For a while now Iíve been working on a dome greenhouse design that doesnít cost a fortune and is easy to construct. The aim was to avoid the elitist nature of currently available dome greenhouses (a 4.5-meter dome can cost as much as £6,000:00) and design a dome kit that anyone with basic DIY skills can build without taking out a second mortgage.
I used 3 frequency basic framed style dome as shown here and covered it with poly tunnel sheet. The whole thing cost me about £500:00 in materials and took about two weeks to build.
I made 75 triangle frames as described in this basic dome design then decided to build another row to make it a 5/8 3v geodesic dome for better headroom so I ended up making a total of 98 triangle frames after allowing for door access. There was a lot of work in building the frames, it took me about 15 minutes to make one frame!
After building the frames I covered them with poly sheet by stretching it over the frame and stapling it in place, this was another fairly tedious task, however after a while I worked out that I could put three frames together making a half hex and cover it with poly sheet which made it much quicker that doing them individually. When all the frames were covered I joined them to make hexagon and pentagon panels ready to assemble the dome in the garden.
Building the dome was very straightforward; I joined five hexagons around a pentagon panel using mole grips to pull the panels tight together then fixed them with wood screws. The weather was fine for a day but turned windy so I had to leave the half finished dome on the lawn and wait for a better weather window.
I''ll post more pictures when the weather improves and I have time to finish the dome.
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Thats a tidy looking panel dome.
Its a good thing you can fabricate most of it in the dry, we had some monsoon weather yesterday :)
Are you going to use a full base hexagon along with the odd triangle above it for the door opening?
Looking forward to seeing the pics as it progresses.
Finished it at the weekend, between the showers.
Nice job Paul
It didnt take you long to finish it. One of these days ill get the cover on mine.
Here's a couple more pictures.
Looks like you`ve got space for at least half a dozen more :)
Hi Paul How is the panel dome coping with the recent inclimate weather..any leaks?
It's fine Colin, I didn't put jointing tape on the bottom row because I may need to take it to bits at some point, I only get a couple of drips from the join. I'm using it to dry clothes in as the weather is so bad. works really well at drying clothes when it's pouring rain!
Thanks for these plans, we are using this technique to build a 10m dome. (Some pics attached) re how far we have got. It seems doing this attracts rain cos it has been raining for 8-9 days solid and we are in the South of France !).
Anyway, I have a couple of questions, if you have a minute:
1. We put a hexagon and a pentagon together temporarily (the wood is soaked so we are waiting for it to dry out before final assembly) to make sure we had the angles correct and it all fitted together ok, before cutting the rest of the wood. The pentagon is reasonably stable as a unit, but the hex flexs quite a bit. Did you find this and does it stabilise when the dome is completed ?
2. We want to use this dome as a greenhouse for growing exotic stuff. We get lots of Sun but are at 300m altitude so still get frosts which means winter night temperatures are an issue. We intend to put a pond and raised beds with stone walls to give us lots of thermal mass inside, but am now wondering about the tunnel plastic as a covering. I am guessing that your dome gets cold at night because of the relatively poor insulation from the tunnel plastic ?
3. I am investivating using ETFE cushions (like the eden project) which are becoming more and more mainstream and am in contact with some manufacturers, although nothing solid yet. Triangular cushions don't seem to be that much more complex than tunnel sheeting (pump aside) and I wondered if you guys had any experience with them or contacts to recommend.
Thanks in advance and a great site.
i have not used ETFE cushions but have seen them used a few times. very nice.
This company (vector-foiltec.com/technical/technology.html) looks interesting showing how the tech can be used however they do use phrases like the following:
The inner layer of foil is generally engineered to be at a temperature of ambient adjacent, meaning that thermal comfort is significantly better, due to the reduction of cold or hot surface radiation.
Clear as mud? So watch out when dealing with them...
Based on my own personal experience as soon as these firms figure out youre not planning a multi-million pound development they become illusive or unhelpful.
The firms based in mainland europe don`t seem to mind if you only need a metre of the stuff.
Just wanted to say that it's a fantastic job!!! It's also good to know that it's something I can do myself if I get all the matieral together :) Thanks for sharing it!
Hi i was wondering what was the size of profile of the wood you used and also what degree is the bevel on the side of the timber?
just wondering what size timber to use in a 3v construction. 2x2 2x4 2x6 etc thanks
Hi Anthony, It depends on the diameter and the type of cover. 2x2 should be fine for small to midsize domes (around the 4-5 meter mark)2x4 would work for 6-8 meter and 2x6 for huge domes. If you're covering with glass I would use slightly bigger timber.
Owen, the sections are shown on the 3v basic dome plans page, about 60mm square for a 5m dome
its going to be 7m diameter and covered with poly sheet. im obvioustly new to this and very greatfull for you help.
That looks fantastic, congratulations on such a budget-friendly great looking greenhouse. I never even considered one because they look mightily expensive but I might think about it for the future now.
how does it stand up to wind? my motherinlaw had a polytunnel ripped to shreds last year. i live in orkney so its not uncomon to get a 90+ mph wind. though i suppose it wont be as serious if you only have to replace one or two triangles of sheet every now and then. and as the glass one in my rented accomodation is already missing one and the door panel i dot suppose it will matter too much.
how would you weight it down?
You could use perspex panels and screw them to the frames then use glaziers glue along the edges to make it more weatherproof.
I have also seen them made with lengths of plastic pipe flattened at the ends (dip in hot oil for a few seconds, flatten 2-3 inches between 2 bricks, then into cold water to cool. Driling through the flatened ends you can then use nuts and blots to fit them together. This type is best suited to a single covering though like a parachute or a tarpaulin.
Hi we are looking at options for school garden and Eco project, what are the costs involved, how long to build, are there any on demo that we could see?
Re thermal mass and stability: Consider using an Earthship technique and building part of the walls from rammed earth into waste tires and placing the dome on top. Attaching the dome to metal bars/straps buried in the earth below the tires should stop the dome blowing away. 44 gall drums of water should also help with thermal mass and provide a ready water source.Very inspiring work you have done.
Great pics and design. How are the joints sealed?
Your place looks lovely. I've designed a structure beyond buckminster fuller but It's not real yet. Domes rule.
I really like the look of these kits but obviously, here in the USA, shipping one here is not an option. So it is DIY for me. I am looking at a 25 ft. dia. 5/8 3V dome. The calculator seems to be set up for the beam and hub construction which makes me wonder how to calculate the lengths and angles to duplicate your kit using 2x4 treated lumber? Any information would be greatly appreciated....
hi there, very good side, can please somebody give me some hints about the relation between radius and side length of the triangles. go easy on me, i am not related to buckmeister fuller.
would like full drtails of how to build one. i am ex p.o.m from essex now live in victoria australia.
more details please
Are these for sale in the U.S.? If so, where? If not, do you sell to U.S. residents?
Are these plans sent by e.mail?
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