The jury is still out as to whether it’s a good idea to put a flat-panel TV over the fireplace.
Some home theater designers think the spot is too hot for the TV’s well-being; others cite the position as being too high for comfortable viewing; and there are those that find the area too difficult to access when they’re ready to connect wires. However, there are ways to make the over-the-mantle location more amenable to technology, says Ian Bryant, senior programmer at Tri-Phase Technologies in Carmel, Ind. “It just takes a little preparation.”
Make that a lot of preparation. In a master bedroom installation recently completed by Bryant and the rest of the Tri-Phase team, plans for a 42-inch Fujitsu plasma TV began before the bedroom was even built. “We worked with the builder to have a cavity for the TV built above the fireplace,” Bryant explains. The cavity was framed with 3/4-inch plywood to provide ample support for the heavy display. “Having that support is critical, especially if the TV will be attached to an articulating wall mount,” Bryant continues.
In addition to providing support, the cavity was built deep enough—about 1 foot—to house all the necessary wiring and components. With that amount of space, Tri-Phase was able to fit in a couple of ventilation fans to keep the area cool, terminations for wiring and electrical outlets. Bryant adds that the deep cavity also simplified the mounting of the TV. “We were able to get it centered more easily than if we had just a couple of inches behind the TV to work with,” he explains.
The components for the TV, including a high-def cable box, Integra receiver and Integra DVD player were placed in a cabinet at the master suite’s kitchenette area. Like the TV cutaway, the cabinet was fitted with small fans to prevent the equipment from overheating. Tri-Phase also drilled holes at the bottom of the cabinet to allow the warm air to escape.
The installation was finished off with “invisible” Sonance Sound Advance speakers in the ceiling, a Triad subwoofer built into the wall and a Crestron remote for operating the video and audio components, lighting, Elan whole-house audio system, and surveillance cameras (viewable on the TV).
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.