Installing a Plasma over the Fireplace Plasma TV Installation Guide – Part 3

Installing a plasma over the fireplace is a popular and attractive way to display a plasma television set. In particular, an over the fireplace TV installation is a great option that can easily integrate the latest ultra-slim plasma and LED HDTVs with the rest of your room decor.

Many are a bit concerned about how safe it is to mount an HDTV over the fireplace irrespective of whether it is a plasma, LED or LCD TV, in particular because of the heat.

The truth is that there is no reason why you should not use the space above the fireplace for your new flat-panel HDTV. However, before proceeding with an over the fireplace TV installation, there are a number of considerations that come into play; heat is just one of them, but there are others as well.

In this plasma TV installation guide, we discuss the issues that may arise when you want to mount your plasma TV above the fireplace.

Which is the center of attraction in your room: Your plasma TV or the fireplace?

One of the main advantageous of flat-panel TVs is their slim profile which makes it easy to integrate with the rest of the room decor. At the same time, general living room settings often put the fireplace at the center of attraction when the centerpiece in home entertainment is your big screen TV. Placing the plasma over the fireplace is an effective way of steering the center of attraction to your plasma TV while integrating the two in one space.

But is mounting a Plasma over the Fireplace, a real option?

Wall mounting a plasma television set—whether above the fireplace or on a standard wall—is both a great space-saver and an attractive solution to display a flat-panel TV. As expressed in the first part of our Plasma TV Installation Guide, the availability of different wall mounts renders wall mounting a plasma TV a relatively easy job that can be handled by most end users. However, there are specific situations where wall mounting a plasma TV may turn out to be somewhat more complicated; mounting a plasma over the fireplace can be one of these.

We are not saying that wall mounting a plasma over the fireplace is not do-able by most end-users. In reality, this task can range from a simple straightforward installation similar to installing a plasma TV wall mount over an ordinary wall, to one which is very difficult and best left to a professional installer.

This depends on how your home is built. For example, we know that a wall mounted plasma would look at its best when all connecting cables are hidden. If the wall above the mantel is hollow and can be easily accessed from behind, hiding and running cables should be relatively easy; otherwise things start to get complicated.

In a similar manner, if the wall above the fireplace is made of bricks or stone, then you can make use of appropriate anchor bolts to fix the plasma TV mount. On the other hand, if it is drywall, special care should be taken to ensure that the whole fixture will be able to take the load of the display panel.

Editor’s Note: Issues discussed in this article apply equally well to mounting an LCD or LED TV above the fireplace. Just ensure that the ambient temperature around your LCD display panel is within the operating temperature range as detailed in the accompanying product technical specifications.

Plasma over the Fireplace Installation A few basic considerations

Will the heat from the fireplace harm the plasma HDTV?

Plasma displays are normally specified to operate within a typical temperature range of 32-100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0-40 degrees Celsius.  The actual supported ambient operating temperature range varies from model to model, so check with the accompanying product literature. This information is normally included as part of the product technical specifications and covers details for temperature and humidity ranges applicable to both operating and storage conditions.

Operating your plasma TV at temperatures above 100 degrees may lead to premature damage to the electronics, shortening the display lifetime. On the other hand, operating at excessive low temperature may lead to a deteriorating on operational performance, apart from possible condensation issues.

Thus, prior to proceeding with mounting your plasma over the fireplace, you first need to check the ambient temperature above the mantel when the fireplace is in use. The best way to do this is to tape a thermometer at the point above the mantel where you plan to place your plasma TV set.  Then build a fire and let it burn for some time. Once the temperature stabilizes, take your readings. If it is close to or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the area is receiving too much heat, either escaping from the front of the fireplace and rising up the face, or radiating through the chimney wall.

Should this be the case, it would be unwise to mount your plasma over the fireplace, especially if you plan to run your plasma TV for long periods while the fireplace is in use. Though plasma TVs have their own cooling mechanism, operating the unit at high ambient temperatures reduces the effectiveness of the plasma cooling system, thus increasing your risk of premature damage to your plasma TV. You may always opt to use your plasma TV while the fireplace is off but this is not what you want when you have gone into the trouble of installing a fireplace in your room!

Keep in mind also that operating your plasma television set at relatively high ambient temperatures for extended periods may void the product warranty since you will not be making use of your plasma TV in the environment it was designed for.

Note: Burning a fire with the plasma over the fireplace while your plasma HDTV is off will not harm your flat-panel TV as long as the ambient temperature is within the storage temperature range for your plasma TV; the latter is typically from 15 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or approximately from -10 to +50 degrees Celsius.

How should you mount the plasma over the fireplace?

The simplest way is to put the plasma on the mantel as long as the latter is deep enough to take a tabletop stand for your plasma TV. However, a better-looking option is to wall mount the plasma over the fireplace.

The whole process of installing a plasma TV wall mount—irrespective of the nature of the wall above the mantel—is described in detail in the second part of our Plasma TV Installation Guide. If it is drywall, use appropriate fixtures to penetrate the studs; if it is a brick wall, use anchor-blots.

The main issue here is to pay attention to the amount of heat to which your plasma TV is exposed; this should always be of concern when mounting a plasma over the fireplace. In particular, be aware that some bricks tend to radiate more heat than others.

Equally important, avoid opting for a recessed installation when mounting a plasma over the fireplace; you may easily have issues with overheating as a recessed installation reduces further the effectiveness of the built-in cooling system of your plasma HDTV. In addition, while aesthetically, a recessed installation represents an interesting option, it has a major drawback; you may have issues with the size of the recess should the need arise to replace or upgrade your plasma TV in the future.

Plasma TV too high – How can you go about it?

One issue we touched upon in the first part of our Plasma TV Installation Guide is correct screen height. When mounting a plasma over the fireplace, there is a real risk that your plasma TV will be too high for comfortable viewing when seated, especially if the mantel is a bit higher than average.

In these circumstances, it is best to make use of a tilting plasma TV wall mount. Tilting wall mounts provide for a change in the vertical angle of view (typically ±15 degrees) of the television, depending on the viewer position. These flat-panel TV wall mounts are best suited where the ideal mounting height is not feasible. A tilting wall-mount would typically add no more than 0.5 to 1 inch to the overall depth in comparison to a fixed wall mount. More on flat-panel TV mounts can be found in our Guide to LCD TV Mounts.

Note: The use of a tilting wall mount represents only a partial solution to a too high a plasma TV placement. You may still suffer from neck pain. In these circumstances, you should seriously consider the use of appropriate recliners for your seating as these will make it possible to tilt back to face straight your TV display while still keeping your neck straight.

Nevertheless, if you can manage to maintain the bottom frame of the plasma screen at close to eye level when seated, you should still enjoy a relatively comfortable viewing experience.

Do you need to call in professional assistance?

If you are not sure you can handle a plasma over the fireplace installation, our best advice is to call professional help. Contact some local Audio/Video or home theater store in your area and ask them to recommendation an installer in your area. Also, look for Home Theater in the yellow pages. Finding a professional installer should not be difficult but…

Unfortunately, there are many out there who think they know what they are doing. Be careful! Check their past experience by asking specific questions about plasma television sets they have installed, including about LCD and plasma over the fireplace installations. Ask also how long they will take to complete the job, and as detailed in an article appearing on the site under our Home Theater Sites Directory section, entitled ‘10 Things to ask your Home Theater Installer‘, be sure to ask if they are certified and insured; if they are not and something happens to their staff while working on you premises, you may get in serious trouble!


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