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[Blogs] Monk's Blog - 42 Inch Plasma - Wall Mount Installation

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CT Droid

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I thought I would take the time to document the fact that some work is finally getting done around here!

The TV:
Panasonic TC-P42U1
A 42 inch plasma, 1080p with "normal" features - 2 HDMI in, 2 component in, 1 HDMI out - an SD card reader. Nothing fancy. It has a great picture using the component video hookup to an HD Tivo. Adjustable "no use" shut off up to 3 hours - will power it off if no control has been used (channel change / volume adjust). It has a nice "dimming" ability that dims the picture down according to ambient light in the room. For a bedroom TV this is really nice - when viewed in a totally dark room it dims way down, making it super easy on the eyes, yet still has fantastic color. Other misc. small features that are probably normal for modern day TVs.
$825.32 - Free shipping, no tax.

The wall mount:
Sanus VM-400 full motion wall mount.
This mount is advertised on the Sanus site for 26" to 42" televisions weighing up to 100 pounds. Note that this same mount is "mis-advertised" at some sites as being only for televisions up to 40 inches with people reviewing it stating its weight limit is 70 pounds. Obviously something is going on here - maybe they want you to spend more money on a larger-than-needed mount - ? - or perhaps trying to keep those who are "on the verge" of buying and "overloading" the mount from making a bad choice. NOTE that this mount uses a single stud - as opposed to larger "rail" type mounts that are wide enough to use 2 studs. This mount comes with 2 bolt on adapter plates for the larger VESA 400x200 patterns. I have them bolted on, as the Panasonic is the 400x200. This is a heavy, well constructed, well engineered mount.
$161.00 Including shipping.

The power / surge / LV passthru outlet:
Panamax PF Power MIW-SURGE In-Wall Surge Protection System.
This device is a combination single surge protected outlet / low voltage bay 2 gang sized system. A versatile product that supports LV wire pass through on its right side (molded rubber w/slot in center) -or - snap-in modules. It is designed to work with a variety of electrical boxes. My install used a Carlon 1 gang old-work box which "locks" nicely into the MIW. Pretty slick. In the configuration used for my install, the hole in the wall is not a full 2 gang old work size. It is not clear how the user is to know if the surge protector is operating properly - i.e. no indicator / "protected" lamp. On the plus side, this unit can easily be swapped out / upgraded.
$53.18 total.

The Cables:
"Amazon" - 1 of each.
25' RCA Component Video/Audio Cable
25' HDMI to HDMI Premium Gold Series HDMI Certified
$35.00 total.

Low mounted LV pass through:
Vanco Custom 2 Pc Bulk Cable Wall Plate
$1.99


Mounting the TV:
Using a "single stud" mount meant that in order to center the TV as close as possible with the center of the king size bed (on the opposite wall), the closest possible stud choice needed to be made. This as opposed to larger 2 stud mounts have the ability to slide left or right. The Sans VM-400, when folded back flat, has the "center" of the TV at 4 inches left or right of its center. As it turned out I was able to use a stud that only left the TV 2 inches off of dead center - Really not noticeable and would be only if the TV is pushed all the way back against the wall.

The VM-400 mount is rated at 100 pounds, the Panasonic TV weighs in at 55 pounds. This gives me better courage regarding the choices made. Also - the original plan would have me doing this on an outside wall - which of course is insulated - glad that isn't the case. Holding the mount in hand, it is obviously sturdy enough - quite heavy. I have mounted a lot of things into a lot of studs over my 25 years of home ownership but nothing this heavy or expensive. The first piece of the mount, a heavy , foot long piece of steel gets bolted to the 2x4 with three good sized lag bolts. In other pictures you will note it looks like it has a bit of a crease along its centerline - This slight bit is really not that noticable and probably an engineering thing, I decided.


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3 lag bolts mounted to a stud that is only 1.5 inches wide requires precision to keep to the center most, strongest part of the wood. In addition, the center hole of the mount is the only hole which is really "on center" - the outermost holes I will be using are off center, each in a different direction. It isn't good to be a half an inch off on what you "think" is the center of your stud. I have found my electronic stud finder to be off a bit - sometimes it can be a 3/8 of an inch or more, but still good for approximation. Here is a trick I like to use - After marking the stud where I think it should be, I use a piece of .047 piano wire to push through the drywall and actually "feel" the edge of the stud. With practice, it may only take 2 pokes on each side of the stud to find the "absolute" sides.


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Now you can mark the edges with confidence! I use a self leveling Stanley brand laser tool that really helps out.



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The height of the bottom of the TV to the floor was decided to be 58 inches. The TV will be viewed from bed 99% of the time from a distance of about 12 feet. We had it sitting on a tall dresser which helped determine it needed to be just a bit higher. Of course the position at which the mount actually held the TV had to be determined - with the help of the laser level, it wasn't that hard. A small pilot hole, centered best as possible helped out in centering the 3/16 bit which the Sanus mount reccomended for the lag bolts.


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That Stanley laser tool is the best money I ever spent (almost).

With the "mounting plate" mounted, it wasn't too hard to bolt up the arm to the back of the TV. After which, it was a matter of lifting the TV, arm attached and hooking it over the wall mounted plate - then securing with provided screws.


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Kind of scary at first but it held solid - not a hint of instability, the Sanus VM-400 swings with a nice, firm feel throughout its entire range of movement. I am now comfortable working underneath / around it.

Running the power:
The electrical box is necessary for the cleanest install - they have the type that simply provides a raceway of sorts from the upper wall to outlet level that serves as a pass through for LV and an extension for power. That was the first thought, but looking from the basement, it would be a relatively straightforward task to run 30' total 14-2 Romex. So - laser level to the rescue and a nice square hole is cut. While I am at it, the lower outlet level pass through is cut as well.


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As long as I'm sharing wire tricks, here is another. Using the same piece of wire that was earlier used to locate the stud edges, I clip the end of it to a knarly looking point and drill it through to the basement.


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Looking up from the basement (black circle area) you can now see the end of it sticking through. Measure in about an inch and a half and you can drill upward into the center of your wall. Also note here - a copper pipe below and a cold air return not far away. That piece of wire will drill through copper like butter - not to mention flexible air ducts, romex, - you get the idea. Be careful and don't use this trick "blind". Keep the wire length only as long as you need it - I will sometimes put a piece of tape on it as a "depth gauge".



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As mentioned - The Panamax accessory was used in conjunction with a Carlon old work box. The wire was a snap to push up the wall from the basement - as luck would have it, I came upstairs after the first attempt and there lay 6 feet of Romex - out the bottom (wrong) hole. Second try went fine..


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Here are the 2 pieces of the Panamax i'm using.



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And then finally - the finished project.


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