masonry heater fireplace | AiDomes

The following info covers Collar Dome Heating Info for domes off the Grid.

(arrows on left and right change pictures)

Collar 45′ & 30′ Linked Domes in Moab, Utah

at 7,500 feet elevation

The concrete dome kits were purchased in 1996.  The Collars were Do It Yourself builders.  Their off the grid system includes photovoltaics, masory heater fireplace, passive solar water tubes and propane heaters.

The third photo shows the living room including the masonry heater fireplace top/center and the passive solar water tubes in the window on the left. The water tubes are also visible from the outside in photograph one. That’s a water feature over on the far right.

Photo number two shows a typical winter – although recent conditions have led to greater extremes with far less or even more snow.

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 lighning 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!”

 

This article covers Ai Dome in Hot or Cold Climates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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