Why are Ergonomic Office Chairs so Expensive?

A few years back, I was in the market to buy a chair for my workspace. I had to search for various available options in the market. It appeared to me that most of the Ergonomic chairs are so expensive and overrated. If you have ever looked for an office chair online, you will undoubtedly find that there are many options online starting from $50.

Suppose you want to buy an ergonomic office chair. In that case, you will find that even the entry level chairs of this category cost around 200-300 dollars. You will also find ergonomic office chairs, which are over a thousand dollars as well. I used to think like aren’t they all just the things that we put our butts on? Then what’s about the hefty price range? And what kind of crazy person would spend like 1000-1500 dollars to buy an ergonomic office chair?

So I did lots of research on this over the years and found the answers to the question, why are ergonomic office chairs so Expensive?

Generally, ergonomic chairs so expensive that’s because designing a good quality ergonomic office chair often takes years, and it costs much money to implement ergonomic designs. Technically speaking, it involves years of research and development. Like testing materials, concept iteration, and inputs of many scientists, designers, technologists, and even healthcare professionals. This increases the manufacturing costs manifold. Eventually, the manufacturers generally have higher per-item costs, and they charge more for Ergonomic chairs.

What are the Factors that Increase The costs of Ergonomic Office Chairs?

There are lots of factors that are responsible for the Ergonomic chairs being so costly. The important ones are described as follows:

1. Cost of Research and Development:

Designing a good quality ergonomic office chair often takes years and costs lots of money to implement. Top Manufacturers of Ergonomic Office chairs like Steel case, Herman Miller, etc., spend lots of time and resources on their top tier ergonomic office chairs.

The Steelcase leap chair’s development took almost five years of research and around 35 Million dollars to develop and get to the market. It also involved eleven academic studies as well.

Similarly, on Chairs like Herman Miller Aeron or Embody chair took lots of resources in their R&D phase. They also spent millions of dollars and years of time after the designs of these ergonomic chairs. In the R&D phase, the manufacturers focus on posture and positioning of the spine and pelvis.

Manufacturers have to charge more for their Top tier ergonomic chairs as they use much more resources and time in the R&D phase for these chairs. Normal chairs do not require such expensive research; thus, they are cheap and ergonomic chairs are not.

2. Cost of Testing Methods:

Most ergonomic office chair manufacturers put their chair design through rigorous testing methods for testing function, durability, and build quality. There are several types of materials that are used in Office Chairs.

For Example, Leather, Fabric, Mesh, Vinyl, etc. The manufacturers spend lots of time testing these materials and do lots of surveys to collect opinions from people and health experts to choose materials for the Ergonomic Office chairs.

They have to test everything in several ways to come up with the best suitable design, materials, and functionality to use for their chairs, which increases the cost eventually. An example of testing these chairs is the ISO 21015 test for office chairs. T

his test determines the durability, strength, functionality, and stability of an office chair by applying various standardized simulations of practical use.

3. Costs of taking Inputs from Healthcare Professionals:

While designing the Ergonomic chairs, the manufacturers seek help from professionals like chiropractors. They develop ergonomic chairs by learning about proper sitting postures, contractions of sitting muscles, lumbar support, and pressure distribution.

They finally incorporate this knowledge into the chairs’ design, enabling these office chairs to be appropriately ergonomic.

5. More Features Adds Extra Costs:

Most Ergonomic office chairs are popular for having lots of adjustable features in their design mechanism that lets you easily adjust lots of things. This feature allows the chair to adjust to your body type, work conditions, and personal preference. The standard adjustable features of a good Ergonomic Features are:

  • Adjustable Headrest
  • Adjustable Lumbar Support
  • Adjustable Armrests
  • Adjustable Height
  • Tilting Option
  • Rotation or Swivel etc.

You can get all these features only in ergonomic office chairs. Ordinary chairs usually don’t have these adjustable features. Adding all these adjustable features increases the cost of manufacturing ergonomic office chairs, making this one of the causes for which ergonomic chairs are so expensive.

Manufacturers do not spend many resources on Non-ergonomic Chairs. Thus you can get non-ergonomic chairs at a lower price than the ergonomic ones. But for the above mention factors, the manufacturing cost of the Ergonomic Chairs is higher. For this, the Ergonomic Chairs are so expensive.

What’s so Different About an Ergonomic Office Chair, Compared to any Ordinary Chair?

I have already mentioned the adjustable features that an ergonomic office chair has. Non-ergonomic office Chairs actually do not have most of these features. Besides, there are also many other differences between Ergonomic and other types of chairs. They are as follows:

No.Ergonomic ChairOrdinary Chair
1.Promotes active sitting.Do not promote active sitting
2.Have all the adjustable featuresDo not have enough adjustable features.
3.Supports back and lumbar properlyDo not Support back and lumbar properly.
4.Good for prolonged sitting sessions.Good for short sitting sessions
5.Fixes postures and can relieve back pain due to sitting for long hours.It can cause back pain and bad posture due to a lack of proper back and lumbar support.
6.Comparatively expensiveComparatively Cheaper
7.Comfortable for people who have long desk jobs.Uncomfortable for people who have long desk jobs.

Final Thoughts:

If you have to sit for long hours in your office chair or have a desk job, you should get an ergonomic Office chair. Consider this as a long-term investment. If you buy a cheap 50 dollar office chair, it will not last for long, and you will have to replace it after one or two years.

A good ergonomic office chair lasts for 10-15 years while being used continuously for an average of 40 hours work week. So buying a cheap non-ergonomic office chair ends up costing you more in the end.

Also, cheaper chairs are not comfortable and not designed ergonomically. Sitting for a long period in an uncomfortable chair in a strained position can lead to several health issues like back pain. Thus, a chair should be comfortable and adjustable as well. I am not saying you should spend more than thousands of dollars for an ergonomic office chair.

You can find a good ergonomic office chair for a few hundred dollars right now. So if you are going to buy a chair for business use or work from home, and you spend about 6-8 hours daily sitting in it, you probably should spend a little bit more money to get a good quality ergonomic chair for the long term.

Thanks for reading! Before you go, take a minute out and check out my top recommendations for Ergonomic Office Chairs.

Asif Iqbal

Hi, I’m the co-owner of officechairtrends.com. I had spend hundreds of hours researching on Office Chairs. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned about office chairs.