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21 October 2021

How to buy the best riser recliner chair

The best riser recliner chairs are comfortable to sit in and easy to use. Find the perfect chair to relax in with our expert guide.
SM
Sam Morris
Recliner

Riser recliner chairs (also known as reclining chairs) aoffer a choice of positions to maximise your comfort and, by allowing you to get into and out of a chair without assistance, they help you maintain independent living.

Whether you need a riser recliner for mobility reasons, or simply to enjoy leaning back and putting your feet up at the end of a long day, it's worth taking time to choose the best model for your needs.

While it might be tempting simply to take some measurements and order a riser recliner from a catalogue or website, we'd always recommend trying before you buy if you can.

Once you've found the perfect fit, you can order your new chair from wherever offers the best price or most convenient delivery options.

The best riser recliner chairs - explore our expert guide

Video: how to buy the best riser recliner chair

How much does a good riser recliner chair cost?

While you can get basic riser recliner chairs for as little as £350 or so, the cheapest models are likely to be single-motor versions that don't let you control the back and footrest independently. 

Typical prices for dual-motor riser recliner chairs that we've tested range from £500 to around £2,000 but don’t assume you need to fork out a fortune to sit in comfort. 

Our cheapest Best Buys start from less than £1,000 - and we've found some riser recliners costing nearly twice as much that performed averagely at best in our tests.

The price you pay may also depend on the features and fabric you choose, as well as which company you buy your chair from, and it's always worth shopping around. 

Top five riser recliners - find the best your money can get.

Getting financial support to buy a riser recliner chair

If you need a riser recliner chair because of a medical condition or to help you live independently at home, you may be eligible to get one through your local authority.

Different local authorities have different rules around what they'll pay for, but your first step should be to contact your local council and book an assessment.

Your first step should be to contact your local council and book an assessment. You can find out more in the Which? Later Life Care guide to financing care at home.

If you have a mobility problem and you need special equipment to live independently you may also qualify for VAT exemption.

Visit the HMRC website for more information on VAT relief for disabled people.

Riser recliner chair reviews - see our full selection of expert reviews.

Do I need to buy a riser recliner chair?

5 riser recliner chairs

Not sure if you need a riser recliner chair yet? Use our simple checklist below to find out.

  • Do you ever have difficulty or require help getting up out of a chair?
  • Do you sometimes find it difficult to sit down on a chair or sofa?
  • Have you been advised by your doctor or nurse to elevate your legs when sitting down?
  • Do you tend to sit for long periods in the same chair?
  • Do you experience chronic pain and need to change your sitting position to get more comfortable?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you would probably benefit from using a riser recliner chair. However, as everyone's needs are different, there are a few other things to consider.

Do you have enough room for a reclining chair?

Riser recliner chairs are heavy and take up a lot of room, so you need to identify a permanent position for the chair and measure up carefully before you buy.

You’ll also need to allow for a gap behind the chair so it can recline fully without any obstructions. You can check the space needed on in our riser recliner reviews under the Tech Spec 'Space required behind chair'. As a general rule of thumb make sure there's at least a 60cm/24in space.

You can reduce the space needed by choosing a wall-hugging riser recliner chair. For more information on arranging furniture and other safety aspects, read our Which? Later Life Care guide on safety around the home.

Do you want to sleep in your riser recliner chair?

Although some chairs allow you to lie completely flat, they're not really intended for sleeping in for extended periods. If you have difficulty getting into bed, you should consider buying an adjustable bed or specially designed chair bed in addition to a riser recliner chair.

Do you have a serious back problem or medical condition?

If so, you may want to consider a specialist chair with extra built-in support or one with pressure-relieving features. Which? recommends that you seek the advice of an independent adviser to assess your particular needs before buying. You can find a local registered expert in your area on the College of Occupational Therapists website.

Alternatively, if you don't think a riser recliner chair will be necessary, but you'd like more information on the most comfortable and practical sitting arrangements for older people, check out the Which? Later Life Care guide to choosing the right chair.

The best riser recliner chair features to look out for

Once you've found a comfortable chair that's the right size for you, ask yourself these questions to help you choose the most suitable functions:

  • Leg rest - Do you want the leg rest to rise automatically as you recline, or would you prefer to control these movements independently of each other? If the latter, make sure you choose a dual-motor riser recliner chair.
  • Battery - Do you want a back-up battery that will let you move back to a neutral or standing position if there is a power cut?
  • Anti-crush - Do you want an anti-crush feature to prevent accidents owing to pets or small children getting underneath the mechanism before it moves? 
  • Chair shape - Would you like the seat and back to remain fixed in position as you recline? This can reduce the risk of friction or other damage to your skin as the chair moves.

Riser recliner features explained - we explain some handy features to make sure you get the chair that meets your needs.

Problems caused by ill-fitting riser recliner chairs

A comfortable chair will have support in the right places. 

For example, extra padding at the bottom to support your lower back, and at the top for your head. It will have a leg rest that supports your whole lower leg down to your heel and at the same height as your seat. 

The chair should be soft, but not so soft that you can feel the frame.

It's important to make sure the chair's measurements are a good 'fit' for your body. Think about:

  • Seat height: If a chair's too high, your feet won't be able to touch the floor, and this will put too much pressure on your back. Your legs could also start to feel uncomfortable. If it's too low, your legs won't be fully supported, and the backs of your thighs could start to ache.
  • Chair width: A riser recliner chair that's too wide won't properly support your sides and back, and you may feel less secure in the chair. 
  • Seat depth: If the seat's too deep, you won't be able to sit with your back fully supported down its length. Often, people who've made this mistake stuff cushions behind them, but this doesn't provide even support. You could also find that pressure builds behind the knees - not ideal if you have circulation problems.

Trying out riser recliner chairs

Just as you would with any other product, try out as many chairs as you can - there's nothing to stop you walking into several retailers to try out different chairs, even if you decide to have one built for you.

Disabled Living Centres (DLCs) are well worth a visit. These are a network of local centres that provide independent advice. Most are charities and may not sell chairs, but they're a good place to start to understand the range and styles offered, and to test out chairs on loan from manufacturers. 

Some retailers may even come to your home, so it's worth exploring that as an option too.

If your recliner isn’t right, not only will it be uncomfortable but it could cause you physical problems. It’s important to remember that most chairs will feel comfy when you first sit on them, but to be really sure about the comfort level you need to sit in one for about an hour.

As that's not very practical in a shop or showroom, the only way you'll really be able to tell is once you're using it at home. It's wise to check that the retailer has a good returns policy, so you can get a full refund should it prove unsuitable within a certain time limit, such as 28 days.

A mobility shop should have staff who can advise you on all kinds of equipment, including riser recliner chairs, as well as models you can try. This can be a good way of exploring what features would suit you, such as seeing if you want to pay extra for a waterfall back rather than a standard chair back.

You can read more about the different features on our riser recliner features explained page.

If you've got a particular model of riser recliner in mind, the manufacturer should be able to give you the names of mobility shops that stock your chosen reclining chair.

Whichever retailer you choose, check whether it's accredited by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA). BHTA members have to abide by a code of practice, approved by the Trading Standards Institute. This means they should be clear about pricing and not pressure you into buying or sell you something unsuitable.

To find out whether a company is BHTA accredited, you can check the BHTA website. Alternatively, look for a membership certificate in the shop or a BHTA logo on the company’s website.

Manufacturers have to comply with British standards, which means that all riser recliner chairs sold in the UK have undergone testing for strength and stability, and should give years of continuous use. Most manufacturers will also provide a warranty. But if you want extra reassurance that the chair you're buying is safe, comfortable and reliable, we'd recommend choosing a Which? Best Buy riser recliner.

Where to buy a riser recliner chair

Buying a riser recliner chair through a home visit

Some retailers offer a home service where a sales representative arranges a visit and brings a chair sample for you to try.  

You should expect the rep to show you ID on arrival and it's best to try and set a time limit for the visit so that you're not left exhausted at the end of it. If you do buy, insist on written information and a cooling-off period.

It's an idea to have a friend or relative with you for an appointment like this, so they can provide support if needed, and you can discuss your decision with them before deciding whether to buy.

Buying a riser recliner chair through a catalogue

If you're buying online, it's probably because you know you want a certain 'off the peg' rather than bespoke model. If you want to try a range of chairs before deciding - which we recommend you do - a disabled living or local equipment centre may be an option, depending on where you live in the UK.

When you're buying online, check out the company’s returns policy and, in particular, who is responsible for the cost of removing and returning the chair should you decide it’s not for you. You can check what your rights are under the Distance Selling Regulations on our Consumer Rights website.

Hiring a riser recliner chair or buying second-hand

It's possible to pick up a second-hand riser recliner chair from private sales websites such as eBay.

Remember that there's no guarantee that the chair is the right fit for you, though, so it's best to follow the same steps as if you were buying new. It's also possible to hire a chair from specialist companies such as Mobilityhire.com.

Wherever you decide to buy, it's worth taking a look at our reviews, as we test for comfort, whether you'll feel secure, ease of use, speed of operation and back-up battery, using a combination of lab-based and user tests - so check our riser recliner chair reviews before you buy.