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The following covers Ai Dome Energy Efficiency FAQS.

EXTERIOR Schoonover

American Ingenuity 40′ dome linked to 30′ garage dome

Q: Where can I view on your web site, the energy bills for your Florida Dome Offices and for a Florida Dome Home?

A: To view the FP&L utility bills showing the Ai 3,700 sq.ft. dome offices can be cooled for less than $85 a month during Florida’s hottest months, view Office Electric Bills. To view the FP&L utility bills showing a Florida 1,075 sq.ft. 34ft in diameter dome can be cooled for less than $27 a month during Florida’s hottest months, view Home Energy Bills.  Heating Ai domes is even easier than cooling because when heating, the heat generated by computers, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes dryers, etc.  is used and does not need to be overcome as is needed when cooling a structure.

Q: Tell me about an American Ingenuity dome beating a home sponsored by the utility company, Florida Power & Light, to win the award for Most Energy Efficient Residential Unit in the southeastern United States.

A: Florida Power & Light is a nuclear powered utility company in Florida. FP&L sponsored the design of a passive solar home and entered it in a contest held by the Southeast Builder’s Conference, a division of the National Home Builders Association.  An American Ingenuity dome was entered into the same contest.  The Ai dome beat the FP&L home to win the award for the Most Energy Efficient Residence in the southeastern United States. The Home also won the Grand Award for all energy efficient categories…beating out the FP&L home in a second category.

Q: What Energy Star rating has the American Ingenuity dome received?

A: A 5+ Energy Star rating, the highest rating given, Energy Star is a joint program between the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy that is designed to promote products, buildings and homes that use less energy without sacrificing quality.

American Ingenuity has received in the past the Energy Star endorsement for our dome homes, making us the first among Geodesic Domes. Our domes not only qualified but we far exceeded their efficiency standards that are derived from the Model Energy Code.

In an American Ingenuity dome, you can receive a 5+ Star rating, the highest rating given. When financing, this rating will entitle you to the maximum benefits like reduced fees and lower interest rates. The Energy Star Rating cannot be given on a building kit…only on a finished dome. Therefore, once you build your dome you can apply for the Energy Star Rating. Energy Star’s web site ishttp://www.energystar.gov

The Energy Star label can only be placed on completed houses. The label cannot go on a Building Kit. Some of American Ingenuity’s clients have had their completed dome homes rated and received the Energy Star label. To find out how your dome home can receive an Energy Star Label, call the EPA Energy Star hot line 1-888-782-7937 and ask for a company in your area that can rate your home.

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.  To view pictures of his dome home, click on Earned Energy Star.  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.

Q: What do I need to consider when searching for an ENERGY EFFICIENT house?
A:
To best answer that question let us examine how most of the heating and air conditioning is lost in a house. The major loss is usually through the walls and ceiling with the amount of loss directly proportional to the combined area. Solution, minimize the surface area of the house. Domes have about 20% to 40% less surface area than an equal size conventional house. This results in an equal and significant improvement in the efficiency.

The insulation value of the walls and ceilings are important but you cannot just compare R-values. R-values provided for conventional houses represent optimum conditions. They do not take into consideration that the insulation is interrupted by the framing, has voids, settles and absorbs moisture. In our domes, the E.P.S. insulation is continuous, rigid and it will not settle or absorb moisture. R-28 E.P.S. insulation in our dome exceeds the performance of R-45 fiberglass in a conventional house.

Blower tests repeatedly show that wood frame houses loose 10-25% of their heating and AC through the numerous leaks in the walls, attic, electrical outlets, etc. It is very difficult to seal these leaks due to their volume and inaccessibility. American Ingenuity domes are sealed airtight on the outside of the insulation; therefore, eliminating the energy absorbing leaks.

The insulation on Heating and AC ducts is usually only R-6 to R-8. In addition, when the fan is running, the air in the ducts is under pressure and thus the ducts are more inclined to leak. Ducts in the attic, or anywhere outside the insulation envelope, account for sizable energy loss. In American Ingenuity domes all of the ducts are inside the insulation; therefore, there is zero loss in the ducts even if they leak.

If you add up the potential energy savings of American Ingenuity dome living, you will understand why our dome owners often claim savings in excess of 50% to 60%.

To learn more about heating and cooling an American Ingenuity Dome view Energy.

Q: How does your insulation R-value compare to other wall R-values?
A:
The following are comprehensive wall values based on the average value of the complete wall. For example the comprehensive R-value:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-8
  • Concrete Block, with 3/4″ air, 3/4″ Celotex is about R-9
  • 2×6 Solid wood construction with 5 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-11
  • 2×4 solid wood with 3″ urethane is about R-13
  • While the wall value of Ai’s 7″ thick E.P.S. insulation is R-28 and Ai’s’s 9″thick E.P.S. insulation is R-36.
  • To view data about the modified expanded polystyrene insulation utilized by Ai, click on Panel Composition

Q: How do I remove water vapor from cooking, showering, laundry, etc.?
A:
When the air conditioner or furnace is operating, some water vapor is removed by condensation at the evaporator coil.  Water vapor can be controlled by installing an exhaust fan in top center of the dome, exhaust fans in the bathrooms, at the stove, microwave and clothes dryer. Also if your dome is in a cold climate install a Heat Recovery Ventilator.   To learn more view Heat Recovery Ventilator.

Q: Does thermal mass affect energy efficiency?
A:
No. Generally speaking, in a home, thermal mass is the amount of stuff inside the house that retains heat. Although thermal mass accounts for the fact that some things have a greater “thermal capacity” to store heat than others, to understand its effect you can think of it as the total weight of everything contained in the house.

With more thermal mass (heavy stuff) inside your house more heat will have to be added or removed to change the temperature. Expressed another way, if heat is not being added the temperature will be slower to change.

Does Thermal Mass effect the energy efficiency of the house? No.

As heat in the house is lost through walls, windows, etc. the temperature drops. The thermal mass releases (loans) heat into the house slowing down the temperature change. When the heating system turns on, it must replace heat lost to the outside and it must  replace (pay back) that heat given off by the thermal mass. There is no long-term gain or loss, all of the heat given off by the thermal mass must be replaced. The amount of heat required to maintain the temperature inside a house is solely dependent on the amount of heat that escapes to the outside.

All houses have walls, floors and usually fixtures, appliances and stuff that will retain heat. A large amount of thermal mass can cause long on/off cycles of the heating system when shorter cycles would stir the air more frequently providing more comfort and uniform temperatures inside. The recent generation of thermostats are a proven money saver by lowering the inside temperature (which lowers the heat loss to the outside) during those hours you are away at work, etc. A large thermal mass makes it much harder to change the temperature; therefore, reducing the savings.

During the summer while using AC (substitute cold for heat) the effect remains the same.

Q: Can I use alternative power sources with my American Ingenuity dome?
A:
Yes. By providing your own Alternative Power, you can live in a remote location (less expensive land) and still have all the amenities of a developed area. However be aware the cost of these alternative power sources could be $20,000 to $70,000.  The alternative power systems typically consist of a power source, storage device and conversion systems. Most systems use photovoltaic cells but is some cases gasoline or diesel engine generators or wind or water driven generators are practical. The storage device is usually large batteries. The conversion system allows you to have 110 volts AC and use conventional appliances. The technology is very refined and the systems are top notch.

The cost of the system will depend directly on the amount of power that you will need. By first investing in an energy efficient house, you will reduce your power demand and save money. If you are considering an American Ingenuity dome home, you couldn’t make a better choice and you will be doing your part to conserve power and lower greenhouse emissions.

If you are also connected to the local power grid, you will not need batteries for backup and in most cases you get paid for putting power back into the system.

If the cost of the system is included in the home financing it can be paid off with a little higher monthly mortgage payment. Not having an electric bill may even it out.

Utilizing an alternate power source does have a few drawbacks: COST: while systems are getting more affordable, they are still expensive. It is still less expensive to buy power from mass-produced power companies unless you are far from the power lines. MAINTENANCE and RELIABILITY: Most systems are very reliable but occasionally they need attention. Several of our dome owners have alternative power systems and are very satisfied with the results.

To view pictures and info on a 40′ dome in Pennsylvania which has a GeoThermal WaterFurnace Synergy 3D heating/cooling system, click on Charles Dome.   To info on a South Carolina 40′ dome utilizing geothermal, click on Kolb Dome.  To view pictures of Kolb Dome, click on South Carolina.

Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings at 7,500 ft elevation operate off the grid by using photovoltaic’s, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.   If you are considering an alternative power system in your dome the magazine Home Power offers many solutions. 

 

45' dome with 30' dome in Utah snow.

45′ dome with 30′ dome in Utah at 7,500 ft/ elevation – off the grid. On right are photovotaics

SOLAR HOT WATER PANELS:

Helpful web sites are:

Solar Panels: 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. View Solar Panels to learn more.

Q: Would you give me more information about solar hot water heaters and photovoltaic panels?
A:
An article in Mother Earth News reported that since 1970, the demand for electricity has outpaced the World’s population growth by more than 20 percent. They continue and explain how we are ignoring the warning signs, that Builders are still constructing poorly efficient housing and others are overlooking the importance of renewable/alternate energy sources.

The first and most important step is to limit or reduce the energy loss in the home. An investment in good, uninterrupted, insulation and a design that does not leak the conditioned air to the outside has the best return. The savings is not only in the reduced energy loss but, also in the reduced cost of a smaller heating and air conditioning system. The next step is to replace some of the energy, which is consumed. A solar water heater has proved to have quick payback in most parts of the country. In fact, sometimes they can be financed and save more money in reduced electric bills than the cost of payments. When they are paid off it becomes pure savings. Photovoltaic cells have continued to improve in efficiency and cost.

The Mathes’ dome (34′ dome home with 30′ garage dome) in Florida utilizes a solar water heater and photovoltaic panels to power their lights and refrigerator. Although, their A/C, washer, well pump and TV are still connected to the meter, their total electric bill was less than $150.00 for the year. The owner/builder states, “This has been a wonderful experience that I would not trade for ANYTHING!”   View Photovoltaic to learn more.

ss2American Ingenuity 34′ dome. Solar Hot water Panel installed on top of standard entryway.

Q: How did the American Ingenuity dome perform in the energy efficiency tests at the Florida Solar Energy Center?
A:
Superbly. Test findings were released after a yearlong 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-efficient Styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional and Dow test houses in being THE MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT.

Although the test was conducted in a temperate locale without summer and winter temperature extremes, the American Ingenuity dome outperformed the other structures. In the summer, the energy savings for the dome exceeded 36% and during the winter, the energy savings exceeded 42%. In areas of severe cold and heat, savings would be expected to be considerably higher.

Also, the blower door test showed the dome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house. In tests using infrared, thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.

The Florida Solar Energy Center can be reached at 321-638-1000 or write them at 1679 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922.

Q: Which heating and air-conditioning system is the most practical and efficient for my location?
A:
Keep in mind that because of the superb energy efficiency of the dome the required size of your air conditioning and heating system is reduced to half that of a typical home. It is usually not economical to purchase super-efficient systems because the energy savings is also reduced. The smaller sized domes can be cooled with a window air conditioner. The best heating system will vary with the area and the type of fuel that is readily available. A ventilated wood stove may provide all the needed heat for even our larger domes located to cold climates. A ground water (or water-to-air) heat pump is very efficient for both heat and cool. It uses the constant, moderate temperature of the underground earth to absorb or provide the heat instead of outside air. Besides, being more efficient than an air-to-air unit, it can efficiently produce heat when the outside temperature is below freezing.

Q: Can a radiant in floor heating system be installed in my dome?
A:
Yes. Check your yellow pages or Google local Radiant Floor Heating Subcontractors.

View Radiant Floor Heating to learn more.

Charles exterior

American Ingenuity Dome utilizing radiant floor heating.

Q: Why are your dome homes so energy efficient?
A:
You can save 50-70% on heating and air-conditioning costs with your American Ingenuity dome over a conventionally built home. Some of the reasons for this superb energy efficiency are:

  • Super insulation that does not degrade with time, moisture, or compaction.
  • Spherical shape means reduced exposed surface.
  • Airtight exterior virtually eliminates energy leakage.
  • Solid thermal envelope.
  • Uniform R-value, the insulation is not interrupted with structural members (e.g. 2X4’s roof trusses). The only breaks are the framed exterior walls under entryway and dormer panels that contain your locally purchase exterior doors and windows.
  • Downsized heating and cooling equipment.

Your kit comes with R-28 E.P.S. insulation or if you choose, thicker R-36 E.P.S. insulation is available.

Kolb prius domes

American Ingenuity Dome Owners are Concerned About the Environment

They build energy efficient Ai domes & drive energy efficient cars to save our natural resources.

This dome earned EPA’s Energy Star. To view more pics of this dome, click on Star

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.

Although the test was conducted in a temperate locale (Florida) without summer and winter temperature extremes, the American Ingenuity dome out performed the other structures. In the summer, the energy savings for the dome exceeded 36% and during the winter, the energy savings exceeded 42%. In areas of severe cold and heat, savings would be expected to be considerably higher.

Also, the blower door test showed the dome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house.

To see if air was passing through walls of the dome, tests using infrared were performed. Thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.

Some of the reasons for the American Ingenuity’s Dome’s super energy efficiency are:

  • Super insulation that does not degrade with time, moisture, or compaction.

  • Spherical shape means reduced exposed surface.

  • Airtight exterior virtually eliminates energy leakage.

  • Solid thermal envelope.

  • Uniform R-value. The insulation is not interrupted with structural members (e.g. 2×4 roof trusses). The only breaks are for doors and windows.

  • Downsized heat and air equipment.

The American Ingenuity Dome kit comes with lifetime R-28 Expanded Bead Polystyrene Insulation (E.P.S.), or if you choose, thicker R-36 E.P.S. insulation is available. In cold climates, you may find that a single ventilating wood stove will provide all the heat your 22′ – 30′ in diameter dome home may need.  Larger square footage domes (34′, 36′, 40′, 45′, 48′) need a ductless or ducted system where the heated or cooled air can be distributed evenly throughout the dome.  Heat recovery ventilators or exhaust fans remove interior water vapor from the dome.  The air conditioner or furnace will be one third smaller than is needed for the same square footage conventional house.

Insulation Comparisons:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-8

  • 8″ Concrete Block, with 3/4″ air, 3/4″ Celotex is about R-9

  • 2×6 Solid wood construction with 5 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-11

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3″ urethane is about R-13

  • 7″ E.P.S. insulation is R-28 (standard insulation with the Ai dome kit) is comparabel to 11″ of fiberglass batting.

  • 9″ E.P.S. insulation is R-36 (you can order this thicker insulation for colder climates.)

Have the AiDomes won energy efficiency awards?

  • Yes, our first office dome (40′ and 30′ garage) built in 1986 won the Aurora Award for Most Energy Efficient Home in the Southeastern United States and the Aurora Grand Award for the Most Energy Efficient Structure. This dome with standard R-28 insulation beat a passive solar home designed and built by Florida Power & Light, a nuclear powered Florida Utility Company.

Insulated Concrete Form Buildings Save Energy*

A study, conducted by Dr. Pieter VanderWerf of the Boston School of Management and sponsored by the Portland Cement Association, revealed that homes built with insulating concrete forms (ICFs) consume, on average, 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than conventional wood-frame homes.  (Ai’s dome has 30% less surface area than a conventional shaped house and the insulating concrete panels are not interrupted by wood, as a result the Ai dome gives a 50% to 60% reduction in heating and cooling costs versus a conventional box shaped house heating and cooling bills.)

The study analyzed statistics from 29 ICF homes and 29 wood-frame homes. All of the homes were less than six years old. “We wanted to approach this study as an ‘apples to apples’ comparison,” said VanderWerf, “so we paired each ICF house with a comparable frame house.”

The paired houses were located near each other and were of similar square footage. VanderWerf adjusted the energy consumption of each house to account for differences in size, design, foundation, number of occupants, thermostat setting and HVAC equipment. “We tentatively concluded that these rates of savings should be fairly constant, regardless of location (or local climate),” said VanderWerf.

Although most of the homeowners participating in the study liked there dwellings, regardless of the type of construction, the reasons they gave for their satisfaction were quite different. The ICF homeowners most often cited functional advantages, such as comfort (including evenness of temperature and low air infiltration), sound reduction, energy efficiency, solidity and strength. Several ICF homeowners said they liked their low utility bills. Owners of the wood-frame homes most often cited advantages unrelated to the home’s quality of construction, such as location, floor plan and inclusion of the owner’s preferred features. VanderWerf added that “not many of the owners of frame homes considered it superior construction.”

Superior construction is one of the main reasons for the continuing upsurge of ICF construction in North America over the past several years. PCA market researchers report that in 1994, only 0.1% of new home construction (1,110 homes) was built using ICF. But, researchers predict that by 2000, nearly 7% of all homes built in the country (about 68,000 homes) will use ICF construction.

*Source: Portland Cement Association

 

Kolb dome prius 3

American Ingenuity Dome Owners care about our environment. 

The Build Energy Efficient Homes & Tend to Drive Fuel Saving Vehicles.

Kolb exterior 40 27 P7120015

Kolb 40′ Dome Home Linked to 27′ (two car garage dome) – earned Energy Star

Q: What Energy Star rating has the American Ingenuity dome received?

A: A 5+ Energy Star rating, the highest rating given. Energy Star is a joint program between the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy that is designed to promote products, buildings and homes that use less energy without sacrificing quality.  The Kolb Dome Home earned the Energy Star Rating.

In the past American Ingenuity has received the Energy Star endorsement for our completely constructed dome homes. Ai domes not only qualified but far exceeded their efficiency standards that are derived from the Model Energy Code. In an American Ingenuity dome you can receive a 5+ Star rating, the highest rating given. When financing this rating will entitle you to the maximum benefits, like reduced fees and lower interest rates.

The Energy Star Program will not give a rating on a Building Kit. The rating is for a newly finished home. Since American Ingenuity manufactures dome building kits and rarely constructs finished domes, we no longer have an Energy Star rating.

However our clients can participate in this program. Energy Star’s web site is http://www.energystar.gov

Q: What do I need to consider when searching an ENERGY EFFICIENT house?

A: To best answer that question let’s examine how most of the heating and air conditioning is lost in a house. The major loss is usually through the walls and ceiling with the amount of loss directly proportional to the combined area. Solution, minimize the surface area of the house. Domes have about 20% to 40% less surface area than an equal size conventional house. This results in an equal and significant improvement in the efficiency.

The insulation value of the walls and ceilings are important but you cannot just compare R-values. R-values provided for conventional houses represent optimum conditions. They do not take into consideration that the insulation is interrupted by the framing, has voids, settles and absorbs moisture. In our domes the E.P.S. insulation is continuous, rigid and it will not settle or absorb moisture. R-28 E.P.S. insulation in our dome exceeds the performance of R-45 fiberglass in a conventional house.

Blower tests repeatedly show that wood frame houses loose 10-25% of their heating and AC through the numerous leaks in the walls, attic, electrical outlets, etc. It is very difficult to seal these leaks due to their volume and inaccessibility. American Ingenuity domes are sealed airtight on the outside of the insulation; therefore, eliminating the energy absorbing leaks.

The insulation on Heating and AC ducts is usually only R-6 to R-8. In addition when the fan is running, the air in the ducts is under pressure and thus the ducts are more inclined to leak. Ducts in the attic, or anywhere outside the insulation envelope, account for sizable energy loss. In American Ingenuity domes all of the ducts are inside the insulation; therefore, there is zero loss in the ducts even if they leak and are not insulated at all.

If you add up the potential energy savings of American Ingenuity dome living, you will understand why our dome owners often claim savings in excess of 50%.

Q: How does your insulation R-value compare to other wall R-values?
A:
The following are comprehensive wall values based on the average value of the complete wall. For example the comprehensive R-value:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-8
  • Concrete Block, with 3/4″ air, 3/4″ Celotex is about R-9
  • 2×6 Solid wood construction with 5 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-11
  • 2×4 solid wood with 3″ urethane is about R-13
  • The wall value of our standard 7″ thick E.P.S. insulation is R-28 which is comparable to 11″ of fiberglass batting

Q: Should I be concerned about moisture and dampness?
A: Yes
. Moisture is added inside a house as a result of washing, cooking, laundry, showers, etc. an Exhaust Fan is installed in the top center of the dome along with exhaust fans in each bathroom, for stove, microwave and clothes dryer. To bring fresh air into the house, research either a heat recovery ventilator or an energy recovery ventilator.  Click on Heat Recovery Ventilator to learn more.

Q: Does thermal mass effect energy efficiency?
A:
No. Generally speaking, in a home, thermal mass is the amount of stuff inside the house that retains heat. Although thermal mass accounts for the fact that some things have a greater “thermal capacity” to store heat than others, to understand its effect you can think of it as the total weight of everything contained in the house.

With more thermal mass (heavy stuff) inside your house more heat will have to be added or removed to change the temperature. Expressed another way, if heat is not being added the temperature will be slower to change.

Does Thermal Mass effect the energy efficiency of the house? No.

As heat in the house is lost through walls, windows, etc. the temperature drops. The thermal mass releases (loans) heat into the house slowing down the temperature change. When the heating system turns on, it must replace heat lost to the outside and it must also replace (pay back) that heat given off by the thermal mass. There is no long term gain or loss, all of the heat given off by the thermal mass must be replaced. The amount of heat required to maintain the temperature inside a house is solely dependent on the amount of heat that escapes to the outside.

All houses have walls, floors and usually fixtures, appliances and stuff that will retain heat. A large amount of thermal mass can cause long on/off cycles of the heating system when shorter cycles would stir the air more frequently providing more comfort and uniform temperatures inside. The recent generation of thermostats are a proven money saver by lowering the inside temperature (which lowers the heat loss to the outside) during those hours you are away at work, etc. A large thermal mass makes it much harder to change the temperature; therefore, reducing the savings.

During the summer while using AC (substitute cold for heat) the effect remains the same.

Q: I see that American Ingenuity is no longer manufacturing skylight panels. What lighting methods do you recommend?

A: Over the years American Ingenuity has accumulated information about the skylights and has determined that skylights are not the best method to bring light into our dome structures. Rather than offer an option that we feel is not beneficial, American Ingenuity has decided to remove this item as an option on our dome kits.

The most efficient way to add interior light is to install first floor entryways and max out second floor window dormers and or install second floor door dormers. Instead of installing a door install a tall window. This way when double paned glass gets moisture between it, you or your handyman can remove the window and tarp the dormer so no rain will come in while the window is being repaired. The dormers also provide an awning to protect the window. If you purchase windows that can be opened (with a pole or electrically for inaccessible windows); this would be an additional way to get fresh air into the dome.

There are five specific locations on the second floor where window dormers or door dormers can be installed. If selecting an existing plan, Ai can let you know where additional dormers can be installed. Or on a new custom plans design you can see where they can be located on the floor planner.

If your master suite is on the first floor and an entryway is designed in the suite, there will be ample light coming in through windows installed in the entryway. Once your dome kit is assembled (but not finished), you can better determine if more light is desired by standing inside the unfinished dome. At this point install solar tubes; they can be added into the panels during the finishing of your shell. A hole can be cut into any panel; just do not cut within 8” of the center of a seam.

Solar tubes unlike traditional skylights, are designed to control the problematic aspects of sunlight. They reduce glare and inconsistent light patterns. They also screen infrared rays that can overheat interiors as well as ultraviolet rays that can fade furniture and fabrics.

snow dome northey good

American Ingenuity Dome utilizing photovoltaics

Q: Can I use alternative power sources with my American Ingenuity dome?
A:
Yes. By providing your own Alternative Power you can live in a remote location (less expensive land) and still have all the amenities of a developed area. The alternative power systems typically consist of a power source, storage device and conversion systems. Most systems use photovoltaic cells but is some cases gasoline or diesel engine generators or wind or water driven generators are practical. The storage device is usually large batteries. The conversion system allows you to have 110 volts AC and use conventional appliances. The technology is very refined and the systems are top notch.

The cost of the system will depend directly on the amount of power that you will need. By first investing in an energy efficient house you will reduce your power demand and save money. If you are considering an American Ingenuity dome home you couldn’t make a better choice and you will be doing your part to conserve power and lower green house emissions.

If you are also connected to the local power grid, you will not need batteries for backup and in most cases you get paid for putting power back into the system.

If the cost of the system is included in the home financing it can be paid off with a little higher monthly mortgage payment. Not having an electric bill may even it out.

Utilizing an alternate power source does have a few drawbacks: COST: while systems are getting more affordable they are still expensive. It is still less expensive to buy power from mass produced power companies unless you are far from the power lines. MAINTENANCE and RELIABILITY: Most systems are very reliable but occasionally they need attention. Several of our dome owners have alternative power systems and are very satisfied with the results.

Click on the following to learn more:

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

PHOTOVOLTAIC EXPERTS & SOLAR HOT WATER PANELS:

Solar Panels: 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 water pipes in and the pipes are inserted through the entryway E.P.S. before the entryway is concreted.

Other helpful web sites are:

Q: Would you give me more information about solar hot water heaters and photovoltaic panels?
A:
An article in Mother Earth News reported that since 1970, the demand for electricity has outpaced the World’s population growth by more than 20 percent. They continue and explain how we are ignoring the warning signs, that Builders are still constructing poorly efficient housing and others are overlooking the importance of renewable/alternate energy sources.

The first and most important step is to limit or reduce the energy loss in the home. An investment in good, uninterrupted, insulation and a design that does not leak the conditioned air to the outside has the best return. The savings is not only in the reduced energy loss but, also in the reduced cost of a smaller heating and air conditioning system. The next step is to replace some of the energy which is consumed. A solar water heater has proved to have quick payback in most parts of the country. In fact, sometimes they can be financed and save more money in reduced electric bills than the cost of payments. When they are paid off it becomes pure savings. Photovoltaic cells have continued to improve in efficiency and cost.

The Mathes’ dome (34′ dome home with 30′ garage dome) in Florida utilizes a solar water heater and photovoltaic panels to power their lights and refrigerator. Although, their A/C, washer, well pump and TV are still connected to the meter, their total electric bill was less than $150.00 for the year. The owner/builder also states, “This has been a wonderful experience that I would not trade for ANYTHING!”

Q: How did the American Ingenuity dome perform in the energy efficiency tests at the Florida Solar Energy Center?
A:
Superbly. Test findings were released after a yearlong 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 efficient styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional and Dow test houses in being THE MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT.

Although the test was conducted in a temperate locale without summer and winter temperature extremes, the American Ingenuity dome outperformed the other structures. In the summer, the energy savings for the dome exceeded 36% and during the winter, the energy savings exceeded 42%. In areas of severe cold and heat, savings would be expected to be considerably higher.

Also, the blower door test showed the dome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house. In tests using infrared, thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.

Click on Energy Test to learn more.

You can call the Florida Solar Energy Center at 321-638-1000 or write them at 1679 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922.

Q: Which heating and air-conditioning system is the most practical and efficient for my location?
A:
Keep in mind that because of the superb energy efficiency of the American Ingenuity dome:

  • The required size of your air conditioning and heating system is reduced to half that of a typical home.
  • It is usually not economical to purchase super efficient systems because the energy savings is also reduced.
  • The smaller sized domes can be cooled with a window air conditioner.
  • The best heating system will vary with the area and the type of fuel that is readily available.
  • A ventilated wood stove may provide all the needed heat for even our larger domes located to cold climates.
  • A ground water (or water-to-air) heat pump is very efficient for both heat and cool. It uses the constant, moderate temperature of the underground earth to absorb or provide the heat instead of outside air. Besides, being more efficient than an air-to-air unit, it can efficiently produce heat when the outside temperature is below freezing.

Q: Can a radiant in floor heating system be installed in my dome?
A:
Yes.  Please check your yellow pages for local companies.

Click on Radiant Floor Heating to see Ai dome with radiant floor heating installed.

Q: Why are American Ingenuity dome homes so energy efficient?
A:
You can save 50-70% on heating and air-conditioning costs with your American Ingenuity dome over a conventionally built home. Some of the reasons for this superb energy efficiency are:

  • Super insulation that does not degrade with time, moisture, or compaction.
  • Spherical shape means reduced exposed surface.
  • Airtight exterior virtually eliminates energy leakage.
  • Solid thermal envelope.
  • Uniform R-value. The insulation is not interrupted with structural members (e.g. 2X4’s roof trusses). The only breaks are for doors and windows.
  • Downsized heating and cooling equipment.

Your kit comes with lifetime R-28 E.P.S. insulation (22′ with R-14).

To learn more click on Ai Dome Energy Efficiency.

To learn more about the E.P.S. insulation click on E.P.S.

Shipping Information: American Ingenuity Dome Building Kits
Are Shipped Via Semi-Truck

Click on the photo to enlarge it:

Image Image
Four men loading truck with 45′ kit. Factory domes in background.    48′ Dome Panels strapped down ready for shipment.

semi - truck DSCN1643

The above photo illustrates 45′ Dome kit being strapped down prior to shipment to dome owner’s property.

All Panels Are Marked With Numbers and Letters to Match The Building Plan Nomenclature Blueprint

16.09 unloading truck Kaufman picture assembly 105

Semi-Truck Being Unloaded At Dome Owner’s Site 

Can be unloaded with all terrain fork lift or man lift following Ai’s Truck Unloading Instructions

16.15 un loading truckKaufman picture assembly 121

Another View of 45′ Dome Kit Being Unloaded From Semi-Truck

Q: As far as shipping costs: Why did a California dome kit buyer pay $6,450 for one truck’s shipping cost,  an Australian dome kit buyer pay over $18,000 to have container shipped for his 34’ kit and a Washington dome kit buyer pay $9,000 for one truck’s shipping cost?

A: Simply put, it is because the Buyer could not build a home or buy any house that has the energy efficiency, strength and noncombustible concrete exterior that the American Ingenuity dome home has. The Ai dome is more energy efficient than a conventional house, because of its thick insulation (comparable to 11″ of fiberglass batting), the reduced exterior surface area and because the exterior walls contain no wood to interrupt the insulation. The dome is stronger than a box shaped house (225 mph wind and F4 tornado) due to its aerodynamic shape, steel reinforced concrete exterior and triangle panel shape. Plus there is no roof to replace every 11-12 years. The exterior of the dome is fire resistant concrete.  To view Ai dome advantages summary, click on Summary.

Q: I understand the Dome Building Kits are shipped on semi-trucks. What is the shipping cost in Florida and outside of Florida?
A:
Ai’s manufacturing costs here in Florida are well below the national average, which offsets any long distance shipping expenses. We can actually manufacture a kit here in Florida and ship it to the western states and northern states cheaper than we could manufacture there.  For example due to higher labor costs, if we manufactured out west or up north  we would need to increase the kit pricing 40%. So this means a 34′ kit whose approx. sale price is $26,000 would sell for $36,400 an increase of $10,400.

Having our manufacturing plant located in Florida is advantageous for shipping since more is shipped in than out of the state, leaving many trucks headed out empty.

Ai utilizes these independent trucking agencies. We contract to have these trucks carry your building kits outside Florida for approximately $2.70 to $2.90 per mile per semi-truck from our plant in Rockledge, Florida. Shipping within Florida is a minimum of $800. If your Florida building site is south of our factory, the truckers charge more because they have to drive south before they can drive north to leave Florida.  These trucking costs are less than we could do with our own trucks because if we used our own trucks, they would have to deliver the kit and return to Ai’s factory empty.

Per mile shipping costs and minimum shipping costs can vary due to fuel costs, fuel surcharges and travel distances.

If you are an International Client, your freight forwarder coordinates your container shipping. Click on Exporting to learn more. There is an extra fee of $800 per container because Ai has to rent a telescopic forklift boom to load each container.

Even though we have arranged the shipping, the truck carrying your kit does not belong to American Ingenuity, and the driver does not work for us. The driver is an independent driver, contracted for the delivery. Ai has found these drivers to be considerate, understanding and fair people. They are accustomed to transporting valuable merchandise and delivering it in the best possible condition.

Q: How many building kits with your standard R28 insulation fit on one semi truck?
A:
Five 15’s or two 18’s or one 30′, or one 34′, or one 36′, or one 40′, or one 45′ or one 48′ can fit on one semi-truck for delivery. Two 22’s can fit on one truck.  One 22′ & one 27′ can fit on one truck.  If you max out the number of entryways, purchase a link and the thicker insulation, your 45′ or 48′ building kit will require two trucks for delivery.

The 15′ & 18′ kits can be purchased with thinner 3 1/2″ R14 EPS insulation NOT R28 7″ EPS insulation and no 1/2″ dyrwall.  If so the thinner insulation allows for up to ten 15′ dome kits to fit on one truck and up to four 18′ dome kits on one truck.

The 15’ kit and 18’ kit  can be picked up by the buyer if the following size truck, trailer and straps are used.  (each with one entryway, 7” EPS & one set of 2×4’s for temporary wooden rib system)

15′ kit: 

1/2 ton truck minimum (Ai recommends 3/4 ton truck )
13 ea.  2″ x 30′  straps Working Load Limit 3000 lbs.
Trailer specifications
7′ wide 20′ long minimum
tandem axle 3000 lbs. each axle
axles with brakes
bed height of 48″ max

18′ kit: 

1/2 ton truck minimum  (Ai recommends 3/4 ton truck )
13 ea.  2″ x 30′  straps Working Load Limit 3000 lbs.
Trailer specifications
7′ wide 22′ long trailer minimum
tandem axle 3000 lbs. each axle
axles with brakes
bed height of 36″ max

For information on dome kits shipping to international areas in containers or flat racks, click on importing.

Q: Is there insurance to cover the load in case of a problem?
A:
Yes. Each shipping company has cargo insurance.

Q: How do I communicate with the driver and his dispatcher?

A: Ai gives you the name and phone number of the driver.

Q: How does the truck driver get directions to my construction site?

A: You fax or email directions to us describing how to get to your site from the nearest major interstates. Ai gives those directions along with your phone numbers to the driver.

Q: How is the shipping cost paid?

A: The trucking companies require that American Ingenuity pay them directly.  One to 3 months prior to your shipment date, Ai will contact the trucking companies for quotes and negotiate the lowest price possible.  21 days prior to the shipment date, mail a bank check to Ai which includes the balance due on your dome kit and the shipping cost.

 Q: How large will this truck be and how big a turn around area will it need?

A: The semi-truck will be about 70′ long and 8 1/2 feet wide. Consider where the semi can turn around. Semis need a large turning radius. The truck will need about 13 ½’ of clearance overhead.  Ai’s Plant uses a 35′ wide loading area (varies depending on type of forklift and terrain).  When one tiny home kit is shipped, the truck length may be shorter.

Plan sufficient room on both sides of the trailer for the forklift to approach it at a 90 degree angle, lift the load, back straight out until the lifted load completely clears the load on the trailer, then back and turn 90 degrees before proceeding toward the stacking area.

Q: What if my road is curvy or too steep and the semi- truck cannot go up the road?

A: You might have to off load the truck and stack the panels in an open area and use the fork lift or bob cat to take the panels up the curvy, steep road. Some of our clients have carried the panels up their narrow roads on a trailer or in the back of a pick up. If you will be obstructing traffic, have someone available with a flag to caution and direct approaching traffic. Coordinating with law enforcement may be needed in high traffic locations.

If you will be off loading onto a common area and not unloading at your construction site, the truck driver may have to stay longer than the normal three hour unloading time. If so the truck driver will need to be compensated $50 an hour for any time over the three hour unloading time. Let our shipping department know if you need additional time and they will work the additional cost out with the trucking company’s dispatcher.

Q: What damage can occur to the building kit during shipment?

A: The panels may have a small amount of damage from loading or transport. The straps that secure the panels to the truck may make indentations in the E.P.S. edges, which can easily be filled with expanding foam. Even it the panel gets cracked it will not have any structural significance. The crack can either be sealed after the dome is completed or in extreme cases, a layer of stucco applied. Any damage to the EPS can be repaired with the expanding foam provided with your kit. In general, a panel would have to fall off the truck for any appreciable damage to occur.

Q: What is the approximate shipping weight of the Building Kit?

A: 27’-13,000 LBS, 30’-15,000 LBS, 34’ 17,000 LBS, 40’-20,000 LBS, 45’- 22,000 LBS, 48’= 24,000 LBS. The building kits are not really heavy loads. Due to the 7″ thick Expanded Bead Polystyrene insulation, the load is a bulky one.


Even though American Ingenuity has arranged shipping and loaded the truck, the truck carrying your building kit does not belong to Ai and the driver does not work for us.

HAVE A FORKLIFT AND CREW READY TO UNLOAD

Forklift Requirement:

1. All-terrain type unless the entire operation will be on a paved surface.

2. 2,000 to 3,000 pound lift capacity.

3. 48″ long forks are required to unload the 48’ and 45’ kit.

The longer and wider forks will minimize indentations of the panels.

4. Experienced person to drive the forklift .

5. Two additional able-bodied people are needed to assist and to lift non-concreted panels and items from truck.

Try to avoid renting huge, high capacity fork lifts because they are heavy, bulky, and hard to maneuver in limited space.

If the forklift is unable to lift an entire stack of panels it will have to first reach and remove the top half which is apx. 8 ft. above ground level.

48” long and 12” wide strips of ¾” plywood connected to the tops of the forks will also minimize indentations on the panels.

An experienced forklift driver will save you potential damage and unloading time. See Time To Unload below.

Assistance is needed to place the foam blocks on the ground under each stack, remove components that have to be lifted by hand, guide the driver whose view is obstructed by the stack of panels, etc.

The truck driver is not required to direct or unload the ruck.

PLAN THE UNLOADING SITE

1. Long before the kit is due to arrive, select the best place to park the semi truck and select a place to store the kit.

2. Make sure there is plenty of room on both sides of the Semi-Truck for the forklift to maneuver.

3. Overhead clearance of 13 ft.

STORAGE SITE

1. Choose a site close to the dome foundation.

2. Need an area approx. the size of 3 semi truck beds (8 ½ x 50’) to accommodate the panels in partial stacks.

The Semi Truck is 8 ½’ wide & 70’ long requiring a large turning radius.Plan for the truck to have room to turn around or back up to the primary road. If not paved, the surface must be fairly level and compacted, so the truck and forklift will not get stuck.Our plant uses a 35’ wide loading area (varies depending on type of forklift and terrain).

If necessary you could have the truck park as close as possible to the construction site and use the forklift to later carry the stacks of panels the rest of the way to the site.

If you will be obstructing traffic have someone available with a flag to caution and direct approaching traffic. Coordinating with law enforcement may be needed in high traffic locations.

TIME TO UNLOAD

· 3 Hours unloading is included in your truck charge.

· Time over 3 hours will result in an additional $50 per hour.

Loading the truck takes longer. Ai must precisely load the panels to fit in a limited area. Additional time is required to arrange the panels in each stack to line up with the tie down straps and withstand the forces when they are tightened.

PANEL ARRANGEMENT ON THE TRUCK

The concreted panels are grouped together on the truck according to type.

The triangular panels must be supported on the corners while they are being shipped therefore they are setting on foam block spacers and not pallets.

Stacks of smaller, lightweight panels may be secured for shipping with either wire or C-rings.

Cut these panels loose from each other using a diagonal wire cutter, before removing them from the truck.

E & F (Entryway)-panels my lay directly on the truck bed without spacers. With a helper, manually slide a set of 2 E panels aside toward the forks of the forklift, pick them up carefully at the edge and place a foam spacer under them. Now you are able to place the forks under the panel, lift and transport them.

Pentagon Panels labeled “P”, Hexagon Panels “H”, Riser Panels “R” and Entryway Panels “E, F, G”.

See Panel Identification in the Assembly manual.

 

All panels are shipped with the pre-finished concrete side up.

LIFTING PANELS OFF THE TRUCK

BEST OPTION:

Fast and efficient, an entire stack of panels is removed at once. Three people can unload the truck within 3 hours. One drives the fork lift, 2 people, acting as eyes, guide the fork lift driver, who’s view is obstructed by the load.

Unload panels alternately from both sides of the trailer, to keep the load on the truck balanced.

Other methods are less desirable as upper panels are 10-12 feet above the ground, weight 290lbs each.

To avoid breaking off the E.P.S. corners, do not lift heavy panels by their corners, rather lift the panels by holding the EPS at least 12” back from the corners

  • Place the first unloaded stack onto two, 2’ long pieces of 4×4. After the first stack has been unloaded you will be able to place the remaining stacks on the foam spacers which are approx. 3 ½”.
  • Look for spacers of 3½” EPS insulation provided at bottom and middle of H & P stack to accommodate the blades of the forklift. Save them to be used later in the construction process for filling in gaps, or for small repairs.
  • Place the foam spacers on the ground and put the panels on top.

BUILDING KIT INVENTORY

Your kit and components have been checked for quality and quantity three times by experienced employees before the truck left the plant.

Only in extremely rare cases has a part actually been missing.

It would be very time consuming to inventory all the items as the truck is being unloaded. Although you could check off many of the large, boxes, buckets, etc.

Obtain the Building Kit Inventory list from the truck driver.

Within a week of receiving your kit, complete a thorough inventory and assure that you have received all the items on the inventory sheet.

Kit items are listed in categories: Pre-finished Panels, EPS, Insulation Panels, Boxes (numbered consecutively), 5 gallon Buckets, and Bulk Items.

Please check and double check quantities if you think there is a discrepancy.

PANEL STORAGE & TOLERANCE

IN FREEZING CONDITIONS

If the wallboard has absorbed water and exposed to freezing temperatures while it is still damp the fiberglass on the interior surface may delaminate. In extreme cases the core of the board may disintegrate.

If these conditions occur the board can be repaired with joint compound or wallboard sealer. Contact us for assistance.

Some of the liquids will be damaged if they are allowed to freeze. Even the liquids that are not damaged may burst their container, therefore we recommend storing them inside.

Internal wallboard on dome panels is weather resistant. It can be stored outside for a limited period of time (apx. 2- 3 months) without significant damage.

In severe weather and for longer storage, we recommend covering the panels with tarps.

Water or freezing conditions does not affect EPS foam. But can affect the wallboard.

EPS Surfaces that are not covered or painted will very slowly erode if exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet light). The edges of the panels that have exposed EPS are painted at Ai Factory.  If your kit is going to be stored more than 3 months, additional paint will need to be applied on site to protect the EPS.

Items shipped in cardboard boxes, precut 2×4’s and items likely to be stolen should be stored inside.

Typical damage may include: 

  • Concrete corners cracked or EPS edges indented due to the straps.
  • Cracks in some of the thinner concrete, scratch coat, are non-structural and can be sealed later.
  • Damage to the EPS during shipping or construction can be easily repaired with expanding foam provided with your kit.
  • Ai has not had a panel fall off a truck although panels have dropped 10 ft. or more during construction and have been successfully repaired and used.
  • Panels will have some insignificant damage from loading, transporting and unloading.