Fireplace grates have remained unchanged for many years, as they are a simple enough device to perform a straightforward task, and their sturdy construction often lasts a lifetime. But fireplace grates actually come in a variety of styles, each suited to one or another particular purpose. Some fireplace grates can even improve the performance of a fireplace, such as the Grate Wall of Fire design (discussed below) as their designs move the stack of logs as they burn to provide better heat and air flow, so the fire burns hotter, provides more heat to the home, or even produces less smoke.
Fireplace grate materials
The most commonly seen fireplace grate is made of cast-iron, sturdy, heavy and durable. These will work well for most uses, and are inexpensive. Steel can be used as well, which is stronger than cast-iron, often coming with a lifetime warranty, and can be used in many different types of fireplaces, and are lighter. Stainless steel grates can be used outdoors, as the material will not degrade in the elements. Prospective buyers should choose a material based on these factors, though all of these materials have been in use for many years, and function quite well.
Types of Fireplace Grates
Quite a few fireplace grate designs exist to suit a variety of needs, despite the basic design being quite simple. Most fireplace grates simply consist of several bars running perpendicular to the two horizontal base bars, which will hold the logs up off the base of the fireplace and provide sufficient airflow to keep the fire burning.
However, several designs exist to enhance either performance or other needs. As some fireplace grates are tapered (with the log support bars getting closer together on one side), options are available for symmetrical or non-tapered grates, designed for fireplaces with openings on both sides, such as fireplaces that open up to two rooms, or have an indoor and an outdoor side.
Other designs feature performance enhancing or ease of use features, such as ember beds, which are a mesh of finer bars along the base of the grate, which prevent embers from falling onto the fireplace floor, enabling the fire to burn hotter. Many grates include a lower base underneath the main one to add starter material for the fire, which is up closer to the logs, but won’t get crushed by them. Some grates feature interlocking extension pieces to suit any fireplace size. Others are designed in a half-cylinder shape, called self-feeding fireplace grates. With these designs logs continually fall toward the center of the grate, reducing the time needed to tend or stir the fire to ensure it keeps burning at the right temperature (of course, some people enjoy working with the fire in this manner, in which case they’ll want to skip these more efficient designs).
Grate Wall of Fire Fireplace Grate
The Grate Wall of Fire is a rather unusual looking design, which features a vertically-contained stack of firewood held against the back wall of the fireplace. Though this would seem to keep the fire farther away from the room, the vertical stack exposes the embers at the bottom, which radiate heat back into the room far more efficiently than embers in an ordinary grate, which are covered by the logs. Since the stack is held vertically, it functions as a self-feeding design as well, and will tend itself simply due to its design. And since the grate is placed against the back wall, its smoke has a much more difficult time entering the room than a conventional fireplace grate placed in the center. The design also promises to produce more heat with less logs, as its heat production is much higher.
Tests show the Grate Wall of Fire produces a far superior heat output compared to conventional fireplace grates, as the exposure of the embers allows far more heat to enter the room. The product’s website even shows a picture of a thermometer placed next to a regular fireplace, and one placed equally distant from a Grate Wall of Fire grate, whose temperature reading is beyond the maximum, and is actually melting. For homeowners looking for ways to save on heating bills, the grate promises greater performance, less smoke, and more safety.