Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker revolutionized the furniture industry in the 1920s with the introduction of their patented La-Z-Boy recliner. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that mechanical lift chairs started to become available. Despite their many technical flaws, lift chairs proved to be very popular. According to the New York Times, Medicare spent $185 million on 1.6 million claims for seat lift chairs from 1984 to 1987.
One reason why lift chairs were such a success is that they offered a wide range of health benefits. Lift chairs were a good countermeasure for hypertension, for instance. People with hypertension often experience a sudden blood pressure increase when they stand up. Lift chairs gradually bring their occupant to a standing position, thus reducing the chance of dizziness and other symptoms of hypertension. Lift chairs also reduce leg swelling, relieve pressure sores and allow for greater autonomy. On the other hand, the technical limitations of the era limited the first lift chairs’ usefulness. For example, they couldn’t be stopped once activated. This made them inconvenient and somewhat hazardous to operate.
Today’s lift chairs are far more advanced than the ones that were popular in the 1980s. They’re quieter, safer to use and also made of better quality materials. Some are even equipped with built-in heaters and other extras.
Here are the best lift chairs you can buy:
- Ashley Furniture’s Power Lift Recliner has durable, stain-resistant upholstery that’s nailed directly into the frame.
- If you suffer from lower back pain, the Mcombo 7040 Electric Power Lift Recliner’s heat and vibration features could be the solution.
- Domesis’ Renu Leather Power Lift Chair has classy-looking bonded leather upholstery, but it’s not as expensive as you might imagine.
- Soft yet supple and springy, Mcombo’s 7286 Electric Power Lift Recliner is a lift chair for people who prefer the coziness of fabric furniture.
- Bonzy’s Home Power Lift Recliner can be installed in spaces where many lift chairs won’t fit because it’s slightly smaller than an average-sized recliner.
The most durable lift chair
Signature Design by Ashley Yandel Power Lift Recliner
Signature Design by Ashley Yandel’s Power Lift Recliner features upholstery that looks like worn leather, but it’s actually polyester. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your perspective. Leather chairs can feel cold against the skin, and they sometimes makes you sweaty after you sit in them for long periods of time. In addition, polyester chairs like this one are surprisingly durable and far more affordable.
- Soft upholstery fabric. The upholstery looks classy with its worn-in leather look, plus it’s softer and more comfortable than actual leather.
- Quiet motors. You’ll barely notice the sound of this chair’s internal motors when they are in operation.
- Simple controls. The clearly labeled remote has four buttons, which you can use to get just the right angle when it’s time to relax.
- Durable construction. The metal-reinforced frame can support up to 300 pounds.
- Easy to put together. The chair comes in two main parts: the base and the back support structure. The armrests slide in place after you put the two main components together.
- Two available colors. Available colors include saddle brown and black.
- Imitation leather is the only upholstery option. There is no authentic leather upholstery option.
- Basic feature set. This chair doesn’t have a heater, massager or any other electronic components aside from the lift motors.
In a nutshell
Ashley Furniture calls itself “the #1 furniture manufacturer in the world,” and this lchair lives up to that fanfare. The thick yet soft upholstery isn’t real leather, but it’s tough and durable. Beneath it, there’s a sturdy steel and wood frame that supports up to 300 pounds.
The best lift chair with a built-in heater
Mcombo 7040 Electric Power Lift Recliner
The Mcombo 7040 Electric Power Lift Recliner’s most interesting feature is its built-in heater. The heater provides not only an effective way to treat some types of back pain, but can also help you shave some money off your utility bill in the wintertime. The vibration feature is another fitting addition to this surprisingly affordable lift chair’s feature list.
- Vibration and heat. The heater is powerful enough to help keep you warm on cold nights, even when you have the furnace turned down.
- Side storage pockets. Most lift recliners have one side storage pocket, but this one comes with two.
- Built-in USB ports. You can plug directly into the chair when you need to charge your devices.
- Anti-tip safety feature. The anti-tip mechanism stops the chair from toppling over when you tilt it back.
- Both armrests have cup holders. The cup holders help prevent spills and add additional convenience.
- Five color options. Available styles include black, cream white, dark brown, light brown and red.
- Easy to clean. The faux-leather fabric doesn’t absorb moisture at all, which means that all you have to do to clean it is wipe it down with a damp cloth.
- Limited warranty. The one-year warranty only covers the lift and reclining mechanism. The upholstery warranty only lasts for 90 days. A 30-day introductory warranty covers the entire chair.
In a nutshell
Even though this lift chair is equipped with perks that most of its competitors lack, it is surprisingly affordable. Few other lift chairs have a built-in heater or a vibration feature. On the other hand, the warranty’s many limitations may be cause for concern.
The best bonded leather lift chair
Domesis Renu Leather Power Lift Chair
Most lift chairs are upholstered with various types of polyester fabric, but Domesis’ Renu Leather Power Lift Chair stands out because its upholstery consists of a leather blend material. Despite this added touch of class, it’s surprisingly inexpensive. Another nice thing about this chair is that you’ll only need about ten minutes to assemble it. Its two core components are pre-assembled at the factory. All you have to do is connect them together.
- Leather blend fabric. Blended leather offers comparable quality to traditional leather, yet it is just as inexpensive as polyester because it is formed from leftover leather pieces.
- No tools required for assembly. The components snap right into place, so you don’t need to pull out your toolbox to install it.
- Independent footrest control. You can make the footrest extend independently, without reclining the back.
- Simple two-button remote. The intuitive remote features straightforward button-style controls.
- Side storage pocket. The side pocket holds the remote, but it’s large enough to accommodate magazines, newspapers and e-readers.
- Quiet operation. The motor doesn’t make much noise at all when its in use.
- Risk of tipping over in some positions. It is possible to tip this chair over if you move forward in it when the back is upright and the footrest is fully extended.
- Limited electronic features. The lift and recline feature is all you get. There is no built-in heater or massage unit.
In a nutshell
This lift chair sports a blended leather upholstery design that will add a touch of class to your living room. However, a design flaw may cause it to tip over in certain situations. As long as you use this chair carefully, this shouldn’t be a major problem.
The most comfortable soft fabric lift chair
Mcombo 7286 Electric Power Lift Recliner
Bonded leather and synthetic leather recliners look classy, but they are often not very soft. That’s where the Mcombo’s 7286 Electric Power Lift Recliner comes in. It’s designed to appeal to people that prefer fabric-style furniture to imitation leather. The extra puffy armrests add additional comfort, while the built-in USB ports let you charge your devices with ease while you relax. The lift motors are efficient and don’t make much noise when they’re in operation.
- Extra puffy armrests. The armrests are soft and comfortable, yet firm enough to retain their shape.
- Side pockets. The two side pockets serve as convenient storage areas for magazines, e-readers and books.
- Built-in USB port. The USB ports may come in handy if your wall outlets are often occupied.
- Durable metal frame. The frame is sturdy enough to support 320 pounds.
- Anti-tip mechanism. Mcombo’s anti-tip device stops the chair from toppling over when fully reclined.
- TUV certified. The TUV is the German equivalent of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- One-year warranty. Mcombo offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on this chair, along with a one-year warranty on the electronic parts.
- No vibration or heat. This chair will help you stand up and recline with ease, but there is no built-in heater or massage feature.
- Cushions may be too firm for some. The upholstery fabric itself is soft, but the cushions beneath it are firm and springy.
In a nutshell
If you’re the type of person that likes to sink into your chair when you sit in it, the Mcombo 7286 may be your best option. Thanks to the power lift feature, you won’t need help when you need to stand up.
The best lift chair for short people
Bonzy Home Power Lift Recliner
The makers of the Bonzy Home Power Lift Recliner likely realized that a small-sized lift chair could be a big benefit in some situations. Bigger is not necessarily better in all cases, especially when there is a limited amount of room to work with. The width of this chair is five inches shorter than the standard recliner, and this means that it can fit into limited spaces. This, combined with its mechanical lift feature, may make it the ideal solution if you’re an elderly person of short stature.
- Small size. This lift chair is smaller than average, which helps it fit into limited spaces.
- Affordable price. It costs less than other lift chairs that have similar features.
- Firm, springy cushions. The seat’s built-in springs add firmness and durability.
- Side pocket. The side pocket’s main function is to hold the remote control, but it also makes a suitable storage location for magazines and books.
- Soft and durable natural linen upholstery. Linen is one of the strongest and most durable natural fibers.
- Package consists of two pre-assembled components. One component is the base, which includes all the mechanical parts of the chair. The other is the back, which snaps onto the base.
- Three-year warranty. Most lift chair manufacturers provide a one-year warranty, but Bonzy’s warranty is good for three years.
- Seat may be too narrow for some. The seat is only 20.5 inches across, which is small compared to standard recliners.
- Basic feature set. This chair won’t heat or massage you, but it will provide some assistance when you want to get up.
In a nutshell
Not everyone wants or needs a large recliner. This small-sized lift chair from Bonzy could be a perfect fit for homes that are not big enough for a full-sized one. Another bonus is that it is very competitively priced.
Buying guide for lift chairs
Safety features are important, especially if you’re of advanced age or shopping for an elderly loved one. Various safety mechanisms can stop lift chairs from tipping over and independent safety agencies test out lift chairs to make sure they are safe. When shopping for lift chairs, you may want to prioritize ones that have been tested and certified if safety is a concern.
If you measure the space where you intend to place your lift chair ahead of time, you won’t run into any surprises when you begin to install it. If you can’t accommodate a full-sized lift chair, you may still be able to fit in a smaller one.
Ease of assembly
Lift chairs are not as hard to put together as you might assume. Most of the time, the main parts of the chair come pre-assembled. Sometimes you don’t even need tools and all you have to do is slide the components in place. If you don’t want to bother with this, you may want to consider buying from a lift chair manufacturer that offers some type of assembly service option.
Extra electronic features
Some lift chairs come with built-in heating and massage features. If the chair you want doesn’t include these, you can compensate by purchasing some type of standalone massage device with your chair.
Lift chairs come with all the same types of upholstery that you’d find on standard recliners. If you appreciate the look and feel of leather, you can save money by purchasing a bonded leather lift chair. Bonded leather is very similar to actual leather, but it’s much less expensive. Polyester blend recliners are also fairly durable and easy to maintain. Fabric lift chairs tend to be softer, but these are usually not as long-lasting.
Side pockets and cup holders
Some people think that built-in cup holders reduce the aesthetic appeal of furniture, but others appreciate the convenience. Side pockets can also come in handy. Most lift chairs come with at least one side pocket, which can be used to store the chair’s remote control. Side pockets also make convenient storage locations for magazines, newspapers and e-readers.
Color and style options
Today’s lift chairs not only look just like ordinary recliners, but also come in all types of styles, ranging from conservative solid colors to more elaborate patterns. If style is a priority, shop around until you find the lift chair that suits your living room setup the best.
Warranty and customer support
It may be a good idea to read your prospective lift chair’s warranty closely before you commit. Most lift chair manufacturers require you to pay the shipping costs if you decide to send your chair back.
Small-sized lift chairs tend to be less expensive than full-sized lift chairs. That may be because less material is required to produce them. You can find good quality undersized lift chairs for around $350.
Fabric lift chairs cost around $400. Typical features common to mid-range lift chairs include quiet operation, anti-tip safety stops, built-in USB ports and cup holders.
Bonded leather lift chairs cost a bit more than fabric lift chairs, and they’re also more durable. Other high-end lift chairs come equipped with built-in heat and massage features. Expect to pay around $500 for a high quality premium lift chair.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Is it healthy to sleep in a lift chair?
A: You should consult a doctor to find out if sleeping in your lift chair is a good idea. It’s probably safe to use your lift chair for naps– and in fact, there may be some health benefits that you can enjoy from doing that. People with sleep apnea sometimes find that they can get better sleep in a recliner than they can get in an ordinary bed. On the other hand, if you use your lift chair as a bed, you may eventually develop knee and hip contractures. In other words, the muscles around your joints may tighten.
Q: Is it safe to use a lift chair’s armrests for support while attempting to stand?
A: Most lift chair manufacturers advise against this. You should use a cane or some other support tool when getting out of your lift chair instead.
Q: Will Medicaid cover the cost of my lift chair?
A: Coverage varies from state to state. Some states’ Medicaid program will cover the entire cost of the chair, while other states will only provide partial coverage.
- The slower your get into and out of your lift chair, the safer you’ll be. Taking as much time as you need to get up and sit down carefully will help prevent accidents from happening.
- Make sure that your lift chair fits your body size before you commit. If your lift chair isn’t sturdy enough to support your weight, you’ll put yourself in harm’s way each time you use it.
- The fact that you need a lift chair doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising. If anything, you should exercise more. Leg raises, wall pushups, toe lifts, shoulder rolls and hand exercises are just a few low impact exercises you can use to stay fit. Consult your doctor to develop an exercise routine that’s right for you.