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Here are our answers to the wide array of questions we’ve received about Shelter Systems’ Domes, Yurts, Tents and portable shelters. Our answers come from long experience with dome tent dwellings and gardening greenhouses.

Will the Yurt Dome keep us dry through heavy and continual rain?

Yes. Our designs have progressed through sewn seams to a completely reliable shingling system. The panels are shingled, one over the top of the other. The rain runs right off. No sewn seams means that there are no needle holes to try to seal – no holes to leak.

What about condensation?

Many people have experienced condensed moisture on the walls in small tents. All our domes are large enough to have adequate air circulation so you won’t have wet walls. The shingled construction breathes without leaking, allowing damp air to escape. A liner will further protect against the possibility of damp walls, as will any kind of dry heat.

Can I keep warm in the Yurt Dome?

Yes. Domes are known for good circulation of heat because the walls and ceiling curve around. Choose a heat source to suit your circumstances such as a wood stove, propane or electric heater. You can situate your dome so it has solar exposure in the cooler seasons. The Yurt Dome lends itself well to solar heating because the translucent skylight panels are situated at angles around the ceiling. The lower opaque walls slow down radiant heat loss.

How can I keep cool in my dome?

The key is shade. Best is to put your dome under a tree so that when the sun is high in the summer your dome will be shaded. In the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, it can warm up your dome. If you do not have access to a tree you can shade your dome with one or more of the Sun Shades we make. You can also use greenhouse shade cloth, which you can buy from your garden supply store. A porch built over your dome works very well.

Can I put in a wood stove?

Yes. One way is to roll up one of your doors, put a sheet of plywood a few inches wider and taller than the door opening in its place. Position it like a “shingle” for rain run off and cut a hole for your stovepipe. Hardware stores sell regular stovepipe fittings that are used for running the pipe through any wall. Another way is to cut a hole in the wall of your dome 4″ larger in diameter than your stove pipe. The stove will draw air through the hole cooling the pipe.

What about bugs?

With the netting doors, most flying insects stay out! Yea! Our floors are tied in at intervals with an overlap of the wall material discouraging critters entrance. Our customers come from many different climates and no one has reported this as a problem.

How do vent tubes work?

Our vent tubes are short sections of 2″ diameter PVC which, when placed between any of the shingled panels on your dome, spread and hold the shingling open. This allows warm and/or moist air to flow out of the vent tube without disrupting the rain shedding function of the shingling! When a vent tube is removed the seam snaps shut.

How does the doors work?

The doors are basically flaps that overlap the door opening. A pole is included that serves as a weight on the lower edge of the door. The door is then secured at one lower corner. To open you grab the other edge and swing the door open walk in and allow the weight of the pole to swing the door closed behind you. In wind you should hook the free corner of the door to the dome.

Can net doors be added later?

Net doors can be added at any time. The advantage of ordering your tent with net doors is they come already installed. If you order them later, they come with “grip clips” and instructions so you can install them yourself.

Is there any way to hang a curtain in my dome to divide it into two or more spaces?

Where ever poles cross on the outside of your dome there is a clip attached to the covering under that crossing. Inside your dome at that clip attachment is the male part of the clip. Each such clip part has two holes in it to attach a cord or hook. You can hang up to 20 pounds on each clip. You can create many separate spaces inside your dome!

What is the porch material?

The porch covering is made out of our translucent greenhouse woven ripstop plastic material for maximum light transmission. However if you wish you can special order the porch in white for less light or black and silver for a shade porch.

Would you explain the differences between the Yurt Dome, and GroDome?

The fabric used to make theses domes is the only difference. TheYurt Dome is made of a white woven ripstop covering with 4 clear vinyl windows. The Gro-Dome is made entirely of our translucent greenhouse material.

Which dome lasts longer?

We have carefully chosen materials for their durability in the sun and have not noticed a difference in lifespan between domes.

Would you please describe the translucent Gro-Dome covering in more detail?

The translucent greenhouse material is like frosted glass. You cannot see clearly through it. It lets a very large amount of light through. More than enough light to support rapid growth of any plant. Its frosted nature is also ideal for growing plants, in that the sun rays are defused and do not burn your plants the way direct light can. Also see the Accessories page.

What do you mean by “woven rip-stop film?”

Shelter Systems coverings are make by taking a special plastic copolymer that is stretching it till it is becomes stiff. At this point, the material is at its maximum tensile (pull) strength. It is then sliced into thin strips and woven into a fabric., and then laminated on both sides. This gives it its amazing tear resistance. You can poke a hole in it with a screw driver, but you cannot tear it no matter how hard you try.

How is the white rip-stop film different from the translucent rip-stop film?

The only difference is that it is white in color and lets through less light. You might ask why choose one over the other. Choose translucent if you want or need more light. Choose white if you want a white interior and exterior.

White is a pleasing color to be or work in, which is why we make all our shelter liners of white. Gro-Dome liners are of the translucent so that you Dome in Mountainscan grow plants in them.

Could you make part or all of a dome of the white and black?

Yes, but for most uses it would be dark and dreary inside. However, we can make you a dome with some white and black to create some shade. A white and black porch makes for more shade, also.

Can you make a dome of cotton canvas?

No. We have tried. Cotton does not work on our structures, because it stretches and contracts wildly and unevenly when it is dry or damp. Some tents can use cotton where the structure is not dependent on the stability of the covering. With Shelter Systems structures the covering supports the poles as much as the poles support the covering. This makes it essential that the covering is stable and strong.

If my dome gets a hole or tear in it, how do I repair it?

The materials Shelter Systems tents are made out of are very tough. It is quite hard to poke a hole in them; let alone tear them. However, if you do get a hole, the best way to repair it is with a dab of silicone rubber. This is the clear kind in a tube that you can buy from your local hardware store for caulking bath tubs. It dries clear and bonds to all materials we use in our domes and holds up in the sun. Do not use tape, except in an emergency, since the tape does not hold up in the sun, makes a mess when it comes off and looks bad. To repair a tear, use a scrap of the covering material that your dome came wrapped in or cut a small piece from the skirt of your dome, and “glue” it over the tear with silicone rubber. We make a repair kit designed for our structures that includes the best kind of silicone rubber and a generous amount of patch material of polyester canvas, clear vinyl, white, translucent, silver and black, and blue that we use in our structures.

How does Shelter Systems’ yurt domes compare with 2″x4″yurts and tepees?

There is a huge difference in basic structure of Shelter Systems compared to the 2″x4″ yurts and teepees. The main difference is how the poles interplay with the covering. 2′ x 4″ yurts and tepees have a pole system you set up and a covering that is pulled over it. With Shelter Systems structures, the covering supports the poles as well as the poles support the covering. When you put up a Shelter Systems, you attach the poles to the covering one at a time. This tensions the covering and the poles at the same time. If you were to remove the covering, the poles would not stand. With most other structures this is not the case, because the poles stand on there own. This interplay between the poles and the covering with Shelter Systems structures makes for a very strong and elastic structure with minimum weight. It also makes for a shelter that is easy to put up. 2″ x 4″yurts and teepees use a heavy pole structure and drape the covering over it. Through their sheer mass of poles they can support more snow that Shelter Systems structures. However, for their weight they are weaker strucutures.

Can I put the dome on a deck?

Yes. If you go with a deck there are several things to keep in mind. You will still need plastic sheeting secured under the entire deck as a vapor barrier. Also, the skirt of your dome must hang down around the edge of the deck so water will run off and away. On existing decks that are larger than the dome’s diameter, a sub-floor can be raised a few inches high inside the dome to achieve this effect. Lastly, you will have to insulate your deck if you are in a cold climate.

Can I set the dome up on the ground and stay warm and dry?

Yes. Being on the ground is warmer than being on a deck unless the deck is heavily insulated. This is because of the cool air flowing under your floor. Earth floors are incredibly inexpensive compared to building a deck, they save trees, and are easier to construct! To prepare a site, you will want to make a level area with a ditch dug around the uphill side of the dome for drainage. On a flat site you must build up an area raised above the surrounding ground to insure that water will flow away from your living space.

Is the material you use on the Yurt Domes biodegradable?

No. In order for these materials to serve you as walls, they are not biodegradable, simply because to biodegradable means to rot! When our polyester canvas and plastic sheetings eventually break down from the effects of sunlight, the molecules released are simple, nontoxic compounds. We are dedicated to low impact housing and have compared our materials with wood finishes, plywood resins, paint, lumber, and tar paper used in other housing, and we feel satisfied that our domes are the most ecologically efficient.

How long do the coverings last?

Two to eight years of year round use. The amount of direct sunlight that hits your shelter is the life-reducing factor. We guarantee all materials for one and one-half years, based on manufacturers’ tests conducted in Arizona and Florida. Most locations in the U.S. have fewer sun hours than these places. Tree shade, clouds and intermittent use naturally prolong the life of your dome. Domes have been reported to have lasted more than 8 years in optimum conditions. Replacement covers and parts are available from us.

Can I use a Shelter Systems dome in the snow?

During snowfalls you must keep a heat source going inside to keep the snow melting off the top, or periodically shake the dome so there is never too much snow on top. If a large quantity of snow falls in a short amount of time, an unattended dome will collapse. People in these conditions have had two or three poles break; these are inexpensive to repair or replace.

WARNING: Your Yurt Dome shelter could be destroyed in extreme weather and your life or safety could be at risk. In heavy snow or wind your yurt could collapse, damaging what you have or compromising your shelter. Do not rely on your yurt dome as your only shelter. Accumulated snow, must be melted or shaken off periodically. Do not set your yurt dome under a tree or branch that might fall on you. Keep all flames and heat away from your yurt dome’s covering and objects in your yurt dome.

Could I live in a Shelter Systems greenhouse all year round?

Sure. Some people opt for the totally light interior that our greenhouses provide. The dimensions of the 18′ Yurt Dome and the Gro Domes are the same and they are equally watertight. All accessories and options are appropriate for either one. The solar influx is greater in the Gro Domes, so if situated in the sun they will heat up a little quicker in all seasons.

Is there a showroom near me where I can see the domes?

Shelter Systems is almost entirely mail order. It is expensive to have a show room and we pass the savings on to you. We understand that with a purchase of this size you want to feel secure. That is why we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Order a Shelter Systems dome and check it out for yourself. If it is not what you expected, simply return it to us in new condition and we will gladly refund your money.

Is there someone in my area who has bought a dome where I could go to see it?

To protect our customers’ privacy, we do not give out this information.

How hot do these domes get inside on a sunny day (avg. temp 70 to 80)?

Your dome will be the coolest if you place it in the shade. This can be a safe tree, or you can make a shade roof, or you could buy and use our “Sunshade” or you can buy 90% shade cloth from your local lumber, gardening or hardware store to cover your dome. Tents have no mass to block the sun so your dome will approach the outside temperature and if in the full sun it will be hotter the the outside temperature.

I read that you occasionally sell good quality demos of selected sizes at a 10% discount. Are these fully guaranteed?

Yes, these are covered by our standard guarantee.

What do you mean Shingled?

Shingling is accomplished by layering the tarp panels over each other as you would shingle a roof of a house and then “clip” them together. This creates a waterproof covering. The points where the Grip Clips are attached also serve as anchoring points for poles and stakes. This is we do here at Shelter Systems. All seams are under tension by the poles. This keeps the “seams” closed.

Tell me more about the doors.

The doors are basically flaps that overlap the door opening. A pole is included that serves as a weight on the lower edge of the door. The door is then secured at one lower corner. To open you grab the other edge and swing the door open, walk in, let go of the door, this allows the weight of the pole to swing the door closed behind you. In wind you should hook the free corner of the door to the dome. Often people use only one door and keep the others closed except when extra ventilation is desired.

We live in HI and wonder if there is a way to keep centipedes out of the dome?

One way to seal your floor against centipedes in HI is to “glue” your floor to your dome’s wall with Silicone Rubber. Get it in the large tube with a caulking gun.

How wind proof are the domes, and how are they anchored to the ground.

They do well in any but the extreme winds. They are anchored with 16 – 12″ Dura Peg stakes.

Can your greenhouse domes support a certain amount of snow?

Our domes support only a little snow however if you plan to use it as a greenhouse in the winter then you will need to heat and light it. This will melt the snow as it falls. You can also take the dome down during the winter and use it in the spring and fall to extend your seasons. This is often the best since you save on heating and lighting.

Do you have any demo tents in clean condition for sale.

Some times; they are discounted 10%. They will have a small amount of dirt where the dome touched the ground and have normally only been up for a few days.

How much would it cost to individually ship an 18′ tent to Australia insured? Time to arrive?

About $200 We ship UPS Air; which would get it to you in about 4 to 6 days.

Is it possible to get a phone installed in my dome?

Yes, have the phone installed in your name at a friends house near by and then run your own line to your dome.

I understand you guys built the domes for the scifi series Earth 2?! Did you work with the cast or prop people?

We worked with the prop people in trying to find the right dome. They bought the domes. I did go out and visit the site outside of Santa Fe; it was quite interesting with all the high teck props etc.

Can you provide additional info about keeping rain water from coming in through the floor or sides? Is it always necessary to “trench” around the dome even when is is on level ground ?

The floor fits inside the tent and goes up against the walls. The rain flows down the walls and onto the ground the floor stay dry. If the soil is level and drains well, like sand, no trench is needed. If the soil does not drain well and forms puddles build up a mound to set the dome so that water can flow away from the dome. Also look at the Shelter Systems Manual.

How do your domes hold up under snow?

Like most tents they hold only a little snow; thus you must knock snow of with a broom or heat the dome to cause the snow to melt off. If your dome is crushed by snow, usually little damage is done to the dome (a few poles breaking) but your stuff inside could get damaged.

Do people use Shelter Systems domes in the winter?

Yes, people have spent winter in our domes, but you should realize that Shelter Systems’ dome are tents and not a rigid structure. You should not rely on our domes soles for your shelter needs since if the structure should fail in extreme weather your life could be in danger. Always have a backup shelter capable of withstanding extreme weather that you could easy reach in case needed.

Can I use a Solar-Dome or Bubble-Dome as a portable/semi-permanent backyard astronomical observatory.

Yes, we have sold quite a few for this purpose. Most choose the Bubble-Dome and install a velcored opening at the top of the dome for their telescope to poke out of. The dome-observatory acts primarily as wind break and dew protector.

Is it possible to “secure” a dome, and if so, how do you do it?

Nothing is secure but a lot can be dome to protect your possessions. A locked and alarmed steel chest that is bolted to a heavy block of cement. With a sign on it saying that there is no money or gems inside. You can get alarms in mosty hardwear stores that run on batteries and are self contained that go off if anyone is moving near by, yet give you 20 seconds to walk in and turn it off if you know what to do.

Do you have any feedback on how the building code people feel about someone living in one of your domes as their only domicile on a parcel (say 5 acres, like I have)? What about the sanitation is an issue.

It all depends on county you are in and how the people living next door to you feel. Often a “tent” is not controlled by code. Out houses are usually acceptable.

One of the panels on my dome was damaged; can I replace it myself?

Yes. You can order the replacement panel from us for $40. Let us know the size and style of your dome and which panel needs replaced. After you get the panel. Align replacement panel over top of damaged one so that it matches. Remove the clip from one corner of damaged panel. This is easiest to do if you first take your dome down. However, it is possible to do it with the dome up if you first remove all the poles around the clip you need to remove. If you have trouble removing clips, heat clips and dome with boiling hot water; be careful not to burn your self. With care, pull the corner of the damaged panel out from the others, taking care not to disturb the orientation or layering of the dome’s panels. It is important to remember exactly where and how the damaged panel went. Insert the corner of the replacement panel exactly where the damaged one was, in the same layering and orientation. Replace the clip. Next, proceed to each of the remaining corners of the panel one at a time, doing each as the first. When you are done the replacement panel should be shingled as it was before and not twisted at any of its corners. Rain test the panel with a hose by squirting water up on the top of the dome allowing the water to run over the replaced panel.