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Florida 34′ Dome Home High Profile Entryway faces south

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aperture (Collector)

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


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

Thermal mass

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


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


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

A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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

How a Passive Solar Home Design Works

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Thermal capacitance

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

Reading List

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


16.43 custom Colby dining room 001

With the savings on the dome kit,

beautiful flooring and kitchen cabinetry can be purchased

Ai’s dome shell kit price is one fourth to one half less in cost than the shell materials cost for a wood dome, monolithic dome or conventional house (exterior walls, roof trusses, plywood, tar paper, shingles, 3 1/2″ thick insulation, siding, soffits, gutters, shell and ceiling/exterior wall – wall board, etc).  Besides saving on your shell materials cost versus the materials for the shell of a conventional house….you receive more with the Ai Dome Home….greater energy efficiency (insulation comparable to 11″ of fiberglass batting), greater strength and lower maintenance because the exterior of your dome home is concrete with no wood in it or on it to rot, to burn or for termites to eat.

Why is the Ai Dome Kit so reasonable in price?  Mainly it is because of the simplicity of Ai’s component panel, the panel being manufactured in a factory and the philosophy of our company that each client pays for only what they need; i.e. building plans, engineer seal cost, energy report is paid by only those who need it.  To learn more about our philosophy, view Philosophy.  To learn more about Ai’s panel composition, view Composition.

Q: Do you have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?

A:  Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.

To view a building plans sale pricing chart, view Plans Discount.

Ai’s Building Kit and Option Pricing does not include the costs for the Building Plans, Engineer Fee for alternative foundation design other than slab, Engineer Seal on the building plans (if needed), Energy Report (if needed), 2×4’s for the temporary wooden rib system, Semi-truck Shipping, Fork Lift rental to unload the truck at your site or the cost for a hoisting mechanism to lift the panels into place. 

Please view Kit Assembly Consultant file and scroll down the page to view the yellow and blue charts showing estimated labor costs, hoisting mechanism costs, etc.

The money you save by purchasing Ai’s Building Kit can pay for all of the above costs.  For example if you purchase a $30,000 building kit from American Ingenuity,  the shell materials for a conventional house can cost at least $10,000 to $15,000 more especially if you build the conventional house energy efficiently with 2×10 walls and 10″ thick insulation.  Ai asks you to make a comparison chart comparing what you receive in the Ai kit compared to the contents of a log home kit or conventional house kit or Deltec kit.

The most successful dome kit assembly occurs when the home owner or the home owner’s builder hires the independent Consultant to supervise the Kit Assembly. Once the shell is erected, then you or your local contractor hires local subs to finish the conventional jobs of plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, cabinetry, window and door assembly, etc.  To learn more about the Consultant, view Consultant.

To learn more view:

Rib Support System


Dome Construction Overview

The following are items not provided with the Ai dome building kit that are needed on site to assemble the panels, finish the seam concrete between the panels and finish the building options concrete (entryways and dormers), etc.

  • Mortar Mixer (4-8 cubic foot capacity, do not use a cement mixer)
  • Bags of Portland Cement (to fill the seams between the panels and apply on the entryways and dormers)
  • Cement trowels
  • Sand: Masonry Sand or Stucco Sand…no rocks in sand.
  • The following is based on the dome having two entryways, four window dormers, one door dormer and no cupola.
4 yds
2 frequency dome
5 yds
2 frequency dome
8 yds
8.7 yds
9.2 yds
10 yds
11 yds
12 yd

For each additional entryway, add these cubic yards of sand: 22′ – 2.6, 27′ – 0.4, 30′ – 0.4, 34′ – 0.4, 36′ – 0.5, 40′ – 0.5, 45′ – 0.5, 48′ – 0.6.

For a cupola, add these cubic yards of sand:  22′ NA, 27′ NA, 30′ – 0.4, 34′ – 0.5, 36′ – 0.5, 40′ – 0.5, 45′- 0.6, 48′ – 0.6.

For additional door dormers on any size dome 0.3 cubic yards of sand.


The cement used is Portland, type I (the most common) or type III (Ai recommends this type…acquires its strength early). When cement is mixed with sand, aggregate and water, it becomes concrete or mortar. Bags of cement are typically 94 lbs.   

The following is based on each dome having two entryways, four window dormers, one door dormer and no cupola

DOME SIZE  bags of Portland cement

2 frequency dome
2 frequency dome

For each additional entryway add these bags of cement:  22′ – 2.6, 27′ – 3.5, 30′ – 3.7, 34′ – 4, 36′ – 4.1, 40′ – 4.5, 45′- 4.8, 48′ – 5.1 

For a cupola add these bags of cement: 22′ NA, 27′ NA, 30′ – 3.9, 34′ – 4.3, 36′ – 4.4, 40′ – 4.8, 45′ – 5.2, 48′ – 5.4.

For an additional door dormer on any size dome add 2.5 bags of cement.

  • Suspension Rods and Top and Bottom Plates (can be purchased from AI)
  • Shovels
  • 5 gallon buckets
  • Wheelbarrows
  • 25’ Tape Measures
  • Ladders 16’ and 32’
  • 2×4’s for the temporary support system.  The 2×4’s are cut to specific lengths, holes drilled for the bolts and each end painted red, white or blue.  Ai can cut them to length, drill the holes and paint each end.  For pricing call our office:  321-639-8777.
    • The 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′ and 48′ each require 135 – 2×4’s.
    • The 22′ and 27′ each require 75 – 2×4’s.
  • Additional supports for the temporary support system – around 20 – 8′ 2×4’s and 33 – 10′ 2x4s for smaller domes.
  • Steel Scaffolding
  • Work Platforms:
    • For work platforms greater than 6’ long use a 2×4 under a 2×10 platform.
    • You will use scaffolding brackets, 10d duplex nails, 5/16” lag screws, 2×4’s 10’ long.
    • The work platform can be extended around the dome by overlapping another 2×10 and adding another post.
    • Nail overlapping platforms together.
    • Each platform will hold one person.
    • Be sure to use safety rope and a harness.
  • In the Kit Assembly Manual is complete Tool, Material, Utility listing.
  • Rental of a hoisting mechanism
  • On your Order Form there is a listing of items that come with your kit with quantities: for fibers, admixtures, bonding agent, cans of expanding foam, metal dispensing gun, cleaner for gun, C-rings small and large, C-ring pliers, two steel cables, etc.  Due to spillage and loss at job site, our clients tend to purchase additional quantities of these items that are shipped on the truck with their kit.  This saves on later shipping costs.
  • Labor to install the cement in the seams, entryways, link, cupola, and dormers. View Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more about this.
  • Labor, Joint Compound and Tape to finish the interior shell wall board seams.  Primer to prime the shell drywall.
  • All interior items (excluding the interior shell wallboard which comes with the Building Kit):  Plumbing, Electrical, Framing, HVAC, Bathroom fixtures, Lighting Fixtures, Kitchen Cabinets, Appliances, Foundation, Flooring, Stairs, Lift or Elevator, Windows, Doors (exterior and interior).  Due to the wide assortment of these items and varying price points, Ai does not believe you should pay shipping on items that you can purchase locally.  View Dome versus Stick Built to learn more.

Hoisting Methods

The methods used for lifting the panels includes: Man Lift, cranes and Highlifts (all terrain scissors forklifts often used by roofers).  To view more on hoisting methods, click on Lifting.

Monthly rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains like US Rentals, Hertz Equipment Rentals, United Rentals, etc. The companies can be found in the telephone book.

The panels for the domes are best placed using a man lift or crane that is capable of lifting 300-400 pounds, 25 feet up and 25 feet out.

With a four-person work crew, use of a temporary wooden rib system and proper bracing of the panels, a row of panels of a 40′ dome can be placed in about a day of crane time.

Man Lifts or cranes can be rented by the day, week or month. Sometimes larger domes with three to five entryways, the rental of a crane for one month maybe most cost effective. Besides lifting the panels, the crane can be used to lift buckets of cement. Cement is used to fill the seams between the panels and to stucco the entryways, dormers, link and or cupola.

Wooden Rib System Is Needed As Temporary Support During The Dome Kit Assembly

American Ingenuity’s Dome Building Kits are erected using a system to temporarily hold the panels in place until the seam concrete and concrete on the entryways, dormers, cupola and link has cured and the entryways and dormers are framed in. The system is dismantled upon completion of the dome and the 2×4’s are recycled as part of the interior framing. For example, around the perimeter of the second floor a two foot tall knee wall is built. 2×4’s not tall enough for interior framing can be used for the knee wall. Behind this knee wall, electrical, plumbing or ducting can be run or the space can be used for storage. View Rib.

The Rib System consists of using your own 2×4’s (that have been cut to length, holes drilled and the ends painted red, white or blue (or you can purchase them cut, drilled and painted from Ai…call 321-639-8777 for pricing) and the steel hubs on loan from America Ingenuity to assemble a free standing framework which matches the geometry of the dome.

  • The rib system dictates exact panel placement.
  • Once all the seams, entryways, dormers, link, cupola, etc. have been concreted, entryways and dormers framed in and the concrete has cured, the rib system is disassembled, the hubs are returned to American Ingenuity and the 2×4’s are recycled as interior framing.
  • As the building kit is being assembled upon the temporary wooden rib system, extra 2X4’s are used to support each steel hub.
  • The advantages of using the Rib System Option versus the Radial System Option are:
    • Since the Rib System reflects the dome geometry, a panel cannot be inadvertently positioned incorrectly.
    • The Rib System is most suitable for accurate assembly.
    • The hub rental charge is a $800 deposit with the hubs being kept for five months. After that the rental fee is $20 per month. If the hubs are returned to us intact within the five month period, the complete $800 deposit is returned. The hubs are returned to Ai via UPS or common carrier at the client’s expense.
    • The Rib System is bolted together from 2×4’s and color-keyed hubs. 

Tools and Materials needed to assemble the Rib System (complete list is in the Manual):

  • Set of steel scaffolding to reach at least the dome height plus three feet (the dome height can be estimated by taking one half of the diameter of the dome.)
  • 9/16” wrenches and ratchet
  • 46 hubs (borrowed from Ai for three frequency dome), 255 bolts, nuts, and washers purchased from Ai
  • 15 diagonal braces: 2x4x8’ studs
  • Chain and couplers to make the lifting harness which is used with the lifting spikes
  • Precut, holes drilled and color-coded wood ribs (2×4’s used are lightweight wood, not pressure treated)
    • The 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′, and 48′ rib system requires 135 – 2×4’s
    • The 22’ and 27’ need 75 – 2×4’s
    • If you do not want to buy the 2×4’s and cut them to length, color code them and drill the holes, purchase them from American Ingenuity. Due to the fluctuating cost of 2×4’s, we estimate the cost when ordered.
  • Two pounds 12d or 16d common nails and 60d nails (in top of hub support)

 The American Ingenuity dome building kit does not include doors and windows. There is such a variety and varying price points possible, we leave their selection and local purchase up to each client. The floor plan you select will determine how many entryways or dormers you will have. Within the entryways and dormers {eye brows}, you or your framing subcontractor installs a vertical wall to frame in what ever standard doors or windows you have purchased locally.

No interior items are included except for the dome shell wall board. Ai believes you should not pay shipping on conventional items that you can purchase locally such as: foundations, basement wall kits, second floor joists, stairs, plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, etc.

The component panels do not come with any paint on them. Ai does not add any color to the concrete. On site concrete is applied to the seams so if Ai painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your seam concrete. The concrete shell is primed and painted after the entire building kit is assembled. The painting should include a concrete primer and two coats of good quality paint. Ai dome owners recommend Ames products to prime and paint the dome which can be purchased at Ace Hardware and True Value for similar Home Depot and Lowe’s paint pricing. When on Ames site click on Local Dealers to find other suppliers in your area. The dome can be painted any color, tan, blue, green, etc. preferably a light to medium color to reflect the sunlight. The following gallon calculation is for each coat of primer or paint.


Dome Size:
Exterior Surface:
Gallons of Paint: