affordability | AiDomes

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An American Ingenuity Dome utilizing photovoltaics

Exterior3 Mathes photo cells

Exterior2 off grid collar MESA2

Collar Dome Built In Utah Utilizing Photovoltaics

Q: Can photovoltaics be used with your dome?

A: Yes. The magazine, Home Power has dedicated more than 100 issues to home-scale renewable energy and sustainable living solutions. That means they have had comprehensive coverage of solar, wind, and microhydro electricity, home energy efficiency, solar hot water systems, space heating and cooling, green building materials and home design, efficient transportation, and much, much more. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or not, off-grid or on-grid, Home Power can help you make informed decisions about your home energy use. They provide extensive product information, homeowner testimonials, buyer advice, and “how-to” instructions.

The following Home Power article describes the Moab, Utah dome home built by the Collar’s.

What do you need when you are going to live in a high desert (7,500 ft. elev.) 40 miles from the nearest town with the winters reaching down 20 degrees below zero? That is where Jim & Mary Collar planned to build their solar retirement home. To extend electric power to their home site would cost $22,000 (in 1996) so the Collars decided to produce their power using photovoltaic solar cells with a back up generator. Their primary source of heat would be their fireplace.

In 1995 after researching many alternative-building methods, they found their home, an American Ingenuity 45′ Dome House and 30′ garage. Our dome kits were selected for their strength, energy efficiency and affordability. They selected subcontractors for the construction of their two domes with Mary being the general contractor. Jim was commuting 40 miles to his job but on evenings and weekends they could work together. They were asked by the state of Utah to participate in “Utahs’1998 Tour of Innovative Homes” which is in conjunction with the American solar Energy Society’s National Tour of solar Homes.

Ai converted the Home Power four page article into four separate pdf pages. 

Click on each page to view it.

National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV)

US Department of Energy Research and development, and information source on photovoltaics. Website includes a virtual library of online reference materials. The Center brings people together through conferences and forums to share information and concerns. And the Center provides and develops various forms of information for people with a wide range of solar and wind needs. Click on Solar.

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

Home Power Magazine

If you are considering an alternative power system in your dome the magazine Home Power offers many solutions. They can be reached at their web site http://www.homepower.com

(Click small images to change picture or use arrows on right side of pictures.)

American Ingenuity suggests that dome owners try to locate their fireplace toward the middle of the dome, rather than along the outside edge which would cause the flue to be very tall on the outside. This puts more of the flue pipe inside the house where it can radiate the heat.  However if needed the fireplace can be installed on an exterior wall.

How is the fireplace flue installed in the Ai dome? Contact Ai for a document that explains how to cut a hole in the panel, affix bolts to the dome, etc.)

  • As long as the flue pipe is round, simply bust a hole in the thin concrete of the component panel. Do not cut within eight inches of a concrete seam center.
  • Enlarge the hole in the E.P.S. insulation so that you can replace the E.P.S. with 2” of fiberglass insulation. (Most times the flue pipes are double walled so you do not have to replace the E.P.S. with fiberglass insulation.)
  • Then concrete around the flue pipe, caulk and paint.
  • Use a nonsilicon caulk like urethane or latex or use a butyl rubber.

In the Ai Domes can I use a fireplace to heat them? Yes. Ai’s smaller sized domes (22’, 27’, 30’, 34’) have such small heating and air-conditioning demands; it could be practical for to utilize a window air-conditioner and a space heater. A ventilating wood stove or fireplace may provide all the needed heat for even our larger domes located in cold climates.

Bear in mind in some states, including Florida, a permanent heat source has to be shown in your building plans and installed within your dome. This means a space heater would not be acceptable. You would need at least a baseboard heater installed to comply with the permanent heat source requirement.  Ask your building department if they have a permanent heat source requirement.

Can even your 45’ dome be heated with a fireplace? Yes if the heat from your fireplace is blown through your duct system to heat each of your rooms.  The following Home Power magazine article discusses how the Collar’s heat their dome with a fireplace.

What do you need when you are going to live in a high desert (7,500 ft. elev.) 40 miles from the nearest town with the winters reaching down 20 degrees below zero? That is where Jim and Mary Collar planned to build their solar retirement home. To extend electric power to their home site would cost $22,000.00 so the Collars decided to produce their power using photovoltaic solar cells with a back up generator. Their primary source of heat would be their fireplace.

In 1995 after researching many alternative-building methods, they found their home, an American Ingenuity 45’’Dome House and 30’’garage. The American Ingenuity dome kit was selected for its strength, energy efficiency and its affordability. They selected sub contractors for the construction of their two domes with Mary being the general contractor. Jim was commuting 40 miles to his job but on evenings and weekends they could work together. They were asked by the state of Utah to participate in “Utahs’1998 Tour of Innovative Homes” which is in conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society’s National Tour of solar Homes.

To view the complete article, click Utah Dome at 7,500′ elevation.