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4 reasons not to mount your TV over your fireplace (and other helpful tips)

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The practice of mounting a TV over a fireplace has somehow become extremely popular in the U.S. If you didn’t do it yourself, chances are very good that you know someone who has. Who it was that thought up this idea and why they found it appealing in the first place are two mysteries that will likely follow us to our graves. But that’s all in the past now. And since science has yet to crank out a functional time machine that would allow me to preemptively ground the idea before it ever took off, the best we can do at this point is try to persuade you, dear reader, from perpetuating this practice.

Please don’t mistake our contempt for TVs over fireplaces as an insult to the sensibilities of those of you who have them set up that way. There is a very good chance you feel you have no other choice. And if you really like it that way? More power to you. At the end of the day, the guilty party is the person(s) who designed your home. They made the fireplace the focal point of your living/entertainment room, and then filled the rest of the joint with windows. Then they made sure power and cable was run to the location directly above your fireplace, virtually placing a big sign that says “install TV here.” How unfortunate.



But hold on a moment. Is putting a TV above your fireplace really that poor an idea? Well, it depends. If you can avoid it, you should, and we explain why below. But if you must, there are a few things you will want to know, and a few tips we can offer to help make it the best possible viewing experience.

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Heat + electronics = bad

Electronics don’t care for heat, and they care for smoke even less. Ever seen the windows inside the car of a cigarette smoker? Unless the smoking driver is an equally habitual window washer, those windows are covered with a hazy film of filth. Exposed to the smoke of burning wood, the same film can build up on the components inside the cabinet of a TV. You may not see the particulate when you have a fire, but it is there (you can smell it). If you burn wood — even with the flue open and fully functional — there will be a small amount of smoke and particulate emitted. And once that particulate builds up, so does the heat generated by the TV.

We have a wood burning stove, and the heat generated by that thing (that’s what it was designed to do) is enough to melt candles placed several feet above on the mantle. For us, mounting over this area is a deathwish for the TV.

Neck headaches become a problem when you start protruding your chin forward with that “looking up” posture.

To make sure we aren’t just blowing smoke (sorry), we spoke to Brian Sevigny, owner of Portland, Oregon-based A/V installation service, Digital Connex. He told us he gets asked to install TV’s over fireplaces frequently. When we asked him if he encouraged or discouraged the practice, he was quick to jump in. “Discourage,” Sevigny said firmly, “primarily because of the heat and the smoke.”

Most electronic devices simply operate best and most reliably at lower temperatures. Beyond that, excessive heat can cause temperature-sensitive materials to degrade quickly, and conductive materials can even sprout little metal whiskers, causing shorts within the TVs circuitry.

However, if you have a more conventional wood burning fireplace — and especially if you have a gas fireplace insert — the fact is you are probably going to be just fine. That TV may die earlier than it had to, but you will probably replace that TV before it dies anyway.

It’s a pain in the neck

This is an issue we experienced many times ourselves as a guest at friends’ houses and various vacation rentals. We’ve also heard complaints from many others. Still, we are informed that, for some of you, neck pain from watching an elevated TV has never been a problem. If you are in the latter camp, please feel free to move right along, and congratulations on your superior spinal support. For the rest of you, please read on.

Placing a TV above a fireplace moves the image you’re trying to watch well above eye level. Think back to the last time you went to the movie theater and had to sit in one of the front three rows. Chances are you walked out of the theater with a stiff neck. Craning your neck into an unnatural position for an extended period of time is going to cause temporary discomfort, but doing so for even short periods of time, day after day, can have lasting effects, like chronic headaches.

We spoke to Brad Simpson, a physical therapist and Clinical Director at Life’s Work Physical Therapy. Simpson’s clinic treats patients with multiple types of musculoskeletal problems and is an expert in ergonomics; he says that repeatedly sitting in an unnatural position will have lasting repercussions.

“It ends up putting your body in a position where your deep-neck stabilizers, muscle-wise — it’s kind of like the core of your lower back, but up in your neck — aren’t able to function. That position where you’re having to push your head forward and up in order to look up at the television compromises those muscles,” Simpson said. “Having your head forward like that causes a shearing force within your mid-cervical spine. That’s where a lot of pain ends up coming from … you lose the ability for your neck to stabilize.”

Woman rubbing sore neck

And muscle pain isn’t the only thing you can suffer from … headaches are a huge problem in our population, and neck headaches become a problem as well when you start protruding your chin forward with that ‘looking up’ posture,” Simpson said. He also indicated this poor posture leads to improper breathing, which causes us to overuse certain muscles which become yet another source of pain. The main takeaway from our interview: It’s not worth the pain.

Six degrees of separation from a beautiful picture

On this issue, there is no debate. We review multitudes of TVs every year, and the viewing angle on LED/LCD TVs remains a big problem, even among top-tier TVs.

An LCD screen (which is what you find on “LED” TVs) is essentially made up of a bunch of tiny, shuttered windows. These windows open and close in order to let the TV’s backlight through, thus creating an image. The problem with these windows is that they have a very limited viewing angle. If you move too far left, right, up, or down you start seeing a fraction of the produced light. The result is a washed out, lifeless picture — hardly what you had in mind when you laid out hard-earned cash for a new TV.

The result is a washed out, lifeless picture — hardly what you had in mind when you laid out hard-earned cash for a new TV.

The good news here is that you do have some options to mitigate this problem. The first is to buy a tilting wall mount with enough down angle to give you a more direct view of the screen. There are even mounts that will drop the TV down closer to your eye level (make sure not to have the fireplace going, though). Either option will improve both color saturation and contrast.

The second option is to purchase an OLED TV, which has a nearly infinite viewing angle and will look amazing no matter how high you place the TV. There are plenty of other reasons why OLED wins in an OLED vs. LED TV battle. If an OLED TV isn’t an option for you, considering an LED TV that uses an IPS LCD panel.

It’s just not cute

To be totally frank, we have the design-sense of a color-blind hippopotamus (no offense intended to hippopotamuses, but they do spend a lot of time in the mud — just saying). Having accepted our utter lack of skills in the decor department long ago, we reached out to Garrison Hullinger, owner of Garrison Hullinger Interior Design, and asked him if he had a TV mounted over his fireplace. “No, I live in a 100-plus-year-old home and would never put a TV in my formal living room over the fireplace,” Hullinger told me. “We also have a beach house with a fireplace in the formal living room, and choose not to hang a TV in that room.”

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Again, though, most modern homes have rooms built around this idea. Hullinger told us about 25 percent of the homes he has walked into had one location that was wired and ready for a TV over the fireplace. Sevigny echoed that estimation when he told us that almost all of the new construction he has seen “will have electrical and coax connections already installed above the fireplace.”

In the end, this is pure opinion, but one that is shared by many others. Take it as you will.

But I have to (or want to) anyway. What can I do to make the best of it?

In an ideal world — and, granted, we tend to be TV snobs so our viewpoint is slanted — you would place your TV in another room purpose built for enjoying TV, and maybe make music the focus of your main living area. However, most homes just aren’t designed that way, and your priorities are likely vastly different than my own. If you like the idea and look of mounting your TV over your fireplace, or if you simply have no other choice, here are a few suggestions to make the best of it.

  • Sit further back if you can — As you move away from the TV’s location, the severity of the angle to which you must crane your neck is reduced.

  • Lounge it out! — Kick back and relax when you watch TV. You will eliminate the need to crane your neck entirely.

  • Use a tilting or motorized wall mount — Altering the TVs angle to get a more direct view of the TV will improve picture quality.

  • Purchase an OLED TV — In addition to providing an outstanding picture and a super-thin profile, OLED TVs have no viewing-angle problems.

  • Don’t have a fire and watch TV at the same time — The flicker of the fire and added brightness in a darkened room can play with your pupils. and strain your eyes while watching. It’s also a bit of a distraction. If the two are close together, perhaps enjoy just one or the other at a time.

  • Hire a professional installer — Not only will a professional be able to handle cable management for a clean install, they come armed with other helpful suggestions to make the most of your TV installation.

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The Traditional African Man and Romance

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Romance in marriage is like the gentle breeze that fans the embers of a camplight fire bringing tiny sparks of flames here and there. The west has provided it’s version of romance and this wave has swept across other parts of the world and of course in Africa. 

We see a handful of Millenials and the Gen Z’ers play out romance sequences that could have been straight out of a Mills and Boons story BUT… If we are totally honest with ourselves, these do not represent the whole rather they are a very small cross-section making us ask the question “How do the rest express themselves”. We grew up in Africa seeing our parents play out a script on romance that was lack-lustre and bland. This was picked up by many and it has become their default mode when the camera’s aren’t flicking, friends aren’t watching or it’s not for social media.

Below is an excerpt i stumbled upon and had to include it into my post because it perfectly explained the default state of romance in Africa.

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Many marriages are just for sleeping and waking up, raising kids and ageing together till death comes. This is not right. Marriage must be enjoyable and romantic.
1.Many couples hardly kiss and they only hug each other when they receive good news.
2. The husband only puts food in his wife’s mouth only when she is terminally ill and cant feed herself.
3. If you see a man opening car door for his wife means the door is faulty.
4. The only thing that makes an african man touch his wife’s neck is when she complains of fever. He wont touch it again till the next fever.
5.The only time he can carry his wife on his arms is when she is in labour.
6. If you see them seated outside at night, dont think they are romantic. They are only waiting for the smell of insecticide to vanish.
7.Many wives buy gifts for their husbands only when they are hospitalized.
8.The only time they race together is when there is danger and everyone is running.
9.The only time they go for evening stroll is when they want to go and lay a complain to the parents of the person that beat their child or got their daughter pregnant.
10. The only time they bath together is when both are late for work.
11. The only time a wife looks closely to her husband’s eyes is when he complains of dirt in his eyes.
Unfortunately, Africans feel that any romantic man is being controlled by his wife. They will begin to spread bad rumours. Let us just change today for the better. Let us learn to love one another and enjoy the few days we have on earth together.
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On a closing note, i believe things would play out better for couples if men could become a bit more humane, women, drop a bit of the ultra-feminism and let’s enjoy ourselves as couples (ie married couples).

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Food & Cuisine

Ultimate Baker releases sugar substitute for diabetics

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Ultimate Baker has released a new naturally-coloured xylitol sugar substitute created specifically for the diabetic market.



Ultimate Baker Xylitol is made purely with natural ingredients from fruit and vegetables, and the company claims that xylitol almost perfectly mimics the natural sweetness of sugar, while having 40% fewer calories.

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Xylitol carries a glycaemia index rating of 7, compared to the 60–70 rating carried by normal sugar, and this means that xylitol does not spike blood sugar or insulin.

Figures provided by the company claim that approximately 100 people in the US suffer from diabetes or prediabetes, and this has made the development of products tailored to diabetics crucial.

Sue-Ellen Cutler, vice-president of new product development at Ultimate Baker said: “Our goal is to create high quality products that are both visually appealing while free of the harmful synthetics and preservatives which are dominant across the baking industry.

“Xylitol is a product we’re just as proud to serve our families as we would all of our customers.”

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