Plasma Television Set Installation
A Practical Guide - Part 1
Where to Place and How to Hang a Plasma Television
Once you have spent your hard earned cash on the best plasma television set you can afford, it is time to look at where you plan to display your new flat-panel HDTV to ensure you enjoy the best viewing performance.
In this first part of our plasma television installation guide, we show you how to select an optimal place for your new TV. We also discuss related mounting considerations and cabling issues to complement your plasma television.
TV Wall Mount
One of the greatest features of plasma TVs—like their LCD and LED HDTV counterparts—is their slim footprint. Most are no more than 3-inches deep, while the latest ultra-slim designs from Panasonic and Samsung come at depth of 2 to 1.5 inches, respectively irrespective of screen size.
It is this peculiarity that opens new mounting options through the use of appropriate plasma TV mounts otherwise impossible with the bulkier older CRT and rear projection television sets.
You can literally hang your plasma TV set on the wall like a picture, or go for an over the fireplace installation as detailed under part 3 of this installation guide for that unique way of integrating your plasma TV, with the center piece in your living room.
Alternatively, you can opt for a standard table-stand, or take the other extreme and go for a ceiling mount say in the case of a bedroom installation. Of course, a plasma television set is more than just a picture; these TV mounting options come with a number of constraints one should be aware of when deciding on a suitable placement for your HDTV.
It is true that the many different plasma TV mounts available on the market make mounting a plasma television set a relatively easy process that can be handled by end users under most circumstances.
Still, the whole process should not be underestimated; it is not as easy as it seems, and unless you have an average level of do-it-yourself skills, it is best to call for professional assistance. In particular, if you are going to wall-mount your plasma TV, you need to know how to operate a drill and use a spirit level. Fixing the mount perfectly level is critical as it would be hard to fix a poorly done job.
Installing a ceiling mount is even more difficult; unless you really know what you are doing, we advise to leave a ceiling installation the professional installer.
You would also need at least a good pair of extra hands. Plasmas are relatively heavy beasts, substantially heavier than LCD and even more so the latest LED HDTVs; a typical 55-inch plasma television set can easily weight over 70 pounds with the stand removed. This has to be taken into account when handling and mounting your new big screen TV.
And... Do make it a point to read the installation instructions that come with both your flat panel television and the plasma TV mount. This may seem too obvious, yet many fail to do so. Keep in mind that this is essential since you will have to plan your work accordingly. Planning your work is important since you need to identify an optimum location for your flat-panel TV, which will also determine the type of plasma TV mount to use for the job, but also you also need to determine how best to run and hide power and AV cables if you want to get a professionally looking job.
Note: Though this discussion focuses on the installation of plasma television sets, the steps detailed in this guide apply to LCD and LED TVs as well; there are a few minor differences though in view that plasmas are generally heavier and generate more heat. For a detailed discussion on the installation of LCD HDTVs, please check our LCD TV Installation Guide.
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Before deciding on your mounting options, you first need to consider where in the room you are going to place your plasma television set.
While plasma television sets are generally viewable even in a brightly lit room, for best results you have to avoid setting up the plasma TV facing large windows and doors, or any other place in the room where sunlight will fall directly across the screen.
The best way to decide is to make a note of how sunlight travels across the room you plan to use; this is especially important if you have large windows with no curtains.
Place your seating along the wall where the light hits, and the plasma television set on the opposite wall. That way, the light never interferes with your ability to see the picture. This holds true as long as the light source itself is not directly visible from your seating position; if it is, you will have to use curtains, etc.
Special care should also be taken with artificial lights in the room. The rather shiny glass surface of plasma TV screens makes plasma television sets more susceptible to glare and reflections than most LCDs, even though many of the latest LCD and LED TVs also make use of a shiny screen to help improve the perceived contrast and black levels.
The next consideration is available wall space or floor area in case you will be making use of a pedestal-type plasma TV stand. Try to find enough clearance to allow for the proper placement of the left and right channel speakers especially if you are going after a proper home theater speaker setup. Typically, you need a minimum of twice the screen width.
How close is too close for Your Screen Size?
Once you decide on where you want to place your plasma television set, it is time to take a few measurements; it is all a matter of viewing distance. For a detailed discussion on this subject, check our TV Viewing Distance article for 2D viewing and our 3D TV Viewing guide for 3D HDTVs.
For those who do not have the time to go through our viewing distance guides, it is important to ensure that you go for the right screen size for your room. It is quite tempting to buy the biggest screen you can afford, especially with the latest new low prices for latest LED and plasma television sets. Yet a bigger TV does not always equate to a better viewing experience.
As a rule-of-thumb, you need between two to three times the screen width as your minimum viewing distance for 40-inch screen TVs and above. However, this depends on the signal quality; viewing high definition 720p or 1080i/p content over an HDTV set would allow for a closer viewing distance than standard definition material. In addition, 3D TV viewing would call for an even closer viewing distance to support the 3D illusion.
If you have less than the minimum recommended distance to play with, go for a smaller plasma television set if available (with plasma TVs, 42-inch is the minimum you can go), alternatively opt for an LCD or LED TV.
Directly related to this placement issue is whether you will make use of a floor-type TV stand or a plasma TV wall mount. If you opt to hang your flat-panel TV on a wall, then you also need to determine the optimum height at which you will fix the plasma TV mount.
It is tempting here to mount your plasma television set at the typical picture height. Remember that a plasma TV is more than just a picture, it is also a television you will be watching for hours on end. Hence it should be placed at a height that would enable relaxed viewing when seated.
There are a number of considerations that come into play when setting the screen height. The idea is to come at a level that proves comfortable on your neck. Again, more information on this issue is available in our TV Viewing Distance article. Ideally, the center of the screen should be at eye level when seated. Typically, this would correspond to having the center of the display panel set at 40 to 45 inches off the floor. This is the position that will result in a minimum of eye and neck movement during TV viewing.
Is this TV placement too low for your liking? Many consider that aesthetically, this will result in a too low placement for a wall-mounted display. The alternative is to place the TV wall mount such that the bottom part of the screen is no higher than eye level when seated, while the top of the display is no higher that eye level when standing. Anything between these limits would normally lead to an acceptable comfortable viewing experience.
A wall mounted plasma television set look at its best when all connecting cables are completely hidden. The solution is either to run your connecting cables through the wall, or hide cables by camouflaging them behind suitable surface mounted channels such as the wiring solutions featured on our site.
Running cables through a wall is the best approach as 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 cable 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 work.
'Future-Proofing' your installation
While running cables through walls has a visual advantage, yet it has a disadvantage when it comes to adding cables later. The only way to tackle this issue is to future-proof your installation by looking at the inputs available on your plasma television set; then try to identify the inputs you will most likely be using in the future. For example, include a third or even a fourth HDMI cable if your set has three or more HDMI inputs - 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 those extra cables to use.
Note that quality does not necessarily equate to an expensive price tag. For more information on AV cables, check our Home Theater Cable Guide.
The fact that plasma television sets are pretty slim gives rise to various mounting options; here is what you can do...
You can invest in a column styled plasma TV floor stand for an ultra-modern look, such as the Sanus PFFP2-B Universal flat-panel TV floor stand featured here.
These stands would normally enable you to hide all interconnecting cables through the support column. This mounting option is a great straightforward solution for spaces without small children.
This option is no different from installing an ordinary TV. You just need an extra pair of helping hands to lift and place the plasma television set on the stand. All that remains then is to connect the inputs and outputs by following the installation instructions that come with your plasma television.
Plasma TV Wall Mounts:
These vary from the standard flat wall mount to tilting mounts and articulated swivel-arm mounts.
The use of a tilting wall mount is ideal for hanging the plasma television set above eye level - say, if you are going to watch TV while lying in bed or when mounting your plasma above eye-level when seated like when mounting your plasma over the fireplace.
An articulated swivel-arm mount such as the Cheetah wall mount featured at the top of this page, lets you swing your plasma TV either side for better viewing from different angles.
Finally, you can also go for a ceiling mount such as the Vantage Point AX2ACL01-S Tilt Ceiling Mount shown here; this particular mount is suitable for up to 42-inch displays.
This represents another good bedroom option. Note however that this is the most difficult to do it yourself.
Unless you are a professional, we do not recommend that you try installing a ceiling mount on your own, as you need to take the structural integrity of the ceiling into account.
Are you looking for flat-panel TV wall-mounts?
Amazon offers a vast range of TV mounts for all applications. You may access the full range of flat-panel TV mounts at amazon.com by clicking on the following link: TV Wall Mounts