Worlds Strongest Dome Tents - Since 1976 - Portable Affordable Reliable
  yurtdomes  accessories  shelters  grip clips  testimonials  q&a  manual  map  home  sizes  store
relieftents   playadomes   prepareshelters  designs  grodomes  bubbledomes  crystalcaves

Recent Email Questions and Answers from 2-10

Also see: Q&A 3/2011  5/2009  3/2009  11/2008  2008  2007  3/2007  2003  Testimonials

Hi Eric

I will answer your questions below.


Bob Gillis

On Dec 5, 2010, at 7:50 PM, Eric Rivkin wrote:

I live in Costa Rica with a 180 acre eco retreat called Jewel of the Sun

I like your yurt design and need a dozen or so for new cabinas.
Its a tropical rainforest environment with very hot sun in dry season. HOw will your fabric and tubes hold up to the elements?

They do fine. We have sold quite a few to tropical customers. All materials are UV stabilized for a long sun life. In FL and AZ they last 3 + years.

Will the fabric mold?

No, the fabric will not rot or mildew but dirt on the covering can. The covering can be washed with a sponge mop and cleaning products without harm to the covering if desired.

What is the floor material made of?

It is made of the same material as the dome but is blue. You can save money and use blue tarps which you can cut to fit inside the dome as a floor alternatively. We sell the Grip Clips which we provide with our floors; so you can tie in a tarp floor of your own if you choose.

WHo is the maker of the fabric and what is it exactly?

Our covering is make especially for us and is fire retarded and UV stabilized. It is a proprietary woven multi-laminate copolymer. It is white and super tough. You can not tare it with your hands even after cutting it.

DOes it outgas any toxic substance like PVC?

There is no PVC in our domes covering and I know of no outgassing of any toxic substance. Our domes are offered in two types: Standard with clear vinyl windows and extra-strong with translucent (let more light than glass but you cannot clearly see through them). Since vinyl is PVC I suggest for you the extra-strong windows (they will also provide more privacy for your guests and the cost is the same).

Do you have any commercial references in the tropics?

Take a look through our testimonial pages: http://www.shelter-systems.com/yurt-dome-testimonials.html there in are some of our domes being used in the tropics.

Do you have a front "porch" tarp option?

We do offer a porch, see: http://www.shelter-systems.com/accessories.html also consider our sunshades as these are very effective in keeping our Yurt Domes cool if other shade is not available. Since the dome's poles are external and spaced away from the covering, the heat built up by blocking the sun is removed by natural convection air flow through the porous shade cloth and not reradiated into the dome. This is not the case with other portable shelters where shades must lay directly on the covering and there by radiate considerable heat into the living space.

Let me know if you have additional questions or if you still have concerns consider trying just one with a sun shade to see if you like them.



You can support about 5 lbs from any of the clips inside the dome where the poles cross on the outside. You can also use the domes interior clips to secure and stabilize the top of a vertical 2" by 4" that would extend from the ground to the clip which would then hold 25 lbs. To set this up drill a 1/4" hole in the top of the 2x4 and then tie the 2x4 to the domes clip holes . The idea here is the ground and the 2x4 supports the weight and the dome merely stabilizes the 2x4.


Bob Gillis

On Dec 13, 2010,

hey bob :)
im lookin at getting one of the 18' playa domes and was wondering if it would support the weight of a solar shower. i think it holds about 5 gallons.. but of course could be filled with less. it would be used with a kiddie pool which would then be taken outside to let the water evaporate.. good idea or no?

Hello Bob,

I attached the handout we had available on Sunday. We had copies made on card stock, enough for 20 kids to make or take, and only 2 sheets were left at the end. I was just looking through the pictures, there is just one of a boy working on a column, he has already finished his dome, in the foreground: http://flickr.com/gp/31861462@N05/144Hhj

Here is the link to the entire set from last Sunday, the end is full of pictures of the kids making a geodesic dome from newspaper models: http://flickr.com/gp/31861462@N05/159p6a .

Thanks again for your permission to use the drawings. Feel free to contact us if we can reciprocate in any way. You are free to distribute the attached file to educators or anyone who would find it useful.


Hi Bob

I assume you are asking about sun life durability. Our coverings are UV stabilized and were tested in FL and AZ where they lasted 3+ years. We guarantee them for a year and half as we do not know where or at what elevation they will be deployed.


Bob Gillis


What is the life expectancy of the material used on the yurts and shelters? Do you have any warranty on the material?



The 18 and 30 are stronger than the 14 and 20 because they have stronger poles for the span between the clips. This makes them stiffer against the wind. These stronger poles cannot be used in the 14 and 20 as they are over stressing the covering. The floors we make are just high quiity tarps. With self draining site selection they work well. See:


Bob Gillis

answers in the text below


Bob Gillis

On Jan 14, 2011,


WE ARE putting together a BIG eco-festival for downtown Guatemala City and later to go on tour. It is a mutimedia exhibit of photography, videos, and related artifacts and events. I want to erect a surprisingly attractive installation in Central Park in front of the National Palace. I am VERY interested in using one or more of your domes.

Can your 30 and 31 foot domes be joined by crystal caves?

You can place a cc between them but it is not water or air tight at the junction.

I request that you send me perhaps 12 photographs showing your 30 and 31 foot domes in action. The same photos that are on your web site and what ever others you have so that I can present them to the funding agencies.

For shopping purpose only you can print some photos from the site.

I understand that the dome materials have a warrantee for 18 months. But, in realistic terms, how long might one of the domes last if it is up all the time, exposed to sunlight, before it starts to rip apart?

This depends on location, elevation etc. but most of the time 3+ years

I want to understad if there is a way that we can have the dome DARK inside during the daytime.

You can hang a black out liner inside the dome's covering.

I see that you have different fabrics and materials that you use. I would love it if we could have a METALLIC looking dome, perhaps gold. Is there any way to do this?

We only make the shelters of white. We do offer a silver sunshade however: http://www.shelter-systems.com/sizes.html

The 31 foot dome is your biggest?


I had the idea at one time that I would also like to try and build one of Bucky's Bamboo domes. Does anyone there have any experience with the Bamboo dome that Buckminster Fuller designed? It can be seen on the site www. desertdomes.com. At one time I had the thought that we might even build a bamboo dome and use your tent material suspended inside it.

This has been tired but is difficult and has many problems.

We are going to be presenting this project to the City of Guatemala in the coming weeks so if you could send me some medium resolution photos of your 30 and 31 foot domes I would appreciate it.

What is the URL and photo and I will see if I can find a larger image

sincerely, Tho

On Jan 17, 2011

I am interested in your yurt.I can not decided which is best for me the 18' or 20'.You say some where in your site that the 18' and 31' are you strongest but you don't say why.And are your floors water proof,the tarps I have used are not. Thank You John


Though it is true that the 14 is not quite as strong as the 18 it is quite strong and being smaller in size it sheds the wind well. I have not heard or seen photos of a any of our dome that were well staked out being crushed by winds at BM. I would like to see the images you have seen (please send me the URL - thanks).


Bob Gillis

On Jan 23, 2011

My wife and I are trying to decide what we are going to sleep in for Burning Man this year. We are interested in your 14' Playa Dome but it states that it is not one of the strongest of your domes. I assume that it is because of the geometry of the design. If guy wires are added and it is sufficiently staked down, do you foresee a problem with using a 14' on the Playa? I know one can never be sure about the weather conditions there, but I would appreciate any insight you might have. I have seen some images of you Playa domes crushed by the wind at BM and I just don't want that to happen to us.

Also, how tall is the door?


Boy! I am not sure what to make of that dome. Looks to me that they did not have a full set of poles and set it up all twisted and distorted. Without a full set of poles it is impossible to support the domes cover or gain the strength that our domes are know for.
Even with a few poles missing the dome will fail. Each pole locks and supports the others.

Bob Gillis

Oh right, the link.


Sorry about that.
7 feet tall would be plenty. I am only 5'7" and my wife isn't any taller. 18' wide would work for Burning man, but it's a bit much for other festivals.


On Jan 23, 2011

Hi Tyler

If you intended to send a photo I could not find one. The URL would be best for me since I could find out better what might have happened.

As to head room: keep in mind that the 14 has a height of 7' only in the middle of the dome. The 18 feels like twice the space with a height of 9'.


Bob Gillis

On Jan 23, 2011

Thanks for the quick reply. Here is the picture I saw online. I don't even know if this is one if your domes, if it was set up correctly, or if a truck ran it over. We are searching for the best shelter for our needs and have always liked the openness and head room of a dome.


On Jan 23, 2011


Though it is true that the 14 is not quite as strong as the 18 it is quite strong and being smaller in size it sheds the wind well. I have not heard or seen photos of a any of our dome that were well staked out being crushed by winds at BM. I would like to see the images you have seen (please send me the URL - thanks).


Bob Gillis

On Jan 23, 2011

My wife and I are trying to decide what we are going to sleep in for Burning Man this year. We are interested in your 14' Playa Dome but it states that it is not one of the strongest of your domes. I assume that it is because of the geometry of the design. If guy wires are added and it is sufficiently staked down, do you foresee a problem with using a 14' on the Playa? I know one can never be sure about the weather conditions there, but I would appreciate any insight you might have. I have seen some images of you Playa domes crushed by the wind at BM and I just don't want that to happen to us.

Also, how tall is the door?


Hi Virani

Sounds like it would work to me but you know goats better than me. I do not think they would climb on it since it is flexible and tight like an inflated balloon. We have sold our domes for use with pigs and lamas. The 20' can be lifted and moved by 2 or three people. If need be one person can lift one side and drag it. If you get one please send us a photo.


Bob Gillis

On Jan 30, 2011

Dear Bob,

I need a very portable shelter for my browsing boy goat team I want to start in a few months. The sides look like the goats will not be able to jump on them, and the weight is right for frequent moving. Have you had any customers use them for this kind of purpose? If so, did it work well for them? Our area has only light snow fall and I could be on alert on such times and shake down the snow during these times. I will be moving them to different areas with portable fences, and I need a shelter that I can pick up and move with them. I will have help, since even though it's under a 100 pounds, that will help because of the size.

If you haven't had success with goats because of their curious nature, my thought is that I could surround the sides with their portable electric fence so that this could keep them away from them. I am hoping that this could be the solution I have been seeking for this situation. This shelter will need to be moved frequently. I am considering the 20 ft version. The goats have a standard size burro that stays with them as a livestock guardian, and she'll need the shelter too. I don't care if it would get yellow stains on the sides from pee. Right now I have the boys (wethered) with the dairy team, but that needs to change this year. I live at Ananda which is a spiritual community based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. We have 850 acres that can use a lot of clearing by the goats. Here's a picture at our dairy barn:<1-18-11 Yogoata (10) .jpg>

Joy and Blessings,

Our domes should work attached to the building and moved as needed. They do not need to be level.

Call me at 650 323 6202 if you want to talk about this.


Bob Gillis

On Feb 10, 2011

We do some light commercial roofing. Have you ever developed a roof cover to work in wet and/or cold weather?

Hi James

I do not know what the health consequences are of breathing the unvented fumes of a heater in your living space and recommend you check with the manufacture of the heater. My guess is netting at the very least will decrease how hot your cooker will get. Give it a try. Let me know what you learn.


Bob Gillis

On Feb 15, 2011

Hello Bob,

I am considering purchasing an 18 ft extra strong and I have a couple of questions. Is it ok health wise with enough ventilation to use a kerosene heater inside the dome for warmth? Also, I do solar cooking. Is it possible to cook with the side of the dome raised while having the net intact? Will the net block out too much of the sun's rays? Have you heard of any other customers using solar cookers in their dome?. My solar cooker is parabolic.

Thanks in advance for your help,


Hi Eduardo

Most people set up a 20' dome in about 45 minutes. The first time you put up your dome have a friend or two help.

The diameter of the dome is measured from outside poles of the dome at its widest point. The height is measured on the inside from the ground to the top center of the dome.


Bob Gillis

Dear Eleanor, Bob,

On 03/23/2011 10:23 AM, Eleanor Hamner wrote:
We have had many customers use our black and white "StarDomes" for
mobile planetariums but I am not sure if we can make our larger domes
(the 30 and 31) out of the black and white material. *I have cc'd Bob on
this email to answer this and your other technical questions. *

O.K. thanks. I will also consider the 20-ft diameter dome for this. The other specifications would be the same. Please note that I need to know the time required to set up the dome.

Do you have per chance a diagram where I can see how the diameter is measured? (e.g. at the base or at the "equator" of the dome). Also, I imagine in this diagram I'd be able to check the height of the structure, which may be also important for my purposes.



make a model http://www.shelter-systems.com/modle.html
put up your dome
lay down with your head in the center of the dome
look up and see that 3 shapes that make the dome
use a tape measure; copy these shapes to a large sheet of paper or fabric
be sure to measure the diagonals of the 3 shapes
copy patterns to fabric
sew and hang (grip clips can help with the hanging)
realize that fabric stretches on the diagonal; this can distort your finished liner

call me if you have questions 650 323 6202


Bob Gillis

On Mar 24, 2011, at 1:14 PM, Eleanor Hamner wrote:

Dear Jens,

Thanks for the neat photos! May we use them on our website?

I will let Bob answer your questions about the liner.

Best, Eleanor

On Mar 24, 2011

Dera Eleanor and Bob,

A couple of years ago, I bought several domes and had them shipped to Denmark. We have used them in performances and I am currently re-building one, to use as an interactive modern-dance installation (see pictures). I am using an 18' dome.

For this, I am sewing a black inner-tent and I was wondering if you would mind sending me information on which angles go where, when making an inner tent. I have measured and calculated, but I just want to be 100% sure before doing anything more. So if you have specific plans for making an inner tent, and you wouldn't mind sharing them, it would be great. I will, of course, on no account show these plans to anyone or in any other way distribute them. I will gladly sign a contract to ensure you of that, if it is necessary.

I would be very grateful for your help.

Thank you.


Hi Emma

I do not remember hearing back from anyone in Kenya but we do have experience with our domes in hot dry desert conditions. We have found that with doors open and with a sun shade, as the ones we offer as an accessory, pulled tight over the dome's poles can make the dome quite comfortable. The reason is that the poles hold the shade apart from the covering and this both blocks the sun and allows air to flow under and through the shade to remove the heat that the shade blocks.


Bob Gillis

On Apr 5, 2011

Hi Bob,
I am planning on moving to Kenya and would like to know if you have any feedback from people who have bought the Geodesic Yurt Dome 14 or similar and who live either in Kenya or a similar climate as I think this is a great product and I would consider purchasing one if it suited my needs.

Thank you

Dear Emma,

Thank you for your interest in our shelters.

We ship world wide and I would recommend that you speak or email with Bob to see if he has any feedback from customers in climates like Kenya. I have cc'd him on this email and his phone number if you would like to call him is (650)323-6202.

We do not offer a brochure, our catalog is entirely online.

Let us know how we can help further and if you are planning to have the YurtDome shipped to the UK, I can provide you with a shipping quote.

Best, Eleanor

On Mar 28, 2011

> Hi,
> Do you do a brochure that you can send me? Also do you have information about customers that you have supplied in foreign countries? The reason that i ask is i am planning on going to live in Kenya in a few years and love the idea of your Geodesic Yurt Dome 14 but i was wondering if you have any feedback from someone who has had one in hot temperatures or if you have any advice about how they would manage in the heat of Kenya.

> Thank you in advance for any information that you provide.
> Emma  


Bob Gillis

Shelter Systems, 224 Walnut St, Menlo Park CA 94025
Orders & Customer Service (866)777-1066 (831)464-2004 eleanor@shelter-systems.com
www.DomeTents.com www.GripClips.com www.ReliefTents.com
Copyright 2010 Shelter Systems All Rights Reserved.

This email and any attached documents contain information which is PRIVILEGED, PROPRIETARY and CONFIDENTIAL, are protected by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. Sections 2510-2521, Federal and State copyright laws, and are intended only for the use of the addressee(s) named herein. No part of this document or any attachments may be reproduced or transmitted without permission from Shelter Systems.

On Apr 8, 2011, at 9:25 AM, Caroline Van Rijckeghem wrote:

Thanks much Bob, for the info. The manual is very useful.

On ventilation, does this model tent have the overlaps described in the manual allowing one to insert the vent tubes?


Or any other source of ventilation other than the door? Maybe the greenhouse fabric breathes a bit?

the fabric does not breath but the shingling does

Also, the manual cautions not to throw any tarp over the dome, I was a bit surprised as I thought the domes could handle quite some weight. I was thinking of using a camouflage-type cover (probably light).

tarps can trap heat and cause the poles to deform and if not tight the tarp can catch water and cause the dome to collapse

this is not true of shade cloth in that it is porous

Thanks again for your time,


Depends on your soil conditions.

see http://www.shelter-systems.com/lighthouse-manual.html


Bob Gillis

On Apr 8, 2011

Thanks Eleanor! Bob, I found more info in the meantime on your site, so I found the answers to my earlier questions. Just a remaining question: for a windy area, will the stakes included with the bubbledome be sufficient? Thanks!


On Apr 8, 2011

Dear Eleanor,

I am interested in the model below, with windows. Could you kindly let me know what the options are for where the windows can be placed? Also, would you let me know what material the Translucent Greenhouse is made of (does it get very hot inside?). Thanks! Caroline

BubbleDome 10: Diameter 9' Height 8.5' Weight 35 lb. $734

On Apr 27, 2011, at 8:17 PM, Shaun Galanos wrote:

Hey there,

After 6 or so years on the playa - the playa dome let me down a few times last year. I'm not bummed at all - I bought it from my neighbors and we've had a good run with it.

In the spirit of conservation, recycling and reusing - I would like to make some repairs to it.

A few of the panels have started ripping where the grommets meet the panel. This led to some inconsistancies in the tension distribution and my dome was flattened twice last year. Good thing I had some spare grip clips and was able to make some emergency repairs.

Before going back out this year - I would like to repair the panels.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can go about doing this? Sew extra material onto the corners of the failing panels?

---this will work and is cost effective but if cover is failing all over then repair can be short lived

What do you recommend?

---the way to do this is take the dome down; locate the damage; remove the grip clip (you can brake the clip off with pliers if you have a replacement clip; label with a making pen the order and orientations of the layers of panels; cut and sew by hand or machine a patch to replace the damaged area (use strong thread and 1/8" stitching); mark and trim patch to size; re-layer (in the right order and orientation) the panels; attach the clip (best to first practice "clipping" till you can clip 3 to 4 layers); proceed to next area; set up dome; use 100% silicone rubber caulk to seal seam with dome up (this way seam is tensioned and glue sets to seal needle holes);

Thanks for your help, I love my dome and hope to squeeze some more years out of it.

---good for you


Also see: Q&A 3/2011  5/2009  3/2009  11/2008  2008  2007  3/2007  2003  Testimonials

1 1/2-YEAR GUARANTEE. If for any reason you're not completely pleased with your purchase, return it in original, dry and clean condition within 30 days of receipt for a full refund or exchange as you wish. All items in this catalog have a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for 1 1/2 years. Should any product prove defective we will repair or replace it at no cost to you. Special Orders are not returnable. Read Snow and Wind Warnings.

Order online with our Secure Order Form!

Questions?   Orders & Customer Service: Toll Free 866-777-1066 or 831- 464-2002 or Moble 831-588-8794 eleanor@shelter-systems.com Technical: 650-323-6202 bob@shelter-systems.com. Copyright © Shelter Systems 1976 - 2015 All Rights Reserved