Types of Electric Chairs

Technology and furniture design meet in today’s electric chairs. With new and exciting options coming out every year, let’s take a look at the different types of electric chairs you’ll find in your search.

These are chairs that employ some element of technology to provide additional features or benefits to the user. In this article, we'll look at the various types of electronic chairs to help you decide which one is best for you.

An Overview of Electric Chairs

Chairs equipped with electrical features often have added benefits as well. In some cases, they are meant to be relaxing, like the power of a massage chair. In other cases, they are meant to be helpful.

Electric wheelchairs help those who are not mobile to get around easier. Power lift chairs help those who cannot stand up on their own to get out of the chair without straining themselves.

The features that electricity adds allows your furniture to work for you in ways that classic designs never could. Read on to find out how these types of chairs can help you or the other people in your life.

4 Types of Electric Chairs

In many cases, electric chairs have some sort of mobility or movement that is powered by a mechanism in the furniture. Here are the four major types of electric chairs:

​Power Recliners

Power recliners have the same comfort as traditional ones but offer an automated reclining mechanism. While other types of recliners usually have a lever, these will recline into a position for you at the push of a button.

The electric mechanism will position the back and footrest for you.

​Electric Wheelchairs

Electric wheelchairs are an excellent choice for those who can’t walk on their own but still want to be mobile. These chairs can offer a lot of freedom and are powered entirely by an electric motor. The user can drive the chair with a simple steering mechanism on the armrest.

An Image of Culver Electric Wheelchair for Types of Electric Chairs

The motor is powered by a battery, which will require a recharge after a certain number of miles based on the model.

​Massage Chairs

Massage chairs are a luxury form of electric chairs that allow you to enjoy a full body massage without ever leaving your house. Depending on your budget, there are several different types of massage chairs that offer varying levels of features and benefits.

An Image of Kahuna LM6800 Massage Chair for Types of Electric Chairs

High-end massage chairs have incredible features like zero gravity reclining that positions your body into the ideal position to take pressure off your spine. Other features like heated lumbar support and airbag massages give you the feeling of human hands on your muscles. 

With plenty of automatic programs that allow you to choose a massage technique, you can simply sit down and let the chair do the work. If you want a specific type of massage that focuses on a part of your body, you can customize the experience as well.

​Power Lift Chairs (Risers)

If you are someone or you know someone who struggles to get out of chairs, then a power lift chair could be a great solution. Whether its an injury or simply old age that affects your mobility, these chairs help ease your back into a standing position.

An Image of Giantex Recliner Power Lift Chair for Types of Electric Chairs

These recliners have motorized bases that push the chair up and forward when you’re ready to stand up. The slow movement allows you to gradually enter a standing position. For people who can’t put a strain on their back, this chair does all of the heavy lifting

​What to Look for in Your Electric Chairs

When you’re looking for an electric chair, it’s important to first consider your needs. Normally chairs are used for sitting or relaxing, but these types of chairs do something for you. Try asking yourself some of these questions:

Do I Need More Mobility?

If your goal is to improve mobility, then you should look at motorized wheelchairs and potentially risers.

Being confined to a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t go places. If you consider the weight capacity, speed, battery life, and turning radius of your electric wheelchair, you can find an option that lets you get around easier.

When you’re looking at risers or power lift chairs, consider the different options. Some have two basic positions, while others have multiple positions or can make the back and footrest move independently.

Do I Need to Relax More?

If you find yourself tensed or experiencing muscle pain constantly, a massage chair could help. People who work in offices often sit for long hours, which can be detrimental to long-term health.

When you’re looking for a massage chair it’s important to recognize what you want from it. For example, if you have poor circulation, you should look for chairs with airbag massage techniques. This type of massage helps to encourage blood flow.

If you have a lot of tension on your shoulders or lower back, look for massage chairs that offer heated lumbar support and auto programs which focus on these areas of your body.

Do I Want a Comfortable and Relaxing Chair?

Every living room deserves a sitting chair that is comfortable and reliable. For many, this is a recliner that you can fall into after a long day. Power recliners are a great option for this type of need.

Standard recliners usually require a lever to pop out the footrest and recline the back part of the seat. Power recliners will automatically adjust the angle of the footrest and backrest for you.

The Power of Electric Chairs

When we combine technology with furniture we get the different types of electric chairs on the market. These chairs fulfill specific purposes in a way that no standard piece of furniture ever could.

Whether you need a relaxing massage, the ability to get around easier, or a relaxing recliner that lets you unwind after a long day, electric chairs are a great fit.


A Grim History of Electric Chairs 

While these aren't used as much in modern society, the types of electric chairs used in the past for capital punishment are a terrifying part of United States history. 

Let's take a look at the types of electric chairs used throughout history for execution of criminals sentenced to death. We’ll also examine some terrifying facts about how these chairs function, and how modern methods are replacing this form of punishment. 

Electric Chairs for Execution: How It All Began

The origins of the electric chair date back to the late 1800's when arc lighting was taking root as a method of outdoor street lighting. Since this type of technology required a lot of voltage, it caused numerous accidents where people were electrocuted.

A specific incident at a Brush Electric Company resulted in the death of a drunken dock worker. The immediate death he experienced caught the attention of coroner and eventually Alfred P. Southwick, who was a dentist at the time.

An illustration from the June 1888 issue of the magazine, Scientific American, announcing the introduction of electric chair as a new form of execution.

He teamed up with a doctor by the name of George E. Fell and the head of the Buffalo ASPCA to develop a method of euthanizing animals via electricity. This eventually led to the concept of using it on humans as a more humane method of execution. Up to this point, the primary method of capital punishment was hanging, which was a gruesome method.

The first person to be executed by electric chair was William Kemmler in 1890. Kemmler was convicted of murder of Matilda Ziegler, his lover at that time. The chair used was designed in New York by Edwin R. Davis.

His original design was quite similar to the one we know today. It’s had two electrodes made from metal disks, rubber, and a damp sponge. The first execution was a 700-volt charge that lasted for seventeen seconds before failing.

Unfortunately, Kemmler was not dead after this first attempt. A second charge of 1,030 volts was used for a full two minutes after that. This was enough to finally carry out the sentence, but it was a rather gruesome scene. Witnesses reported burned clothing, smoke coming from his head, and the autopsy revealed that the electrode on his back had burned down to his spine.

Some people applauded the new method, while others were not convinced that it was anymore humane. Over the next few decades, new states began to utilize this type of electric chair. The first several states included Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia in the early 1900's.

This was the primary form of execution in the United States until the 1980's when lethal injection was developed as an alternative method. Certain states will allow inmates to choose between lethal injection or the chair.

The last time the electric chair was used to carry out capital punishment was in 2013 when Robert Gleason Jr. chose it over lethal injection in Virginia.

Image of New Mexico's only eletrci chair

Electric Chairs Around the World

In other parts of the world, the electric chair was used for brief periods of time.

During a period in 1966, electrocutions stopped in the United States, but this was when the Philippines started experimenting with the method. In May of 1972, execution of three people was publicly shown as three prisoners convicted of rape were executed via electrocution. 

The United Kingdom also looked at the electric chair as a better option than hanging. They also considered lethal injection, gas chambers, or shooting. Ultimately, the country decided that none of these options were better than hanging.

In 1964, the U.K held its final execution. After this, the government took away capital punishment for murder as an option, thus ending the debate once and for all.

The Man Who Engineered Electric Chairs

Jay Allen Weichert passed away in 2016, but for over twenty years prior to that, he had been responsible for engineering and building all the electric chairs used in the United States. He kept this part of his life to himself, only expressing to friends and family that he was simply an engineer.

Weichert was born in Arkansas in 1943 and had an interest in machines from an early age. In the 1960's, he invented the dryness sensors we still use today in clothes dryers. This propelled him into his own engineering business.

In the 70's, the state of Arkansas called him to see if he would be interested in building them an electric chair. He built and tested the design on a hog before submitting it to the government for use in capital punishment.

John Swindler was the first inmate to die in the chair on June 18, 1990. Wiechert began creating electric chairs for all the states after this. He was also used as an expert testimonial in many court cases to explain the humane nature of the method. While he did speak out on the subject numerous times, Wiechert was not a proponent of the death sentence. He only did it for his love of engineering and didn’t have any political motivations behind his creations.

Weichert also used his talents to create tools that helped people. One example was a machine that allowed a quadriplegic woman to cut cables in a factory.

Electric Chairs Today

Today, eight states still allow the use of the electric chair to execute criminals, while 24 other states rely on lethal injection as their primary method of execution.

When lethal injection is used, the inmates are strapped to a gurney and are given a lethal dosage of drugs. It was first used in 1977 in Oklahoma. This method is thought to be more humane because the inmates are sedated before they die. Nonetheless, the exact method is still under debate.  

While some states still use electrocution, the types of electric chairs used for execution haven’t changed very much since the original design.

Inmates who prefer the electric chair are given that option, depending on the state. Unless the modern method of lethal injection is outlawed, it’s more than likely we won’t see any more types of electric chairs in the future. 

RELATED ARTICLES


  • Chair Institute
  • March 21, 2018
  • Library
>
Tweet
Share
Pin
Reddit
+1