Few things are cozier than watching television next to a crackling fire. And due to the layout of some homes, as well as personal design preferences, often the best arrangement is mounting your TV above the fireplace.
But there are valid reasons both why you should and shouldn't mount a TV above a fireplace. Viewing comfort and safety—in particular protecting your TV from fireplace heat—are both important considerations.
Helps with room layout and creating a focal point
Frees up floor space by eliminating TV stand
Location above fireplace often has wiring for TVs
Can be a poor height and angle for viewing
Can limit size of TV
Possible heat issues from fireplace
Why You Shouldn't Mount a TV Above a Fireplace
Viewing Height and Angle Can Be Incorrect
Consult your TV manual for how high the TV should be mounted over a fireplace. The manual also should include the best viewing angle and the distance you should maintain from the screen. Typically, the center of the screen should be at eye level when you are sitting and facing the screen. Unless your fireplace is especially low, its height will likely conflict with the optimal viewing height and angle for the TV.
There Might Not Be Enough Room for the TV
Fireplace mantels generally range from roughly 4.5 to 5 feet tall. The standard ceiling height in newer construction is around 9 feet tall. So that doesn't give you much space to work with for a TV in between the mantel and ceiling, especially if you don't want the TV to look squeezed into the space. This, of course, depends on your TV size. But for those who like a large TV, mounting it over the fireplace might be too tight of a fit.
Flames Can Distract From Viewing Experience
Ambient light and background activity can take away from a quality home theater experience. And the licking flames of even a modest fireplace represent both light and activity. So if you value an undistracted viewing experience, mounting your TV over your fireplace is probably not the best idea. Even a fireplace screen might not be enough to minimize the distraction.
Fire Heat and Smoke Can Harm a TV
Heat can damage a flatscreen TV, and most manuals include a temperature range in which the TV should remain. It is generally not safe to mount a TV over a wood-burning fireplace. That's due to both the high heat and smoke that wood fires create. Any heat and smoke not vented up the chimney will cascade over the front of the mantel and around your TV, damaging the electronics.
Gas fireplaces generally produce less heat upward behind the mounting wall than wood-burning fireplaces, though it still can be too much heat for a TV. You can protect your TV from fireplace heat by closing the fireplace doors and adding a mantel that will deflect some heat from going directly up toward the TV. Converting to an electric fireplace that doesn't produce heat is also recommended.
Wiring and Mounting Can Be Difficult
Brick, natural stone, manufactured veneer stone, and similar solid masonry fireplaces afford no below-surface room to run wires. As a result, wiring for a mounted TV would need to be run on top of the facade. This would hardly be an attractive feature for your fireplace. Plus, the surface-level wiring might not be to code in certain areas. Likewise, it can be difficult to drill into certain materials and properly anchor a mounted TV.
You also might run into questions about where to put the cable box when the TV is mounted above the fireplace. The box might look clunky on your mantel—or maybe you don't even have a mantel at all. In that case, you might need some sort of TV stand.
When Mounting a TV Above a Fireplace Might Be OK
Cables and Jacks Are Located There
Homes are sometimes built with a recessed niche above the fireplace that's meant for TV placement. The niche comes equipped with all the outlets and jacks you need to plug in your TV. This obviously cuts out any difficult and potentially problematic wiring work. But you'd still need to determine whether the viewing angle is right for you, as well as whether your fireplace would create too much heat for a TV.
Room Space Is Tight
When you need to maximize a small living space, you might want to mount the TV above the fireplace. This can help with layout by giving the room one main focal point—rather than you trying to create separate sitting areas around the fireplace and the TV. Plus, it eliminates the need for a TV stand that would take up floor space.
Your Fireplace Doesn't Get Hot
If you have a fireplace style that puts out very little heat, such as electric and gel fireplaces, it's likely safe to mount your TV above it. You can always use a temperature gun to check your fireplace heat output against what your TV manual says is OK. Moreover, if you don't plan on using your fireplace or it's nonfunctional, you can keep the space above it in mind for mounting your TV.
Chapter 3: Wiring Methods and Materials. National Electrical Code 2020 of Minnesota.