Wall-mount TV over soaker tub?

homeboundSeptember 29, 2012

I have a client who wants a 37" flat-panel tv mounted on a wall of their tub alcove. Is there a safe and code-compliant way to do such a thing? Thank you.

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While the electrical aspects of a television hanging over a hot-tub conjures up all kinds of thoughts of dangers and concerns, it's really not that big of an issue as this stuff is actually done quite often.

From the electrical wiring wiring aspect, I have never seen it ever addressed specifically, but then it should be on a GFCI protected circuit - usually you'd use a clock outlet to help recess the plug.

The biggest problem though is the moisture that can affect the high impedance A/V inputs, the display itself, and then the remote control.

If the source is a direct antenna feed, then it's a little simpler. If it's off an STB or DVD then you'll need an IR repeater as well to control the equipment. But then you still have moisture issues getting into the display, the A/V connections and the remote control from wet hands.

If you are going to do this you need to explain the potential problems to the customer first, limited display life, use appropriate chemical products on the A/V connections(i.e. Caig Labs DeoxIT), advise them on "wet hands on the remote control" and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 9:44PM
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Sophie Wheeler

No electrical outlet can be within the tub area, so the TV can't actually go inside the tub area. It can go just outside of it. There are TVs made for exterior use, and that would be the only appropriate choice here.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 11:56PM
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One common method is to place the TV behind a two way mirror.

It is not visible when turned on if the lights in the room are dimmed, but appears as just a piece of mirror otherwise.

The TV is no longer in the tub area proper, it is behind the mirror.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:28AM
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Thanks for the comments.

The wall is 2x4, drywall, with the bedroom behind it. The mirror idea might work. Brick, are you suggesting recessing the tv with a wall cavity, with mirror over that? If so, I suppose we should consider speakers mounted into the wall surface, too.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:12PM
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" recessing the tv with a wall cavity, with mirror over that? "

that is it.

It cannot be just a hung mirror, but must be fastened in place solidly.

I usually screw through the mirror frame into the 2x framing around the opening (it is basically a window into the next room).

It is usually not that hard to header off a stud (or two) to make a pocket large enough for the TV and needed receptacle.

You can just hang a mirror on the other side of the wall to allow access.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 1:50PM
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While you can recess the television into the wall, the back side then needs to be accessible and open enough to provide adequate ventilation since the front is now covered.

Most better quality televisions will provide information on minimum clearances required when recessed mounted into the wall with the front open. This is a useful starting point when designing custom installations such as this.

Try not to make the recess "too custom" to any particular television - the set can fail and may need to be replaced by something of other dimensions.

You also need to address how the television is supported - a built-out wall mount behind the television, or sitting on a pedestal mount? Don't forget to figure in any downward tilt needed for the proper viewing angle.

In-wall speakers, obviously, also need to be used and should have moisture resistant cones - generally outdoor or marine rated. Of course the television also needs to have the option for external speaker outputs.

Using the two-way mirror approach will typically require the use of an IR repeater as the remote's IR signal may simply reflect off the mirror's surface.

You also need to consider the mirror's thickness - will the television provide enough surface temperature to keep it clear or will it just fog over. The mirror may also affect viewing angle but this should not be too much of a problem since the seated location is fixed.

Lots of things to consider...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:00PM
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In a similar situation, I installed a small adjustable arm to hold a tablet computer. The tablet is only 10", but when brought close enough for viewing/reading, is more than adequate for the purpose. Being battery powered, it doesn't provide any significant risk of electrocution. I realize this isn't exactly what was requested, but is just another thought.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:20AM
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" Being battery powered, it doesn't provide any significant risk of electrocution. "

Just instant death of the computer if it falls in the water, even turned off.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 2:01PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Are there that many perfectly sighted individuals who have added heaters to their soaker tubs and want to severely prune-itize themselves while watching Friday the 13th Part XXXVII? I mean, I could see if this was an uber cool gadget that provided a mirror for shaving in the shower or could have the TV turned on so you could watch The Weather Channel while the hot water is pounding out the lumps in your neck. But as everyone I know mainly showers and needs vision correction both, it simply wouldn't work in a tub situation unless you were willing to fog up your glasses. Or have RK's become that common and I'm just an out of touch grumpy old fogey?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 6:19PM
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I gave up asking customers about "why?" a long time ago.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 2:16PM
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I think a clear acrylic bottom in the tub and put the tv under there which would be great. There are special speakers that could be glued to the back side of the tub which the sound comes through the water. All would be great until Shark Week....YIKES

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:32AM
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