I was recently lighting my fireplace and I wondered how the TV above it doesn’t get too hot. After all, it’s not that far from the fireplace and if I can feel the heat from several feet away, won’t the TV also get hot? I did some digging to find out more. Here’s what I found.
Televisions can easily be damaged by heat from fireplaces, but this risk can be reduced by installing a mantle, closing fireplace doors, or converting to a gas or electric fireplace. If none of these options work for you, you may want to consult a professional fireplace expert.
In this article, we’ll cover five ways to protect your TV from the heat of your fireplace:
- Install a mantle or projection above your existing fireplace
- Close your fireplace doors
- Convert to a gas-powered fireplace
- Use an electric fireplace
- Consult a professional contractor
Read on to find out which method is best for you and your home.
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Can Fireplace Heat Damage a TV?
The heat from a fireplace can definitely damage a TV, especially if the TV is too close or if nothing is blocking the heat from reaching the TV. If your TV is getting too hot from your fireplace, consider installing a mantel or switching to a gas or electric fireplace for lower heat output.
But before we go over ways to minimize your risk of heat damage to your television, let’s take a look at the most important part: the distance between your TV and your fireplace.
What’s the Minimum Distance Between a Fireplace and TV?
The minimum distance between a fireplace and a TV is 20 inches with a mantel. Also, allow at least a 7-8 inch clearance from the top of the mantel to the TV. To avoid straining when watching TV, place the TV a maximum of 65 inches off the ground.
The goal is to find the clearance that both protects your TV as well as keeps a comfortable viewing angle for you. There’s no point in hanging the TV away from the fireplace if you have to tilt your head to watch TV.
If you do have to place the TV too high to comfortably view it, consider installing a tilting mount so it can angle it down to your view as you’re watching it. Just make sure the tilt doesn’t introduce any more heat from the fireplace (as it can hang over the mantel).
How to Determine Your TV’s Heat Tolerance
So, if you want to move your TV down closer to the fireplace, how do you tell if it is safe? First, you need to read the instruction manual that came with your television. These instructions often specify the temperatures your TV can safely run at.
If that information is not available in the booklet that came with your TV, try searching for it online or calling their customer service. Getting a temperature to look out for is key to making sure your fireplace and TV placement are safe.
After you find the operating temperature for your TV, set up a roaring fire in your fireplace exactly as you would normally. Then tape a thermometer to the wall where you want to put the TV and measure the temperature. If it’s too hot according to the TV’s operating temperature, move it up.
If you can’t find a spot cool enough, you may have to put the TV somewhere else. Televisions can not only be damaged by high heat, and they can degrade and release toxic chemicals into the air. Better safe than sorry!
However, if you really want to get that television over your fireplace, there are some options to reduce the heat coming from your fireplace, so long as you measure the heat carefully and make sure your fireplace is as safe as possible.
5 Ways to Protect Your TV from the Heat of Your Fireplace
Both televisions and fireplaces are often the centerpieces of the living room. It makes sense from a design standpoint to mount your television over your fireplace. It conserves space, as well as putting the two most important parts of the room in the same area.
But, putting a television over your fireplace can cause a lot of problems. Even if it seems far enough away, residual heat from the fireplace can damage your television. Some even recommend keeping your television as far away from the fireplace as possible.
However, this is not always possible. Sometimes the wall mount and electronics can’t be moved, and sometimes there simply is not enough space elsewhere. The good news is that if you must keep your television above your fireplace, there are steps you can take to protect it.
1. Install a Mantle or Projection Above Your Existing Fireplace
According to the infographic above from hearthnhome.com, one of the best ways to prevent excess heat from the fireplace reaching the TV is to use a mantel or a projection. These should be projecting a least 2.5 inches out of the wall to properly block the heat.
If you have to have a traditional wood-burning fireplace, or if you have a hotter gas-burning fireplace that you want to protect your TV against, installing a mantle or projection over your fireplace is a great option.
A mantle is a structure that juts out of the wall above and on both sides of a fireplace, sometimes looking like an arch. Having a mantel around your fireplace is a great way to decorate, adding a stylish and ornate centerpiece to any living room.
However, the primary function of a mantel is to funnel the heated air around the fire forward, helping it spread throughout the room and warm your house more evenly. Also, to protect a television mounted above a fireplace, this can help a lot.
The biggest problem with putting your television above your fireplace without something to block the heat is that hot air naturally rises and can dramatically heat the wall.
This would put your television directly in the path of most of the heat that escapes the fireplace. Putting a mantel between the fire and your television can do a lot to protect it from damage.
Can You Place Your TV on the Fireplace Mantel?
The counter on top of your mantel is a great place to put decorations to give the room a lived-in feel, but you should not mount your television on the actual mantel! While it seems a convenient place to put it, several things can go wrong.
First, televisions are heavy, and mantles are usually not designed to carry a lot of weight. You don’t want to be in a situation where not only is your television broken, but your mantel as well!
Second, mounting your television on top of your mantle puts it in direct contact with your fireplace. If the television is touching the fireplace, it will almost certainly get hot enough to damage or melt it.
You should mount your television on your wall as you normally would, putting some distance between the roaring fire and your television’s sensitive electronics. This will allow some heat to dissipate and reduce the chance of damaging your television.
Overall, installing a mantel on your fireplace is a great way to at least mitigate the risk of damage to a wall-mounted television. As an added bonus, it also looks good!
Other than using a mantel or projection to reduce the heat that reaches the TV, you can also create a recess in the wall for the TV.
2. Close Your Fireplace Doors
Most fireplaces come equipped with metal or glass doors, which are capable of safely covering the flame. Usually, these doors are designed to keep people or pets from accidentally reaching or falling inside of the fireplace.
Many doors are metal and are more like a gate than a proper door. However, if you want a door to your fireplace that allows you to fully cover the flame and reduce the heat that escapes, you have some options.
First, you can replace your metal doors with glass doors. Heatproof doors are a great option for reducing the heat coming from your fireplace. As an added benefit, you can still see the beautiful fire through the clear doors.
If your need to reduce the heat coming from your fireplace is more urgent, installing a hood is another option. A hood is a separate structure that sits on top of the fireplace and traps in heat. They’re usually made of heavier material than doors and are designed to more fully trap heat.
The obvious downside to a hood is that it prevents the fire from warming the room, as it lets out much less heat.
However, hoods do allow some heat to escape, so your fire is still functional. And in terms of controlling the heat of your fire, a hood will give you more control over a wood-burning fire than just about anything else.
Keep in mind, these options usually still require a mantel to function properly. If you cover the fire without a mantel to deflect the heat downward, these steps may end up doing little to protect your wall-mounted TV.
While fireplace doors and hoods can reduce the aesthetic of your fireplace, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Doors come in many ornate designs, and in some cases, they can brighten up your living room even without a fire burning!
3. Convert to a Gas Powered Fireplace
If the reliability and safety of an electric fireplace is something that interests you, but you just have to have a real flame, a gas-powered fireplace can help protect your television from damage when used correctly.
Compared to an electric fireplace, the advantage of a gas-powered fireplace is its consistency. A fire can be ‘turned off’ as soon as you’re done with it, and its intensity and heat can usually be controlled by a dial much in the same way an electric fireplace might.
However, one of the biggest differences is that with a gas-powered fireplace you’re dealing with a live flame.
Additionally, gas-powered fireplaces are considerably more expensive than electric fireplaces and may require renovations to your house. For example, for a gas-burning fireplace to function, it requires a direct gas line.
Still, a gas-powered fireplace combines the warmth, feel, and beauty of an actual flame with the ability to control the intensity of the flame. For the responsible TV owner, a gas-powered fireplace can help you prevent damage to your electronics.
To read more about gas fireplaces and if they can heat a whole room, check out my recent post here.
4. Use an Electric Fireplace
For some, this may not be much of a solution. It truly is hard to replace a natural, wood-burning fireplace in your living room. That being said, if you aren’t married to that idea, an electric fireplace can be a lot easier on a nearby TV.
Most electric fireplaces are for appearances only. That is, they often generate little to no heat. This might not be a big deal to you, as even wood and gas fireplaces usually need to run alongside a central heater to warm the home properly.
If you’re only looking for the aesthetic of a fireplace, and your house already has a good heating system, electric fireplaces may be your best option.
However, even if you do choose an electric fireplace that generates heat, an electric fireplace may be easier on your tv. Not only do electric fireplaces typically give off less heat than an actual, roaring fire, the amount of heat is also much more consistent and controllable.
Take the Duraflame 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove, for example. It allows you to set its temperature at the turn of a knob and heat up a room up to 1,000 sq. ft.
Not only that, but it comes with failsafe overheat protection. If the device reads that the temperature has become too high, it will automatically turn off before it does damage to itself or anything you leave around it.
This is a huge advantage of traditional fireplaces. Even if you measure the temperature of a fire in your fireplace before installing your television and find it to be low enough, there is always a risk of one fire burning particularly hot.
The unpredictability of actual fire makes using any sort of electronics around them incredibly risky. While an electric fireplace may not be quite the same as a real fireplace, they give you far more control over the temperature and are overall far safer.
So, while you might not be able to make s’mores with an electric fireplace, you can safely watch the game without worrying about the damage it might do to your television.
5. Consult a Professional Contractor
If, after all of these options, the temperature above your fireplace is still at a level that is unsafe for electronics, you may need to call in an expert.
The basic idea of a mantel or a hood diverting heat from unwanted areas is pretty understandable, but the specifics can get pretty complicated. Many different factors can make the heat your fire gives off behave in a way different than it would in most rooms.
The way air flows in your room, the humidity, even the material your walls and fireplace are made of can play a role in determining how hot the area above your fireplace is. Unless you are a professional, it’ll be hard to keep track of that.
Consider making an appointment with your local chimney and fireplace professional. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not they will be able to do anything to get the temperature above your fireplace to a safe level for your television.
It’s also important to vet your contractor before getting an opinion. If they aren’t vetted, they could suggest work that won’t have a strong effect on the heat your fireplace gives out. Whenever getting a professional opinion, make sure it’s an opinion you can trust!
Keep in mind that this option can definitely be expensive, as it may require some custom work. Make sure to use a reputable contractor to avoid wasting money!
Safety Considerations for Having a TV Above a Fireplace
It is worth asking yourself whether or not you really must have your television above your fireplace. Electronics, when heated, have a small potential to be dangerous and can result in fumes and even fires.
However, with the proper measurements and precautions, keeping a television over your fireplace is safe. You just have to keep in mind that when dealing with an open flame, you are using something that has the potential to be dangerous.
You just might go through these steps, hire a contractor, measure the heat on the wall above your fireplace, and find out that no matter what you do, there simply is not a safe way to mount a television over your particular fireplace.
Maybe it’s just how the room is laid out, or the material of the wall, or just the way your chimney is. It is important to understand that while having a television over your fireplace is a great look, as well as being convenient, it is far from your only option.
Televisions can be mounted on stands, tables, or even parts of the wall that are further from the fireplace, and therefore safer. If you can fit your television in a corner of the room, you can keep it far away from the fireplace while still allowing your furniture to all face in the same direction.
Overall, you shouldn’t feel obligated to design your room in a certain way that may be dangerous! Keep your options open, keep an open mind to the possibilities, and above all other things, stay safe!
Keep in mind that different fireplace designs, fuel sources, and materials give off different amounts of heat, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s best to consult your fireplace guide as well as your TV guide for the most optimal clearance for you. If you don’t have enough clear information from these two, the next best step is to hire a professional contractor.
As you can see, there are quite a few options for protecting a television mounted above your fireplace. While, in many cases, you may have to make sacrifices in terms of aesthetics and warmth, they are often worth the time and effort.
If you think this layout is right for you, go ahead with it! Enjoy the convenience of a warm fire right within your household entertainment center.