Laid Back: Exceptional Values in Recliners

Full Recline • Semi-Recline • Powered Models

Power recliners soon will make up a majority of the recliner market, and the latest power mechanisms deliver more ergonomic support than ever before. Meanwhile, manufacturers are adding USB ports and gel-infused foam.

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Are you looking for a new way to relax? You’ll be pleased to know that the recliner market is keeping up with the times. From sleeker lines to lower priced battery packs to built-in technological amenities that are geared toward the connected crowd, today’s recliners are more tailored, functional and versatile than ever before.

The most significant change in the market is that almost all recliners now can be customized. Previously, we found that about half of the recliners that were on the market could be upgraded to include a leather cover, a lift function or a power-reclining mechanism. Today, you can upgrade almost any recliner to include any base, cover or function that you want, says Chuck Tidwell of manufacturer Franklin.

“Choose a chair silhouette and design it your way,” Tidwell says. “Four years ago, there wasn’t this much sophistication in the recliner category.”

Granted, if you choose a more sophisticated base, cover or function, then you’ll pay more. Experts tell us that the increase in options accounts for the market climbing to $4.7 billion in sales in 2015, compared with $3.9 billion in 2012, according to Furniture Today, which is a trade publication. We found that premium recliners typically have a base price that’s $200–$400 more expensive than were base prices 5 years ago. However, what’s good news is that we found that the base prices of economy and midrange recliners haven’t changed much.
POWER SURGE. The 10 experts whom we interviewed say more models of power recliners are on the market than ever before, and the market will continue to shift in the direction of power. Erin Berg of Furniture Today says the market is “about 60 percent manual and 40 percent power.” She expects power models to make up a majority of the recliners market in 3–4 years. In 2012, we found that power recliners made up roughly 30 percent of the market. We also noted that manufacturers were introducing power-reclining elements into love seats, sectionals and sofas.

La-Z-Boy, which is one of the largest U.S. recliner manufacturers, is shifting to power even faster than are other manufacturers.

“As of right now, over 90 percent of our reclining products have a power option,” says Paula Hoyas of La-Z-Boy. “In fact, by April 2017, all of our reclining products will have the power option.”

All 10 experts expect the price of power recliners to fall by at least $100 in the next 2–3 years. Nonpower push-back recliners now start at $299, compared with $399 before, and power upgrades cost as little as $100, which is the same as before, says David Jaros of Lane Furniture.

Power is more prevalent because of less expensive optional cordless battery packs that make it so more power recliners can sit in any part of a room and not just in a corner or by a wall that has an electric outlet. Optional rechargeable cordless battery packs now start at $85, compared with $299 before.

“With rechargeable power packs now providing hundreds of open-and-close cycles before requiring a recharge, the need to plug your recliner into the wall is considered old tech today,” says Dixon Bartlett of Norwalk Furniture. We found that it typically takes 8 hours to recharge a battery pack.

Today, power recliners also allow you to adjust more parts of the chair than ever before. In the past 3 years, we’ve seen more power headrests (on models that start at $799, compared with $900 before) that can be set to whatever position that you find most comfortable. We found that this is a handy feature if you want to tilt your head up to watch TV or read and relieve some of the stress that’s on your neck while you recline. Manufacturers also are adding power headrests to lay-flat power-bed chaise lounges. If you’re like us, it won’t take you long to fall asleep.

In the past 3 years, we also have seen the introduction of power lumbar support (on models that start at $1,199), so you can provide your back with as much support as you want. We like this feature, because we tend to arch and strain the small of our back when we recline without any lumbar support.

“Lumbar support is important for back-pain relief, even if you’re in a recliner,” Dr. Paul Cooke, who is a physiatrist with Hospital for Special Surgery, tells Consumers Digest. “Recliners lessen the strain on your lumbar discs and can improve circulation, [because]  your legs are slightly elevated.”

Ergonomics also play a role in how you control the power. Many of the latest recliners in all price ranges have sleek armrests. Unless you have long arms, we found that it can be tricky to reach over an overstuffed armrest to get to the recliner controls.

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