Manual vs. Power Recliners: Differences You Should Know 

Blog Posts  |  Comparisons  |  Reviews  |  October 18, 2019

When shopping for recliners, people often ask us, “what are the differences between manual and power recliners?” Buying furniture is a significant investment. If your goal is to make your next purchase a staple in your home, you’ll want to make sure you make the right choice.

At La-Boy Ottawa and Kingston, we’ve helped thousands of people find the perfect recliner for their specific needs. There are a lot of recliner options available, but which one is right for you? Will you go with the manual version or are you willing to spend a little more and upgrade to a power recliner? In order to make this decision, It’s essential to understand the differences between power vs. manual recliners and what your options are. 

1. What is a Manual Recliner?

A manual recliner is a chair (loveseat, sofa or sectional) that when sat on can move you into a reclining position without the use of electricity.  The most common kind of manual recliner uses a lever to move it into position, but there are other types as well.

2. What kinds of Manual Recliners are available?

  1. The traditional rocker recliner: Uses a manual release lever and the weight and motion of your body to move the chair into position. It is for those looking to rock and recline with total body and lumbar support at all times.
  2. Push back recliners:  Has no lever; the reclining mechanisms are hidden. Use your body to push back and enjoy instant reclining comfort.
  3. Swivel Recliners: Allow you rock and relax with a twist. Face any direction with a simple turn, so you’re always part of the action. Or choose the comfort of a swivel glider recliner for a smooth, relaxing motion.
Manual vs power recliners
Manual vs power recliners

3. What is a power recliner?

A power recliner is a chair (loveseat, sofa or sectional) with built-in electrical components that can move you into a reclining position with the touch of a button. This type of motion recliner requires access to electricity or a battery pack.

4. What kinds of power recliners are available?

  1. Traditional power recliners: Uses a motor, or series of motors, to adjust and recline the chair into a comfortable position. It provides comfort and convenience simultaneously.
  2. Lift Recliners: For those that need mobility assistance, power lift recliners are a great choice. At the touch of a button, the lift chair lets you relax and recline. Then it securely assists you from a sitting to a standing position. For the ultimate in modern comfort look for heat and massage recliner lift chairs.
  3. Duo® power recliners: Powered backs and leg rests provide reclining positions at the touch of a button. The chair is inches from a wall to save space and looks like a stationary chair but performs like a recliner. Some people prefer this contemporary look to a traditional recliner.
Manual vs power recliners
Manual vs power recliners

5. Styles that both manual and power recliners offer


  1. Wall Recliners: Wall saver recliners let you kick back, even when placed close to a wall, making them perfect for small spaces.
  2. High Leg Recliners: Recliners that look like traditional chairs. With tall wooden decorative legs, they work well in a formal living room.

Manual vs power recliners
Manual vs power recliners

6. Manual Recliners Compared to Power Recliners



  • Manual recliners cost less than power recliners.  This is primarily because they do not have any motors inside the mechanism and thus cost less to make.
  • Power recliners tend to cost several hundred dollars more than the manual kind depending on the options you choose. 

Where you can place a manual and power recliner?

  • Always measure the space where you want to place your chair and make sure that you allow room for the leg rest to rise up and the back to recline. With that said a manual recliner can be placed anywhere in the room as they do not need a power source.
  • A power recliner will need to be placed next to an electrical outlet. If you prefer an electric recliner and there’s no power source nearby, a battery pack is an option.  This allows you to put a power recliner in the middle of the room, even when there is no power outlet nearby.  (That said, a battery pack will not last forever, and while they typically last for up to a week before requiring a recharge; if this is not something you are willing to do, a power recliner may not be for you in this scenario.)  
  •  A wall-hugging chair would make a good choice in a smaller space.

Ease of use:

  • Manual recliners are perfect for those looking to recline using a lever and or their body weight, with total body and lumbar support at all times. It’s important to note that La-Z-Boy Manual recliners can make a clunking noise when you release the handle and return it to its upright position. The sound it makes is completely normal!
  • Many people love the luxury of electric recliners. They are a good choice for those with mobility issues or older people who don’t have the body strength needed to push the recliner back. With the touch of a button, you can recline and lift your legs with ease. A USB port on power chairs can come in very handy when your device’s battery is low.
  • Although power recliners tend to be much easier to operate, the manual rocker recliner does have a shorter reach with its long handle option, helpful for those with shorter arms. Some retailers offer a left-sided handle for the lefty in the family, and you can also upgrade to a metallic arc handle for a prettier look. And of course, you could also choose the manual push back model, which has no handle at all.
Manual vs power recliners
  • NEW Power toggle control is a right side sitting panel. It contains all power adjustments with easy to use toggles. This new control panel comes with a home button, two memory settings, and a USB charging port. 

How to lock a La-Z-Boy recliner into place:

  • Power recliners have an unlimited number of leg and back movement options. When you take your finger off the button, the chair will lock into position. With the rocker recliner, you can choose from only three leg and three back locked reclining options.
  • Your Power recliners also tend to be very quiet. The manual chair will make some noise when bringing the chair back to the upright position.
  • Power recliners offer more recliner upgrades, such as a lift chair, lumbar & headrest and heat & massage.

Service:  (If something goes wrong)

  • Most recliner manufacturers offer a one year warranty on parts and fabric but these warranties vary from one company to another.
  • Both manual and power La-Z-Boy chairs have a limited lifetime warranty on mechanical, spring assembly, and frame parts.  There is less to go wrong when there are no motors, battery packs or remotes to worry about. La-Z-Boy Ottawa Kingston has additional warranty options.  
Manual vs power recliners
Manual vs power recliners

Watch the video below to find out how a power recliner gets power and  7 of the most common questions answered about La-Z-Boy power recliners.

Next Steps:

As you now know, there are many recliner options, each with its pros and cons. Whether you decide on manual or power, you now have the information needed to make an informed choice.

La-Z-Boy has over 90 years of experience in furniture; there’s a reason La-Z-Boy is the number one selling recliner in North America. The quality and variety of La-Z-Boy recliners will ensure you find the perfect match for your needs.

We’re happy to answer any of your manual or power recliner pricing questions at any of our La-Z-Boy locations in the Ottawa and Kingston area.

We also provide a complimentary in-home design service if you need help designing a room worthy of your new recliner chair. 


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Related Blog Articles:


How to find a recliner that’s the best fit for you

Top 5 Best Selling La-Z-Boy Recliners

Top 5 Best Selling Power Recliners


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