As TVs get larger, they inevitably take up more space. It’s now completely normal for a family living room to feature a 40 to a 70-inch TV. Homeowners are looking for novel ways to save space to accommodate these increasingly large screens. This includes wall mounting TVs, although if this is above or near a fireplace, it can lead to problems.
The heat from a fireplace can damage your TV. If your TV is too close to the fireplace or is mounted right above it, the heat can melt components and damage pixels on the screen. Plasma TVs are particularly susceptible to heat damage, though all TVs are at risk if they are too close to the fire.
In a room where the fireplace is purely decorative, heat from a fireplace isn’t an issue. In fact, in many rooms, this can represent an ideal location for a flat-screen TV. It’s out of the way, central, and the ideal height. However, before you do so, there are some factors you need to consider.
What Excess Heat Does To TVs
The heat from a fireplace rises, and the wall behind the chimney breast, including the space directly above it, can get incredibly hot. Over time, this has been known to damage the TV’s electronic components, eventually rendering it unusable.
Internal wiring and other parts can also melt, especially if they are held together by solder. When heated, this can turn back into a liquid substance and drip into other areas causing further damage. Smoke damage can also be a factor with older, more traditional fireplaces.
What can be done to mitigate this damage? There are two major factors to consider:
Type of TV
The type of TV you own is highly relevant. LCD TV screens are generally more resilient to heat. However, that’s not to say that prolonged exposure to extreme heat can’t damage them because it can. But it’s plasma TVs that are particularly susceptible to heat damage. Plasma TVs kick out a lot of heat on their own and often come with built-in cooling systems in place.
In short, TVs are built to withstand a certain level of internal heat, but not exceed it. When a plasma TV’s cooling system breaks, it doesn’t take long for the rest of the TV to follow. That’s because the particles that comprise the plasma pixels soon burn out without the cooling system in place.
Excess heat, let’s say from a fireplace, counteracts the cooling system and makes it redundant, or overpowers it, causing it to work harder and wear out sooner. To summarize, plasma TV sets above hot fireplaces don’t mix well where an LCD screen may fair better.
Types of Fireplace
The following four types of fireplaces are seen in modern homes. Each emits a different heat level, and this determines how safe it is to install a TV above them:
- Traditional Fireplaces – Today, traditional fireplaces or open hearths are rather rare. Having been replaced by more modern trappings such as gas fires and electric heaters. But they still exist in some older properties and those that do often still work in the same way they did originally. They tend to get very hot, as there is no technology such as a blower to cool or direct the heat. For this reason, it is unwise to mount a TV above one.
- Gas Fires – Most homes use a fireplace powered by gas. They are the most common and well-utilized form of fireplace available. They are the successor to the traditional fireplace, something they typically emulate aesthetically, and like traditional fireplaces, emit a high level of heat. While mounting a TV above one can be done, it’s often not recommended.
- Log Burners – As an alternative to gas or electric fires, log burners are becoming increasingly popular. They are purpose-built to share many similarities with traditional fireplaces but are also often equipped with measures to stop flames getting out of control. Their heat depends on the number of logs being burned, but log burners tend to be large and kick out a lot of heat. They also come out further than other fires, meaning a TV installed above them is unwise.
- Electric Heaters – Many homes are built without chimneys, but there is still a place in the middle of the living room designed to replicate a chimney breast. Electric fires are common in homes like these. They generally don’t emit the same level of heat as traditional or gas fires. Many exist just for show. For these reasons, electric heaters are the safest fireplaces to exist beneath a wall-mounted TV.
What’s the Best Combination of TV and Fireplace?
The above information tells us that if you’re considering hanging a TV above a fireplace, you should consider what type of TV you’re mounting first and what sort of fireplace is installed below it.
It’s not advisable to mount a plasma TV above anything that emits heat. Such TVs are prone to overheating and can break as a result. Log burners, gas, and traditional fires also kick out a significant amount of heat, which may well be damaging to any TV.
If you absolutely must wall mount your TV above a hearth, then a combination of LCD TV and the electric fire is recommended for the best results. If your fireplace is purely decorative, then hang any screen you wish.
If your electric fire does get switched on from time to time, an LCD TV, fitted at a reasonable distance above the fire, may represent the safest option. LCD TVs are considered more versatile than plasma screens.
For best results, consider combining an LCD TV with a low-energy electric fire.
How Can I Be Sure I’m Safe?
This is what matters above all else. To be sure that mounting a TV above your fireplace is safe, or not damaging the TV, then do the following:
- Check with the manufacturer of both items
- See if there are any additional ventilation options, such as a blower.
- Install a thermometer and make sure the temperature remains below 100°. The recommended temperature for a TV is Fahrenheit.
- Once installed, check after a few hours of use to ensure the temperature is below 100°.
Beware of Voiding Your Warranty
If your expensive TV has been broken due to heat damage. However, beware because some manufactures will consider this to be in breach of your warranty. This means they will not repair or replace your TV. They will consider the damage caused by your negligence and be unwilling to help, although some still will for a fee.
Generally speaking, mounting a TV above a used fireplace is not recommended. However, by following the advice above, you may be able to do so. Just make sure to put your family’s safety and family first by making sure you use the right combination of TV and fireplace. Also, remember that TVs are expensive.
A roaring log burner beneath a plasma TV may be a recipe for disaster, while an LCD TV above a well-ventilated electric heater, kept under 100 degrees, is perfectly safe. Build the right conditions for the best results. Installing a TV above any fire is not something that should be done without careful planning and monitoring.