Lift Chair Selection
Choosing the right chair size and features is critical to ensuring you receive a chair that is going to meet your needs.
- Weight capacity - You should try, if at all possible, to stay within 80% of the chairs maximum weight capacity. Remember that the weight capacity pertains to the overall weight distribution across the entire chair. If the chair is rated at 375lbs., that is the chair’s overall weight tolerance and for example does not mean that the footboard will support 375lbs.
- Distance from the floor to top of seat - Begin by ensuring that your feet are flat on the floor. As a point of reference there should be enough space behind your knee or calf to fit two fingers comfortably. Ideally the edge of the footboard should catch just above your heels. Excessive overhang may cause severe discomfort and damage the scissor mechanism on the lift chair. The floor to seat height should be measured from the bottom of one’s foot to the top of the back of the knee. If the floor to seat height is too tall it will cause your feet to dangle above the floor. A floor to seat height that is too small will cause your knees to become uncomfortably elevated and unsupported.
- Seat depth - With the knees bent your lower back should reach all the way to the back assembly without any leaning, stretching or scooching. With the customer in the seated position and their back and legs flush against the chair at a 90-degree angle you will be able to determine if the chair is an appropriate height. The seat depth should be measured from the bottom of the back of the knee to the base of one’s back. Too small of a seat depth will create a shorter leg extension and your feet will hang off the footboard too much when reclined.
- Seat width - The distance across your backside while in the seated position plus two inches will help determine if the chair will be too narrow or too wide for the customer. A hand should pass without resistance between the chair and your hips. Too large of a seat width will cause you to favor one side of the chair over the other. Remember that when you sit down your backside will spread wider than it is in a standing position. Too narrow of a seat width will cause you to squeeze into a restricted area. Over time this will cause undue stress on the arms and create problems with the chair’s operation.
- Recline Options - Lift chairs come in 3 different recline options.
- 2 Position Recline - 2 Position chairs have one motor that controls the back of the chair and the leg rest at the same time. This means that as the back reclines the leg rest will come up automatically. These chairs will typically recline to around 15 degrees which is appropriate for lounging and watching tv.
- 3 Position Recline - 3 Position chairs also have one motor but will recline to around 45 degrees which is ideal for napping.
- Infinite Position Recline - Infinite position chairs have two motors that operate independently to provide an infinite range of positions. You can raise the leg rest and adjust the back angle to suit your preference. The fully reclined position turns your chair into a comfortable place for napping. These chairs can recline to the trendelenburg position which will elevate your feet above your heart and is recommended for people with swelling in the legs and ankles. Some of these chairs also offer zero gravity positioning to neutralize pressure on the lower back.
Mechanical problems that can occur because of improperly “fitted” chairs:
- If a chair is too large for you it may cause the scissor mechanism to snap open abruptly or shut abruptly.
- If a chair is too tall and you must scoot back to the back of the seat, the foam in the seat may begin to bulge in the center over time.
- If you exceed 80% of the chairs capacity it is likely that damage will occur to the wooden framework, scissor mechanism and the lift frame over time.
- Uneven weight distribution - some consumers would prefer a chair that is much wider than they need. Perhaps you have a pet or child you want to be able join you in the chair or a place to set their things. The problem with a chair that is too wide is that the end user may favor one side of the chair over another causing uneven foam compression and in some cases uneven wearing of the scissor mechanism.
- If the seat is too narrow for the consumer, continuous pressure of the hips against the inside of the arms while either the chair or the consumer is in motion will cause the wooden arm frames to weaken or crack over time.
Variations in Occupancy
There are instances when a family will purchase a lift chair and they will share or change the occupancy. Unless all occupants are similar in size or body type, the chair may not perform the same as it would for the intended occupant.