off the grid | AiDomes

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

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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.

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

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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.

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.

 Testimonials American Ingenuity dome owner quotes and pictures 

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15 year old – 34′ Dome on full basement in Colorado

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Colorado 34′ Dome’s kitchen & partial view of second floor

34′ Dome on full basement in Colorado which is 15 years old:  Toni told us: “I built the American Ingenuity dome for my retirement home and now that I am retired I am so glad that did. I love my dome.  In 2014 we experienced a hail storm that beat the paint off part of their dome & damaged a vent. There was no damage to the concreted panels. To warm the dome in the winter I designed the windows to face south to let the sun in, I installed baseboard heaters that are heated with hot water and I use propane to heat the water in the boiler.  For back up I have a small gas stove.”  Above are two pictures of her dome.

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Twenty-five year old Florida AiDome Home Built in 1992

Three dome complex consists of 40′ dome home linked to a 30 garage dome with separate 22′ work shop dome (not visible on the right).  In an 8/2/17 Florida Today article, the reporter wrote:

But perhaps one the best selling points, the couple added, is the home’s safety features. Terry explained that the geodesic home is built to endure up to 225 mph winds, and is energy efficient. The couple said they have not paid more than an $80 electric bill since living in the home. 

“We’ve never had to evacuate (during a hurricane),” said Terry. “And we’ve never had any hurricane damage.”

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Pictures below are of this 45' dome on full basement.

Oliver 45′ Dome on full basement in Missouri – 21 year old dome

Dome Sold in 2011

Building the dome was a labor of love. We had visited your offices and researched every model and floor plans of every kit manufacturer in the US and, as you know, chose American Ingenuity’s kit. It was a wonderful experience constructing it. We appreciate all the guidance and support we received from you folks. We are available for testimonials and recommendations to any and all interested parties. Ralph Oliver. To view more pictures of their dome, please click on Oliver dome.

 

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Charles exterior

Charles 40ft Dome

Charles living pic1Charles 40′ Dome in Pennsylvania

One of American Ingenuity’s Pennsylvania Dome Owners Roger & Jeanne Charles installed radiant floor system in their basement and dome first floor.   To view pictures of their dome, please click on Charles Dome

This a quote from them and above are two pictures.

“We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9” livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a GeoThermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system.

Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 by 73 ft mobile home while building the Dome.

Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.”

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Whaley 34′ dome kitchen view. 

From R. Whaley, Florida: “Once the dome is initially heated or cooled, the temperature remains constant. Just think of when you take your soda pop to the beach on the hottest day of the year in an inch thick foam cooler. Once the house gets cool or hot as desired, it retains that temperature and stays constant.” In 2004 their dome went through two hurricanes. The following is their comments on the storms: “We live in a 34′ dome one block from the ocean. Our domes went through Hurricane Frances and the exit winds of Hurricane Charley. During the hurricane we could hear things hitting the domes. In the morning we walked around the yard and picked up shingles and soffits from other people’s houses and washed off our driveway. It was as if nothing had happened at all.” (34′ dome home and 27′ dome garage)

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From the Mathes, Florida: Their 34′ dome home with 30′ garage dome utilize 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!”

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Exterior solar Pineapple garage

34′ dome linked to 22′ one car garage dome – 12 year old domes.

Interior kitchen island 34' Pineapple

34′ dome kitchen built on entryway wall

From G. Busick, Florida: “During the hot summer months (May thru August), we can cool a 1,075 sq.ft. dome for less than $27 a month. We maintain an interior temperature of 76 degrees when home and 79 degrees when not.  To view electric bills & other 34 dome pics, click on Energy Efficient.

During Hurricane Jeanne, our neighborhood had 80 mph winds. The Ai domes had no damage, but a neighbor across the street lost her roof.. The entire interior of her house had to be replaced due to water damage.” (34′ dome home and 22′ garage dome) See info on Hurricanes.

 

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Exterior harlock showing both domes cor gb

 40′ dome linked to 30′ Garage Dome – 30 year old domes.

Interior dining room screen dome patio

From M. Ferral, Florida:  dining room in 40′ dome.  All electric home.  Three bedroom two bath 40′ dome average summer AC costs is less than $50.  I-95 abuts the back of this property.  When sliding doors are closed cannot hear traffic.  These domes won the award for “Most Energy Efficient Residence in the Southeastern USA.”

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Front

48 foot diameter (48 Delta 22 floor plan) approximately 2,600 sq. ft.

three bedroom, two bath American Ingenuity two story,

steel reinforced concrete dome home in Edgewater Florida.

Per Eric, “The Dome is very efficient and strong. It has been hit by several hurricanes and tropical storms with no damage at all. My neighbor’s conventional house was severely damaged by the storms. I keep the house at 72 degrees in the summer and warmer in winter. My electric bill is around $100 a month with no water/sewer bill because I’m on well/septic. The house is designed for very little maintenance.”

Features of the dome:
1. 3 ton 13 seer central AC system.
2. All windows are 7/8 low e argon filled dual pane glass.
3. The 10 foot sliding door is 1 inch low e argon filled.
4. The concrete exterior is painted with elastomeric paint.
5. Has 4 skylights and a transom window…all low e.

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From the Sparrows, Florida Keys: “We call our home ‘Sparrows’ Nest’…it’s pretty strong. It may look small from the outside, but…there’s a lot of room. The house is a rock.” (30′)

From the Clarks and Sayles, Ft Pierce Florida: “The eye wall of Hurricane Frances sat on us for two hours so the category 2 hurricane did category 3 damage. We experienced 120 to 130 mph winds with no dome damage while the house across the street lost most of its shingles.”

From the Woods,  Florida: “We were in the direct path of Hurricane Charley. We had winds greater than 145 mph and our dome had no problems. One widow got a crack from debris. Most of our town was destroyed and all three area hospitals had roof damage. Thank you for our dome.” (40′ dome and 27′ garage dome)

From the Vandebergs and Delongs, North Ft. Meyers Florida: “Thank you for our dome. The eye of Hurricane Charley passed only 15 miles from our dome. We had 117 mph sustained winds. Our domes stood strong. The only vulnerable part was our garage door. We used 2×4’s, plywood and sandbags to keep it from blowing in.” (34′ dome and 27′ garage dome)

From the Drybolas, Milton Florida: “Our neighborhood looked like a war zone. We were in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan and had the full blast of the winds plus there was a tornado in our area. Our concrete domes were wonderful and suffered no damage, despite winds of over 135 mph. Pine trees were stripped of bark and needles and many were lying on a 45 degree angle. Firefighters came by our dome and told us ‘You have the right house for this storm.’ We’ve had over 200 people stop by and see our dome. Believe me your product has never been shown off as good! Wish more people by the beaches, who lost everything would come by, sure wouldn’t have to worry anymore.” (45′ and 30′ with 34′ screen dome)

From the Hendersons, Santa Rosa Beach Florida: “We had over 135 mph winds from Hurricane Ivan and our domes suffered no damage. Our domes are close to the Gulf and sit about 56′ above sea level. This is higher than the surrounding houses so we received the maximum of any wind force, yet we received no damage. (48′ and 34′)

From L. Sawh, Florida: “It’s hard to believe, but we finally finished this house of ours! It’s taken us a good year and a half but its all been worth the hard work and challenges. We began with some designs on paper, added some features of our own, took a few suggestions from other dome owners and with a lot of sweat and pain, not forgetting our subs and the folks at the bank, here we are!!!” (40′ and 27′ Garage dome)

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From R. Napolitan, Idaho: “The dome is snug and warm. We heat it mostly with a woodstove that’s in the basement. Our staircases are open so the heat rises. It stays about 68 degrees without much effort, with our lowest outside temp…5-6 degrees. (2,000+ sq.ft. with basement, 34′)

From B. Gates, Illinois: “I’ve never been too much of a conventional person. I thought this was a pretty neat design, very energy-efficient. I like to keep things environmentally nice. It’s almost an organic feeling, being surrounded by curves instead of by rectangles. It seems to be a more relaxing environment to be in.” (48′)

From D. Partlow, Indiana: “The dome is ‘awesome’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘breathtaking’. At least that’s what visitors say. It is and it’s also a very comfortable home to live in. Our June electric bill was $107, we are total electric! We still love the house and the great savings on energy!!!” (2,400+ sq.ft.; 48′)

From S. Mumphrey, Louisiana: “We’re three years in our dome…we still pinch ourselves every morning thinking its a dream. But, it’s REAL and we love it.” (45′)

From L. Gillis, Michigan: “I don’t see how a city can ignore one of the great architectural breakthroughs of the 20th Century. A city without geodesic domes, is not thinking about progress. It’s thinking about replicating the past. A city cannot be a world-class city, unless it has some geodesic domes.” (45′)

From H. Willis, Mississippi: “I like the openness. You can see the kitchen, dining room, living room and bedroom loft when you walk in the front door.” (34′ with 25′ screen dome)

From L. Covington, North Carolina: “Doing everything on my own, not too bad when I think that it will save me $25,000 in labor costs for doing everything outside and inside….The folks that ride by are trying to break their necks gawking at the dome. A curiosity for folks I guess and a few have stopped for more info and a lot come back from time to time to check the progress….” (30′)

From J. Chang: “Thank you again for being the great company that you are! Keep us in the loop with information on finishing touches.” (48′)

From K. Millar, South Carolina: “What this house is about is alternatives.  We decorated it with an Oriental theme, even painting the floor with an Asian motif and we surrounded the house with a Japanese garden.” (40′)

From R. Scripps, Texas: “I like to thank you again for the advice you have given me and Dale.” (Two 45′ domes on full basements)

From J. Holden, Texas: “We just love our four domes, even after 15 years!” (40′)

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RayMesa Snow-4

Utah 45′ Dome Home linked to 30′ Garage Dome

 

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Utah 45′ Dome Home Living Room

From J. Collar, Utah: “My wife, Mary, devoured articles and books about straw bale, rammed earth, poured adobe, earthships, log, and any other unconventional building systems. Finally, Mary announced to me that she had found our house; a precast concrete and eps geodesic dome kit! Although I wasn’t wild about the look of a dome house, as an engineer I was excited about the sheer practicality. I quickly ran some heat loss calculations and found that at -20 degrees F, we could expect to keep the 2700 sq.ft. of living space at 70 degrees F using little more than 30,000 btuh, about 1/3 the size of a conventional home furnace. With judicious use of a large solar window and a masonry heater fireplace, we could limit our use of propane for backup heating.” (45′ and 30′ Garage 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.