6 Reasons You Shouldn't Mount a TV Over a Fireplace

Written by Jonah Matthes
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If you have space over your fireplace, you might look at the area and think you should mount a TV there. While it may seem like a great idea, there are some reasons why you shouldn’t. Depending on the type of fireplace you have, you could be risking damage to your electronics, damage that can’t easily be repaired.

There are several reasons why you shouldn't mount a TV over a fireplace including:

  • Excessive Heat that can Damage the TV
  • Harsh Viewing Angle that can be Uncomfortable
  • Reduced Image Quality
  • It's Hard to Mount
  • There's Nowhere to Hide Cables and Wires
  • There's Not Usually Power Available

Take an assessment of your space before you decide to mount your TV. Keep in mind that there may be better areas to place your unit with the same viewing angles. Also, consider the heat. You wouldn’t want to place a TV outside in the elements, so why over the fireplace? Certain environmental conditions could be detrimental to your TV’s lifespan. To find out more about these reasons, read on.

Heat

R.W.FLAME Electric Fireplace 50 inch Recessed and Wall Mounted,The Thinnest FireplaceLow Noise , Fit for 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 Stud, Remote Control with Timer,Touch Screen,Adjustable Flame Colors and Speed

Heat and electronics just don’t mix. This is why it is imperative to think about how much heat your fireplace is giving off. Certain types of fireplaces, electric and gas, may emit lower BTUs and can be used with the right considerations. On the other hand, a traditional wood-burning unit can do some real damage. 

There are some specific reasons to not mount a TV over a fireplace due to heat including the fact that 1) heat rises, 2) heat damage voids warranty, and 3) most television sets have a very specific operating temperature that a consumer shouldn't exceed. We all know heat rises. Excessive heat creates a problem for any electronics placed above a fireplace.

This is why the TVs you usually see over a fireplace are either blocked by a mantel or recessed into a wall. These orientations will prevent the heat from being put out from the fireplace to damage your electronics. Additionally, if you have mounted your TV above a fireplace in the wrong placement, you could see some damage.

Consequently, your manufacturer’s warranty won’t cover this type of accident. If you are hoping a technician will take care of things without a bill, you are out of luck. This is why it is so important to be mindful of the heat your fireplace produces. Another thing to consider is the proper operating temperatures of your TV.

This can vary depending on the brand, but a common guideline is the following: Samsung TV - 50F to 104F; LG TV - 32F to 104F; and Sony TV - 32F to 104F. Just at a cursory glance, you can see that a TV can’t handle much heat. Even on a hot summer day, your home could reach this temperature if you don’t have AC.

Viewing Angle

Vizio TV Mounted Above a Mantel

One thing a lot of people don’t consider when mounting a TV is the viewing angle. TV, especially LCD TVs, are meant to be viewed at a certain angle. Your owner’s manual will usually define this by a few different measurements. including the correct height, angle, as well as the distance from the screen.

These measurements will help you reach the optimum viewing conditions. Typically, you want to have the center of your screen around eye height when you are sitting down. Of course, as you could imagine, this is an issue if you are attempting to mount a TV over a fireplace.

Consider the fireplace’s height and the fact you need to have the TV mounted higher for heat; you probably will run into viewing angle issues. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can affect your overall viewing experience over the long run.

For example, if you have ever sat in the front seats at a movie theatre, you may have come home with a sore neck. In the same way, you have to tilt your head to view the screen at the cinema. You will need to do the same with your TV. Often this results in minor neck pains from prolonged viewing time. 

Reduced Image Quality

Just as your TV has optimum viewing angles, so do they have optimum distance as well. Your TV manufacturer will define these, so check your user’s manual. Generally speaking, though, a 1080P HD TV will need 83 inches and a 4K TV will need 39 inches. 4K TVs have higher pixel density, meaning you should view them from shorter distances than 1080p.

But what does this translate to when it comes to your fireplace? Well, because the TV is higher than usual, not only will your viewing angle be off, but you may end up being farther from your TV. Think about how you will be viewing your TV from a seated position to above the fireplace. More often than not, you will be viewing from a farther distance than if it was at eye level.

The farther you are away from your TV, the worse the image will appear. On the other hand, if your TV is too high and you are viewing from a shorter distance, you will have to tilt your head even more to see the screen. You may be able to alleviate some of these issues with a swivel mount. A good mount, like this Mounting Dream TV Mount (on Amazon), can help reduce eye strain. If you can correct the increased viewing angle with the mount, you can improve image quality. 

Hard to Mount

Depending on the type of fireplace you are attempting to install above, you may have some issues mounting. This is because harder, more permanent material makes up the area above the hearth. If you have a traditional wood-burning unit or just have the structure of one, mounting anything can be difficult. You may run into materials like brick, cement, and other solid masonry above a fireplace.

Always check to see what kind of material is above your fireplace before you start drilling. But you may not just have trouble mounting the screws. You could run into issues with wiring. This is because the design of the fireplace does not have room for running wires and cables. Make sure not to damage the ductwork behind the fireplace. Drilling into it could cause some severe issues, like leaks.

You should also consider how difficult this install will be. Not only will you be working on a ladder to get components that high (more on the components of theater systems in our tutorial), but you will also have to deal with mounting a bulky and expensive piece of equipment. 

Nowhere for Wiring and Cable Boxes

Vizio TV Mounted Above a Mantel

Think about the top of your fireplace. While you may have a mantle, there certainly isn’t a whole lot of space. This can cause some problems if you decide to mount a TV there. While wiring is an issue, finding a place to hold all of the equipment necessary can also be problematic. You’ll need to find space for all the cords, the cable box, a Blu-ray player, or an RV receiver/soundbar.

This is why entertainment centers are a thing. They allow for the storage of all these devices in a neat and organized way. If you want to make sure your setup looks neat, you might have to get creative. If not, you could be looking at a lot of hanging wires while you watch TV.

Lack of Power

Typically speaking, above the fireplace is not a place for electronics. Consequently, you may face some power problems if you decide to go ahead with this location. While it is true that some modern home builders will provide a couple of outlets for your electronics, most will not. Accordingly, you may need to run an extension cord to get power.

But if you do have access to an outlet, you may be in luck. If it is just one, though, you may have to manage your power creatively. Think about all the devices that need power near the TV. You may have a cable box, streaming unit, DVD and Blu-Ray players, the TV itself, as well as other miscellaneous sound equipment, just to name a few.

With just two outlets, you will fall short of what is needed for your entertainment setup. You may be able to get away using a powerstrip, like this one (also on Amazon). Again, you will be trading off look and aesthetics for function. 

Tips for Above-Fireplace TVs

If you find yourself in a position where over the fireplace is your only option, some tips can make things better. First, you will want to access your space. This will help you determine how you should go about organizing the area. While this is mostly an aesthetic approach, keep in mind, you will have some hanging wires if you are not careful.

Second, if you plan on setting up a TV over a fireplace, it matters what kind of fireplace you have. For example, traditional wood-burning units should be right out. It might be possible to get away with hanging a TV over one, but not without constant worry. Like we mentioned earlier, electronics and heat just don’t mix. A wood-burning unit is by far the hottest and most chaotic when it comes to heat distribution.

Additionally, a gas fireplace also puts out a good bit of heat. But, it won’t be as much as a wood-burning unit. You might be able to get away with hanging a TV over a gas fireplace. To make sure you are not at risk of burning your TV, your best bet is to use an electric fireplace.

Electric fireplaces are great for a couple of reasons, including their heat control, ability to disperse heat efficiently, location of the heat vents which can be in places other than the top, and they don't produce as much heat which means they're less of a fire hazard. Another great tip is always to use a swiveling tilt mount. This will allow you to move your TV when the fireplace is in use. 

Checking Your Space for Heat

Before you decide to place your TV over your fireplace, it is a good idea to check the area’s temperature. This will help you gauge how likely it is your TV will be damaged. Even if you are using an electric unit, you should explore this. To check the temperature, you should follow the steps down below:

  1. Use an infrared non-contact thermometer (on Amazon) to check the proposed area for a temp while your fireplace is off. This will give you a baseline temperature.
  2. Turn on your unit.
  3. Allow for the heat to build up, around 45 minutes.
  4. Take another temperature reading.
  5. Consult your TV’s manual to see recommended operating temps and compare.

If the area gets any higher than 100 degrees, it is a good sign that you may need to move higher. While your TV may operate at higher temps, over time, this could still cause some damage. This should be the first thing you do. It is the preliminary planning stage that will help you access your location.

If things are not working, it is not recommended that you place your TV over your fireplace. Not only could it damage your electronics, but it could also be a danger for starting a fire. Always be careful. An excellent looking entertainment center is never worth risking your home or even your life, although, if they were, our list of the 8 best entertainment systems would be a start.

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About Me

Hi! I’m Jonah. I grew up addicted to different electronics. I began working for an Audio/Video installation company years ago and realized my passion for Home Theaters! The Home Theater DIY is a place for me to share my different findings and experiences about home theaters and home electronics. For more information, check out my about me page!

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