Mounting Your TV Over a Fireplace Is a Mistake
Mounting your TV over the mantel may seem like a logical position, but it’s actually a really bad idea. Not only can it potentially reduce your TV’s picture quality, it could shorten your TV’s life. Worst case, it could even cause you repeated physical pain. Yes, really. We know it seems like the ideal place to stick a TV, but there are serious issues with such placement. Mounting a TV in the bathroom isn’t much better, but it’s doable.
If you are considering it, have you figured out how you’ll send power and signal (HDMI or wireless) to the TV, or how you’re mounting it to the brick or stone? These are concerns too, but easily fixable. There are bigger issues, though.
Read more: Mounting a TV on Your Deck? Not So Fast
Here’s why you should really think twice before mounting your TV over your fireplace.
1. Viewing angle: A TV over a fireplace is too high
Ever sit in the front row of a movie theater? Some people like it; most don’t. That sore neck you get from staring up at the screen? Imagine that every time you watch TV. Most people find staring up at something for long periods to be uncomfortable. Worse, it might seem fine at first, but then you develop a neck issue later.
Not surprisingly, one of the first Google autocomplete results after “TV over fireplace…” is “too high.” This isn’t a rare issue.
Sure, this won’t be a problem in some rooms. The fireplace might be low, you might be reclining to watch TV, you might be far enough away that you’re just barely looking “up” at it. But if you’ve ever had neck issues, often from something work-related, this aspect is something to consider as it could make such an injury worse.
Most of us would much rather look slightly down at a TV. It’s a much more natural position (similar to what’s recommended by OSHA for monitors). Ideally you should be able to keep a neutral/relaxed neck position to watch your TV, which will vary depending on your sofa/seating position and so on.
2. Your TV will be off-axis
Most TVs on the market today are LCDs. There are higher-end models from LG, Sony, and Vizio that are OLED, but otherwise, regardless of the marketing name, it’s an LCD.
Most LCDs look significantly worse if you’re not looking at them straight on. Even a few degrees below their centerline, like you’d have sitting on a sofa looking up at the TV, can make the image look profoundly different than what it looks like directly on-axis.
This is fairly easy to fix, but you’ll need specific equipment. Some wall-mounting brackets let you pivot the TV downward, so it’s directly facing the seating area. If you insist on mounting your TV high on the wall, keep an eye out for mounts that at least pivot the screen. Flat-mounting the TV on the wall (the cheapest solution) might make your TV look worse.
3. Heat and soot damage your TV
There is nothing worse for an electronics product than heat (OK, maybe water or kicking it could be worse, but you get my point). Increasing the operating temperature of the TV can shorten what should be a lively and reliably long life.
Worse, the soot from the fire can get into the TV’s innards, doing nothing good. Even worse, the damage will be slow and over time, not right away, so the TV will likely fail sooner than it would have otherwise, but still beyond the length of your warranty.
This won’t be an issue for everyone. If you don’t, or can’t, use your fireplace, then this won’t be a problem. A gas fireplace might not have soot, but if the wall above is warm to the touch, that heat is going to warm your TV too.
Though stylish and popular, mounting a TV above a fireplace probably isn’t the best option for you or your TV. Placement is a big issue, and location and TV height can be significant factors when it comes to picture quality.
If you think we’re in the minority with our concerns about poor TV placement, consider there’s an entire subreddit with nearly 100,000 subscribers dedicated to bad TV placement called r/TVTooHigh. If you don’t want to take our word for it, scroll through there and see what people think.
We have some guidelines for where to mount your TV. Check out Don’t Put Your TV There: Big-Screen Placement Tips.
Otherwise, for more TV tips and tricks, check out our recommendations for TV picture settings to change, why it’s usually not a good idea to increase your television’s sharpness control, and the best time to buy a TV. Plus, a fix for muffled TV dialogue and 7 solutions for hiding ugly TV wires.
As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000-mile road trips, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all his tours and adventures.
He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines and a sequel. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.