TV manufacturers, A/V installers, physical therapists, and interior designers are among the many that say hanging your TV above a fireplace is a bad idea – a bad idea that a quarter of homeowners have little choice but to consider. At least 25% of homes are wired for a TV placed above the fireplace and many new homes are being built the same way.
Why You Shouldn’t
Hooking up a TV still requires plugs and cables. Where those things are located in a house often determines where the TV has to go. When you have a fireplace it will also limit your options; many fireplaces are built to be the focus of the room, occupying the same spot TV’s usually do.
Above the fireplace is not an ideal location for a TV. First of all, you’re going to get soot all over it. Constant heat from the fireplace can also disrupt your TV signal. Over time, the plastic and metal on your TV will get discolored and warped. Worse, if the fire gets too hot, it can melt the TV, melt cables and cords, or cause a house fire. Heat and smoke are the top reasons not to hang a TV over a fireplace.
Second, it’s bad for your posture. A TV should be near eye level. Placing a TV above a fireplace causes viewers to have to put their heads in an unnatural position. Looking up the way you do at a movie theater when you sit too close to the screen all the time can cause chronic headaches, neck pain, stiff neck, and back pain.
Finally, it makes images on the screen less vibrant. Most modern TV’s have an LED screen which is meant to eliminate reflective light but uses light behind the image to create a vibrant picture. If an LED TV is placed too high, the picture will look dim.
If You Must
Despite all of the negatives associated with hanging a TV above a fireplace, like we noted earlier, new homes are being built for that so you may have little choice but to hang your TV above the fireplace. If that is the case, there are ways to make it work.
Let’s take the last problem first. Many LED TVs can be attached to a wall mount that allows you to tilt the screen at a better angle. So even if you have to mount it above the fireplace, you can always tilt the screen down in a way that lets the backlight shine through correctly.
If you have the space in your living room, you can just move your furniture back far enough so that the TV can be viewed at a lower angle even if it’s mounted above a fireplace. Or get some reclining couches. If you’re lying back, you have no need to strain your neck to look up.
You also don’t want to have your TV on at the same time that you’re burning a fire. The contrast of light is bad for your eyes and it will increase the heat levels around your TV – don’t forget TVs create a heat of their own. Here are other details to consider:
- You shouldn’t have to strain your neck more than 35 degrees to watch TV so if mounting your TV above the fireplace causes you to look 35 degrees above your line of sight, consider another option.
- Modern TVs can tolerate 125 degree heat. If the fireplace wall gets hotter than that when lit, you shouldn’t hang a TV above it.
- You can avoid soot and heat by making sure that your TV is at least 5’ above the base of your fireplace – of course, that will impact your line of sight so keep that in mind.
- If you have a hot wall above your fireplace (over 100 degrees when the fireplace is lit) you should put insulation between the wall and the TV to reduce the chances of your TV or wall overheating and catching fire.
- Mind your cords and wires by putting them behind an insulated cable plate, away from the flame.
That last point is one of the reasons why we recommend using an A/V installer if you want to hang your TV above a fireplace. They will know better how the wiring behind your wall will affect your TV and your fireplace. It’s just safer when adding sockets, switch boxes, and installing cables and wires near an open flame. Also, make sure to check your warranty. Some are voided if you mount your TV above the fireplace.