month to cool. 

The insulation in the Ai dome consists of seven inch thick blocks of rigid, nontoxic Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) which is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglass batting…and there is no wood  interrupting the insulation.  The dome spherical shape results in 30% less exterior surface area than a conventional house…meaning less walls for heating and cooling to pass through.   The thick uninterrupted insulation and reduced surface area of the dome are two of the main reasons, the Ai dome can save  50% to 60% off conventional box house cooling and heating costs.

American Ingenuity has sold dome kits into 47 states and 14 foreign areas. Ai Domes excel in very hot climates like New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida or excel in cold climates like South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, etc.

The panel concrete has been especially designed to work in hot or cold climates. Concrete is an excellent and common building material in all temperate zones throughout the world.  The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion (for hot climates), and improve freeze protection.

Ai ship’s synthetic fibers & two liquid admixtures (air entrainment and water reducer) with each Building Kit. These items when mixed with Portland Cement, masonry sand and water produce a dense, rich concrete.   Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage cracks in concrete’s plastic state while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: is a tougher concrete.  An Assembly Manual is shipped with each dome kit and contains the recipe for the concrete mix.

The following explains why the concrete
on the American Ingenuity Prefab Panel is Crack Resistant.

The American Ingenuity dome has been built in such cold climate states and areas as Canada, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, New York, Alaska, Oklahoma. The Ai dome has been built in all the cold climate states other than Rhode Island, New Hampshire and North Dakota.

The Ai panel concrete has been especially designed to work in cold and hot climates. Concrete is an excellent & common building material in all temperate zones throughout the world. Concrete is only affected by freezing temperatures when it is porous & absorbs water. The richness & density of our concrete prevents water absorption that spoils the surface when it freezes. Our concrete is also formulated with an air entrainment admixture that further improves the freeze-thaw characteristics. Although most of the concrete joints will not leak, we don’t depend on the concrete to make the dome watertight. The dome gets additional sealing with a concrete primer & house paint. After the shell is assembled, a concrete primer is used first then two coats of good quality paint is applied. Any porous area that water will penetrate; paint will also soak into and seal. If a leak occurs, the manual explains how to repair with elastomeric caulk or patching compound or tape.

The Concrete Mix recipe includes 5 gal of water, 1 bag Portland (type 1 or 111), 2 ox. Admixture A, 5 oz Admixture B, ¼ large bag fibers, 20 gal. Masonry sand or stucco sand. The panel concrete has been especially designed to work in cold and hot climates. Concrete is only affected by freezing temperatures when it is porous & absorbs water. The richness & density of our concrete prevents water absorption that spoils the surface when it freezes. Our concrete is also formulated with an air entrainment admixture that further improves the freeze-thaw characteristics. The exterior paint is an additional seal to any water that could freeze inside the concrete.

COLD JOINTS – CONCRETE NOT BONDING: The assembly manual that comes with the dome kit explains how to utilize bonding agent and other techniques to join the concrete in the seams. The concrete of the panels also has a ledge to add further bonding surface in the seams. Technology has developed now to prevent cold joints. The concrete seaming of the dome is more effective than spraying concrete onto the entire dome all at once. The concrete on the manufactured panels has time to start curing before the seam concrete is applied. We do not rely on the concrete to seal the dome. Primer and paint is applied to the concrete. (Manual can be shipped after kit order and deposit has been placed).

The same recipe Ai utilizes at our factory to manufacture the panel concrete is given on the plans and in the Assembly Manual. The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers & liquid admixtures. The following is why we ship synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures with our Building Kit. Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage and cracks in concrete’s plastic state while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile & compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, and improve freeze protection. The concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. The exterior concrete adheres directly to the steel mesh and EPS without the need of a bonding agent. We ship the same admixtures and synthetic fibers with the Building Kit so that the concrete mixed on site will have the same properties as the panel concrete. To apply concrete in the seams the temperature should be above freezing, preferably at least 40 degrees. The concrete cannot freeze for two days after the application.

The following is why Ai ships a Bonding Agent with our Building Kit.
• Concrete, or a cement mixture, will not bond to a dry absorbent surface such as dry concrete. The reason is easy to understand when you examine the curing process of cement. When new concrete is applied over old, dry concrete the moisture from the new concrete will be absorbed by the dry concrete especially at the surface where they meet. When the new concrete is robbed of its moisture at the joining surface it will not cure properly and therefore will not bond.

• Bonding agents are designed to improve the adhesion between layers of concrete by acting as a glue and coating and sealing the dry concrete to prevent it from robbing the moisture. The bonding agent that is provided with your kit, when mixed with concrete, also increases its strength.

• To assure that the 2nd layer of concrete placed in the seams on and on the entryways and dormers bonds will with the concrete of the panels:1.) Wet the panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will.  2.) Apply bonding agent on the concrete at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam. Allow bonding agent to rest per the label before applying fiber concrete.

• There are 2 special features designed into the panel of your kit to improve the bond and strength of your dome.  1.) The panels have a ledge molded into the edge of the concrete where the seam concrete is most needed to bond. This ledge increases the bonding surface, thereby increasing the ultimate strength of the joint.  2.) The steel mesh which extends from the old concrete to the new concrete is a small mesh with compliments the effect of the fibers in securing the joint.

Curing Time: Concrete freezing. The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc.) will affect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time a complete row of panels are installed and are ready to start the next row, the concrete has cured enough in the first row of panels. However, if place a panel above another panel and cracks start to form in the first coat of concrete, then the concrete has not cured enough. Stop placing panels until the concrete has cured.


California & South Carolina Domes utilize geothermal pipes for heating & cooling

Kaufman garage house 153645′ dome home linked to 34 dome garage in Forest Ranch, California.

One of the most fascinating things about this house is that it uses geothermal energy for heating and cooling.  The system was expensive but they wanted to push the technology forward by experimenting.  How the system works is heat is collected from the dome interior and then pumped into the ground during cooling, and reversed during heating.  They hired an out of state company (no one was available locally or even in California) to drill four 180ft deep holes.  Crystal Air in Weaverville installed the system by placing tubing surrounded by Bentonite in the holes.  A two-way pump is run using energy from PG&E and a back-up generator, and the extra heat from this system is used to preheat the water for their on-demand tankless water heater.

 

Kolb exterior 40 27 P7120015Kolb 40′ Dome Home linked to 27′ – 2 car garage dome in South Carolina
utilizes geothermal energy for heating & cooling & was awarded EPA’s Energy Star.

This file contains information on three types of systems:

  • Water based geothermal systems
  • Underground copper tubes carrying a refrigerant
  • Undergound pvc tubes cooled and heated by solar energy

Colorado Geothermal Company.   American Ingenuity has learned of a respected Geothermal Company in Colorado named Major Heating.  Their main office is in Wheat Ridge 303-424-1622 and outlet in Steamboat 970-870-0983.

Geothermal Heating And Cooling

Klaus Kolb installed a Water Furnace Geothermal Heat Pump (a two ton Premier Model PO22TL101NADSSA) with a 1/2 HP Blower and a 1/2 HP Loop Pump in his South Carolina 40′ American Ingenuity Dome Home. In retrospect he realizes the 40′ dome needed only a 1.5 ton unit.

Klaus stated, “I buried two loops of 500′ each, 1/2” special plastic pipe by Water Furnace in a 2′ wide ditch 6′ deep in my pasture. At that depth and in our latitude, there is a constant temperature of 59 degree F (free buried sun energy). My heat pump uses this base temperature to either heat my home dome in winter to 70 degrees or cool in summer to 75 degrees. Thus my delta T (temperature differential) is very small, resulting in minimal energy consumption.”Klaus’s 2003 total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. dome. Some of the features of Klaus’s 40′ dome are:

  1. The dome’s insulation was Ai’s standard R-28 insulation (seven inch thick E.P.S. which is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglas batting).
  2. The tankless water heater used propane as the fuel. Klaus installed a Rinnai Continuum tankless (Troughflow) water heater. The specifications were: Whole House Unit Model REU 2424W-US; Min 19000 BTU, Max 180000 BTU; LP Gas.
  3. Geothermal cooling pipes were installed.
  4. The washing machine is an Energy Star which means it uses one half the water and one half the electricity of a standard washing machine.
  5. Compact Fluorescents were used through out the dome. 17 watts gives 60 watts of light; 27 watts gives 100 watts of light.

Two above photos show Klaus Kolb installing the plastic pipes.

____________________________

To research GeoThermal Heating and Cooling Systems visit Water Furnace’s web site.

Water Furnace:

To research their web site, click on Water Furnace. The following info came directly from their web site.

What’s a “Water Furnace”? Water Furnace is a pioneer and industry leader in the development and manufacture of geothermal heating and cooling systems. We don’t just make them. We “practice what we preach”—by heating and cooling our Fort Wayne, Indiana, headquarters with our own WaterFurnace geothermal units. After all, we could hardly expect you to believe this technology is “Smarter from the Ground Up” if we weren’t convinced of it ourselves.

Our entire Fort Wayne complex serves as a working model for large-scale industrial and commercial buildings across the country. It uses what’s called a closed loop system spread over the bottom of a pond as its heating and cooling source. Sound remarkable? It is. Yet the science behind it is sound. We’ll explain it to you.

Geothermal Heat Pumps Key Product Criteria

Equipment Specification

Geothermal Heat Pumps

  • Open Loop: >=3.6 COP (H); >=16.2 EER (C)*
  • Closed Loop: >=3.3 COP (H); >=14.1 EER (C)*
  • Direct Expansion (DX): >=3.5 COP (H); >=15 EER (C)*
Product Type
EER
COP
Water Heating
Closed Loop
14.1
3.3
Yes
With integrated WH
14.1
3.3
N/A
Open Loop
16.2
3.6
Yes
With integrated WH
16.2
3.6
N/A
DX
15
3.5
Yes
With integrated WH
15
3.5
N/A

Geothermal Heat Pump:

A geothermal heat pump model uses the thermal energy of the ground or groundwater as the heat source and heat sink for residential space heating and/or cooling. It may provide both space heating and cooling, cooling only or heating only functions. A geothermal heat pump model consists of one or more factory-made assemblies that normally include an indoor conditioning coil with air moving means, compressor(s) and refrigerant to fluid heat exchanger(s).

In addition, some or all of the domestic water heating shall be provided through the use of a desuperheater, integrated demand water heater or a separately installed compressor that provides demand water heating. The geothermal heat pump includes all the equipment and connections from the point at which the ground heat exchanger enters the house, except for indoor equipment that was installed by someone not representing the manufacturer or manufacturer’s representative, such as the ground heat exchanger installer.

Closed Loop System:

A ground heat exchanger in which the heat transfer fluid is permanently contained in a closed system.

Open Loop System:

A ground heat exchanger in which the heat transfer fluid is part of a larger environment. The most common open loop systems use ground water or surface water as the heat transfer medium.

Direct Expansion (DX):

A geothermal heat pump system in which the refrigerant is circulated in pipes buried in the ground, rather than using a heat transfer fluid, such as water or antifreeze solution in a separate closed loop, and fluid to refrigerant heat exchanger. A DX system includes all of the equipment both inside and outside the house. DX systems may be single or multi-speed.

Integrated Demand Water Heating:

This term is used to describe geothermal heat pumps that include a water heating function in the refrigeration cycle. Integrated demand water heating differs from desuperheater in that the integrated demand water heating model provides all or nearly all of the domestic hot water needs and provides hot water even when space conditioning is not required. This includes systems that employ the use of a separate water heating compressor unit or that use the same compressor for space conditioning and water heating. Also sometimes referred to as full-demand or demand water heating.

COP:

Coefficient of Performance – A measure of efficiency in the heating mode that represents the ratio of total heating capacity to electrical energy input.

EER:

Energy Efficiency Ratio – A measure of efficiency in the cooling mode that represents the ratio of total cooling capacity to electrical energy input. For DX systems, EER will be calculated in accordance with the CSA standard C748-94 Performance of Direct Expansion (DX) Ground Source Heat Pumps conditions.

The above information came from the EPA’s Energy Star Web site: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=geo_heat.pr_crit_geo_heat_pumps

 

GEOTHERMAL DIRECT EXCHANGE

The following came from the web site:

http://www.copper.org/applications/plumbing/heatpump/geothermal/gthrml_main.htm

Copper Tube is Key to Success of DX GCH Systems

Running the Copper LinesDirect-exchange geothermal systems use the earth as an energy reservoir, taking advantage of the constant 55°F temperature about 4 feet below the surface. Copper tubes run underground carry a refrigerant that circulates into and out of a home. A compressor unit induces heat exchange, and heated or cooled air is distributed through an air handler.

By running tubes underground, the heat-transfer medium in geothermal systems always enters a home at 55°F, unlike other systems that are exposed to much hotter and colder outside air temperatures. Once inside the home, the compressor concentrates and delivers the heat. To increase efficiency further in the air-conditioning season, waste heat can be transferred to the water heater. Research indicates that geothermal systems reduce heating and cooling cost an average of 30 to 60 percent when compared to air-source heat pumps.

According to studies conducted by utility companies, the greatest savings are provided by direct-exchange geothermal heating and cooling systems, since they burn no fuel and consume no energy beyond the electricity required to operate the compressor and the fan used to circulate the air.    

 

 

 

During Summer months the cooling can be done with the following:

  • Evaporator cooler blows cooled air through ducts that distribute through compartments
  • Rear Door side window vents allows cool air at night into the dome
  • Convection of hot air is drawn up to the center of the dome and out through a 8 inch vent at apex
  • A diverter valve in the summer routes all cold water through hydronic floor when using either hot or cold water to cool floor.
  • A rollup Insulated steel door can be lowered to cover the picture window during hot days

Solar Chill Evaporative Cooler Specifications

Model
Voltage
Dimensions
(HxLxW)
Fan
Diameter
CFM
Square Footage Recommended
Water Use (Max GPH)
Actual
Watts

Recommended
PV Watts*

1424XP
24
19.5x21x24
14″
1200
300-500
3.5
42
60-80
1824HP
24
24.5x23x23
18″
2200
500-750
7.3
70
85-130
2024HP
24
26×21.5×25
20″
2500
500-750
7.3
70
85-130
2424HP
24
35.5x22x36
24″
4600
750-1000
13.3
85
110-180
4224XP
24
55x42x60
42″
9000
1800-2250
30.0
200-400
450-600

Solar Chill Humidity Vs Ambient Temperature