Biodome Greenhouse Materials

Choosing Biodome Greenhouse Materials

wooden_geodesic_dome_materials

Thanks for the pic Dave!

 You’ve done your planning, decided on a location,considered options for foundations.Now it’s time to choose your geodesic greenhouse building material!  Now, If you did not use the below method with your previous building projects, don’t worry – it’s not like its the end of the world! But my suggestion is that you definitely try to employ the following method with any other domes that you build.

The Importance of Choosing Materials Wisely

Just jumping onto the “latest greatest” dome  building material bandwagon without looking at all  the options out there is NOT recommended! The simple fact is there are many options out there for construction of your dome and choosing well can
save you a ton of cash.

So lets look at some options and a few pros and cons of each one.

PVC Pipe

pvc_dome_connector

PVC stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride and it is generally used for water piping (irrigation, wells, septic fields, etc.).

Pros: This material is pretty inexpensive, commonly available and easy to work with. You can do the math grab some pipe, make a cutting jig and prep your  pipes with common hand tools. Another advantage is the fact that the pipe ends can actually become the  dome connectors. Commercially available PVC dome connectors are available but, especially for smaller domes not necessary. Resists bugs, rot and moisture.

Cons: High ecological cost. Made using fossil fuel. All plastic type materials have some issues generally due to becoming brittle over time due to extremes of cold or from ultraviolet damage. So if your biodome greenhouse is kept in use (warm) and the pipes are protected from UV this material could be a good choice.

 

Steel Pipe

conduit_dome_connector

 

Pros: By using galvanized electrical “conduit” piping  available at any big box home improvement store you  have access to a durable, strong and easily worked  material. Resists bugs, rot and mold.  This pipe is available in a number of diameters and comes in ten foot lengths so make sure your design is optimized for maximizing material out of a ten foot pipe. With steel pipe you don’t need dome connectors  because the pipe ends are, drilled and bolted together  thus becoming the dome connectors.

Cons: Medium environmental cost. May have been  recycled but also may have been processed by slave labor in the developing world. Heavy. Can be expensive.  Need specialized tools (hydraulic press) to flatten the  ends prior to drilling. You can do it with a hammer but  it is VERY hard work and easy to screw up. Steel can  rust so painting any areas that have been cut or drilled.

Bamboo

bamboo_geodesic_dome

Pros: Light. Renewable resource. VERY green. May be locally available (depending on location and climate). Very strong. Bamboo scaffolding used in Asian countries is often still standing after a hurricane has destroyed the steel building the scaffolding was being used to build! There are some ingenious domes being built using bamboo, either in whole pieces (treated like pipe) or split and almost woven together.

Cons: Can be hard to impossible to find locally. May  be very expensive to buy the required amount. Need specialized skill to build with it. All natural building  materials have “quirks” that can be overcome when you know what you are doing. But if you don’t…. it can get painful. Trust me I speak from experience. Bugs  can eat it. Again proper green treatment will keep  bamboo going strong for longer than we will be around.

Wood

kacper_geodesic_greenhouse_15

 

Pros: Wood is almost universally available. There is some kind of wood that can be used for building in  pretty much every place I have ever been. Green and renewable if harvested sustainably. Easy to work with. Lots of infrastructure already in place. Most  people know a carpenter who has tools skills etc. and can be leaned on as a resource. Tools are also readily available at many stores. Durable if done properly. Smells good and is a pleasure to work with!

Cons: Can rot so needs to be treated, luckily there are numerous environmentally sound ways to preserve  wood on the market now. May split, break, or otherwise fail. This can be almost entirely avoided by proper use of tools and by choosing sound wood in the first  place. Bugs can eat it. Again proper green treatment will keep wood solid for generations.

So there you have it. A few ideas of biodome greenhouse  building materials. Look at your needs, your budget and your ecological footprint before you choose your dome building material because once you have 80+ pieces of any material sitting in your garage its a bit late to change to change your mind!

Until next time happy biodome building!

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