Frequently Asked Questions
What are the eco advantages of a geodesic dome over other structures?
- What types of dome covers are available?
- Are covers wind and waterproof?
- Why are some dome covers wrinkled?
- How strong is a professionally manufactured geodesic dome?
- What are the load capacity combinations?
- How do I obtain a permit for my dome?
- Do event domes need to be flame-retardant?
- What are typical surface and flooring options?
- How many doors and/or windows do I get with a standard living dome?
- What types of doors are available?
- What are the windows and bay windows made of?
- Can I lock my dome? How secure will it be?
- How can I heat or cool my dome?
- How is a dome energy efficient?
- How do I ventilate my dome?
- Can my dome withstand extreme weather and climates?
- How much does shipping cost?
- How do I maintain my dome?
Eco-friendly, sustainable, and ‘green’ are synonymous with geodesic domes. Domes have been icons of global awareness long before it was part of main-stream culture, messaging a harmonic part of conscious, “earth-friendly” living.
Geodesic shelters have been called the most efficient structural design ever conceived possessing approximately one-third less surface area than a rectilinear structure of similar size. The curved interior of the dome encourages natural air circulation which helps to reduce the amount of energy required for heating and cooling. Domes are a lightweight, viable alternative to traditional construction and are quickly becoming the alternative to eco-living spaces, private studios and a host of other uses.
With the simple addition of a low voltage wiring system, electricity can be supplied with wind, solar, or hydroelectric power. The installation of a composting toilet, solar exhaust fans and a rainwater catchment system are a few of the other efficient and cost-effective ways to reduce your imprint and live “off the grid” in a geodesic dome.
An affordable alternative home option, geodomes are an eco-friendly answer to sustainable development. They are made of durable, competitively priced, high-quality architectural materials. The geodesic shelter dome application can last up to 20 years with minimal maintenance. The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than normal rectilinear homes according to the Oregon Dome Co.
Dome manufacturers offer many types of covers: geodesic shelter dome covers, geodesic event dome covers, and geodesic greenhouse dome covers, all of which professional dome manufacturers typically construct with high quality architectural fabric, pre-processed to be flame-retardant in accordance with California State Fire Marshal standards. A quality material will be 100% waterproof, UV protected and mildew resistant.
Covers can be additionally customized; with the help of your geodesic dome cover manufacturer, windows, skylights and doors can be placed within your cover to suit your application. A standard dome will include up to 3 hexagonal doors.
Option #1: Long-life Dome Cover
Coated with a protective, high-gloss vinyl, this heavy-duty, translucent cover is best used for long-term, outdoor use. It comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty. With proper care, this cover can last up to 20 years in the elements. The long-life dome cover is available in 13 different colors.
Option #2: Standard Event Dome Cover/ Designed for temporary event use, this translucent cover is 50% lighter than a traditional long-life dome cover and comes in standard white. However, they are perfectly suited for high-resolution printing and branding. Quick to install and easy to store, this cover is highly portable making this option an ideal solution for special events. The versatile material is a polymar-coated polyester/cotton blend with a slightly matte finish.
Option #3: Greenhouse Dome Cover/
Made of transparent, rip-stop, nylon-threaded clear vinyl, a geodesic greenhouse dome is a unique, long-lasting solution to four-season growing. The sturdy greenhouse dome cover will perform impeccably, even in the harshest weather conditions.
Yes, as long as they are installed properly. The cover must be sealed tightly around the base and at any spot where it has been altered for permanent openings. It is also important that the cover be free of rips and tears, which can result from improper handling.
There are two key factors to avoiding wrinkles in your dome cover: quality manufacturing and precision installation. Major dome manufacturers such as Domeguys International set higher standards for dome cover quality because of their reputation to generate a cover that will fit exclusively to your frame. Upon initial installation, your dome may appear wrinkled due to tight packing. In a weeks time, the sun or internal heat will naturally smooth out the wrinkles.
To ensure a smooth, wrinkle-free cover, make sure that the cover is accurately fitted to the frame. The dome cover material is an architectural textile, which does not have much stretch; it can be difficult to avoid all rippling. For best results, be sure your cover is fitted properly and professionally installed.
Aside from their natural beauty, domes also have many structural advantages. Geodesic shelters have been built around the world in different climates and temperatures and have proven to be the most efficient human shelter. Geodesic domes are made from a self-supporting system of high-strength lightweight steel struts that are connected together with an industry-rated nut and bolt system.
Unlike traditional homes, domes get proportionally stronger as their size increases. This strength not only makes them incredibly weather tolerant able to withstand high wind and hurricane like situations they can bear heavy snow loads in winter climates. Further dome strength can be increased by adding a heavy duty frame upgrade. This a good choice for anyone with load needs that exceed the capacity of standard frames of 2,500 lbs suspended from the frame, a 100 mph wind load or 20 pounds per square foot of snow.
Dome manufacturers such as Domeguys International retain the services of structural engineers. This is essential to ensure the structural integrity of each new or modified dome design before being sent out to the manufacturing floor. If your location is in a high-wind or hurricane zone, increased seismic activity or snowy region, design and construction need to be adapted if a standard frame requires to be upgraded, taking a solid engineering approach to safety and comfort.
As an example, a geodesic dome can be engineered to specific load specifications. A standard dome such as provided by DGI are engineered to support the following load combination:
Snow load = 20 lbs per sq ft (~2.5′ accumulation of fluffy snow)
Wind load = 100 mph (@ exposure C)
Dead load = 2500 lbs (spread over 5 top hubs)
Seismic load = 4
Building codes vary from county to county and country to country. Reputable dome manufacturers will provide you with an engineering report, CAD drawings and fire certificates to bring to your local planing department. You can also be put in touch with an engineer who can assist with the permitting process, for an additional fee.
Event domes should always use fire-retardant covers and material under any and all circumstances. Quality dome covers are constructed with high quality architectural fabric, pre-processed to be flame-retardant in accordance with California State Fire Marshal standards and other regulations in North America and Europe.
Build surface and flooring can range from an elevated wooden deck, a solid concrete foundation, or an earthen floor. As part of your pre-planning you will need to determine what build surface or flooring is perfect for your dome.
Anchoring options will be recommended for the flooring option you choose.
Our standard package comes with up to three hexagonal, waterproof zip-in openings that can be utilized as doors or large bay windows. The average minimum size of these openings is approximately 7 feet in height.
You may order extra openings to accommodate more doors and or bay windows. Please note: When an extra door is added, all the entries must be reinforced in order to maintain the integrity of the dome. The reinforcement steel costs $600/per additional door.
There are other popular alternatives to the standard hexagonal door such as circular doors, standard doors, and french doors. Most of these custom options require an additional charge. For example, a circular door requires the inclusion of a steel door ring which are approximately $600 each and will be an additional charge per doorway. If you feel that your home would be better suited with an alternate doorway, just ask your dome manufacturer and they can let you know what it will take to accommodate your vision.
Windows, skylights and bay windows are usually made of marine-quality, fire retardant clear vinyl. Many other types of windows can be added to your dome which will require additional fabrication and installation at an extra charge.
Just as is the case with any home – if someone really wanted to break in, they could find a way. Installing a locking entry door will provide added security.
Domes are heated using traditional methods, such as a radiant heat concrete slab, propane monitor heater, electric/gas heat pump, or wood stove.
A solar fan, swamp cooler, or standard A/C unit will cool the dome during hot weather.
Geodesic domes are usually sold without heating or A/C units but can be adapted to the installation of any chosen unit by allowing appropriate intake and venting areas in the cover of your dome.
Here are some important factors that should be considered when planning for the heating and cooling of your dome:
- What climate do you live in, what are the extremest times in terms of temp from hot to cold
- Will your dome have any additional insulation
- What is the geographic placement of your dome in terms of sunshine?
- What is the max # of people that will be inside the dome at one time?
- What type of electricity will your Dome have? Will you require a generator?
The net annual energy savings for a dome owner is 30% less than normal rectilinear homes according to the Oregon Dome Co. This is quite an improvement and helps save the environment from wasted energy.
The decreased surface area of a geodesic dome requires less building materials, which means that there is less surface area per unit of volume per spherical structure; exposure to cold in the winter and heat in the summer is decreased. The concave interior creates a natural airflow that allows the hot or cool air to flow evenly throughout the dome with the help of return air ducts. Extreme wind turbulence is lessened because winds that contribute to heat loss flow smoothly around the dome. And with the proper heating or cooling equipment, the internal temperature can be controlled.
Because of their aerodynamic round walls that foster the efficient travel of air, heating and cooling costs are minimal, but like in any enclosed structure condensation buildup can happen. It can be avoided with proper ventilation. With the installation of a simple ventilation system your dome will be cozy and comfortable. A professional dome manufacturer will help you to design a cover that allows for optimal air flow in conjunction with your heating and cooling systems.
Another great cost-effective solutions to maximize airflow that supports efficiency in heating, cooling and venting your dome is the solar powered exhaust fan. Solar fans are self-contained and maintenance-free.
The solar fan will come with flashing to prevent leaks, but it’s very important that the hole in the dome cover is the correct size – it needs to be the same size as the exhaust outlet. You can cut the hole yourself (measurements will be included), or you can order the cover pre-cut for $200.
The ingenious engineering of the geodesic dome was popularized by renowned “futurist and global thinker,” Buckminster Fuller. Fuller’s primary example of the incredible strength of the dome was to simply point out the obvious geometric strength differences between the rectangle and the triangle. When pressure is applied to both structures, the rectangle folds up and proves unstable while the triangle withstands the pressure and maintains rigidity. In fact, the triangle is twice as strong. Upon this discovery, Fuller directed his studies toward creating a new architectural design–the geodesic dome–based upon his findings and the idea of “doing more with less.” Fuller discovered that if a spherical structure was created from triangles, it would have unparalleled strength.
Quality geodesic domes are made from a self-supporting system of high-strength, lightweight, steel struts that are connected together with an industry-rated nut and bolt system. The geodesic dome gets proportionally stronger as size increases. This strength makes them incredibly weather-tolerant, able to withstand high wind, hurricane-like situations, and heavy snow loads in wintry climates. All domes should and will need to be properly secured to it’s base to ensure proper response in inclement weather. A heavy duty frame upgrade may also be necessary for your particular application.
Professional geodesic dome covers are constructed with high-quality architectural fabric, pre-processed to be flame-retardant in accordance with California State Fire Marshal standards. Quality materials are 100% waterproof, UV and mildew resistant.
Shipping costs can vary quite a bit based on the size of the order, shipping destination and method of transport (air, ocean, truck etc.). Typically, domes are drop shipped to the closest port or airport (depending on method of transport) and the client will handle customs clearance and delivery. Many countries offer their citizens tariff rebates, so oftentimes this arrangement is highly beneficial to the client.
How do I maintain my dome?
The maintenance of your geodesic dome will depend on the location and climate, plus frequency and type of usage. Beyond general upkeep, here are a few tips on keeping your dome clean and well-maintained:
Cover: Checking any high-use areas, such as around doors, and check window zipper seams for wear and tear. Investigate any openings in your dome skin, including the base of the dome, where venting, fans and heating materials are located to ensure they are still properly sealed there are no tears and no dirt or debris has collected. Wash any debris off regularly that my have landed on your dome skin and regularly check for any unusual wear and tear or other obvious changes or damage.
Frame: Occasionally check your frame nut and bolt intersections for tightness of bolts. After any extreme weather situations check all frame intersections for cracking.