Monday, 15 August 2011

Positioning the Television

There are going to be days and most nights on the boat when we will want to be entertained by the TV.  So what size TV and where to place it.  The difficulty with a narrowboat is they all tend to be long and narrow.Smile

Nearly all of them also have a tumbledown and gunwale.  This means there is almost no suitable flat and vertical surface on which to mount a TV.  Of course I’m referring to modern flat screen TV’s.

If you draw an imaginary horizontal line through the middle of the TV screen then this line should be at the same level as your eyes when seated.  This creates a problem in a narrowboat because it coincides with the gunwale.  Most people appear to either mount their TV either above or below the gunwale.  You end up either peering down or up.  Both can place a strain on your neck. You’re also seated about 4 feet from the screen.

The minimum and maximum screen size is normally dictated by the distance between the viewer and the screen.  If you are too close your eyes may be unable to take in all the data on the screen, and if you’re too far away you also have difficulty seeing the detail.

The following table give some guidelines

  • Screen     Viewing distance range
  • 26"           3.25-5.5 feet
  • 32"           4.0-6.66 feet
  • 37"           4.63-7.71 feet
  • 40"           5.0-8.33 feet
  • 46"           5.75-9.5 feet
  • 52"           6.5-10.8 feet
  • 58"           7.25-12 feet

Given the width of a narrowboat then most TV mounted on the inside of the hull should be no more than 26 - 32”.  We’ve purchased a 32” backlit LCD TV.

We’ve decided to position our TV at the recommended eye level by mounting it in a cabinet that will straddle both the gunwale and the tumbledown.  The cabinet will be at the far end of the saloon.  When viewing the TV we will sit looking down the length of the boat.  This will give us greater distance between our position and the TV.  Obviously we won’t be able to see the TV because it will be a right angles to us.  So we’re going to mount it on an extending swivel arm. When we want to watch the TV we will have to extend it from the cabinet and turn it 90 degrees so the screen is facing down the centreline of the boat.

This does have a drawback.  When the TV is extended it will partially obstruct access to the bathroom and bedroom.  I guess that is one of the compromises we will have to make to get the TV in the best possible position for viewing.  Time will tell if we have made a mistake.


John/Waimaru said...

Where do you get your table from Tom? I wouldn't want to sit 4ft from a 32" screen. That is the size of our home TV which we view from across the lounge.

Bruce in Sanity said...

Interesting and accurate analysis; we just manage without a TV, but I agree most folks seem to have one on a boat.

By the way, I think you mean tumblehome, the angle of the cabin side from gunwale to roof, not tumbledown, which is what you'd like BH to do from the top of a very tall building, probably…

Keep up the blog, I'm loving it.



Tom and Jan said...

Hello John,

There are various website that provide this information. I can't find the one I used but the following is another with similar information []

I wouldn't view a 32" TV across a boat at 4ft. It would be too close for us. This is why we are going to look down the boat and have it swivel out for viewing.

Travelling in No Direction said...

At last we've past the boring washing machine saga. We have a 32 inch LG led TV mounted on the side of the boat and we sit about 5 feet away, the picture is amazing even from a wide angle, you are more that welcome to come and have a look if you are in any doubt. We used to have a 20 inch Sony mounted at the front of the saloon but last Febuary after seeing a modern thin flat screen we bought one, if thin TVs have 1 downside it's the speakers, but the LGs are fine. The bigger TV dosen't use anymore power than the smaller one we had. It also has USB ports so that music on a Memory stick can be played through the surround sound system we have.
Ray and Jayne

Tom and Jan said...

Do you face the screen square on or are you seated slightly offset, and where is the screen - above or below the gunwale? To be 5 feet away I assume you're almost pressed up against the opposite side of the shell?

Travelling in No Direction said...

We are seated offset about 35/40 degrees, the set is mounted below the Gunwale and is virtical as our shell is a "Brumegem Square" that means the sides of the boat are almost parallel to each other. At the moment I am sat at the table which is more than 45 degrees angle and 8 feet away and I can watch Casualty on BBC 1 HD.

Tom and Jan said...

Ah, then you have probably solved the angle problem and with a good quality flat screen TV can sit off-set without much degradation to the quality of the picture.

Tom and Jan said...

Learn something new everyday. It's "Tumblehome" - not "Tumbledown".
Thanks Bruce!

Andrew Denny said...

Is 26" the smallest size you'd consider? I once bought a 22" screen for my bird so she could watch when she came to the boat.

She was AGHAST! 22" was far too big, she said, and she ostentatiously insisted on watching from the kitchen, 15 feet away.

At home she has a screen that's about 17" and thinks larger screens are terribly downmarket and common.

After a little living with my behemoth 22" I agreed, and gave it to my niece. I now think the only place to see a 32" screen is on the head of a looter running down the street!

I'm inclined to think that my 15.6" HD laptop (1920px resolution) is a very nice size & type of screen.

Tom and Jan said...


I suspect the size of the TV will be very much a personal preference. Some people are happy with a small screen and others will have and overhead projector and giant screen taking up the entire cross section of their saloon.

In our case we have gone for a 32" screen so we can see all the detail in the picture but also have it far enough away from our sitting position that we don't have our noses stuck on the glass :-)

pat.kelly said...

Hi just wondering if there were any pics of your tv setup. Sounds like your enjoying your travels all the very best.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Pat,

Good query. In the past I've provided the information in separate posts.
I'll do a new blog post showing the complete setup.