Advantages – Energy Efficiency – Solar | 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.

 

The following covers Utah Concrete AiDomes off Grid at 7500 feet elevation. 

(arrows on left and right change pictures)

The Collars chose the American Ingenuity super insulated concrete domes because they are five miles from closest fire station and need to produce their own power for heating. Their area is surrounded by forests that could burn at any time so a noncombustible concrete exterior was a must for their new home.   At the bottom of this page is a pdf containing a four page article that ran in Home Power Magazine describing their domes.

45′ home dome is 2,025 square feet: (1,487 sq.ft. on first floor with 538 sq.ft. on the second floor).  Link of 175 sq.ft. contains utility room and 1/2 bath.  30′ garage dome has 642 sq.ft on first floor with battery & inverter room of 145 sq.ft. –  269 sq.ft of attic storage.

45′ first floor contains 252 sq.ft. master bedroom with 71 sq.ft. closet, 115 sq.ft. bath.  Kitchen is 206 sq.ft. with 70 sq.ft. pantry. Living room 365 sq.ft.  Dining room 200 sq.ft.  45′ second floor contains 150 sq.ft. office, 72 sq.ft. bathroom and 166 sq.ft. guest room. Here are pdfs to view their floor plan layouts.

The following heating recap was written by Mr. Collar in July of 2012.

Inside, the masonry heater (also called a “Russian furnace”) consists of a large masonry firebox topped with a flue internally configured as a maze. Flue gasses exit the top of the lower firebox and travel up and down and back and forth through the flue maze imparting heat into the masonry before going up the stack. The large mass of the firebox/flue stores the heat and radiates it out into the room over a long period. During winter I usually have one fire per day. I fill the firebox very full and light it off between 6:00 and 8:00 in the evening. The fire is not dampered but burns hot and fast so there’s little creosote buildup. The fire dies out between 10:00 and midnight and I close off the air supply and flue dampers for maximum heat retention. In the morning the fireplace masonry is hot to the touch and it simply radiates its stored heat all day keeping the dome comfortably warm. The fireplace is centrally located to maximize heating, extending into the master bedroom. I added two small forced air fans at the top of the firebox to pull even more air over the face and thus increase heat discharge — although I rarely use them.

There are 11 solar water tubes each about a foot in diameter and 8 feet tall placed in a large south-facing window. Originally designed for aquaculture, they are water-filled with waterbed conditioner added for algae control. In the winter the sun warms the water during the daytime. Even with nighttime temperatures below zero, the tubes can reach 85 deg F on a sunny day — especially if there’s snow on the ground to increase the solar radiation effect. At night the tubes re-radiate heat back into the house and I lower the thermal curtain between the tubes and the large window to prevent heat loss back outside. (The thermal curtain is visible in photo 2). I worked with American Ingenuity’s designers to ensure the entryway overhang was sized to shade the tubes during the summer and to provide adequate foundation to handle the extra weight of the water.

The house generally stays comfortable for up to three days without supplemental heat. However, I also have two small propane direct vent wall heaters which are used only when I expect to be gone for more than two days. I’m working on automating the thermal curtain to be able to raise and lower it for daytime solar gain when I’m not at home.

The following was exerted from a July 1998 Home Power magazine: “To power the home they utilized “Photovoltaic array of 32 BP-75 panels supplying an APT3 power center which charges their 2110 Amp-hour Pacific Chloride batteries. This is enough to last them three to five days, depending on usage. Given their ridge top location, they included lightning protection in the APT. A Trace SW4024 sine wave inverter provides clean electrical power with no noticeable line noise. A backup generator is available if needed.” “There average summertime power consumption is between 150 and 200 kWh/month for 2,700 sq.ft. of living space. Wintertime consumption is somewhat higher. For comparison, there average pre-solar usage was near 600 kWh/month in their 2,000 sq.ft. suburban home!”

Download the entire story here in pdf.

Solar Array Constructed 1999


50 Solar Panels Mounted on a custom made rack


Main Trailer is housed under Solar Array and Smaller Trailer Houses all Power Equipment

Wind and Gas Generators supplement the 24V Battery Bank charging


Component Manufacturer Description
Solar Panels Unisolar 52 US42 – 2 US64 – 2 US32 Panels Total 2376 Watts
Charge Controllers Trace 2 – C40 40 Amp
Batteries Trojin 28 – T-105 6V Deep Cycle 220AH Connected for 24 Volt Output
Inverter Trace SW4024 4000 Watt 120VAC 60Hz Sinewave Output
Wind Generator Southwest Windpower AIR403 400 Watt 24 Volt
Gas Generator Onan – Military 28 Volt 1500 Watt 2 cyl 4 cycle overhead valve 16 Cubic Inch Military Gasoline Generator – Pull Rope Start w/modified starter motor belt pulley

Solar Hot Water Panels

Tell me about the Solar Hot Water Systems Manual talked about in the magazine Alternative Energy Retailer.

Solar energy veteran Tom Lane of ECS Solar Energy Systems recently published “Solar Hot Water Systems – Lessons Leaned: 1977 to Today.” The 200 page manual outlines how the latest technology and valuable lessons learned from the past can help a new generation of solar contractors expand their businesses and satisfy their Customers.

Solar hot water topics covered in the book include: detailed system CAD drawings, an overview of different manufacturers’ components, drain back systems, closed-loop glycol systems, single- and double-pumped systems, open-loop systems, passive ICS and thermosyphon, system testing and monitoring, solar space heating, collector and storage sizing, roofing and flashing, and solar pool heating.

To learn more about “Solar Hot Water Systems – Lessons Learned: 1977 to Today” or to purchase a copy, visit www.ecs-solar.com or call 352-377-8866.

To view the Alternative Energy Retailer magazine’s web site click on www.aer-online.com


Q: How are Solar Hot Water Panels installed in the dome shell?

A: Solar Hot Water panels can be designed to set on top of the entryways or link. Anchors are buried into the entryway concrete on site. Grooves are cut in the E.P.S. insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipes are inserted through the entryway E.P.S. before the entryway is concreted. Some of our clients have solar hot water panels mounted on their dome link. The panel sits on the link and lies against the side of the dome. To hide the ends of the solar panel, fill in the ends with E.P.S. and stucco over the E.P.S. so it matches the dome.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Look to the right of the On top of the entryway to the

garage door to see a left of the front doors is

solar hot water panel a solar hot water panel.

installed on top a link

and anchored to the dome.

The Florida Solar Energy Center seeks to provide the general public and professionals with accurate and current information about alternative energy use and production. Click on www.fsec.ucf.edu/pvt/

U.S. Dept of Energy, Renewable Energy

The Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is now located at http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/

Exterior solar Pineapple garage

Solar Hot Water Panel Mounted On Top of Standard Entryway on 34′ Dome.

 

Harlock solar

Solar Hot Water Panel Mounted On Top of Link

40′ American Ingenuity Dome Home On Right

Tell me about the Solar Hot Water Systems Manual talked about in the magazine Alternative Energy Retailer.

Solar energy veteran Tom Lane of ECS Solar Energy Systems recently published “Solar Hot Water Systems – Lessons Learned: 1977 to Today.” The 200 page manual outlines how the latest technology and valuable lessons learned from the past can help a new generation of solar contractors expand their businesses and satisfy their Customers.

Solar hot water topics covered in the book include: detailed system CAD drawings, an overview of different manufacturers’ components, drain back systems, closed-loop glycol systems, single- and double-pumped systems, open-loop systems, passive ICS and thermosyphon, system testing and monitoring, solar space heating, collector and storage sizing, roofing and flashing, and solar pool heating.

To learn more about “Solar Hot Water Systems – Lessons Learned: 1977 to Today” or to purchase a copy, visit www.ecs-solar.com or call 352-377-8866.

To view info about solar panels in general, check out Evergreen Solar Web site.  They are a non profit group with a mission to educate homeowners and businesses about the economic and environmental benefits of PV solar. Their primary objective is to influence a greater number of solar panel installations on homes, schools, and businesses across the US and the rest of the world at an accelerating pace.

To view the Alternative Energy Retailer magazine’s web site click on Retailer.

Q: How are Solar Hot Water Panels installed in the dome shell?

A: Solar Hot Water panels can be designed to set on top of the entryways or a link. Anchors are buried into the entryway concrete on site. Grooves are cut in the E.P.S. insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipes are inserted through the entryway E.P.S. before the entryway is concreted. Some of our clients have solar hot water panels mounted on their dome link. The panel sits on the link and lies against the side of the dome. To hide the ends of the solar panel, fill in the ends with E.P.S. and stucco over the E.P.S. so it matches the dome.

The Florida Solar Energy Center seeks to provide the general public and professionals with accurate and current information about alternative energy use and production.

Contact the U.S. Dept of Energy for a Consumers Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 

Solar Direct: click on solardirect.com/swh/swh.htm?ref=adwords to see more solar info.
Sharp triangle solar panels:   www.sharpusa.com/solar (Click on Products, Modules)

The following was taken directly from their web site:

  • Sharp is the #1 manufacturer of solar cells worldwide with nearly as much generating capacity as the next three largest manufacturers combined. Our residential solar systems give families the ability to generate their own electricity from the inexhaustible energy of the sun – with no harmful emissions. They’re cost-effective, quiet, attractive, safe, and reliable, with only minimal maintenance required over their long operational life. They’re the right choice for your home and the right choice for the environment. It’s no wonder why so many homeowners are making the move to Sharp Solar.
  • Your Sharp solar system is customized specifically for your needs. We manufacture a complete line of solar modules in a range of power output levels, as well as unique triangular modules that lend a beautiful, custom look to angled rooflines. Your independent Sharp Certified Installer will help you determine the ideal system based on your power needs, and design a rooftop configuration that provides clear, unobstructed access to the sun while ensuring a clean, stylish appearance.

To Research Tankless Hot Water On Demand Water Heaters visit Rinnai, Bosch, Takagi web sites

Klaus Kolb installed a Rinnai Continuum tankless (Troughflow) water heater in his American Ingenuity 40′ Dome Home. The specifications are Whole House Unit, Model REU 2424W-US; Min 19000 BTU, Max 180000 BTU; LP Gas.

Rinnai

http://www.rinnai.us/

The following info came directly from their web site:

  • With Rinnai Continuum and Integrity’s patented technology, you will have an endless supply of hot water 24 hours a day. Unique to the Rinnai tankless water heaters is the ability to utilize up to three water outlets simultaneously with a constant temperature of hot water. The Rinnai Continuum and Integrity supplies hot water at the rate of up to 8.5 gallons per minute continuously with no time constraints!

______________________

Bosch

The following info came directly from their web site:

  • Have you ever thought about going tankless? Save energy and space with the help of one of the nation’s leading producers of tankless gas water heaters. Our highly efficient Bosch AquaStar tankless water heaters are redefining how homeowners throughout the U.S. heat their water!

How could going tankless benefit you?

  • Constant comfort: Never run out of hot water
  • Low operating costs: Most energy efficient water heaters on the market
  • Advanced technology: Designed and built to last 20 years
  • Easy handling: Small, lightweight and hangs on wall

____________________

Takagi: The following came from their web site.

  • Since there is no tank to fill, there is no end to your supply of hot water. Depending on the model, Takagi Tankless water heaters deliver between 200 gallons and 500 gallons of hot water every hour on demand. Tankless systems guarantee that an endless supply of water is available to residences, commercial spaces or anywhere a constant source of hot water is needed.
  • At just twenty inches high, and weighing only forty pounds, the T-K Jr. is the most compact unit in the Takagi line. Designed to produce endless hot water and radiant heating for smaller homes, The T-K Jr. uses the same innovative technology as the original Takagi units – only on an even smaller scale.

Solar Pool Filtration and Collector Pumps

Lorentz  – solar water pumps

The following information came directly from their web site:

  • We manufacture solar water pumps. Today´s featured product are our solar pool filtration and collector pumps. No more power bills for your customer. Power cuts? No Problem the pool is clean 5 years return of investment from saved power bills. Solar modules are warranted for 20 years and more.

 ______________________

U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy -A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The following info came from their web site.

Solar water heaters—also called solar domestic hot water systems—can be a cost-effective to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use—sunshine—is free.

How They Work

Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors. There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don’t.

Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. Solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collector. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

Three types of solar collectors are used for residential applications:

  • Flat-plate collector – Glazed flat-plate collectors are insulated, weatherproofed boxes that contain a dark absorber plate under one or more glass or plastic (polymer) covers. Unglazed flat-plate collectors—typically used for solar pool heating—have a dark absorber plate, made of metal or polymer, without a cover or enclosure.
  • Integral collector-storage systems –  Also known as ICS or batch systems, they feature one or more black tanks or tubes in an insulated, glazed box. Cold water first passes through the solar collector, which preheats the water. The water then continues on to the conventional backup water heater, providing a reliable source of hot water. They should be installed only in mild-freeze climates because the outdoor pipes could freeze in severe, cold weather.
  • Evacuated-tube solar collectors – They feature parallel rows of transparent glass tubes. Each tube contains a glass outer tube and metal absorber tube attached to a fin. The fin’s coating absorbs solar energy but inhibits radiative heat loss. These collectors are used more frequently for U.S. commercial applications.

There are two types of active solar water heating systems:

  • Direct circulation systems:  Pumps circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. They work well in climates where it rarely freezes.
  • Indirect circulation systems:  Pumps circulate a non-freezing, heat transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. They are popular in climates prone to freezing temperatures.

Passive solar water heating systems are typically less expensive than active systems, but they’re usually not as efficient. However, passive systems can be more reliable and may last longer. There are two basic types of passive systems:

  • Integral collector-storage passive systems:  These work best in areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. They also work well in households with significant daytime and evening hot-water needs.
  • Thermosyphon systems: Water flows through the system when warm water rises as cooler water sinks. The collector must be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These systems are reliable, but contractors must pay careful attention to the roof design because of the heavy storage tank. They are usually more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems.

Solar water heating systems almost always require a backup system for cloudy days and times of increased demand.Conventional storage water heaters usually provide backup and may already be part of the solar system package. A backup system may also be part of the solar collector, such as rooftop tanks with thermosyphon systems. Since an integral-collector storage system already stores hot water in addition to collecting solar heat, it may be packaged with a demand (tankless or instantaneous) water heater for backup.

Installing and Maintaining the System

The proper installation of solar water heaters depends on many factors. These factors include solar resource, climate, local building code requirements, and safety issues; therefore, it’s best to have a qualified, solar thermal systems contractor install your system.

After installation, properly maintaining your system will keep it running smoothly. Passive systems don’t require much maintenance. For active systems, discuss the maintenance requirements with your system provider, and consult the system’s owner’s manual. Plumbing and other conventional water heating components require the same maintenance as conventional systems. Glazing may need to be cleaned in dry climates where rainwater doesn’t provide a natural rinse.

Regular maintenance on simple systems can be as infrequent as every 3–5 years, preferably by a solar contractor. Systems with electrical components usually require a replacement part after or two after 10 years.

When screening potential contractors for installation and/or maintenance, ask the following questions:

  • Does your company have experience installing and maintaining solar water heating systems?
    Choose a company that has experience installing the type of system you want and servicing the applications you select.
  • How many years of experience does your company have with solar heating installation and maintenance?
    The more experience the better. Request a list of past customers who can provide references.
  • Is your company licensed or certified?
    Having a valid plumber’s and/or solar contractor’s license is required in some states. Contact your city and county for more information. Confirm licensing with your state’s contractor licensing board. The licensing board can also tell you about any complaints against state-licensed contractors.

Knock $4,000 off Your Taxes by Going Solar

Save even more by adding state incentives to those in the new federal energy bill, the first in 20 years

 

By Forbes.com


In the new energy law, the U.S. Congress lavished tax breaks on its usual fossil-fuel favorites—there’s $1.6 billion in tax credits for new coal technology, $1 billion for gas distribution lines, another $1 billion for oil and gas exploration costs, $400 million for oil refineries, and so on.

 

 

But the solar energy industry is betting that its comparatively tiny share of the energy bill spoils will be enough to jump-start the industry.

 

The cost of the solar tax breaks to the U.S. Treasury—less than $52 million out of a $14.5 billion energy package—may seem trifling. But the handout shows that Washington supports solar, and that should encourage more states to offer breaks too, solar supporters say.


“For anybody who has ever considered installing a solar system, Washington is telling you to do it now,” says Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C. That’s good news for solar equipment manufacturers like General Electric and Evergreen Solar.


Claiming the credit


The law both increases tax credits for commercial solar installations and offers individual homeowners a credit for the first time in 20 years. (An earlier personal-use solar credit was in effect from 1979 to 1985.)

 

 

Companies such as FedEx and Johnson & Johnson that have already installed solar systems on some properties, and have made a commitment toward adding more, are likely to pick up the pace, predicts Resch. “The federal incentives by themselves will not create a market for solar energy, but when combined with state incentives, you reach the economic tipping point to make it work,” he adds.


Homeowners get a more limited credit. They can put in a photovoltaic system (roof panels that take in energy from the sun and turn it into electricity) and/or a solar-powered hot water system (for hot water heaters, radiant floors or radiators), and get a federal tax credit worth 30% of the systems’ cost, up to a credit of $2,000 per system. There are a couple of catches: The heating system can’t be for a pool or hot tub, and the federal credit applies to the net system cost after any state incentives.


The good part is that this new federal break is a credit—not a deduction—meaning it reduces your tax bill directly, dollar for dollar. So, if you install both eligible solar systems in your house, you can knock $4,000 off your federal tax bill. And if you have more credit than you owe in tax, you can carry it over and use it to defray next year’s federal tax bill.


 

 

Global Resource Options:

www.globalresourceoptions.com

  • Produce natural, clean electricity from the sun with these efficient, economical solar electric systems. Choose between systems with or without batteries for your home. Global also offers systems for cabins and homes not connected to the power line.

 

Pineapple front shutters 050

Florida 34′ Dome Home High Profile Entryway faces south

The above 34′ American Ingenuity dome located in Central Florida has no furnace.  January has average minimum temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit with winter temperatures reaching 32 degrees. The south facing entryway produces all the heat needed to warm the dome during the winter months.

Any of American Ingenuity’s domes can be designed to have solar gain through its windows if during the site plan phase of design, you orient the dome and its entryways to face the sun in the winter months.  The site plan determines the location of your dome on your property and which directions your doors and windows face.  Under the entryways (eye brows) your framer builds a wall and installs large pieces of glass or large windows that you purchase locally.  These large windows and or glass let the sunlight into the dome to heat the dome in the winter. 

Bear in mind if the sun comes in during the winter through this glass; then it can come in during the summer and heat up your dome when you are needing to air condition; thus causing your AC costs to rise.   Because the American Ingenuity dome has such a thickly insulated wall it costs so little to heat or cool the dome, we do not recommend large glass areas be installed within the entryways for passive solar gain…simply install enough glass and or windows to allow for the proper amount of sunlight that you want into your dome. 

Just to clarify on the first floor of our 30’ and larger domes there can be five entryways.  Within each entryway there is enough space to install from two to four French doors or huge pieces of glass.  When we have had clients select floor plans that included five entryways their window and door budget sometimes exceeds the cost of the building kit. Windows and large pieces of glass can be quite expensive!   If a window or glass area is double paned its R-Value is around four…the wall of our dome is an R-28.  So besides our clients spending an exorbitant amount for large windows or glass areas, this decreases the R-Value of the walls and will raise their heating and air conditioning costs.  Usually three entryways and a few solar tubes (items you purchase and install in the prefab panels) can supply plenty of light within the dome.

The owners of American Ingenuity built their second home at 3,400 feet elevation in the mountains of North Carolina.  To receive the winter sun, they oriented one of the high profile entryways to the south and installed two four foot wide glass sliding doors with an 18” by 6’ long piece of glass above the doors. During the winter enough sun comes through the glass to heat the first floor of the 34’ dome.  During the summer, blinds are closed to keep the sunlight out.

As far as solar panels:  Anchors or bolts can be installed in the concrete seams or the tops of the entryways. The dome is very strong and can easily bear the weight of solar panels. During the assembly of the dome shell, bolts can be buried in the concrete to later anchor the panels. Tops of entryways, passageways are ideal, although solar panels can be placed on the triangular panels as well. Grooves are cut in the EPS insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipe(s) are inserted through the entryway EPS before the entryway is concreted.

Solar Hot Water panels can be designed to set on top of the entryways or link. Anchors are buried into the entryway concrete on site. Grooves are cut in the EPS insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipe(s) are inserted through the entryway EPS before the entryway is concreted.  I have a solar hot water panel mounted on my dome link.  It sits on the link and lies against the side of the dome.  To hide the ends of the solar panel, we filled in the ends with foam and stuccoed over the foam so it matches the dome.

Each dome owner decides what utility hook ups they want for their home……solar or electric or natural gas or propane, etc.  All of these are personal preferences.  If you can install the service in a conventional house then you can install it in the dome.  For example my personal 34′ in diameter dome home has a solar hot water panel setting on the top of one standard entryway with the top edge propped onto the dome.  Water pipes for the solar panel, come through the seams or a hole is drilled in the thin concrete of the panel to run the pipes through.    The rest of the house is powered with electricity. When we design your building plans, Michael, the plans supervisor will let you know which items need to be shown on the plans.

The following five elements constitute a complete passive solar home design. Each performs a separate function, but all five must work together for the design to be successful.  Any of these elements can be incorporated into American Ingenuity’s geodesic dome.

The following information came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site:

Aperture (Collector)

The large glass (window) area through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture(s) should face within 30 degrees of true south and should not be shaded by other buildings or trees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day during the heating season.

Absorber

The hard, darkened surface of the storage element. This surface—which could be that of a masonry wall, floor, or partition (phase change material), or that of a water container—sits in the direct path of sunlight. Sunlight hits the surface and is absorbed as heat.

Thermal mass

The materials that retain or store the heat produced by sunlight. The difference between the absorber and thermal mass, although they often form the same wall or floor, is that the absorber is an exposed surface whereas thermal mass is the material below or behind that surface.

Distribution

The method by which solar heat circulates from the collection and storage points to different areas of the house. A strictly passive design will use the three natural heat transfer modes—conduction, convection, and radiation—exclusively. In some applications, however, fans, ducts, and blowers may help with the distribution of heat through the house.

Control

Roof Overhangs can be used to shade the aperture area during summer months. Other elements that control under- and/or overheating include electronic sensing devices, such as a differential thermostat that signals a fan to turn on; operable vents and dampers that allow or restrict heat flow; low-emissivity blinds and awnings.

A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

from the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site:

How a Passive Solar Home Design Works

To understand how a passive solar home design works, you need to understand how heat moves and how it can be stored.

As a fundamental law, heat moves from warmer materials to cooler ones until there is no longer a temperature difference between the two. To distribute heat throughout the living space, a passive solar home design makes use of this law through the following heat-movement and heat-storage mechanisms:

Conduction

Conduction is the way heat moves through materials, traveling from molecule to molecule. Heat causes molecules close to the heat source to vibrate vigorously, and these vibrations spread to neighboring molecules, thus transferring heat energy. For example, a spoon placed into a hot cup of coffee conducts heat through its handle and into the hand that grasps it.

Convection

Convection is the way heat circulates through liquids and gases. Lighter, warmer fluid rises, and cooler, denser fluid sinks. For instance, warm air rises because it is lighter than cold air, which sinks. This is why warmer air accumulates on the second floor of a house, while the basement stays cool. Some passive solar homes use air convection to carry solar heat from a south wall into the building’s interior.

Radiation

Radiant heat moves through the air from warmer objects to cooler ones. There are two types of radiation important to passive solar design: solar radiation and infrared radiation. When radiation strikes an object, it is absorbed, reflected, or transmitted, depending on certain properties of that object.

Opaque objects absorb 40%–95% of incoming solar radiation from the sun, depending on their color—darker colors typically absorb a greater percentage than lighter colors. This is why solar-absorber surfaces tend to be dark colored. Bright-white materials or objects reflect 80%–98% of incoming solar energy.

Inside a home, infrared radiation occurs when warmed surfaces radiate heat towards cooler surfaces. For example, your body can radiate infrared heat to a cold surface, possibly causing you discomfort. These surfaces can include walls, windows, or ceilings in the home.

Clear glass transmits 80%–90% of solar radiation, absorbing or reflecting only 10%–20%. After solar radiation is transmitted through the glass and absorbed by the home, it is radiated again from the interior surfaces as infrared radiation. Although glass allows solar radiation to pass through, it absorbs the infrared radiation. The glass then radiates part of that heat back to the home’s interior. In this way, glass traps solar heat entering the home.

Thermal capacitance

Thermal capacitance refers to the ability of materials to store heat. Thermal mass refers to the materials that store heat. Thermal mass stores heat by changing its temperature, which can be done by storing heat from a warm room or by converting direct solar radiation into heat. The more thermal mass, the more heat can be stored for each degree rise in temperature. Masonry materials, like concrete, stones, brick, and tile, are commonly used as thermal mass in passive solar homes. Water also has been successfully used.

Reading List

    • Crosbie, M.J., ed. (1997). The Passive Solar Design and Construction Handbook. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Passive Solar Design  (December 2000). DOE/GO102000-0790. Work Performed by the NAHB Research Center, Southface Energy Institute, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Kachadorian, J. (1997). The Passive Solar House. White River Jct., VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Co.
  • Van Dresser, P. (1996). Passive Solar House Basics. Santa Fe, NM: Ancient City Press.