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Determining How High Your TV Should Be

Tips on how to get your TV into the perfect viewing position

Determining How High Your TV Should Be

Have you been in a home recently that doesn't have a TV? I can’t recall being in a single home without a television and because so many of us now have flat screen displays designed to be mounted on a wall, I am often asked how high should I mount the TV.

As you might have guessed, the critical factor to consider when locating your television is height. It’s not the only thing you should think about, but if you place your television too high in relation to its space and intended use, you might end up with regrets and, quite literally, a pain in your neck.

The General Rule

The are many issues to consider when contemplating your television viewing experience, including the size and quality of your television, and the distance from the television to the primary viewing location.

But for one characteristic, there is a simple and concrete rule: The ideal center of the screen should be at the eye level of the viewer.

You can measure your television and do the math, but the optimum center of a television intended primarily for viewers seated on a couch is typically about 42 inches above the floor.

Historically, a general rule for optimum viewing distance from the television is 2.5 times the diagonal length of screen. With newer, high-definition televisions, some recommend an optimum viewing distance of 1.5 times the diagonal television length.

For a television intended primarily for viewers seated on a sofa that is 12 feet (144 inches) away from the television, either a 55- or 60-inch television can work in the space (144 inches ÷ 2.5 = 57.6 inches), but you can certainly find examples where 65- to 70-inch televisions are used in the same circumstance.

Let’s say you select a 60-inch television. A 60-inch television is about 32 inches high, meaning the center of the screen will be at 16 inches from the bottom of the television. Most sofa seating heights are close to 18 inches above the floor, and eye level for an adult seated in a relaxed manner is about 24 inches above the seat.

That puts the optimum, center-of-television height for a typical seated viewer at 42 inches (18 inches + 24 inches). So that 60-inch television should be installed with the bottom of the screen at 26 inches above the floor.

Outdoors over fireplace

So What About A Television Over the Fireplace?

With the parameters described above (distance = 2.5 times the diagonal length and the mid-height of the TV being at eye level of the primary viewing perspective), some media experts will tell you to never put a television over a fireplace. That is sound advice in consideration of the optimum television viewing experience from a seated viewer’s perspective, but..... There are also reasonable considerations that lead homeowners to decide that a TV over a fireplace is right for their circumstances. Often, the perspective of the seated viewer is not always the No. 1 priority. Sometimes the viewing perspectives of those standing in the room need to be considered, while in other instances the style and feel of the space are simply the overriding factors.

A television with a screen center at 60 inches above the floor is actually close to perfect for a standing 5-foot-6 adult — not bad for sporting events when your guests are standing up and eating appetizers and talking - or outdoors around the patio or pool. Just remember, if a television set over a fireplace serves as your family’s primary television, lowering the screen as much as possible is critical.

Different Heights for Different Circumstances

In circumstances where a television is located over a bar, or in a bonus room with a pool table and other entertainment features, the ideal viewing height is less cut and dried.

All conceivable viewing perspectives need to be considered and thought through. The optimum height from the perspective of one seated at the bar might be too low for those standing around the pool table, trying to look over the heads of viewers seated at the bar. It is for this reason that you typically see televisions in commercial bars and restaurants located near the ceiling — they need to be easily viewable from many perspectives.

Trade-Offs

If there is only one television to consider, then determining the height can be a question of style over function. For some people, the television is just not that important. For others, the look of the design, and perhaps space constraints, dictate the TV location more than viewing-height parameters.

For many of us, the choice entails trade-offs. We need to consider how to orient our rooms in relation to the primary purpose of the space, considering factors such as style, comfort and traffic circulation.

Determine the Use

Clearly a kitchen television, or one in a master bathroom, has different requirements than a main family television set up for long viewing periods. We have installed displays in homes with as many as 20 televisions, and they did not all need to be set at optimum viewing height.

For televisions that are not intended to be a focal point, their size and location may not be the critical factors. When a space’s primary function is not related to the TV, such as in the kitchen, the space’s primary design function should dictate the details.

But for your primary movie-watching television, the importance of height cannot be overstated. This should be considered closely along with optimum viewing distance away from the television — which, again, is 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal length of the screen. The center-of-television height with the eye level of seated viewers in mind, also again, is approximately 42 inches from the floor.

Still confused about how high to mount your TV or need help mounting it? Give us a call at 214-396-5858.

In the next blog post I will talk about the five most important items to turn your house into a SMART Home.