Most of the office chairs available today include multiple ergonomic and support features or functional improvements as compared to office chairs of the past. The top of the line ergonomic computer or task chairs built today may seem to have more levers and office chair adjustments than a small plane. If you happen to own the Piper 4000 office task chair this article is not for you, you may want to locate your manual for additional help locking the tray table in the upright position.
For those who own or are looking to purchase a base to mid-range office chair in the future, I hope this list assists you in your selection or operation of your office chair.
Pneumatic Seat Height Adjustment:
Most office, computer, task, ergonomic and even executive chairs offer this function. Quite simply this describes how the seat height is raised or lowered. A pneumatic cylinder is attached to the chairs mechanism located under the seat cushion. This cylinder allows for quick and easy adjustment throughout a specified height range. This adjustment is often accomplished through the use of a paddle or lever located underneath the seat cushion on either the right or left side of the chair.
Tilt with Adjustable Tilt Tension:
Manufacturers may sometimes list tilt and tilt tension adjustment as two separate functions. We feel that these office chair controls are closely related and the fact that you almost can’t have one without the other, to be reason to treat them as one feature. Most types of task, computer, and executive chairs feature tilt with adjustable tilt tension. Tilt is what enables the user to rock or recline backward to a set limit defined by the chairs mechanism or control plate. The tilt tension adjustment is modified by turning a usually large round knob found underneath the seat toward the front of the chair. (Some chair manufacturers are moving the tilt tension control to a lever or dial elsewhere on the chair, but most are still located in the front.) The tilt tension knob will increase or decrease the amount of force needed to make the chair rock or recline backward. Usually, several turns of the tilt tension knob are required to loosen or tighten the tension to a noticeable level.
This function sounds easy but you would be surprised at how many people have difficulty with this, and it’s not always their fault. One of the problems with tilt lock is that not all manufacturers use the same lever or put the lever in the same area to control this function leading to various ways a chairs tilt lock adjustment could be modified. Consulting your chairs owners manual is always the best practice to help familiarize your self with your chairs specific controls. In general, some manufacturers may use levers or paddles like the ones used for seat height adjustment to control tilt lock, or many use a single lever or rod that needs pushed in or pulled out to lock or unlock the tilt of the chair. Usually, once a chair is locked in a tilt position it cannot be unlocked until the user reclines or tilts back a few degrees further relieving pressure from the lock bar or pin so that the chair may be reset back to the original position. Tilt lock is also used to lock out tilt completely when the chair is in the upright position.
(2-to-1) Synchro Tilt:
A lot of computer and task chairs offer this feature. Basically, this office chair control allows the backrest to recline twice as fast as the seat cushion or at a 2-to-1 ratio, this allows the user to recline while keeping their seat relatively level to the floor instead of the traditional “rocking chair” type recline.
Back Height Adjustment:
Many computer, task, ergonomic and drafting chairs now offer this feature. Back height adjustment allows the user to position the backrest’s lumbar support area within a fixed range for customized support. Back height adjustment is often modified by turning a know located on the backrest stem or frame. Once this knob is loosened the backrest can be raised or lowered to the desired position, then the knob is tightened to hold the position. Ratchet back height adjustment is also becoming more popular with some newer models of office chairs, this eliminates the use of a knob and is set or controlled by simply raising or lowering the backrest to the desired level and then locked into position by use of the ratchet style frame stem. Of course, there are many other chair functions available on the market and depending on your personal preference, the daily amount of time spent in a chair, and your intended use you may need or want an office chair with more ergonomic controls or features. If so, please follow the link at the bottom of the page for more information and a large selection of available ergonomic office chairs. Your office chair is your home away from home, so proper support and comfort are a must.
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President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.