Five Tips For Mounting Your Flat-Panel TV

Buyers love flat-panel TV sets for their stunning image quality, sleek design and nearly infinite placement options. You can mount a plasma, LCD or LED set just about anywhere, including the ceiling! Placing a TV today doesn’t mean just coming home with a beautiful, sleek screen and putting it against the wall. It’s important for your setup to have proper connectivity, the right components and power, so before you or a professional installer start drilling holes, consider these five important considerations for mounting a TV and its related products:

1. Location
Sure, that 3D LED TV will look awesome mounted over the fireplace mantle, but will you be able to comfortably watch it from the couch without squinting or straining your neck? Finding a great spot for your flat panel set –a good height and distance for viewing– is often a balance between aesthetics and practicality. For optimum viewing, the center of the screen should be right about eye level from the primary viewing position. So in a family room, for instance, you will want the center of the screen at eye level as you sit on your favorite spot on the sofa. If this doesn't quite fit your room design, try positioning the bottom of the screen at eye level. This compromise only requires you to look up slightly as you sit on the sofa, and it may actually provide additional visibility from a nearby room.

2. Power
Sleek and beautiful, many of today's flat panel displays could be the centerpiece of a room's d├ęcor even if never turned on. But since you will be using this high-definition wall candy for its intended purpose, you're going to need to plug it in. The question is, where? Unless you're lucky enough to have an electrical outlet right behind the TV's mounting location, you need a plan for powering your set. Having cords draped down the wall takes away from the clean look of a wall-mounted TV. For the cleanest, custom-installed look, you could hire an electrician to install a power outlet and A/V connections directly behind your set. A popular low-cost option is cable management "racetracks." These paintable, self-adhesive plastic strips stick to your wall to conceal any number of power and signal cables. A major benefit of these systems is the ability to easily run new cables as you add or swap out components. This is also a good time to mention surge protection. Standard surge protectors or power strips are typically too large to fit behind a wall-mounted set. You’ll want to look for a specially designed "flat panel TV" surge protector that's slim enough to squeeze behind your set.

3. Connectivity
Today’s TVs do not operate alone. Having quick and easy access to other boxes and devices that work with the TV - cable box, DVR, Blu-Ray player, game console and digital camera – is vital. But if you mount the TV above the fireplace, will you be able to quickly, easily and safely connect these types of devices when you want to? Work with your installer on a plan that gives you the flexibility to add additional source components or plug-and-play portable devices as you wish. For maximum connectivity and ease of use, consider using an HDMI switcher or an A/V receiver to switch among your devices. In this setup, all of your sources connect to the A/V receiver or HDMI switcher, and a single output runs to the TV. This is ideal because it lets you leave the TV on one input, and use the A/V receiver or HDMI switcher to select which source you will watch. It sure beats flipping through the inputs on the TV.

4. Mounts
Wall mounts come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Choosing the right one can be confusing. First, make sure both your TV and the mount comply with the VESA-standard mounting holes (almost all do). Second, choose a style. For the family room, you may want a mount that allows some vertical tilt, particularly if you're mounting it a little higher than eye level. This can help you fine-tune the viewing angle and minimize glare from windows or lights. Alternatively, you may want a “slim” or "low profile" mount to keep the set as close to the wall as possible. Some TV manufacturers make model-specific mounts for their LCD and LED sets that allow you to achieve a very tight, almost gap-less, fit against the wall. For a bedroom or master bathroom, you'll probably want a swiveling or extending mount that will allow you to turn, swing or position the TV in multiple positions depending on where you are in the room. For kitchens, under-cabinet mounts let the screen fold up out of sight when you're not using it. Most important, choose a mount that can support the size and weight of your set.

5. Sound
While audio is the first half of the home A/V experience, it is often overlooked. If you're going to tune into HDTV broadcasts, immerse yourself in a 3D movie or choose your own adventure in one of your favorite video game titles, you absolutely need to think about how you experience the sound. Don't miss out on these formats' high-fidelity surround-sound by relying on your TV's built-in speakers. When you are planning your TV location and mounting, consider what connections and space you will need to include surround sound. For example, have you left room on either side and above or below the screen for left, right and center channel speakers? Be sure to look at speaker options at the same time you are choosing the TV itself, and plan your space accordingly.

Click here to view a printable version of this article