Power Recliner VS Manual: Differences, Pros & Cons, and Which One Is Best For You

power recliners vs manual: differences, pros and cons, and which one is better post featured image

A recliner is a great addition to your living room or nursery but choosing the right one can be challenging.

There are many types of recliners and the choices that stick out the most are power recliners and manual recliners.

The main difference between a power and manual recliner is that a power recliner includes a motor to recline the chair whereas a manual recliner uses a lever to recline.

Power recliners can recline at the optimal angle with a push of a button. On the other hand, manual recliners are practical 

What are Power Recliners?

black colored power recliner with button to recliner

Power recliners include a motor to recline the chair with the push of a button. They are plugged into a power source and operate with electricity, which is why they are also referred to as electric recliners.

They are great for people with limited mobility, such as seniors, disabled people, and pregnant women. Its built-in motor reduces the risk of back strain as it locks into a position automatically and easily lifts a person to a standing position.

As opposed to manual recliners, in a power recliner, there isn’t a lever that requires some force to pull. That’s why for people with weaker arm or leg muscles, having a button to control the reclining function is a huge relief.


  • Automatically recline with the push of a button allowing you to find the reclining sweet spot
  • Prevent back strain by enabling you to comfortably stand up
  • Have many locking positions making it easy to find a relaxing position for you
  • Limited wear and tear due to precise motorized movements


  • Need to be plugged into an electric outlet to work
  • Cost higher than a manual recliner due to in-built motors
  • Might get stuck in a reclined position in case of a power outage

Who Should Buy a Power Recliner?

Power recliners are great for people with limited mobility. For many people, a power recliner is the best choice to have if you’re suffering from a recent injury or are facing muscle/bone issues, which is common in older people.

Some people also like the power recliner as it eases you out of your chair, without having to wiggle out of the comfy fabric. This can prevent you from having back strain when trying to get out of your chair which can be a cause of back pain from your recliner.

How Much Does a Power Recliner Cost?

The cost of power recliners depends on factors such as the brand, material, weight, and build. Standard power recliners can cost around $400-800 and for a higher quality recliner, you can expect to pay around $1000+.

There’s also the choice of buying a dual-motor recliner. This type of recliner has two motors, one controls the backrest, and the other controls the footrest, giving you full control of your reclining position. These dual-motor recliners cost more than single-motor recliners.

Another thing to keep in mind is the weight, as they directly affect shipping costs. The weight of most recliners is the same, whether power or manual and the average weight of a recliner ranges around 100-400 pounds.

What is a Manual Recliner?

manual recliner with lever on side

A manual recliner allows a person to manually recline the back and footrest with a lever. It uses springs and levers that are connected to the lever or latch to kick open the footrest.

These are the original seats which were most commonly used before the launch of other types of recliners. They are also known as recliner chairs, loungers, and armchairs.

Most people like the simplicity of a manual recliner compared to the electrically-operated power recliner. As manual recliners don’t need a power source, people have the peace of mind of not worrying about plugging it into a power outlet or getting stuck in their chairs in case of a power outage.


  • Less complicated as there aren’t any moving parts or motors
  • Cost less than a power recliner since they don’t include a motor
  • Lighter and easier to move/reposition in your home


  • The lever is usually located at a low angle forcing you to stretch down to pull it
  • A limited number of reclining positions
  • Require strength to push back the recliner to set it in a reclining position, which may not be suitable for disabled or senior people

Who Should Buy a Manual Recliner?

Manual recliners are ideal for people who can comfortably pull the lever to open the footrest. For most people, a manual recliner treats them well.

Since these recliners don’t rely on an external power source, they don’t need to be plugged in saving you on electricity. Also, they don’t carry the risk of getting stuck in a reclining position in case of a power outage.

For a power recliner, if the power goes out while you’re reclining, you’d be stuck in that position until the power is restored. So, the manual recliner might be safer in this regard.

How Much Does a Manual Recliner Cost?

Manual recliners are typically cheaper than power recliners since they don’t include a motor. But, despite that, just like any other recliner, prices vary depending on the features you get.

A manual recliner usually costs around $250-500. Higher quality manual recliners will cost you anywhere between $500-1000 and some of the best recliners can go for $1000+.

As for the weight, there isn’t much difference between manual and power recliners. But, some manual recliners may be lighter as they don’t include a motor. So a manual recliner may weigh around 80-300 pounds.

Differences Between Power and Manual Recliners

There are a few factors to look at and compare in both manual and power recliners to choose the best one for you.

The below table summarizes the differences between power and manual recliners:

Power ReclinersManual Recliners
Has many reclining and locking positions so you can find a relaxing angle for youLimited reclining and locking positions, typically “recline” and “neutral”
Needs to be plugged into a power source to reclineUses a pull lever or latch to recline
Includes multiple functions and modes like vibration and heatingDoesn’t include additional functions and modes
Weigh more than manual recliners due to built-in motorsWeigh less than a power recliner
Higher cost due to motorized functionsUsually cheaper but harder to find
Table summarizing differences between manual and power recliners

Here’s a detailed breakdown of each difference:

1. No. Of Reclining Positions

illustration showing different reclining angles of people

Everyone isn’t built the same way, which means for each individual there would be a different reclining angle that feels comfortable. For example, longer people may want to recline the chair more than shorter people.

Having a recliner that has more reclining positions is better as it has something for everyone and allows you to recline in a position that suits you.

Power recliners feature multiple reclining positions as you can move their back and footrest separately. You can also control the angle with the remote which gives you complete power over your reclining angle.

As for manual recliners, they usually have two options: reclining and sitting. The sitting position is a normal 90-degree sitting angle and the reclining position would push the chair back and kick open the footrest usually to a 120-degree angle.

2. Energy Source

A power recliner is operated using an electric motor. This means you’d need to plug it into an electrical outlet for it to recline.

For a manual recliner, all you have to do is push back and use the lever to open the footrest and it’ll kick your feet up and lock into a reclined position.

A disadvantage of power recliners here is that if you face any electrical problems, such as load shedding or a power trip, the recliner may get stuck in a reclining angle, leaving you stuck in the chair.

However, many power recliners nowadays come with a backup battery for this reason.

3. Functions and Modes

Power recliners have far more features, functions, and modes than manual recliners. Since they’re motorized they often come with vibrating, massage, and heating modes. They also have additional features like a 360-degree swivel and multiple reclining angles.

For a manual recliner, there is the possibility to find a recliner with different motions such as a rocking recliner. However, when it comes to vibration and massage features, manual recliners don’t have those.

4. Weight

A manual recliner weighs less than a power recliner since it doesn’t have a motor. This makes it easier to move around your house if you want to reposition it.

Also, since power recliners weigh more, they may drive up shipping costs as well. They’re also heavier to move and require to be positioned near an outlet.

5. Price

Since power recliners feature a built-in motor they cost more than simpler manual recliners. Also, they’re heavier, which increases shipping costs and they consume electricity adding cost to your electricity bill.

But, the features and customization that power recliners offer to make all the costs worth it. You have countless reclining angles, varying massage, heating, and vibration features, and an automatic reclining function allowing you to recline and get out of your chair with ease.

Manual recliners cost lower as they don’t have a motor and feature a simpler build.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many people are concerned about buying the right recliner for them. To help you choose between the power and manual recliner, we answer some of the frequently asked questions below.

Are There Any Problems With Power Recliners?

Power recliners are great for most people and the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

The only problem we found with power recliners was how they can get stuck in a reclining position in case of a power outage. Although modern power recliners come with a backup power source it can still be a cause of concern for some.

Can Power Recliners Be Operated Manually?

Power recliners cannot be operated manually as the built-in motors control the reclining functionality.

Do Power Recliners Have to Be Plugged In?

Yes, power recliners have to be plugged in to work. However, some power recliners feature a wireless battery that does not require to be plugged in at all times to work.

Can a Manual Recliner be Motorized?

Yes, it’s possible to convert a manual recliner to a power recliner according to this patent claim that discusses the method of converting a recliner to electric. This is a detailed process with a few caveats, so if you have a manual recliner, take it to your local furniture manufacturer and ask them if it’s possible to convert yours.

How Long Do Manual Recliners Last?

Manual recliner typically last for 8-10 years before starting to tear apart. However, this widely depends on the quality of the fabric and frame as well as the way it’s used. For someone with pets and kids and who uses the recliner for long periods (8-12 hours a day) you may expereince some wear and tear in the first 3-4 years.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *