Manual Recliners Vs. Power Recliners: Compare the Pros and Cons

Manual or power recliner? This is the decision almost everyone will have to make while buying a recliner. For most of us, we decide to add this piece of furniture to our home since we heard about it is comfortable but we don’t know more details about it. 

Considering this, we get onto the mission of “comparing the difference between manual recliners and power recliners”. You will have a clear view about “manual vs. power recliner” by the end of this post.

Pros and cons of manual recliners

pros and cons of manual recliners

Many years ago, the meaning of “recliner” only refers to “manual recliner”. It is a type of recliner that leans back by pulling the lever or using your body weight.

While more and more power recliners appear in the marketplace, manual recliners are still quite popular. They have a lot of advantages that can’t be substituted by power recliner chairs.


  • Easy to maintain. The mechanism of manual recliners is relatively simple as there aren’t any complicated electrical components involved. You don’t have to worry about power surges that will burn the motor or the massage vibrating nodes stopping working suddenly. Maintaining a manual recliner is more straightforward. If there is any breakdown, it is usually easy to fix.
  • Easy to move. Since manual recliners don’t have an electronic system, they are lighter and more compact than electric recliner chairs. You can move it from here to there freely and is a great option for small spaces. In addition, as it doesn’t need to connect to the socket, you can place it wherever you want.
  • Easy to blend with decor. Manual recliners are smaller than power ones. It can fit seamlessly into any design without tipping the guests to the fact that it is a recliner. The push-back recliner looks just like a standard armchair when it is in the upright position. 
  • Budget-friendly. A manual recliner doesn’t have many bells and whistles. It would be a better choice for people on a budget or only want a simple chair to relax.


  • Fewer features. Usually, a manual recliner is a two-position recliner, meaning that it can only recline to a specific angle or stay upright. It would not be problematic for some users but could be an issue for some people who pursue a very comfortable position. Besides, it is not able to support massage or heating functions which are known for alleviating strain and pressure.
  • Shorter lifespan. Since you need to use your body weight and handles to control the movement of the chair, the chair will deal with more tears and wear during the process. This will shorten the lifespan of the chair.
  • Not a good choice for seniors or people with mobility issues. Users need to use their own bodyweight to lean back or push the footrest down to put the chair back to the upright position while using a manual recliner. The elderly or people who lack body strength will find it is hard to handle it.

Pros and cons of power recliners

pros and cons of power recliners

Power recliners (also known as electric recliners) use electricity to power the chair. Like other electrical gadgets, they come with more and more advanced features with time. 

You will be surprised how intelligent a power recliner could be, but they do have some limitations as well. 


  • Multifunctional. Many power recliners embrace an array of features. They not only can recliner to different positions but also provide massage and heating therapy for users. Some models have USB ports and cup holders, ensuring you could stay longer in the chair. 
  • More comfortable. Power recliners offer a few or even infinite positions you can choose from. Some advanced models can achieve zero gravity position. Even better, with more electric motors involved, you can control the footrest, backrest, and headrest separately. In this way, there are more chances that you can find your own perfect angle to lay down. But for a manual chair, you can only have one reclined position and an upright position to choose between.
  • Great for seniors. Seniors can control the power chair by pushing the buttons on the remote control or the button on the side. They don’t need to use body strength during the process. Moreover, many chairs have a lifting function, allowing seniors or others with mobility limitations to get in and out of the chair easily. It improves more independence for seniors and that’s why lift chairs become more and more popular.
  • Last for a longer time. As the reclining and lifting process is controlled by electrical parts, the movement is more smooth which leads to less wear. While these electrical components seem complicated, they are replaceable. 


  • Expensive. Power recliners tend to have a higher price than manual ones. The higher the price, the more features it will have. Therefore, if you are a price-conscious consumer, you should think about what are the features you really need so that you can get a good power recliner at a fair price. Outside of that, the repair charge for a power recliner could be high. Sometimes, replacing a motor could cost more than buying a new chair. But you can save these costs by fixing the electric recliner on your own.
  • Bulkier. An electric recliner is likely to have a larger size than a manual recliner. The remote, buttons, or cup holders make it more different from a standard armchair. This could result in some difficulties while on par the chair with your decor.
  • Need a power source. You need to connect the wall outlet with the power chair through a power cord. This could cause some limitations while arranging the chair. Luckily, some models embed a recharchable battery, allowing you to place it in more places.

Manual vs. Power recliner: which one suits you best?

After reading the pros and cons of manual and power recliners, we assume you already have some ideas about which type of chairs suits you better.

Manual recliners are great for people who are on a budget or want a beautiful chair that can easily blend with your style preferences. It is also a suitable choice for people living in a tight space. 

Power recliners cost more than a manual recliner but you are likely to get a great chair that can offer the perfect angle for you to relax and sleep in. You don’t have to use your body weight and everyone is effortless. You could also enjoy a massage while dozing off. 

We highly recommend seniors or people with mobility problems to get a power lift recliner as long as your doctor allows. It will make your life much easier and you can sit and stand without the help of any caregiver.

Sum up

“Manual vs. power recliner” could be a hard subject to figure out for people who are new to the world of recliners. To make the right choice, you can compare the pros and cons of each type of these chairs we mentioned above. Always think about your needs, your budget, and the space you want to place the chair, you are sure you could get a great chair you like.

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Rachelle is the founder of Best Chair Finder. She is a fanatic of home improvement, and as an engineer, she knows well about each chair's mechanism. You can find her story on the About page.