Finding the Correct Distance From your TV


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Sitting at the correct distance from your TV is the difference between a great night in and aching eyes. Being at the correct distance from your TV keeps you from perceiving pixels and jagged edges. It protects your eyes from strain, which often manifests as tearing eyes and headaches.

There are better ways to boost your productivity than making yourself uncomfortable as you try to binge-watch your favorite show. So, go ahead and find the correct distance from your TV and find a life hack to help you tackle your to-do list.

This article takes you through the different considerations that go into the correct placement of a TV in a room.

The correct distance from your TV: Is it that important?

In a word, yes. You need to take care of your eyes at all times, more so if you spend a chunk of your time staring at screens. In today’s world, you’ll often find yourself switching between a phone screen, a laptop and the TV. This could happen throughout your day.

That’s why your devices should be comfortable. Phone and laptop screens are small, which allows manufacturers to achieve a screen that does not pixelate with limited resolution. The screens of mobile devices are also designed for comfortable viewing at a relatively close range.

Television screens are a different matter. By design, TV sets are bigger than most devices that have displays. Only digital signage and billboards match televisions in terms of scale. TVs also produce more heat. They require much higher resolution compared to smaller devices.

These factors affect how close you can comfortably sit in front of the TV. There are more considerations that determine the correct distance for TV viewing.

The correct distance for TV viewing: Does one size fit all?

There’s no magical number that will tell you how far or how close to the television your couch needs to be. The ideal distance is the result of a calculation that’s based on information like the correct size TV for room and the correct size TV for viewing distance.

You need to start at the beginning, meaning that you should check if your TV and the room it sits in match, in terms of size.

The link between the size of a room and the size of a TV

Pleasing aesthetics almost always require proportion. This means that you can’t buy a giant 88-inch TV for a small kitchen. In the same vein, a large room would look a little strange if you install a miniscule screen; more so when you have guests over for movie night.

It’s all about making good use of your space. Your TV should not cause crowding or clutter. It shouldn’t take over the entirety of your space. Neither should a television fail to take center stage in your entertainment nook. To strike this balance, use the following handy tips the next time you arrange your space or go shopping for a TV:

1. Take your existing entertainment center into account

If you’re comfortable with your current setup and you’re looking to get a new TV, then some aspects of this arrangement are worth keeping. Take stock of the dimensions of your TV stand or cabinet if that’s where your current television sits. The measurements will determine how long and how high a prospective TV needs to be.

2. Take the size of the room into account when you calculate the correct distance from the TV

Let’s say your couch is near the wall and you want to place a TV opposite said couch, at the other end of the wall. What is the correct size TV for the room?

A simple calculation will give you an answer: Measure the distance between your favorite spot and the TV. If your measurement is in feet, convert it into inches. Do this by multiplying your initial figure by 12. Now go ahead and divide the result by two. The end result is the size of your prospective television.  

As an example, if the TV and your ideal spot are ten feet apart, convert the measurement into inches. You’ll end up with 120 inches. If you cut this number in half then you’ll have yourself a screen size of 60 inches. A 55 inch TV will work too.

3. Take the dimensions of the TV into account

You could use the same logic detailed above and arrange your space based on the size of your TV. This is a good approach if you want to optimize your viewing experience for an existing TV.

The rule of thumb is pretty simple: Take the diagonal length of your TV and double that figure. That’s how much space you need to create between your eyes and the TV. That being said, you could reduce the distance between your couch and your TV, depending on its resolution.

4. The resolution of your television is also a factor

The closer you get to a TV, the more your eyes pick up small details. If you walk right up to your TV, you are likely to make out the very structure of the TV. Look closely enough and you will make out individual ‘pixels’. The ‘pixels’ are more pronounced on wider screens, especially those that lack UHD resolution.

This means that if you really don’t want to suffer through pixelated content, you will sit at a distance of twice the diagonal length of the TV. If you have room, you could add an extra foot to that distance.

On the other hand, your TV could be a high-resolution screen that also has HDR capability. Televisions with impressive performance look great, even when you watch them close up. If you’ve snagged yourself something along the lines of a top-of-the-line OLED TV, the picture will look great even at a distance of one and a half times the TV size.

Next, you need to figure out if these calculations still hold when you mount your TV onto the wall.

Wall mounts, elevation, viewing angles and the correct distance from the TV

Mounting your TV on a wall could eliminate the need for a chunk of the furniture you’d otherwise need for your home entertainment system. This could free up room in your living space, improving the overall décor and aesthetic of your room.  Does the position of the TV on the wall affect where you should sit? Yes and no. 

Yes because the higher the display hangs on the wall, the further away you need to sit in order to comfortably watch TV for long stretches. And no, because you should mount a TV in a way that spares you the discomfort of tilting your head upwards when you’re seated. Here’s how you find the perfect height for your TV.

1. Mount your TV at eye level

You need to mount your TV in such a way that the center of the TV is at eye level. The ideal wall mount position will keep you from straining your eyes and neck. This is what you need to know before you mount your television.

The center of any screen is where much of the action happens because that’s how cameramen and videographers arrange content. It is where the eye gravitates by default, making the concept of ‘the center’ an art thing.

For the viewer, the center of the TV starts 10 inches above the base and ten inches below the upper edge of the display. You have to mount the TV at the right height in order for the center of the screen to be at eye level. The ‘right height’ may not always be an exact number. It could vary depending on your preferences.

That said the following rules of thumb can help with that:

  • Whatever the size of your TV, the bottom edge of your TV should be about 25 inches above the floor
  • If the center of the TV starts at 10 inches from the bottom edge, then a comfortable eye-level range is between 35 and 40 inches
  • At this height, eyes will comfortably perceive picture on almost all of the screen’s surface

Before you get to wall mounting, you should already have the correct size TV for the viewing distance of your choice. Marking the exact spot where holes of the wall mount go will be one of the final steps of TV installation.

2. Be ready to do some trial and error before you settle on a final spot

When all is said and done, the correct height and viewing angle of your TV depends on your comfort level. Meaning that once you’ve done your calculations, you may need to tweak the final ‘coordinates’ to your liking. Enlist a few of your strongest, most patient friends to help you find that sweet spot. The endeavor will involve them holding up the TV as you figure out it a particular spot works for you.

Your good friends will have to put up with you as you tell them to ‘move to the left…. no, a little to the right, then higher, then a little more to the right.’ All this before you send them back to the exact same spot you started; and then a little to the right; maybe lower. Be sure to cheerfully return the favor when they call on you to help them move.

3. Mounting a TV above the fireplace is not really an option

You could do it, but you will hurt your neck as you tilt your head upwards for long stretches of time. Once your continued discomfort gets your attention you will have to move your seats back, just to give your neck a break. This means that the calculations for the correct distance for TV viewing will not apply. Your new seating arrangement will throw off the look of the entire room.

Worst of all, an active fireplace produces enough heat to slowly wreck the electronics that run your TV.  Meaning you could be in the market for a new TV sooner than you would like.

There’s more to installing your entertainment center than the correct distance from the TV

There isn’t a fixed number that tells you the correct distance for TV viewing, so you’ll have to work it out. You will find the correct distance from TV after you take several considerations into account. For starters, you’ll need to find the correct size TV for the room, then figure out the correct size TV for your viewing distance of choice.