August 7, 2023 | Natalie Webber

What is a single motor riser recliner chair? Your ultimate guide

Are you in the early stages of researching rise and recline chairs and want to understand the various mechanisms? Confused by all the terminology?

In this guide, I aim to explain, in detail, exactly what a single motor riser recliner chair is and how they work, so you finish knowing whether it might be a suitable option for you.

Here’s 3 things you’ll know in approximately 3 minutes time:

  • What it does and how they work
  • What each type is used for
  • What sizes, weight limits and options are available

Riser Recliner Chair

What is a single motor riser recliner?

As the name suggests, a single motor rise and recline chair has one motor. This motor powers both the footrest and the backrest so, when you use the recline function, they move in one fixed action (more on that below).

There is a common misconception that having a single motor means an armchair only has a recline function. In fact, unless you choose a recline only model, the motor also powers a rise function.

Types of single motor riser recliner and how they work

Because there’s only one motor, you may assume a single motor chair mechanism can only ever work one way. There are, however, some model variants which change how the chair moves. It’s important you know the difference because each type is best suited for different applications. So, let’s have a good look at each.

Standard Single Motor – sometimes called 1 motor 3-way

Standard Single Motor Positions

This moves in a similar way to a typical manual TV recliner. As you raise the legrest, the angle between the seat and backrest will increase, so your back will recline slightly. Once the legrest has reached its highest (horizontal) position, the backrest will then recline to its full extent, around 45 degrees.

Sitting back upright works in the opposite way: the backrest comes forward, followed by the legrest lowering. From a sitting position, the chair rises at an angle (around 20 degrees) to a point where it feels comfortable for you to stand up from. If you leave the chair in its raised position, you can then gently lower yourself down in the chair the next time you sit down.

Single Motor Tilt-in-Space (TIS) – sometimes called 1 motor 2-way

Single TIS Motor Positions

With a tilt-in-space mechanism, the whole seat tilts to keep the seat to back angle fixed as the chair reclines. This maintains your body position, with your hip angle held at 90 degrees as you recline. This prevents shear and friction and distributes your weight evenly. For this reason, OTs sometimes recommend a single TIS riser recliner. To make the right choice, however, you should have a holistic needs assessment.

You may also hear Single TIS referred to as 1 motor 2-way and see these terms used interchangeably. There can, however, be a slight difference in the way the chair tilts as it reclines.

The fully reclined position of a single TIS mechanism is less than a standard single motor, but it does give greater leg elevation.

Depending on the seat dimensions you require, you may have an option called Variable Angle Lift (VAL). This gives you a choice of 3 lifting angles, providing more or less support as you stand up from the chair.

Single Motor Wall-hugger

Single Motor Wall Hugger Positions

This enables you to recline with very limited wall clearance. It moves similarly to a standard single motor but, as it reclines, the chair slides forwards and slightly upwards on its frame. This has the effect of moving the chair away from the wall behind you, so you only need around 6 inches of clearance.

Again, the fully reclined position of a wall-hugger mechanism is less than a standard single, but it gives greater leg elevation. There is no difference in the rise function between standard and wall-hugger models.

There is a newer variant of wall-hugger mechanisms which adds a tilt-in-space action. This offers smoother movement and better stability than traditional a wall-hugger action.

Controls of a single motor riser recliner

A single motor riser recliner will typically have a handset with just two buttons. One button controls the rise function, and one controls the recline function. Some may also have an On/Off button, reset button or an optional key lock.

What each type of single motor riser recliner is used for

A standard single motor is ideal if you need a simple riser recliner chair that provides a comfortable resting position, as well as support to stand up.

The purpose of a single TIS motor is to provide pressure relief and prevention. Its fixed angle recline supports your lower back and also allows higher leg elevation.

Because a single motor wall-hugger rise and recline chair moves within its footprint, it can provide a solution where there’s not enough room for other models. It does, however, push the legrest out further into the room.

This is a brief overview of what each type of single motor riser recliner chair is best for, but we’ll cover this in more detail in other articles.

Sizes and weight limits of a single motor riser recliner

The way the various single motor mechanisms work means they are built into different frames, with varying weight capacities. Most single motor riser recliners will have a safe working load of either 95kg (15st), 130kg (20st) or 160kg (25st).

Single motor riser recliner chairs are available in both standard and made to measure sizes. Depending on the mechanism, dimensions available are:

  • Seat height: 14-20 inches
  • Seat width: 16-28 inches
  • Seat depth: 16-20 inches

If you need a made to measure rise and recline chair, discuss what sizes and configurations are available to meet your needs in your seating assessment. For example, optional seat depth reducer pads may provide for a seat depth of just 14 inches.

If it’s single motor, are there any options to choose from?

The short answer is yes. While there’s a more limited range of movements than a dual motor, you can choose a range of options and accessories for a single motor rise and recline chair.

You have the same choice of upholstery options (there are hundreds!). We’ve covered sizing options, including that it’s possible to have a made to measure single motor riser recliner.

You should also be able to select from a host of other options and accessories, according to your needs. These will typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Backrest style
  • Pressure relief seat cushions
  • Battery back-up
  • Protective covers like arm-caps

OK, we’ve given you a lot of information to digest, but you should now have a solid understanding of single motor rise and recline chairs. You may still have questions about your particular needs, which is why we are always on hand to give you friendly, honest advice.



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