outlet/low voltage in fireplace mantel?

Hi Folks,
I'm building a home and am thinking about adding a 110v outlet and low voltage (cable, ethernet, hdmi) box to our fireplace mantel. This would give us the option of placing a television above the fireplace and a place to plug in our Christmas decorations, digital picture frames, etc.
Is this something that is done with any regularity? I'm considering either a flush brushed brass outlet or something recessed.
Thanks for any input.
Bob
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You should use two different boxes: one for the 120V, one for the datacomm. And make sure that all wiring is well away from the firebox.

120V outlets in mantels are common. Datacomm, less so, but only because it's been around less time. Go for it.
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Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

In addition to the 2 different boxes, don't even be tempted to run the low voltage wires through the same bore holes with the 120V lines in the studs or fireplace structure. Kevin
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I agree with the two answers you already got, but I will add that above a fireplace is usually not a very good place for a TV. It is a bad working environment. It also is likely higher than it should be. Generally the ideal height for a TV is to center the screen the same height as the eyes of the sitting viewer.

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Joseph Meehan

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Joseph Meehan wrote:

Valid points, though in a great many cases the fireplace is non-working or a cosmetic gas one.
One thing I would do differently is on the data / LV side. It's unlikely that you'd want a plain old cable connection to feed a new HD LCD TV on the wall, so what you want to do is put in a run of large PVC conduit from behind a cover plate next to the AC outlet above the mantle, and run it to the nearest or most logical closet location.
Use large conduit such a 3" with gradual sweeps so you will be able to pull the bulky HDMI connectors through it to the TV. You'll be putting your cable or satellite box, DVD player, TIVO and audio components in that closet and controlling them with an infrared repeater setup. Also prewire speaker wire to that closet from the locations of your speaker / surround speaker locations in the room.
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Bob,
Mounting these in the wall will keep dust out of them.
If you mount on the horizontal mantle then use receptacles that have covers to keep dust out when not in use. There are in floor types with screw covers. You might also get a spring loaded cover type for outdoorelectrical use receptacles (though no longer the best option if used for outdoors) to work for both.
On Mon, 21 Jan 2008 07:14:58 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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I think Arlington Industries and Leviton make electrical boxes to go behind flat screen TV's. They accommodate low voltage and the line voltage in one unit. The nice part is that the devices are recessed in the wall so that the plugs do not protrude out into the back of the TV. You may need to buy these boxes at an electrical supply company.
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Here's a link to Arlington's TV Box. Meant to be hidden behind a wall hung flat screen. A piece of artwork could hide it as well until you invest in the right flat screen.
http://www.aifittings.com/whnew98.htm
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On Jan 21, 10:14am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If your going to be using the fireplace I wouldn't recommend hanging the TV over it. I have a plasma hanging over my fireplace, but the only thing in it is candles. I used a wall mount that allowed me to tilt the plasma. The result is that you can be in a recliner and be at the perfect angle to watch. The wall it is mounted on is drywall with 3/4" thick furring strips attached to the concrete. Due to the limited space behind the wall I had to cut out access for the 120Volt box. The low voltage does not have to be in a box so I made an access hole in the drywall and put a trim ring on it. All of the low voltage stuff is routed to a central access point near the electronic equipment. I suspect you won't have much room between the finished wall and the chimney masonary so you may not be able to use the standard stuff. Wiremold makes some nice brass stuff that is available through Greybar Electric and Wesco. Thomas & Betts and Schneider Electric (SquareD) also compete in that market.
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Dave wrote:

If it's a new house there is a rather good chance that the fireplace wall will be of conventional frame construction and the fireplace will be a factory built zero clearance gas fired unit with a double wall pipe chimney. No clearance / wall depth issues at all with that construction.
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Pete C. wrote:

Well actually there are clearance issues. I work in this field and I have heard of all kinds of problems with Plasma units above a fireplace. Even with gas fireplace units, there are clearances from combustibles for the mantel and anything else surrounding the unit. All manufactured wood fireplace units have clearance issues, even thought the unit maybe be zero clearance, there is usually a 1/2 inch of clearance around the box to combustibles. All wiring should be at least 2 inches from the pipe and unit, more is better. You would be surprised at how hot a gas fireplace unit that is not "furnace rated" gets. All manufactured gas and wood fireplace manuals include the specifications of clearances in them. It is best to thoroughly read the manual that comes with it to makes sure the clearances are met, otherwise it could be dangerous to yourself, family and home.
All the Best Dale Miller Tennessee ASP since February 2005
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Dale Miller wrote:

That is not relevant to the subject at hand, installing an electrical box and LV box in the wall surface above the mantel. The point is that with the common factory built ZC fireplace unit, there is no issue of a thin veneer type wall surface an inch away from solid masonry and a normal depth box can be easily installed.
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Bob,
Take a look at the following link http://www.panamax.com/Products/In-Wall/Default.aspx
Hope this helps.
Peter

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Thanks for the responses folks!
The reason for placing the box in the mantel is to avoid having to make accommodations in the stone surrounding it... Agreed that this is not a optimal location for a television, but as it stands we're only thinking about having it here for a year or two until the basement is complete, and then this room will likely not have a tv at all. I'm building a reinforced base inside the mantel so i can pedestal mount the tv from it. Seems like a lot of work for not much return, but i think it will be worth it in the end (and as i mentioned earlier, the 110 and possibly even the low voltage will have use after the fact)
Thanks again!

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On Jan 21, 10:14am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Hi Bob,
I built a house from the ground up and have a TV over the fireplace. In NY state the fire code enforces the use of steel studs behind the drywall above a fire place. Steel stud framing has different holding strenghts for fasteners. A 50 inch TV with a mounting plate will be about 90 lbs. I made the mistake in not reinforcing the wall hence could not mount an articulated mount when the time came. So the first trick is to reinforce the area for the TV mount plate. You need something like a sheet of steel to comply with fire codes. If your fire code does not require this then I would recommend 3/4 inch plywood, a large sheet over the whole area. Stick this sheet of steel / plywood behind your drywall and attach well to stud framing.
Electrical connection wise you will need above the mantel where your TV will be:
1) Power socket. I also replaced the standard power socket with a surge protected one. 2) Cable TV coax home run to your cable feed in the basement / attic. 3) Set of cables: HDMI x2 sets, Component RGB Video + LR Audio, 5 leads, x2 sets, S-Video + LR Audio, 3 leads, x1 set Video + LR Audio, 3 leads, x2 sets
These cables you need to thread from your TV to a place where you are going to stack your DVD players etc. Note you need these cables long to move them where they need to be and have some slack. You are looking at like 20-20 feet cables. Also these cables are bulky. I put in them in before the drywall. Over the cable ends place small jiffy bags to keep paint and dust off the connectors when the painters and dry wall crews come through.
A good place for all these outlets is just above there the mount plate will be. You want to position them so that the TV when mounted will hide all of them. You want them above the mount plate because (1) they will dangle down, and hence if the position in the wall is higher up, you can keep the wires from showing below your TV and (2) you have more space between the TV back and the wall above the mount plate because you will angle / tilt your TV down.
4) At your position where your DVD player will be, you need to add Cable TV Coax, CAT 5 or 5, Power. Note that I have a cable TV coax above the fireplace *AND* where the DVD recorder is. Most modern TV's now have QAM tuners which will give you HD TV without the need for a Cable Box. So one coax feed for the TV and One Coax feed for your DVD recorder area.
A good place which I got all my cables from is Pacific Cable:
http://www.pacificcable.com /
The cables can be obtained LONG, and also work very well. All this Monster stuff sold at Circuit City and best Buy is over priced. If you really want moster cables, the best place to buy is Home Depot. There the prices for Monster HDMI and all other cables are the same as any other cable, i.e. as it should be, monster cables offer zero advantage over a good. I think my total cable cost was about $US 350 for all the cables. Note for the lenghts your require, I think Monster cables do not make 20-30 feet lengths.
I had all these cables just pop out the wall without a plate or socket, just used a ordinary 120v power box without the socket and face plate and a hole. Note that you cannot see this once your TV is in place anyway.
Hope this is useful.
All the best, Mike.
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