Questions and Answers about the U-Dome
Q: WHAT IS THE LIFE OF THE DOME: ARE THEY TEMPORARY STRUCTURES OR WILL THEY LAST FOR YEARS UNDER MOSTLY VERY HOT CONDITIONS, AND LIGHT SNOW?
A: There are two distinct answers to “lifetime”.
1) If the white semi-translucent panels are left in their natural state then they have a three to five year anticipated lifetime before UV-degradation leads to pinholes or cracks. The panels have a chemical UV inhibitor that gives this significantly extended lifetime over polypropylene with no UV inhibitor.
2) If the panels are painted, which creates an opaque barrier to UV (and visible light, and IR…), then there are several benefits including extended lifetime. We don’t have full lifecycle testing on painted panels, but we anticipate approximately 10 years. The painted panels then also create a full shade structure, which is cooler in the summer, and also precludes night-time shadows from interior lighting being visible from the outside.
Q: ARE THE DOMES INSULATED AT ALL?
A: We have a “W-Dome” configuration that is fully insulated and includes our “Snow Peak” for shedding snow. The thin-panel insulation creates 3 ½” baffled chambers enclosing the entire dome, which is the optimum gap when dead air is the insulating medium: too wide a gap for efficient conduction; too narrow a gap for efficient convection.
Q: WILL THEY HOLD UP TO LIGHT SNOW?
A: We recommend configuring the U-Dome with our Snow Peak in environments with snow. This sheds the snow off of the uppermost (most horizontal) surface of the dome.
Q: CAN I ANCHOR THEM TO THE GROUND OR WILL THEY DO WELL IN WINDY CONDITIONS?
A: The lower panels (“Riser Wall”) include a skirt flap which can be screwed to the platform or base on which the U-Dome is erected. It is also possible to anchor the U-Dome directly to the ground. Empirical testing and calculations confirm the anchored or screwed-down single-shell U-Dome as stable in up to 65 mph winds. We provide multiple eye bolts and cord for guy-lines for further support in stronger winds. The double-shell (insulated) W-Dome is more rigid and withstands higher winds, although the upper limits on this structure are not yet determined as we have only recently completed tooling on the thin-panel insulation.
Q: ARE THEY VENTILATED OR DO I NEED TO PURCHASE THE SCREEN DOOR AND CEILING VENT? HOW MANY VENTS CAN I INSTALL FOR VENTILATION?
A: We offer “Panel Vents” for the lower walls, “Roof Vents”, and an opening screened window, and also an “RV-type” door option that includes a double-door with inner screen door and locking outer hard-panel door. These are all options that you can configure for your situation. For an environment that is hot in the summer and cold in the winter as you indicate above, we would recommend the following configuration:
1) a W-Dome, including insulation panels and Snow Peak.
2) RV-type double door (aluminum frame, inner screen door, locking hard panel outer door)
3) four panel vents, two roof vents, and two opening screened windows
4) Paint the U-Dome using exterior latex acrylic with primer, light color.We would price this as the unit at: $3,795, plus tax and freight.
Q: DOES THE DOME COME WITH A DOOR OR DO I NEED TO PURCHASE ONE?
A: As an option to the above RV-type door, we can provide the panels pre-cut for a pre-hung 30″x80″ exterior door which you can provide. (Exterior doors include the threshold, which is important.)
Q: IS THE STRUCTURE COMPLETELY WATERPROOF WITH THE PLYWOOD FLOORS OR DOES THIS UNIT NEED TO BE ELEVATED ABOVE GROUND?
A: The U-Dome itself is fully waterproof. We recommend installing the U-Dome on a platform for which we have a simple set of plans. We also recommend both weather stripping and caulk under the skirt flap that is attached to the platform. This combination is proven to eliminate seepage of water under the skirt. Other bases and methods for sealing the skirt are also possible.
Q: CAN I COOK IN THEM, PUT A HEATER IN THEM?
A: We have two heater options and a wood stove vent adapter option. WS can provide either an off-grid propane-fueled heater with vented intake and outlet (i.e. no combustion by-products inside the shelter), or a high-efficiency 110v ceramic panel heater (two per U-Dome recommended).
Q: ARE THESE UNITS FIRE RETARDANT?
A: Yes, the panels are fully fire retardant. When exposed to an open flame they will melt but will not ignite, i.e. will not propagate the flame.
Q: HOW MUCH WILL ONE UNIT COST ME AND WHAT IS THE SHIPPING COST?
A: If you give us your preferred configuration and whether it is a residence or business address, we can quote the U-Dome and the freight. (Business addresses are about $75 less expensive to ship these units to.) See our eBay listings for package pricing on different configurations.
Q: DO YOU HAVE CONFIGURATIONS/SPECS FOR ADDING THE SHOWER DOME (AND HOW IT ATTACHES TO THE MAIN DOME?)
A: At the moment the 80 sq. ft. Shower Dome is a stand-alone unit. We have the adaptation system for joining multiples of the 200 sq ft. U-Dome into an integral modular structure, and also for multiples of the 80 sq ft. structures. But these two are distinct geometries and not yet adapted to each other.
Q: DOES THE WATER ON DEMAND UNIT COME WITH THE MAIN DOME PACKAGE OR SHOWER DOME (IF SO, WHAT BRAND/MODEL) OR DOES THE BUYER SELECT HIS OWN AND HAVE IT INSTALLED?
A: We sell at a discount the Zodi brand of on-demand hot water showers. The 1 gpm unit is $369.
Q: WHAT ABOUT GREY WATER? ARE THERE SPECS FOR PLUMBING THAT PEOPLE HAVE ADDED?
A: Where grey water needs to be managed we recommend having the Shower Dome on a platform that is tall enough to accommodate the grey water tank underneath. The handling of that stored grey water is then a subsequent requirement that is the owner’s responsibility.
Q: HOW ABOUT ELECTRICITY OF ANY KIND? HAS ANYONE ADDED ELECTRIC SPECS TO ANY OF THE DOMES?
A: We don’t have electrical plans per se. There are many attachment points for conduit or flex to be routed wherever needed.
Q: WHAT KEEPS THE VENTS AND WINDOWS FROM LEAKING? APPLY SILICON AFTER INSTALLATION?
A: The shingled design keeps the vents and windows from leaking. The roof vent gets a bead of silicone caulk.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY EXAMPLES OF MULTIPLE DOMES BEING ATTACHED TOGETHER? (IF SO HOW MANY SO FAR??)
A: The joining of U-Domes has been done by us to confirm that it works, but no field installations to date.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A PRICE SHEET FOR THE DOUBLE INSULATED DOME YET?
A: See our eBay listing for reference on the winterized shelter.
Q: CENTRAL TEXAS IS RELATIVELY HUMID…WHAT ABOUT MOLD? CONDENSATION? (DE-HUMIDIFIER OR SMALL WINDOW AC UNIT MIGHT REQUIRE ELECTRICITY?) DO YOU KNOW HOW HUMIDITY/CONDENSATION HAS BEEN SOLVED?
A: The venting typically creates enough circulation that condensation is minimized. We cannot claim that humidity/condensation is “solved”. If you have 110v then a de-humidifier or small AC would certainly be beneficial.
Q: NOT THAT THESE WERE DESIGNED FOR FOLKS TO BE SPOILED IN…BUT HAS ANYONE ADDED A SMALL WINDOW AC UNIT WITH THESE WINDOW DIMENSIONS?
A: Not yet. You could be our showcase for that!
Q: HOW DO THEY HOLD UP TO HAIL? ANY TESTIMONIES YET?
A: I’ve been through a softball size hailstorm associated with Cat 5 tornado, and seen all the resulting damage from the pummeling, so my concept of hail is that nothing holds up to it.
Q: ARE THE PANEL VENTS (TYPICALLY 4 PER U-DOME) $29.50 EACH OR $29.50 FOR A SET OF 4?
A: $29.50 each
Q: SPECIFICALLY, I NEED TO KNOW IF ATTACHES TO A POURED FOUNDATION OR WHAT ARE THE FOUNDATION OPTIONS?
A: The platform / floor options depend on the site. If you already have a concrete pad, there are several options for attaching the U-Dome to concrete. If not, then one very adaptable and relatively low-cost option is to build a wooden platform. We have a couple of diagrams for simple platform floors.
Q: WHAT KIND OF BUILDING PERMITS NEED TO BE OBTAINED?
A: Permits depends on your use and on your county & city codes. There is typically no permit required for structures under a given size, nor for temporary structures. Commonly applicable codes look at wind force capability and insulation. We have a fully insulated configuration that also has increased wind force capability.
Q: WHAT IS THE WIND RESISTANCE?
A: The standard shell will withstand up to 65mph winds without guy lines, and greater winds with guy lines installed. The double-shell insulated U-Dome (W-Dome) has not yet had the engineering calculations finished.
Q: DO YOU HAVE SPECS FOR THE SHOWER?
A: Yes, we offer a shower that is propane fueled, 1 gallon per minute, on-demand hot water. It works great. Various enclosure options are available from just an outdoor curtain enclosure to a fully configured “Shower Dome”.
Q: WHERE ARE THE PARTS BUILT AND DO YOU SHIP?
A: We currently ship from our shop in Arcata, CA, after final configuration. We’ll soon be shipping from Pomona, CA, where we have the panels precision die-cut using our custom tools. If you send the shipping address we’ll have the freight quoted. It typically costs about $75 less to ship to a business address than to a residence.