Sweet Dome Alabama: Some Technical Comments

Note: Kenneth Garcia, a professional engineer, and Beverly, his wife, are the proud owners of Sweet Dome Alabama, their Monolithic Dome home in New Hope, Alabama.

It’s a tri-dome

Sweet Dome Alabama (SDA) is a Hyperion model with three connected domes. The main dome is 48’ diameter and the connecting utility dome and garage are 22’ and 28’
respectively. SDA has 2133 square feet heated and cooled living space and 595 square feet of garage.

SDA is sited on a mountainside approximately 140’ up from the valley below. A Grundfos MQ3 booster pump is required to make up the water pressure lost to gravity and friction through the pipes buried in the 850’ driveway.

SDA’s environment is controlled by two of Florida Heat Pump’s smallest geothermal units located in the connecting utility dome. While a conventional home of the same square footage would require about 4 tons of air conditioning, SDA’s units add up to only 2 tons or one half the typical required. On a daily basis only one of the units runs with the second unit running only during the longest hot spells. North Alabama peak summer temps usually run in the high nineties by day and low seventies at night, while winter temps can dip down to single digits.

SDA has an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). The Renewaire EV-130 vents moisture from both bathrooms to the outside while bringing in fresh air. The ERV is able to transfer heat/cool from outgoing air to condition incoming air. It also lowers humidity during the winter.

SDA’s domestic hot water is provided by a Rinnai tankless water heater. The Rinnai is rated at 7.5 GPM and is able to supply two baths and the sinks all at once.

SDA has its own septic treatment plant using the Hoot Aerobic System. The output is clear rated safe, for example, to water the lawn. However, Alabama code does not allow this so the output is put into the ground with drip lines.