Mounting a TV over your fireplace is a great way to add a focal point to your home. But how do you do it? Are there specific rules you have to follow? What are the things to consider when doing so? What will you need? This overview will show you the best way to safely place a TV above your fireplace and how to make it look great at the same time.
Televisions are frequently featured near or above fireplaces. In fact, they consistently appear at major hearth and design trade shows, though many in the hearth industry dislike these installations due to the sensitivity of these appliances. Many people attempt to replicate the designs from these shows in their own homes. However, there are some things to consider in your home that is not always accurately explained or demonstrated during these home shows. Some of the design implementations, including advertised model combinations, do not reflect the safety requirements for the protection of homeowners and their property.
The Importance of Caution
Many don't consider the effects of high-temperature air on electronics when mounting a television or other electronic device above a fireplace. However, caution is key. The high-temperature air is just as damaging to the electronic components as water or humidity. Improper installation and improper planning can lead to damage, combustion, and even bodily harm. To keep the television usable and safe, caution and strict adherence to guidelines and clearances must be maintained.
Many don't consider the effects of high-temperature air on electronics when mounting a television or other electronic device above a fireplace.
Your fireplace manual will have its specific clearances listed for combustible materials and electronics, but the manual or warranty information from your television is also essential. However, as a common standard, older LCD and Plasma TVs have a higher heat resistance of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit before damage occurs. Newer LED and OLED models can start to experience degradation at as low as 90 degrees, more severe damage occurring above 110 degrees.
You might be asking why this is important. Simply put, if the television gets too warm, it can not only destroy the device, it can also release toxic fumes, catch on fire, or explode. All of this can be easily avoided by erring on the side of caution.
Dispersing The Heat
The first step in ensuring your installation is safe is to carefully adhere to written clearances, or the safe distance between combustible materials, which includes furniture, mantels, and facing materials for your finished fireplace. This includes dispersing the heat your television will be exposed to. This must be considered before the design and implementation of your installation.
The first step in ensuring your installation is safe is to carefully adhere to written clearances, or the safe distance between combustible materials.
If you're skeptical about the importance of dispersing the heat, consider this: modern thermal imaging confirms there is only minimal heat dispersion around a fireplace. A television that sits right above it will be very susceptible to the majority of this heat. Referring to your television manufacturer warranties can also provide additional insight as to any rights related to voiding your warranty contract with an inappropriately planned above-fireplace install. Thankfully, there are a few options to protect yourself and your property.
A mantel can act as a shield, deflecting heat out and away from the device. Heat rises and can damage your electronics above the fireplace if there is nothing to dampen the effect. These can also work with the aesthetic of your home to provide an improved look.
Or, if you're looking for an alternative for heat reduction, there are also fireplace hoods. These can be less aesthetically pleasing but very helpful in insulating and deflecting the heat created by your fireplace. In fact, they can even prolong the life of a decorative mantel if you choose to use both.
If mantels or fireplace hoods are not the look you want or you feel that they will impair the enjoyment of the television, another option for the displacement of heat is to have a recessed installation for your device, also called an alcove. This makes the heat rise away from your electronics, creating a less hazardous set-up. Some even consider this the safest option. However, one thing to note is while it is possible to create an alcove above an existing hearth, it is most straightforward and practical to construct such a feature when installing the fireplace itself.
If mantels or fireplace hoods are not the look you want or you feel that they will impair the enjoyment of the television, another option for the displacement of heat is to have a recessed installation for your device, also called an alcove.
Once you understand the importance of adequately dispersing the heat from your fireplace, you will be ready to consider the next step: aesthetics.
Aesthetics and You
While safety is a high priority in your installation, aesthetics are also vital. Joining the two will make your final design comfortable as well as practical. Planning what will work in your space while also following codes and guidelines. To achieve your vision, consider contracted help to address heating and electrical concerns while making significant aesthetic and structural changes to your home.
Satisfaction with the final product also requires comfort and harmonious style. It will not make much sense to have a television above a fireplace if no one is going to watch and enjoy it. The planning phase of what works with clearances as well as what will be visually striking in your home may take a considerable length of time, but it will be well worth it when you have the display of your dreams. When making a significant aesthetic and structural change to your home, decisions must be made. As with any other project in your home, contracted help may be required to address heating and electrical concerns safely. Much of this will depend on the design of the television area.
Two forms of above-fireplace installation are exceedingly popular. The recessed alcove would be the first. As the name implies, this is a sunken compartment where your TV or electronic device will be mounted, giving an overall more modern look to your hearth. The second is mounted above a mantel shelf. Or, if you're feeling a little creative, you can combine the two into a singular attraction!
Another consideration comes in the form of regarding the projection of the television after the placement of mounting brackets. The chosen angle placement will extend the furthest point of the device slightly, affecting the mantel size required for your installation. It can also change the dimensions of the nook needed for your television. Along with other factors, including sizing, clearances, and television coverage, this will help determine the ideal choices for your installation. To reduce risk and to double-check your plans, consider contacting a qualified installer or contractor to make sure everything is safe and up to local code.
If you're feeling a little lost, don't worry. Below you will find a guide on how to make your dream aesthetic a reality as well as covering the requirements needed for each.
Mantels — Traditional But Stylish
The traditional look of a wooden mantel can play a prominent role in establishing a barrier between the heat produced by your fireplace and the sensitive electrical components of your television. They also give an excellent focal point to the room, enhancing the appearance of your hearth appliance. Coming in a variety of materials, styles, and configurations, they are both beautiful and practical. Some even have drawers for extra storage!
Most fireplace manuals will have specific requirements for the installation of a mantel above them. Others will merely consider this a combustible material and include the guidelines there. However, since most fireplace shelves are made of woods and therefore highly flammable, it is crucial to follow these clearances. Because of the requirements, you will want to make sure that the wall you've selected for your fireplace and television will be able to accommodate all the space needed. If it seems like a mantel will impede the viewing and enjoyment of your electronic device, consider adjusting other factors in your design to accommodate for this.
There are a variety of mantles available. Some have drawers; others aren't wood at all. There are even some that adjust lengths! It is exceedingly straightforward to customize the look of your hearth area by selecting the mantel that best suits you and the electronic device going above the fireplace.
Alcoves — Custom and Modern
Another trendy way to have a TV above your fireplace is by recessing it back into an alcove. This is a sleeker way to accommodate electronics above the fireplace, preferable for those looking for a clean, modern look. You may also choose to make your nook whatever dimensions you please to accommodate more than a television, should clearances allow. Some may even consider creating a way to camouflage their device when not in use by adding track or folding doors. With the use of tubing or conduit to properly enclose your cables, an alcove could also hide those pesky wires from your television or electronic device.
Another trendy way to have a TV above your fireplace is by recessing it back into an alcove.
Even with an alcove, you will have to consult your fireplace manual for clearances. These can be very similar or even identical to the ones for mantels, but they can also be different. In the case of differences, alcove requirements may be stricter than those for mantels. However, this is due to the much more involved process of constructing the alcove around the fireplace.
For example, linear fireplaces are usually mounted several feet from the floor. Utilizing a mantel or hood in these circumstances might make the mounting point of the television too high for enjoyment. In that case, an alcove installation would be ideal. But, it is important to reiterate again: pay careful attention to what your fireplace calls for. Incorrect installation can void the warranty on either your fireplace or television, or both. You will also want to review the television clearances, if applicable, in your manual.
Without the protective barrier of a mantel, you might wonder why heat is not as prominent an issue with a recessed mounting. No need to worry! The majority of the heat produced by the fireplace will rise and project in front of the opening instead of back towards the TV. This allows your electronic device not to absorb the brunt of the warmth, though you will want to monitor it during prolonged use.
Similarly to the variety of mantels available, you will be able to customize the way your alcove looks. It can be whatever size you need without having to get a custom option. You can have faux stone surrounding the nook to give it a rustic appearance or have the alcove fit perfectly around your screen for the ultimate modern look!
...Or Something Else?
After reviewing all this information, you might consider something else entirely. Both can seem overwhelming when you examine the data for them. But what other option is there, you might be asking yourself. Another option for a stylish television-fireplace installation would be a side-by-side arrangement.
This type of installation can create two competing focal points for your room versus stacking them into one. But, on the other hand, with this type of installation, you can avoid some of the hassles. Above the fireplace clearances will no longer have to be a deciding factor in your design. Instead, you will be able to utilize other design choices that previously seemed impossible to incorporate into your decor.
Time To Install
Now that you've decided what you want and the best way to obtain your ideal living area, it is almost time for installation! Before that process begins, we highly suggest marking off the spot for your mantel or alcove before committing to it. This will demonstrate the compromises possibly required and give a better visual indicator of what your room will look like once the build is completed. To do so, we suggest using painter's tape or an equivalent. Be sure to verify you are adhering to the mandatory clearances in your manuals!
Additionally, take the time to cut out and tape cardboard templates of your fireplace and television or electrical device to where you desire them, again making sure to factor in all required clearances. Doing so will give you a better idea of the scale of installation and allow for any changes desired or required for the installation. If you find the electronic too high for enjoyment, you can adapt as clearances enable or modify the plans to fit your home better.
Take the time to cut out and tape cardboard templates of your fireplace and television or electrical device to where you desire them, again making sure to factor in all required clearances.
Once you've made all the significant adjustments to accommodate your plans, it will be time to begin. It will be up to you whether you implement the use of a contractor or complete the project yourself. For the less handy homeowner, finding a contractor that listens and works with you will be important. They will be the best resource to make sure your installation Is functional, safe, and appealing once completed.
In the case of an alcove, some manufacturers will suggest or even require the use of steel studs to ensure against heat damage. Some contractors may also implement steel framing for additional heat resistance. While that does take longer and more effort, many advise it to be worth it in the long run. As previously mentioned, dispersing the heat and reducing possible damage from heat is very important.
An additional contractor task involves the use of a trackway, carrying the cables that extend from your television and wall. This organizational step emerged as an alternative to former methods of storing audio-visual wires and connections. Using shelves and cabinetry, it is possible to retain some order and neatness to the process. There are multiple methods for combining cabinetry and an alcove design to reduce the appearance of television cabling and wiring. Cabinetry deftly hides electrical equipment through various shelving configurations using conduits to route wiring to a safe location. Conduits are a non-flexible, non-corrugated material which can be accompanied with specialized fittings and connectors, according to its purpose. One material you can use for this purpose is Schedule 40 PVC, as shown below.
Notably, only some applications will allow this track system to be installed. Considerations must be made for these. These include enclosure size, following clearances, and angles for the conduit system in the alcove. However, depending on how the venting is routed, the framing is built, and other factors, a homeowner may be restricted to using an alternative design: having the A/V equipment within a separate compartment in the alcove. In that case, a popular alternative is a makeshift drawer or shelf to hide things from view.
Now that you've chosen your mantel and decided where it should go based on aesthetics and clearances, you will be able to install it. The average homeowner will be able to mount most mantels purchased from eFireplaceStore. Mantel installation is not as labor intensive as the creation of a nook. However, it will require the same forethought and insight as an alcove.
While it will depend on the mantel selected, most mantel shelves are hung with lintel to bear the weight. Once the mantel is attached to the lintel following the instructions provided in the manual, you will need to review that same manual for guidelines for televisions. Fireplace shelves can have special rules for the use of an electronic device in conjunction with them. This will depend on the manufacturer, and these guidelines are not ones to be disregarded. On some mantels, you will be able to place the device directly on the shelf; others will have specific clearances on having the television a certain distance above the shelf.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Once you have placed your television in its place, it's time to enjoy! Whether you go with a mantel, recessed installation or side-by-side configuration, you now have a visually pleasing focal point for your living area that is sure to get guests talking!
Whether you go with a mantel, recessed installation or side-by-side configuration, you now have a visually pleasing focal point for your living area that is sure to get guests talking!
While the popularity of an above fireplace mounted television has risen over the years, there is still much to consider before having it implemented in your home. It might not always be simple but, with this article and the technical know-how from our NFI certified technicians at eFireplaceStore, your fireplace is sure to stand out from the crowd and, even better, be safe while doing so.