We built our second geodesic dome slightly different from our first one several years ago. In this article, we share how to build a geodesic dome greenhouse version 2. You can read all about version 1 in How to Build a GeoDome Greenhouse.
Why did we use a different building method?
A couple of reasons besides me looking for a new challenge were here at play. Firstly, the cone joint used in the first dome was not suitable for heavy snow load, and some users have had their geodesic domes collapsed under the snow load. We still think that it is a great way to build a GeoDome, but maybe not in areas with heavy snow. Secondly, this version does not require complicated joint cuts. I wanted to find a simpler way to build a geodesic dome greenhouse since I could see how many of our readers, who tried to replicate our first dome, struggled with the plans.
Is this Geodesic Dome Greenhouse version 2 any better
Version 1 has the advantage that it is all wood, and has a nice appearance. One disadvantage is that you will need a radial arm saw and some advanced woodworking skills, the other is the relatively weak cone joint that poses a point of failure. At the time of designing the first dome, I was not aware of the different stresses the joint is being subjected to, but with the newly acquired knowledge, I’d only recommend it in areas with a maximum snow load of 5″ at a time. Of course, it’s always possible to reduce the danger of collapsing the dome by clearing off the snow.
Version 2 has the advantage that it is an easier woodworking project, much higher strength of the joint, this version of piped hubs is stronger which is the critical piece in the whole structure, and its distinct appearance may be appealing for some people.
– 2×4 Lumber. We used untreated spruce lumber and stained it before assembling it. You could also use Douglas Fir for its structural strength.
– 3″ ABS pipe
– 1/4×1-1/2″(or 2″ long) Structural Screws
– Wood treatment.
– Covering. You can use greenhouse film, shrink film, or polycarbonate panels.
Geodesic Dome Greenhouse plans
This time our dome’s size is 15 feet (4.57 meters) in diameter at the bottom and its frequency is 3V. The base of the dome is by default not perfectly aligned or level, you could either check off the box “Align the base” in the calculator or as shown in the picture below cut those red struts in that position in the first row 3.6% longer.
The pipe connectors
The hubs were made out of 3″ black ABS pipes that are usually being used for drainage and venting. I cut the pipe into 3.5″ long pieces which equal the depth of the struts. You would cut your hubs according to the depth of your struts.
On the Acidome calculator near the end of the page, you will find the diagram of the piped hubs(vertices). The lines crossing the circle indicate the location of the drilled hole in the hub. I spaced and drilled the holes on my hubs according to the drawing but for the sake of convenience, you could space the holes on hub #1 equally at 60° as it’s shown for hub #2. I used a press drill to the holes and a knife to deburr the edges so it would not damage the greenhouse plastic.
In the picture below you see me using lag bolts to attach the struts to the hubs, however, I’d recommend using structural screws, that you don’t need to have predrilled pilot holes. Because most of the struts are subjected to a compressive force, the screw’s main function is to hold it in place. Only the struts in the foundation ring and each ring in the next tier are subjected to a tensile force and because of that, you should be using longer screws.
The struts for the version 2 geodesic dome
The side view of the struts shows the angled miter cut. The values for the angle for the different struts can be found on the Acidome calculator page. I also chamfered any sharp edges of the struts with a plane.
Instead of purchasing treated lumber with questionable chemicals, we choose to treat the lumber ourselves with an Eco wood treatment. UPDATE: A few years into using the dome we have noticed that the Eco wood treatment did not hold up to protect the wood from rotting. We do not have a real alternative yet but will update if we find something. Choosing lumber that is naturally rot-resistant is always the best way to go.
Assembling the geodesic dome greenhouse
First I assembled the foundation ring, but before continuing with the dome greenhouse I dug out and built the water tank. Read more about the water tank here.
After completing the water tank I continued with connecting struts to the foundation ring creating triangles, connecting the tops of those triangles which complete the second perimeter. Once all the parts are prepared the assembling itself is just fun. With some help from our son, we had it done in about half a day.
With an angle grinder and a sanding disc, we sanded down all the extending edges over the hub. This is important so the greenhouse plastic would not get damaged.
Do not forget to touch up any exposed wood with the wood treatment.
Covering the geodesic dome greenhouse
This time we choose to cover the dome with shrink plastic. It was a bit more pricey but I thought having an all-in-one cover would be really nice. Unfortunately, the shrinking process makes the plastic more opaque and less translucent. So after trying it, we decided not to shrink the plastic but cut it to fit and hold it in place with extra planks as we did in our first dome. Based on this experience we would not recommend a shrink plastic for a greenhouse dome. Read more about covering a geodesic dome greenhouse here.
Hope you find this ‘how-to’ build a geodesic dome greenhouse version 2 helpful, and we would love to hear from you if you build one.
We love our geodesic dome greenhouse and would build one again and again. The round structure just makes sense with optimum light penetration and stability in storms and snow.