Recliners and lift chairs: Are they the same thing?

Recliners and lift chairs: Are they the same thing?

Maybe you are here because you walked into a furniture store and saw some cozy chairs referred to as recliners and others lift chair and were not able to distinguish the two types. Or perhaps you’ve heard the two types from your buddies but can’t really tell which is which. Whether you want to buy one of them soon or are just curious to know the difference for the sake of it, you are at the right place. In the next couple of minutes of your time here, you’ll see if the two terms refer to the same thing or different things.

Let’s get to the kitty gritty; starting with the definition of a recliner.

What is a recliner?

A recliner is a chair that features a reclining back and an integral footrest. When you come home after a long day at work, you look forward to catching up with the latest TV news or movie in a relaxed position. A recliner seat or chair comes in handy to give you the most comfortable posture. You can incline it to an upright or flat position, depending on its respective design. All in all, any incliner can be adjusted to various positions.

Recliner chairs and sofas were originally mechanically operated using a lever system but with time, electricity-powered recliners weAppliancere innovated. Some electrically powered recliners can lift from the seating position to a vertical position by just button push. Such recliners are called lift chairs. Therefore, all lift chairs are recliners but all recliners are lift chairs.

What differentiates lift chairs from ordinary recliners?

Lifting capability

In addition to being used in upright or reclined sitting position, a lifting chair goes out of its way to turn its seating surface to vertical position within a press of a button, enabling its occupant to wake up quickly and easily without engaging the leg muscles. Basically, a lift chair has more positions and settings as compared to a regular recliner. Different parts of the chair can move separately for more customized positions.


As earlier mentioned, some recliners are operated mechanically through a lever system. On the other hand, as for lift chairs, all of them are operated using buttons and electrical movements instead of traditional lever adjustment. As such, a lift chair must be connected to a power source for you to reposition it. Therefore, lift chairs are easier to operate as compared to the ordinary recliner chairs.

Physician recommendation

Ordinary recliners are suitable for every one as their sole aim is to provide comfort. On the other hand, it is not advisable to use lift chair, especially the lifting function as it reduces the activity of your leg muscles. It is important to keep your muscles active, by standing or sitting on your own if you can because such exercises promote your health.

Lift chairs are primarily designed to offer sitting comfort to people with mobility problems resulting from old age and health issues like arthritis. Besides offering the comfort, the recliner chair enables these people to get up easily without escalating their leg, back pain or disorder.

We’ve already seen than power recliners, including lift chairs, are easier to use than the traditional recliners, and this their another plus for people with disabilities and the seniors with mobility challenges. They already have physical issues and so, adjusting levers is sort of a struggle to them. Lift chairs favor them as they don’t have to exert physical strength to operate them. Instead, they need to just press button to adjust the chairs to their ideal positions of comfort to get out of them hassle-free.

Insurance coverage

Lift chairs for people with mobility-affecting health concerns are treated as a medical necessity. As such, a portion of their acquisition costs can be reimbursed by an insurance cover, especially if bought after doctor’s recommendation. On the other hand, regular recliners are like any other ordinary furniture in your home or office. As such, there are not covered by medical insurance policies.


Due to their additional features and benefits, lift chairs are more expensive than normal recliners. Besides, the electrical components in the chair are more expensive to repair/replace in case they break or get worn out.


Unlike mechanically-operated recliner chairs, lift chairs are heavier and so, difficult to move from one place to another as compared to mechanically-operated recliner chairs. This is because the levers in the latter are lighter than the mechanical parts and motor within a lift chair.

Since a lift chair must be a power source for it to respond to button commands, it is normally restricted to specific places. In contrast, a lever recliner can be used anywhere because it doesn’t need electrical power.


Because of their mechanical operation, lever recliners experience more wear and tear as compared to lift chairs, thus a shorter lifespan.

Seat capacity

A recliner can be designed to accommodate one or more people. When it comes to a lift chair, it accommodates only one person.

Therefore, if you are having a medical condition that’s making it difficult for you to stand from a sitting position, a lift chair will be the better deal as compared to other incliners. However, it is important to consult your doctor to confirm if it’ll help in the improvement of your well-being or otherwise. Nevertheless, if you have to use a lift chair just for fun, avoid using the lift function to avoid making your legs less active as this might turn to be harmful than good.

If you just want a comfortable seat with leg support, even a regular incliner will be fine. However, having an electrically powered one is better as it will give you more settings for more customized postures.

Hopefully, you’ve now realized that a lift chair is a recliner chair with additional features. Therefore, depending on your needs, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when you start shopping for your ideal one. All the best!

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