July 09, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
“We are about to move into a house with a large open fire place with a full width brick chimney. We are considering mounting our 42” LCD TV above the timber mantel but we are concerned about the effects of the heat from the chimney on the TV. Is it advisable to secure a heat- resistant material between the surface of the chimney and the TV?”
It’s extremely popular to mount a TV above a fireplace, but there are several reasons not to, and heat is only one of them.
First, the TV will be unnaturally high, which will force you to stain your neck for hours at a time to watch it. Ideally, a TV should be placed as close to eye level (when seated) as possible, but most fireplace designs would force the TV to be two to three feet higher than that.
If you plan to use the fireplace and the TV at the same time, then you’ll have two bright centers of attention for your eyes to focus on. Again, that will create eye and neck strain as your focus shifts from the bright TV to the bright fire.
As far as heat, most fireplaces are pretty inefficient and don’t actually produce a lot of heat. The heat goes up the chimney, and may warm up the wall. First check the heat tolerance of your TV in the product’s manual (or call the manufacturer if you don’t have the manual). Then light a fire and measure the heat of the wall (a stick-on aquarium thermometer might work) you want to hang it on, and the air right in front of it. If the wall is a little too warm, a tilting mount that holds the TV an inch or so out from the wall will probably help. There are probably also some heat resistant materials you can place on the wall—our installer readers may offer further advice on that.
You’ll also need to consider the wiring and components, which will require some more drilling and cutting and possibly a control system to operate them properly. Make sure there’s room around the chimney to safely run all those wires.
Finally, the mantel is there to show off stuff—your family photo, a cool old clock, some sculpture you picked up on an island vacation. If you put the TV there, then where do you put that stuff?
If any of this seems out of your skill level, consult a professional. Here’s a link where you can find one.
For more articles on fireplace TV mounts, check out this, this and especially this.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.