Power Vs Manual Recliners: Pros, Cons and The Difference

by Andrew Smith| Last Updated: May 3, 2021

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Regardless of the size of your space or your style, a chair is an essential part of any home. Your choice of chairs should not only offer functionality but some aesthetic appeal. For many, a recliner is their go-to chair.

Today, due to their popularity, recliners come in various models, shapes, sizes, colours, and brands. Choosing the right one is not easy. 

But before you settle for a particular brand, model, or colour, you first must determine the type of recliner you should get- a power recliner or a manual recliner.

To help you make an informed choice, we have compiled a detailed article outlining their differences and the pros and cons of each type.

Table of Contents

What Is A Power Recliner?

A power recliner or an electric recliner is a chair (sofa, loveseat or sectional) that uses automated motors to recline the backrest and lift the footrest. The operating buttons are usually located at the top of one armrest or on the wireless remote control.

These kinds of recliners must be plugged into a source of electricity or a battery pack to function. They are specially designed for people who have difficulty operating manual recliners.

Types of Power Recliners

This type of power recliner chairs uses a motor or a series of motors to recline or adjust to your preferred position. They usually come with one to three motors.

The power lift recliner chairs are an excellent choice for people who need mobility assistance. They can recline and let you relax and lift you from a sitting to a standing position at a touch of a button.

These recliner chairs look like a stationary sofa but operate as a recliner. They can be positioned inches away from a wall to save space (wall huggers). They come with both a powered back and footrest that can move to your preferred position at a touch of a button.



However, some power recliners can use a battery pack to power the recliner. But even those require constant recharging.

What Is A Manual Recliner?

A manual recliner a chair that is operated by either pulling a lever or by bodyweight exertion by the occupant. The lever handle is mainly located at one side of the chair, where you can pull/push to manoeuvre the chair.

The other manual recliner requires you to use the armrests as leverage while leaning back against the backrest. You’ll then use your body weight to extend the footrest.

Types of Manual Recliners

This recliner uses both a manual release lever and your body weight to move the chair into position. It gives the occupant lumbar and total body support.

This recliner chair has no lever. You have to use your body to push the backrest backwards and lift the footrest to enjoy reclining comfort.

This recliner chair is built with a circular base that allows you to turn right and left and recline backwards.



Differences Between Power and Manual Recliners

The main difference between a power recliner and a manual recliner is how they work. A power recliner has an inbuilt electrical mechanism that allows you to operate the chair at a click of a button. On the other hand, a manual recliner uses a traditional pull handle and the occupant’s body weight to operate. However, there are other differences. They include:

  1. Cost

Mostly, costs plays are the most crucial determinant of which recliner to buy. Due to the advanced technology used to design power recliners, they are generally more expensive than manual recliners.

  1. Maintenance

Manual recliners have a simplistic design with no electric systems hence much easier to maintain. Basically, if you take gentle care of the recliner and clean it occasionally, it should serve you for quite some time without a malfunction.

With a power recliner, on the other hand, this is a bit complicated. The electrical components are more prone to failure or damage, which would be costly to repair.

  1. Versatility

One of the advantages of a power recliner is its many different settings and positions for ultimate comfort. A manual recliner only offers a maximum of three positions. You, however, have to consider that a power recliner has to be located near a power outlet which limits where you can place it.

  1. Durability

Due to their controlled movements, power recliners are exposed to less wear and tear than manual recliners. The power recliners, therefore, have a longer span.

Which One Is the Best for You?

There is no best choice when it comes to choosing between a power recliner and a manual recliner. It all boils down to your preferences.

Although the power recliner uses modern and advanced technology, it has not diminished the manual recliner’s popularity. Both options are popular and come to both positive and negative effects.

However, if you are on a budget and don’t necessarily need the options, a power recliner provides, go for a manual recliner. There are a variety of budget recliners with the competitive quality you can choose from.

On the other hand, a power recliner would be the best option if you have a physical disability or are buying it for your old folks. It will help them relax, sit, and stand up without assistance. Additionally, a power recliner offers you more options like sleeping on the recliner or having a massage to relieve fatigue. However, it comes at a higher cost.

All things considered, both manual and power recliners are fantastic. They offer you relaxation and comfort, help relieve back pain, improve blood circulation and many more benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Electricity Does A Power Recliner Use?

When you hear of a power recliner, the first question that pops in your mind is, “do power recliners use a lot of electricity?

The answer: it depends!

The amount of electricity consumed by your power recliner depends on the size, frequency of use, and power ratings.

Usually, the bigger the recliner, the more electricity consumption. Also, if you keep changing the positions (which is fine as you have to find the perfect position), the recliner will consume more power.

Similarly, if your recliner has high power ratings, it’s bound to consume more power. It’s therefore advisable to ensure  your recliner of choice has favourable power ratings.

Can You Manually Recline A Power Recliner?

No! they don’t come with a lever. You must plug in or use a wireless battery back for your power recliner to function.

However, some recliner models backrest can be manually pushed to an upright position in the event of power failure.

Want to learn more? This guide will explain how to manually recline an electric recliner in detail.

Can I Convert A Manual Recliner to A Power Recliner?

Absolutely! You can contact a professional to convert it for you or do It Yourself (DIY).

To do it yourself, you have to buy a conversion kit online or from furniture stores. Alternatively, you can contact your recliner model’s manufacturer to ask whether they have a kit. You can find videos and conversion guides online.

How Long Do Power Recliner Motors Last?

On average, an electric recliner cord can last between 10 to 20 years. This depends, of course, on how you handle it and the frequency of use.

Last Words

Both power recliners and manual recliners are awesome chairs with great benefits. They come with a fair share of disadvantages too. Weighing the pros and cons, your budget and other preferences will help you make a well-informed choice.


  • Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is the founder of CozySeating, is a father of 2, and an engineer from one of the leading furniture stores in the country. Due to his 10 years of experience, he has proved to be the best person to offer advice to clients regarding different seating furniture based on their needs and performance. Besides, he is a specialist in product reviews and always keeps up with the current trends in the market.

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