Tips from the Pro

Do’s & Don’ts: powering your wall mounted TV

The absolute wrong way to run power to a wall mounted TV.

The TV Pro is a big supporter of DIYers and I always like to tip my cap to a job well done. However, experienced DIYers are cautious of cutting corners. Some project shortcuts make good sense. Others can be dangerous and should be avoided. One short cut to definitely avoid is powering your new TV with an extension cord through the wall.

While some DIY novices may make this mistake, professional TV installers should know better. Please do not do this, and send any installer who tries this approach packing—as soon as possible.

Hanging a TV on the wall is all about properly supporting it on a given wall, and placing it to allow for optimum viewing. With hanging TVs, most customers prefer to have any wires (power, communication, etc.) hidden from view for a nice clean look.

Usually the easiest way to accomplish this is to put a receptacle box in the wall behind the TV. In many cases this receptacle box handles the data cables and the power connection. This is where one of the problems show up.

Some people think it is okay to simply punch a hole in the drywall by a power outlet; run an extension cord behind the wall; then punch another hole in drywall behind the hanging TV and plug it in.

This, of course, is not okay. A hanging TV should never be powered in this manner. And if an installer is recommending this route — I strongly suggest you find another installer fast!

Why is running a cord on the inside such a bad idea? There are several reasons. For starters, it violates local and national electrical codes. The reason it violates codes is because it presents a fire and/or electrocution hazard (e.g. wall drilling, nailing, internal water seepage, or any hungry critters lurking behind your walls).

Problems caused by poor wiring can result in loss of property or personal injury or worse. Additionally, your home insurance probably will not cover any property loss or shield you from personal liability if the wiring done by you or your installer did not comply with the required codes.

Bottom line: if you are going to hang a TV on your wall and you need to move power, do it the right way! And if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, make sure you hire a professional who is certified to do it the right way.

Size: how big is too big
(or too small!)

So you're in the market for a new HDTV, but don't know what size screen to buy. You could go with the "bigger is better" adage, or you can precisely calculate a more suitable size by applying the following formula.

You can determine the right television size using one simple formula. Take the viewing distance from the screen (in inches) and dividing that by the number two. Why two? Salespeople will tell you to divide the distance by 1.5 because they want you to buy a bigger set, whereas non-salespersons typically suggest 2.5 as a benchmark. Split the difference between these numbers and divide by two instead, which should provide you with a proper screen size.

Placement: where in the room

Today, the television has become the focal point for most family rooms. So where should you put it? Well that depends... Most modern televisions are placed at a focal point in the living or family room. If you don’t want the TV to dominate the room, consider incorporating it into a classic wall of built-in shelving.

Another popular option is to mount the television over a fireplace mantle. You can also recess the television into the wall and mount a photo on a hinge to hide it or create your own custom entertainment center design. Another possibility is to tuck away the television in a corner.

One of the most popular options is to mount a flatscreen television on the wall, but remember you'll need space to place the components such as your AppleTV or DVD player, and you'll want to hide those ugly cords and wires. There are a lot of options, don't be afraid to be creative.

Budget: options within your range

Assuming you have a few things already, like a game console, Blu-ray player, or a cable box, Here's what you'll need for any home theater.

HDTV: We're willing to bet you already have one of these already, but if your TV is out of date it might be time for a new one. A new TV doesn't just have to mean a bigger screen either; the latest TVs are extremely thin and light, making them easy to move around if you have to, and come with smart features like built-in internet streaming, Wi-Fi connectivity to your other devices, and much more.

Receiver: Your receiver will be the hub that handles all of the video and audio for your system. Your consoles, streaming set-top boxes, and other inputs (or most of them) will be plugged in to the receiver, and the receiver will send the video to your television and the audio to your speakers. That leaves you with a more organized system, and one device to connect all of your gear and manage it.

Speakers: The biggest benefit of setting up a home theater is that you have complete control over the audio. Don't underestimate the receiver's role in this, but getting a decent pair of speakers that's right for your space will make everything you watch sound leaps and bounds better. Great speakers come at all price points and sizes, so you don't have to worry that just because you have a small space or tight budget you won't be able to enjoy great sound.

Soundbar (Optional): If you're looking for a space-saving and affordable way to add great sound to your home theater, consider a soundbar. Most modern soundbars are powered and amplified, so you won't need a receiver. You'll connect all of your devices to your TV, then output the sound from your TV to the soundbar. Depending on the soundbar you buy, you can get high quality sound in a package that's a fraction of the size (and the cost) of surround systems.

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