Solved! Why It’s a Mistake to Mount a TV Above a Fireplace

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If the family often gathers in front of the fireplace, wouldn’t it make sense to put the TV there as well? The reasons are as follows.

Q: I want to hang my new 65″ TV above the fireplace in the family room, but my partner is concerned that the heat from the fire will damage the TV. Is it really a bad idea to install a TV above the fireplace?

A: What is your take on the hot button issue? You are not the first person to ask this question. You are not the first person to consider installing a TV above a fireplace. In fact, this is exactly why house builders install electrical and cable outlets in the fireplace (the horizontal shelf above the fireplace). However, depending on the type of fireplace, hanging a new TV there is likely to fail for reasons other than heat. See below why you should choose another location for your TV instead of hanging it above the fireplace.
In general, hanging a TV above a fireplace is not recommended because of the incompatibility of excessive heat and electronics.

The top of a fireplace tends to be warmer than other walls in the house. Take this into account. Gas fireplaces can generate 20,000 to 35,000 BTUs (British thermal units) of heat per hour. Incidentally, in a typical New England winter, it takes about 15,000 BTUs per hour to heat an entire 1,400 square foot house.

Even if a blower blows hot air into a fireplace in the center of the room, the heat will escape upward toward the TV above the fireplace. However, there are still many factors to consider. The farther the fireplace mantle is from the wall, the more heat can be deflected away from the wall above and from the TV. Also, some fireplaces generate less heat than others, and when combined with a good blower, the wall above the fireplace may only get a little warmer.

Electric fireplaces produce less excess heat than gas fireplaces and may be installed above a television set.

Some electric fireplaces produce no heat at all, just atmosphere, while others produce moderate heat, less than 5,000 BTUs per hour. This is not as much as a gas fireplace, but will the heat from an electric fireplace damage a TV? It depends, but the short answer is yes. Prolonged exposure to high heat can lead to pixel death and melting of TV components. To ensure the safety of a TV installed above a linear fireplace, first perform the thermometer test below to make sure the wall temperature is not too high.

Some stand-alone electric fireplaces are designed to have the TV placed on a shelf above the fireplace. This Walker Edison Fireplace TV Shelf was voted the best choice for placing a large TV in “Best Choices for TV Shelves for Electric Fireplaces”. This stand is a safer alternative to installing a TV above a gas fireplace, with a built-in electric fireplace that produces only 4,600 BTUs per hour on its highest setting.

Televisions should only be mounted above a fireplace if the fireplace temperature does not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heating devices with a lower heating value, a deeper mantle, and a more powerful blower may be better. However, before installing a TV above the fireplace, perform this simple thermometer check.

  • Stick the thermometer to the wall, approximately in the center where the TV is likely to be hung.
  • Start the fireplace and let it run for a few hours.
  • Check the thermometer.

If the temperature rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the top of the fireplace will be too hot to safely hold the TV. If the temperature is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe to install a television above the fireplace, but you may want to reconsider hanging a television above the fireplace for the following reasons
Heat damage from mounting a television above a fireplace may void your warranty.

Televisions are expensive, and if they fail soon after purchase, you will need to call a service technician to repair them. However, if the technician finds signs of heat damage, the manufacturer often refuses to pay for the repair, even if the TV is still under warranty. So, does installing a TV above a fireplace void the warranty? Some manufacturers may stipulate that installing the TV above the fireplace will void the warranty.

Watching television set high above the fireplace can be a pain in the neck.

If you have ever sat in the front row of a movie theater, looking up at the screen can cause sprains. Similar discomfort can occur if the TV is positioned higher than normal above the fireplace. The most comfortable angle to watch television is when the lower third of the television is level with the eyes. If you are watching TV in a recliner tilted backward, you may not experience neck pain, but if you are sitting upright, you may feel discomfort after a few minutes.

So what is the best height for a TV above a fireplace? The optimal TV height for most environments is 42 inches from the floor at the center of the screen. Traditional fireplace mantels are usually 4 to 5 feet high. This means that the TV should be as close to the top of the fireplace as possible, but this is too high and unsettling and awkward. Considering the average ceiling height in a home is 8 feet and the minimum distance needed to keep the screen centered between the fireplace and the television, many televisions installed in fireplaces may be mounted so high that the center of the screen is as much as 75 inches above the floor. That’s nearly three feet high!

From certain angles, the image on the screen is not ideal.

LED TVs are not much of a problem, but LCD screens have the disadvantage that they cannot be seen clearly from angles of more than 30 degrees horizontally. If the TV is placed flat on the wall above the fireplace and you sit on a couch or chaise lounge, you will be viewing the screen from an angle. The larger the angle, the poorer the picture quality. A viewing angle of 15 degrees or less is acceptable.

If your LCD TV must be mounted at the top of a wall, it is best to use a rotating mount such as this Echogear Full Motion TV Mount. This mount allows the screen to be tilted down for viewing and flat against the wall when not in use.

Think creatively to better position your TV.

Placing a TV above a fireplace is not recommended, but no one says you can only place a large TV on a small media console. Use the following ideas to think outside the box and consider where to place your TV.

  • If you have a window wider than the TV, consider hanging the TV in front of it. Lined curtains create a backdrop and block street light from entering through the window.
  • Use shelves around the TV to create an “entertainment center” effect. Placing a cabinet under the TV (to give the TV a place to sit) and building shelves above or beside the TV will help it blend into the overall look of the room.
  • If you still decide to install the TV above the fireplace, the TV may be larger and wider than the fireplace. Screen sizes have grown considerably over the decades, but a general rule of thumb is that the TV should be at least 6 to 8 inches narrower than the fireplace below it.