Installing a TV Above the Fireplace

Consider ventilation, electrical and mounting heights before installing a flat-panel TV over your fireplace.

Thinking about a TV above the fireplace?

Due to careful planning, design considerations and ample safety measures, a flat-panel TV above this great room's modern mantel is functional and aesthetically pleasing.

What's the proper way to ventilate?

Recessed niches have become increasingly popular for flat-panel TV installations, because they frame and ventilate the unit. To create such a niche, cut into the drywall, then re-frame it with 2x4 boards to create a 6x8-inch recessed area. A TV can be mounted flush with the wall, retaining ample space for ventilation. This method works especially well above fireplaces because it shields the TV from the heat of an active fire. Another option is to install your TV on a slide-out system, which allows easy access to the back of the panel for cleaning, dusting or reconfiguring of components.

Where should seating be in reference to the TV?

For optimal viewing, it's important to place seats at the proper distance from the TV. Sitting too close or too far from the screen can cause eye strain. To prevent this, homeowners with 42-inch screens should establish seating 5 1/2 feet away. Screens measuring 50 inches will require a distance of 6 feet. Extra-large TVs, such as 60-inch models, necessitate an average of 7 1/2 feet between seating and the TV screen.

How high should the TV be displayed?

One of the most popular questions clients pose to interior designers is how high to mount their flat-panel TVs. In general, the answer is 60-68 inches above the ground; however, this number will vary depending on the height of the homeowner. If you have to lift or strain your neck at all, it's too high.

Can the TV's height affect a room's aesthetic?

Beyond functional concerns, the height of a flat-panel TV can affect the overall aesthetics of your room. If the TV is placed too low, the mantel will appear cluttered and the fireplace will seem off-balance. To avoid this problem, allow 7 inches of clearance between the top of the mantel and the bottom of the flat-panel TV. This will allow enough room beneath the TV for ventilation, and the negative space will provide a clean, uncluttered canvas for decorative objects.

Can TV wires be hidden?

Due to unsightly wires and electrical outlets, many homeowners are apprehensive about placing flat-panel TVs above their mantels. While most new-construction homes are wired for flat-panel TVs, older residences often require electrical work to deal with this aesthetic concern. For a seamless look, consider having an electrician integrate switches, and infrared or remote systems near the TV.

What about auxiliary outlets?

Before mounting a flat-panel TV above a mantel, consider the access to auxiliary outlets. While the auxiliary outlets of many TVs are placed along the front of the unit, others are recessed along the sides or back. If these outlets are located along the sides or the back of the unit, and a recessed look is desired, it is important to ensure easy access to auxiliary outlets during installation.

Will heat damage the TV?

A safe temperature range of 32 to 100 degrees is standard for most flat-panel TVs. In fact, most instruction manuals will publish this range based on manufacturer guidelines. Homeowners concerned that heat from their fire will affect their pricey flat-panel can assess the degree of heat prior to purchase by taping a thermometer where the flat-panel will hang. If this space does not exceed 100 degrees, the flat-panel should be safe once installed.

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