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Is it safe to mount a flat screen over my fireplace?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 20, 2009 1:31 AM PST
Question:

Hi, I am looking to purchase a flat screen television, the ideal spot in my living room is over the fireplace. My concern is the fireplace is a working fireplace that is fueled by gas. If I install the television over my fireplace, what, if any, potential damage is there to the components? Is LCD/plasma/DLP a better option to purchase? Also, for the display is it better to cut out the sheet rock and install it directly into the wall verses installing a bracket? It's a substantial investment, so I just want to make sure my plan is functional. Thank you. Warmest regards.

Submitted by Barbara

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this member's question.

It depends on if it?s vent less or vented gas logs --Submitted by Jim Morris
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2985851#2985851

You should be ok if... --Submitted by dgradijan
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2984689#2984689

Installing a flat screen over a fireplace --Submitted by Leslie J Baker
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2984843#2984843

CAUTION! Fireplace mounts can be done but use a professional --Submitted by MWM0324
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2986545

Flat Screen over a Fireplace? That's hot! --Submitted by HomelessClarence
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2984925#2984925

Don't cut out sheetrock! --Submitted by danxt
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2985171#2985171

It Depends -- Submitted by media_decor
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2985260#2985260

It is likely safe....here's why --Submitted by metacinema
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7596_102-0.html?forumID=60&threadID=331266&messageID=2984713#2984713


If you have any additional recommendations or advice for Barbara, lets here it. Please click on the reply link and submit away. Please be as detailed as possible in your answer. Thank you!
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TV over a fireplace
by Dan Filice / February 20, 2009 7:51 AM PST

Although there is a concern about damage from smoke engulfing the TV, I think the bigger concern is the proper installation method to secure the TV to a wall that might not have sufficient studs that are needed. I've never done this, but from what I've read, the area above a fireplace has the flue behind the wall, which means that the necessary studs for mounting a TV may not be there, or may not be properly aligned for the TV bracket. I hung a TV on my bedroom wall and the bracket did give some options for the mounting holes, but the pre-configured holes were 16" apart, which is the distance between standard studs in most walls. I found some instructions and suggestions for mounting TVs over a fireplace that seemed very good. I think I just did a Google search with the phrase "Hang TV over Fireplace" and several sites showed up.

The other issue is mounting the TV inset into the wall, where you might cut into the flue.

From a logistical concern, keep in mind that you need to run wires to the TV. If you only use a cable or satellite box, this could be minimum, but if you have a DVD player, etc connected, these add wires and you will need a good way to route wires where they are hidden.

My personal concern about a TV over a fireplace is that when you are seated (normally you sit and don't stand to watch TV), the TV is way too high above line-of-sight, and you need to look up to see the TV. This is less of an issue the further away you get from the TV.

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looking up
by remrafnats1 / February 20, 2009 11:29 AM PST
In reply to: TV over a fireplace

I was concerned about that before I mounted mine several years ago but once I had it up I love it.

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The Flickering Flame
by swjr / February 22, 2009 10:06 PM PST
In reply to: TV over a fireplace

The line of site issue is important, particularly as one ages. Severe neck problems can be caused by contantly looking up similarly to staring at a PC screen. The line of site should be parallel or slightly lower, but never up for any considerable length of time.

Second, who wants to stare at flames while viewing TV? There should be no ambient light directly in or closely peripheral to the line of site, particularly a light that is flickering constantly.

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The issue is how hot the TV gets...
by William Sommerwerck / February 20, 2009 10:01 AM PST

If there's little or no rise in temperature in the area in which the TV is mounted, you should be safe. (The user manual for the set should list a maximum ambient operating temperature.)

I, for one, would never mount a TV of any kind over an open fireplace.

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Is it safe to mount a flat screen over my fireplace?
by shineytop00 / February 20, 2009 10:04 AM PST

It would all depend on just how warm the wall gets with a good fire blazing. I would get a thermometer and tape it to the wall and see just how warm it gets while the fire is present. Check with the manufacturer for the temperature range of the TV.

Mounting it in the wall may not be possible with the flue present and if that was still possible, it would definitely be hotter than on the outside. Good Luck!

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Avoid mounting PLasma over a heat source!
by Brassman / February 20, 2009 10:11 AM PST

Rule of thumb from some one who has worked in the AV industry.

Don't put a Plasma over an active fire place!

Why - because Plasmas are called that because they work by igniting a small pocket of Plasma gas in each pixel, much like a light bulb. As such - they naturally run hot. To maintain a sensible operating temparature, manufacturers go to lenghts to kepp it all cool by installing around four large-ish fans in the back.

So you are undoing thier work if you have the screen above a site where heats rises..If it overheats it will fail.

If you go down the LCD route you won't have quite the same problem although they still do get warm.

Rgds Brassman

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A good fireplace mantle will protect your TV.
by dcmccullo / February 20, 2009 10:12 AM PST

We have a 50" plasma TV over our gas fireplace and the installer told me that the fireplace mantle should be plenty of protection from the heat rising straight up and damaging the TV. Ours has been in place for three years with no problems.

I prefer the plasma picture, but LCDs are much more energy efficient. That choice could take up another entire forum...

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Bad location
by peterabun / February 20, 2009 10:12 AM PST

Barbara, I can't address the technical parts of your question, but I can tell you from a users standpoint the over the fireplace location is bad. Your neck will never forgive you. Viewing your tv will become unpleasant. Believe me, I speak from a miserable experience!

Pretend you are buying an old style tv. Where would you place it for optimal viewing? Now mount your flat screen in that vicinity. You will not be sorry.

Now, mount a painting over your fireplace!

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bad location
by joelbaby / February 27, 2009 12:50 PM PST
In reply to: Bad location

Hi,
I completely agree with this.
Put a painting above the fireplace - not a plasma screen.

Above a fireplace is far too high up.
Plasma screens should be placed LOW DOWN ... so that when you sit on your chair, your eye level is at the horizontal centre of the screen. This is lower than you think.

Would you put a TV above a fireplace? Of course not - it's too high up.

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Bad Location
by kalucas0818 / March 28, 2011 2:31 PM PDT
In reply to: Bad location

Barbara,

Get a pro to mount it for you. If heat was a real problem then no one would do it. My wall mount TILTS so my neck never hurts. Its a wonderful place for the tv. Out of the way and doesn't have to be the center of the room. It is a safe option. As for what kind of TV... I would go with LED. I love mine and it's done very well mounted above our gas burning fire place. Plus, I use the fire place all the time with the tv turned on and all the other lights out. The flickering doesn't bother me either... I'v never even though about it before.

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Mounting TV over fireplace
by dminott / February 20, 2009 10:16 AM PST

I think this depends upon how hot the area where you plan to mount the TV gets.

I would use an accurate thermometer and measure the hottest temperature within that area. If it is close to, or exceeds the TV manufacturer's specs, then I certainly wouldn't do it!

You also might want to consider the effects of smoke rising,
and possible heat distortion, which might make the image look wavy
or distorted.

I suspect that mounting it through the wall will put it closer to the chimney, which will be an even hotter area!

Even though that sort of installation looks inviting, I think you may be inviting trouble!

Dave

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flat screen and fire place
by billyb81 / February 20, 2009 10:17 AM PST

no problem its done all the time heat from a fire place does not travel up but out. case in point ever see any wooden mantles with heat marks on them on how about pictures or paintings above or on the mantle

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you should be ok if...
by dgradijan / February 20, 2009 10:35 AM PST

You should be ok if it is a direct vent gas fireplace. the vent and heat do not radiate upwards like a wood burning fireplace. as a matter of fact it is likely the wall that looks like a chimney above the fireplace completely hollow. it's just there for effect. The venting goes directly out the side of the house. If this is the case, you could make a cubby to put the tv in or mount it on the wall. I mounted my flat screen above my direct vent fireplace and it is the perfect spot. Tilt it down a couple degrees for easier viewing while sitting in your favorite spots. Mounting this way also makes it unlikely pets or kids will block your view. I used a bracket and it looks like a big picture. I also put a 3 inch conduit behind the tv to hide all the wiring. The conduit runs through the "chimney" chase and out the side where the bose theater and other stuff is hooked up. its completely clean and looks wireless. Check local codes and your hvac man to be sure. If its not a direct vent you might be in trouble. i would simply place a thermometer where you plan to install the tv and crank up the fireplace for a while. if it gets over room temp I would look for an alternative spot. Here again, check with pros to be sure.
good luck,
Dan

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Over fireplace mounting concerns
by slr072 / February 20, 2009 10:37 AM PST

DLPs would be too large to wall mount that high, plasmas would be kind of heavy to mount there. Recessing a set into the wall would probably cause some heat problems over time. Since it's a gas fireplace you shouldn't have the combustion by-products problem that you would with a wood-burning fireplace. Keep in mind that mounting a set that high might make cause a stiff neck if you watch for long periods. Also, when checking out sets in the store, keep the watching angle in mind. Some LCDs can lose picture-quality past a certain angle vertically. You might have to try crouching down to look up at the set in the store, to see if the pictures acceptable to you.

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I reckon DLP
by TreknologyNet / February 27, 2009 11:05 AM PST

Apart from heat and looking-up issues, do you intend to be able to rotate the screen around the room to view from different angles?

If the answer is no, then I would highly recommend a DLP projector instead. That way there's no issue with heat from the fire affecting the unit, and instead tearing into the fireplace/chimney you just need a tech to mount the projector on the ceiling and fit an appropriate screen above your mantel.

I do agree with the other question: Do you really want the TV and the fire flickering at you simultaneously?

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fireplace;
by ronnem / February 27, 2009 4:25 PM PST
In reply to: I reckon DLP

why dont you place a thermometer where you plan to place your TV, and then take recordings.electronics need to disperse heat not gain heat.

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MOUNTING TV OVER FIREPLACE
by Petes / February 27, 2009 4:40 PM PST
In reply to: I reckon DLP

TV and fire simultaneously, YES, i have this set up and it is cool. No distraction from watching tv. Check your inner chimmney piping to see if you have space between it and the outer chimmney wall(inside your house) for any heat to dissipate. You should and that should give you green light to mount tv as I have. Also using a tilting mounting bracket is the ideal way to go for added spacing from wall and perfect angling of line of sight to you on couch!

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Not if it's a wood burning fireplace
by weinmang / February 20, 2009 10:44 AM PST

A gas fireplace emits very little soot and only after a long period of disuse such as a week or more. A wood fireplace always spills out soot until the flue heats enough to draw well. Any TV mounted over a fireplace will attract soot, especially a plasma TV. Whether to mount the TV over the sheet rock or to remove a section of sheet rock is more a matter of how the TV looks. I would worry more about the flue heat if the sheet rock were removed, particularly if it is an older brick chimney.

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TV over the fireplace
by BHarris / February 20, 2009 10:44 AM PST

Outside of certain electronics that are designed for the military and NASA, there is none that is designed to withstand the added heat of a nearby fire. Heat is one of the most destructive environmental things you can do to electronics after "wet."
It certainly does look great to have your big screen hanging over the mantle where the family portrait used to hang, but it is one of the worst places you can put the screen. The heat and extreme dryness will prematurely age all the electronics and plastics in the unit. The plastic frame around the screen and the protective plastic surface on the screen will discolor, grow brittle, and warp. It may even invalidate your warranty as that is not a "normal" temperature and humidity environment for any electronics.
Now, having brow-beat you with that warning, let me suggest something. Gas fired fireplaces rarely produce the kind of heat a wood or charcoal fireplace do. Before you hang the screen (because, I assume, like most people, the aesthetics will win out), put a thermometer on the mantle and monitor it while you run the fireplace for 12 to 18 hours or so (I suggest that duration to mimic your starting the fireplace when company comes for the big game in the afternoon or for dinner and you forget to shut it off until you wake up in the morning.) If it doesn't get over a reasonable room temperature during that time, then you can probably assume that the screen will survive just fine. If it gets much hotter up there, then I'd strongly suggest that you find a different place for your new flat screen.
Additional considerations even if the heat isn't an issue: most plasma screens have a glass front and most LED and LCD units have a plastic front and the additional dust and particulate matter disbursed by the fireplace will quickly find its way into the electronics (and stick to the screen) due to static electric charges, That coating of dust will also make the electronics heat up more and end up with a shorter lifespan as well.
I should not have to point out that digging into the sheet rock over the fireplace (where the flue is!) gets the set closer to the heat rising off the fire from behind and will just increase the risk.
Now, if you replace the actual fire with a fitted flatscreen playing an endless loop of a fire and the crackling sound you'll be fine!

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Probably, but ....
by Watzman / February 20, 2009 10:48 AM PST

Before we get into the considersations that promted your question .... let me raise another issue: Installation over a fireplace may simply be too high. You may end up with a sore neck after watching a movie.

That said, your primary concern was damage to the TV from the fireplace. I doubt that is likely to be a problem. I'd be more hesitant if it was a wood burning fireplace, but by comparison gas fireplaces are pretty "tame". Still, I would want to monitor the temperature above the fireplace. Buy a digital thermometer with a wired probe (the outdoor probe of an indoor/outdoor thermometer ... probably about $10-$20 for an indoor outdoor model) and place it in several areas (top, bottom, center, corners) of where you are going to mount the TV and see how hot it gets. I'd be getting concerned if you find readings above 90 to 100 degrees (F), and I'd be very concerned if you get readings above 120, but I doubt that you will.

As to how to mount it, no way would I cut out the drywall (sheet rock). I'd use a bracket, which MUST be fastened to the STUDS, not to the drywall.

Another consideration for mounting over a fireplace is that you can't drop cables "down" from the TV, either inside the wall or on the front of the wall. So give that some thought also.

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I put ours IN FRONT of the fireplace
by heidrichj / February 27, 2009 3:23 PM PST
In reply to: Probably, but ....

Our fireplace is raised up about 14 inches, set in the middle of a rock wall, with a hearth deep enough to accommodate our 50" HDTV. Although it would be nice to have a fire every now and then, we just put the TV in front of the FP. Nobody knows there is one there, but it sure makes a nice TV stand, and puts our KDFE50A10 at the perfect height.

Another option for fireplace-friendly TV watching.

I do worry sometimes about wind dislodging some dirt from the chimney that might go into the TV, but so far for 4 years that has not been an issue.

It's a bit chilly tonight. I guess I better fire up the TV. <grin>

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mounting tv over fireplace
by catebeckstein / February 27, 2009 11:03 PM PST
In reply to: Probably, but ....

I recently did just that. I have a vent free gas fireplace which does throw a lot of heat. It works fine. I put glass doors over the component parts and sometimes I have to crack the doors open a bit but everything is working fine. One thing in retrospect that I should have done ( because I moved the fireplace to a corner and had it built in) was to run a pvc pipe down the chase to the floor to fish wires for speakers etc to the basement. The way the electrician did it was pretty stupid looking back because the holes in the floor to basement and then out the entertainment center are too far apart to make threading anything easy.

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It is likely safe....here's why:
by metacinema / February 20, 2009 11:23 AM PST

To qualify this reply, let me state that I have been custom designing and installing home theaters for over 20 years from So. California to Portland, OR, from Hawaii to Texas.

And I have mounted many plasmas and LCDs above fireplaces.

Most fireplaces have a mantle, a kind of shelf where precious family photos and other flammable items get routinely perched. Notice that they do not burn, or even yellow over time. That is because the heat projects out into the room more than curls directly up the wall from the combusting hearth.

Some fireplaces do not have this shelf, but even then rising heat is not a factor. Many fireplaces also have a set of tempered glass doors which further contain and/or radiate the heat directly out into the room.

Your biggest concern in this type of installation scenario should be "To what material will I actually be attaching the hefty lag bolts that hold the TV mount to the wall?" Construction above a fireplace opening is often a hollow framed "box" employing non standardized stud spacing and can have 2X4s set sideways (the more shallow way as opposed to the deeper way in the rest of the house).

An accurate stud-finder will help you discover how the wood is situated. The better scanario is to find "narrower" studs, indicating that the 2X4 are set in the more structurally load-bearing position. It is a good idea to take a lot of readings and make a lot of pencil marks to get a clearer "picture" of what you've got back there.

Another trick is to make an outlet-shaped hole between the most centered of the studs, get a small mirror (taped to a stick) and a flashlight and take an actual look at what you have back there if you can. This hole will be needed anyway to get your video interconnects and power up behind the TV, so dont' worry about making one (just be sure its not bigger than the retro-fit back-box you fit into to finish the job off.

If the fireplace and above it is solid brick instead, don't hesitate to drill holes exactly where your TV mounting plate dictates. You should not worry about breaching the flue, as that is embedded much deeper into the structure than a 3" lag bolt or expanding bolt-sleeve will require.

To sum up, heat is not a factor...unless you have a poorly designed fireplace, in which case mounting a TV there should be the least of your concerns!

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Radames Pera
getitwired_dot_com

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lcd on to a fireplace
by cdmike50 / February 28, 2009 2:03 AM PST

im my opinion if you are cutting holes into a flue i would get a gasengineer to check if it is safe to do or you could poison yourself with co2 from your fire

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Is it safe to put a flat screen over a fire place?
by geofbrewer / February 20, 2009 11:28 AM PST

No! Ergonomically it is bad for your neck and the necks of other viewers. In addition the viewing angle is less than ideal. Granted, the viewing angle of flat screens has improved dramatically, children will be greatly disappointed if viewing from a prone position. Now for the technical answer or rather the technical question. Is the fireplace functional and will it be used at any time? Technical answer is still: No! Heat is bad for the display itself and the electronics inside the case. The unit will overheat and the life expectancy of the unit will be greatly diminished. Probably the warrenty will be voided as well. I sell these things. Cool air and the space to allow cool air to circulate around a flat screen is very, and I mean very important. It's a decorators nightmare, but so were component stereos. Wait awhile the new thing will be "wall screens" ala "Fahrenheit 451".

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LCD's Over the Fire Place Should Survive However
by galvang / February 20, 2009 11:30 AM PST

Being in expert in displays and working with them for many years, LCDs should survive over the fireplace, however if there is any extra heat propagating from your fireplace the heat may degrade the life of the display and additionally may affect some of the performance parameters of the panel.

LCD?s coming from a reputable manufacture should be able to operate reliably up to and maybe beyond the ambient air temperatures of 50C (120F). Sony, Samsung, Sharp, LG should be fine. Fireplaces should not get that hot. With the additional heat source the following could be affected:

1. CCFL lamps may have shorted life from 40Khours perhaps to 30K hours.
2. Response time of the LCD may be slowed. However, I do not believe human eyes will notice it.
3. Brightness and contrast and therefore color gamut may be affected.

To make sure I would suggest in measuring the air temperature in and around the mounting of the LCD and determine if it?s too warm. Check the specifications of the LCD to make sure there is no doubt. The LCD manufacture should specify an operational temperature. If the temperatures are not overly hot you should be fine.

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Expert in displays
by geofbrewer / February 20, 2009 12:02 PM PST

I don't doubt your expertise in displays. I do question your understanding of domicile construction. Barbara mentioned encasing the display. That would mean additional insulation, fireproofing and forced air ventilation. You might want to consult an architect, mechanical engineer, possibly refer to the National Electrical Code or one of those helpful references. What would really be interesting would be the heat shimmer in front of the dispaly.

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I am Assuming it is Mounted Outside the Wall
by galvang / February 20, 2009 1:01 PM PST
In reply to: Expert in displays

I agree it is critical to have airflow or ventilation especially from bottom to top. Heat coming from the internal power components need to be dissapated and airflow transfers that heat. I do not reccommend inside the wall unless there are proper ventilation meaning no airflow obstruction to the flat panel.

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It's a TV, not art.
by mwindeler / February 20, 2009 11:51 AM PST

TVs are meant to be at eye level. People seem to have forgotten that now that flat TVs have arrived. I have a suggestion. Sit down on your coach or chair and "watch" the area over the fireplace for 30 minutes. Trust me, that little incline is going to kill your neck. And if you slouch down to get a better angle, then you're back will hurt. It's just an awful idea. Also, many TVs aren't meant to be looked at from that angle - just like many TVs fade out too far left or right. Resist the urge.

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No ill effects watching tv above a fireplace
by dgradijan / February 20, 2009 12:23 PM PST
In reply to: It's a TV, not art.

My family as well as many friends have had our tv's mounted above the fireplace for more than a year. Result: no neck pain, no back pain, or any other malady. I can only imagine it would be an issue if you were positioned too close for any angle.
If you tilt the screen like the mounts are designed to do you don't have the issue of proper angle.
The eyes do most of the moving not the neck or back unless again, you are simply too close.
the benefits of more floor space, no pets or kids cutting off the view far outweigh concern over viewing angle(which is not an issue if properly mounted)
An added benefit if you have an open floor plan is the ease of viewing while doing other activities.

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