Thanks to the different LCD mounts, installing an LCD−or even more so a LED HDTV, is often a relatively straightforward job that can be carried out by the end user, but…
Mounting a flat-panel TV is not like hanging a picture on the wall. In this first part of our LCD TV installation guide, we show you how to first identify an optimum placement for your flat-panel TV. We then discuss various installation issues, hiding and running connecting cables, and safety considerations.
Flat-panel HDTVs: More than a picture on the wall…
LCD TVs are sleek and versatile thanks to their relatively thin profile. The majority of LED TVs are just an inch thin irrespective of screen size while standard CCFL LCD TVs hardly exceed 3-inch in panel depth.
It is no wonder these are considered by many the coolest thing you can have in your home entertainment. Having a 55- or 65-inch TV that is no more than a 1-inch deep mounted on the wall is more like having a picture than an HDTV.
It is this peculiarity that opens new mounting options−thanks to LCD mounts−otherwise impossible with CRT and rear projection TVs.
You are not limited to mounting your TV on the wall; with the appropriate LCD mount, you can even go for a ceiling or an over-the-fireplace installation. And you can always opt for a standard table-stand placed over an appropriate AV cabinet, or a stylish column floor-stand if you prefer.
It is the slim profile that renders flat panel TVs the television display of choice when it comes to installing a big screen TV without sacrificing floor space.
Use a wall-type LCD mount and your TV will take zero floor space! This ‘wall mountable’ feature makes plasma, LCD and LED TVs true space-savers – an aspect so important to those with small living areas. It is also this same characteristic that renders flat panel HDTVs an easy option to integrate within any room decor.
Of course, a flat-panel TV is not just a picture. Hence, all these mounting options are accompanied by several constraints that one has to be aware of when it comes to placing and mounting your TV.
TV Installation Basics: Issues to take into consideration
While it is true that the many different LCD mounts available on the market make mounting of an LCD TV a relatively easy process―especially for the end user with average DIY skills―never underestimate a TV installation; it is not always as easy as it seems.
Proper planning is the key to a successful flat-panel TV installation; this involves three basic steps:
Identify an optimum location for your flat-panel TV.
Determine how best to run and hide interconnecting cables between your TV and the rest of your gear.
Select the right LCD mount for your needs.
Note: Though this discussion focuses on the use of LCD mounts, the steps detailed in this flat-panel TV installation guide still apply when mounting a plasma television. Just be aware of a few exceptions though: Plasma TVs are substantially heavier and generate more heat, two important considerations which have to be taken into account. For more information on mounting a plasma TV, please refer to our Plasma TV Installation Guide.
Mounting a Flat Panel LCD TV
1. Can YOU do the Job Yourself?
The three key issues detailed above are essential if you want to ensure a proper TV installation. Yet prior to proceeding any further, there is an even more important step to take into consideration: Can you do the job yourself?
As expressed earlier on in our introduction, the use of LCD mounts renders mounting of a flat-panel TV a relatively easy job that can be done by most users. Furthermore, the many different variants of LCD mounts provide an easy-to-use mounting solution under most circumstances.
Yet, mounting of a flat-panel TV still calls for a minimum of DIY skills; you do not need to be a carpenter or a qualified electrician, but a few basics skills in these respective areas will surely help you get the job done. You definitely need to know how to operate a drill and use a spirit level to level off the TV panel. Fixing the mount perfectly level is critical; it will be hard to fix a poorly done job later, so re-check your measurements. If you want a professionally looking job, you need to be able to work with precision.
You also need a good pair of helping hands. True that LCD TVs can be substantially lighter than their plasma counterpart by as much as 30% to 40% (depending on model and screen size), and therefore, they are easier to handle, but they are still heavy gear. A typical 46-inch LCD HDTV may easily weigh over 70 pounds. In other words, this is at least a two-person job. The only exception is the LED TV which can be extremely light though at larger screen sizes, mounting the TV on the LCD mount can be difficult to handle for a single person due to the size of the TV.
Finally, you need to know how to follow through the installation instructions that come with your TV and the LCD mount itself. This is essential since you have to plan your work accordingly−in every detail−before even drilling a single hole.
2. Where to Place and How to Hang Your HD TV
Placement: Before deciding on your LCD mounting options, you first need to consider where in the room you are going to place your LCD flat-panel TV.
This in itself is purely subjective, yet there are a few considerations that come into play. The main issue here is that what you will be hanging on the wall, or in that case even on a pedestal stand, is not a framed picture, but a TV.
For best results, avoid setting up your LCD HDTV facing large windows, doors, etc., where sunlight may fall directly across the screen. While LCD TV screens tend to be easier on the eye than plasma TVs when used in brightly lit rooms due to their inherent anti-glare technology, yet any bright source of light shining onto the screen surface will still ruin your viewing experience.
As expressed in our plasma installation guide, the best way to decide before installing your LCD mount is to make a note of how sunlight travels across the room you plan to use. Try to place your seating along the wall where light hits and your flat-panel screen on the opposite wall.
The next consideration is available wall space, or floor area in case of a pedestal-type LCD mount. Try to find enough clearance. Typically, you need a minimum of twice the screen width. This is required to fit in your left and right channel speakers; you may also want to put on some other decoration to augment the aesthetics without shifting the attention from what should be the real center of attraction―the flat panel TV.
A final consideration related to screen placement―irrespective of the type of LCD mount you use―is the available viewing distance between your LCD HDTV and your seating area. For a high-definition LCD TV, this should theoretically be between 2 to 3 times the screen width; please check our TV Viewing Distance guide for more information on this subject.
If you do not have the available space for your screen size, either go for a smaller screen, or try a diagonal placement for your TV and seating arrangement.
Note that while the above should help you identify a suitable spot for your LCD TV, at the same, keep in mind that the ultimate placement of your TV is one that best suits your needs and room decor. In other words, go for a placement that you feel comfortable with.
Mounting: Once you decide on a spot where you plan to hang your LCD TV, it is time to decide on whether you will be making use of an LCD TV floor stand or a wall-type LCD mount. If you opt to hang your LCD HDTV on the wall, then you also need to determine the optimum height at which you will affix your LCD mount.
There are a number of considerations that relate to the TV height. You should aim at a height that proves comfortable on your neck from your viewing position when seated. As detailed in our TV Viewing Distance article, the guideline is that the maximum vertical angle of view should not exceed 35 degrees. The maximum vertical angle refers to the maximum vertical angle as measured at the eye height with the viewer is seated at the front-row center-seat, to the topmost part of the screen.
Note that this represents the maximum vertical setting, not the ideal vertical placement. For the best viewing position, the center of the screen should be at eye level when seated. This is the position that will result in a minimum of eye and neck movement during TV viewing.
Many consider this as excessively low placement for a wall-mounted display. Keep in mind however that here we are dealing with a TV not a framed picture. The next-best alternative is to place the LCD mount such that the bottom part of the screen is no higher than the eye level when seated, while the top of the display is no higher than the eye level when standing. Anything between these limits should yield a comfortable TV viewing experience.
Are you still uncertain about the chosen spot where you will be installing your LCD mount? Why not give it a test-run?
Hang a piece of black cardboard of similar size to your TV on the wall where you plan to mount your TV. Leave it in place for a couple of days and see if you like the location! In the meantime, it is also worth monitoring the sun light falling on your chosen spot during different times of the day.
3. Running and Hiding Connecting Cables
A flat panel TV looks at its best when all connecting cables are completely hidden. This is not much of an issue with floor-standing LCD mounts such as the SANUS PFFP2-B Universal Flat-panel TV floor stand featured here. This mounting option is a great straightforward solution for spaces without small children.
These stands would normally enable you to hide all interconnecting cables through the support column.
This is not the case when hanging an LCD HDTV on a wall. The solution here is either to run your connecting cables through the wall, or hide cables by camouflaging them behind suitable trunking solutions.
Camouflaging is the easiest and least expensive approach for the DIY to hide that ugly looking bunch of interconnecting wires between your flat panel TV and the rest of the equipment. It is also the least invasive in that it does not require you to drill any sizable holes, as is the case when burying cables in walls. These holes may turn to be not easy to patch latter should you want to move your audio video installation elsewhere.
An interesting inexpensive wiring solution for the DIY comes from Superb Home Theater, but there are others as well.
It consists of low profile wall-mounted wiring channels made from MDF. The channels come with a rounded edge design that blends perfectly well into the wall between the display and the equipment rack. These wiring channels would almost disappear once painted with your room color paint.
More information on this and other surface mounted cable management systems is available in our article ‘On-wall’ Wiring Solutions for Easy HDTV Installation.’
Running cables through a wall is surely more expensive than the camouflage approach, but aesthetically it yields a better result. Running cables through drywall is relatively easy. It requires cutting two holes, one behind your TV, and the other where you want them to come out; once these holes are completed, just fish the cables through the wall.
Running cables through a brick wall can be a little bit trickier; you may need to hire an electrician though you can do it yourself if you are handy with that kind of construction project.
‘Future-Proofing’ your installation: While running cables through walls provides for a more pleasing result, it has a disadvantage when it comes to adding cables later. The only way to tackle this issue is to future-proof your installation. Look at the inputs available on your TV and possibly identify the inputs you will be using in the future. For example, include at least an extra HDMI cable especially if you are left with one or more spare HDMI inputs on your TV, even if for the time being you will only be using one.
This may appear an unnecessary expense, but it is easier to put in an extra cable while the respective holes are still open than to fish extra cables later. Furthermore, with the rapid advancement in AV technology, there is a big chance that it would not take long before you put that extra cable into use.
Keep in mind that while the use of good quality AV cables is essential, yet this is even more so when it comes to running cables through walls. Therefore, buy quality cables that will prevent interference from power wires and other wiring in the walls. Once you get this mounted, you do not want to find out that you have a problem. For more information on AV cables, please refer the Home Theater Cables section of the site.
Note also that as further detailed in our Home Theater Wiring Guide, it is important that with any in-wall installation, you use specially certified wires (UL-rated CL3 wires) that comply with national standards for resistance to fire, chemicals, abrasion, and temperature extremes.
Never Forget: Safety First
1. The biggest concern when installing a wall-type LCD mount is buried electricity wiring in the wall. Be careful not to drill or screw into any wiring. The best way to work safely is to get an inexpensive electricity cable locator – usually available from hardware stores.
2. It is true that LCD TV sets are slim, but they are relatively heavy. A 50-inch CCFL LCD HDTV may easily weigh over 80lbs. This means that not all walls are suitable to take a wall-type LCD mount. LED TVs weigh significantly less but you still need to ensure that your wall will be able to take the combined load of your TV and the LCD mount. If in doubt, either call professional assistance or use a pedestal stand.
3. If you are installing your LCD mount on a drywall, be sure to screw your mount into wooden studs.
4. Alternatively, if your drywall makes use of metal frames, use the appropriate spring loaded fixtures for the job; ordinary self-taping screws are not safe enough to hold your TV. Whatever the case, always ensure that you penetrate the stud.
5. If for some reason, you cannot locate the studs, get an inexpensive $20 stud finder – available from any hardware store. For slightly more, you can get an all-in-one metal and wood stud finder and electricity cable locator.
Zircon i65 Stud Sensor Center-Finding Battery
A great all-in-one product is the Zircon StudSensor i65 featured here. It sells for under $30 and includes auto depth sensing, auto re-calibration, and even an integrated erasable marker to make it easy to mark the spot for anchoring without removing the tool from the wall. For those who has never used a stud finder, this particular model also comes with DVD how-to guide.