The Ergohuman Series is a product that I have personally had extensive experience with. In fact, it is a major reason why BTOD (Beyond The Office Door) became a sustainable business. Timing is everything and when the Ergohuman series first launched, it became a success almost overnight. BTOD was one of the first online companies to offer this product and the product virtually sold itself. Over the past decade the Ergohuman has remained a popular choice for customers looking to add better ergonomics to their workspace. While the Ergohuman is a good chair, it isn’t perfect and does have its drawbacks. Depending on your needs it may not be a good fit. Today we will go over the top nine problems we have experienced since the chair launched, letting you ultimately decide if it’s a good chair for your office.
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Mesh Seat Lacks Support
Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that the ME7ERG remains the best-selling sku from the Ergohuman series. I sat in that model when it first came out and was unimpressed. The first few weeks were good, but after a while I noticed pain in my tailbone. After I would sit for about an hour, I began to slouch in the chair. This would flex the mesh material into my tailbone. Over time it became a constant pain.
Buying Tips: At the time the Ergohuman first came out there was the ME7ERG (all mesh) and the LE9ERG (all leather). Because we sold the chairs we were able to create the hybrid that would later be known as the LEM4ERG. This is the combination of the padded leather seat, with the mesh backrest and headrest. The padded seat provided much better support and the pain in my tailbone went away. If you sit with perfect upright posture, the mesh material will likely be okay.
Headrest isn’t “Really” Removeable
The Ergohuman series is made of three upholstery combinations and all of those models have the option to add a headrest. The headrest isn’t really a headrest though, it’s more of a neck roll, designed to fit inside the crutch of your neck. This provides support for your neck and head. Because of this design it will protrude out from the backrest and if you are too tall or too short it will become an uncomfortable annoyance. Some customers, over the years, have found they don’t like it after they have purchased the chair. They’ve then called to ask about removal.
Buying Tips: While it’s technically possible to remove the headrest, it leaves an awkward frame exposed. It’s the last thing you want after spending $600+ on a new chair. I’ve told customers over the years if you’ve never experienced a headrest, you will not miss this option. If you are below 5’2” and over 6’5” I would recommend avoiding this. For users under 5’3” you will find that the headrest hits against the back of your head, pushing your head forward. For users over 6’5”, the headrest will hit the top of your shoulders.
With the least expensive options starting at $600, the Ergohuman series is anything but a cheap chair. For many customers this price tag seems out of reach. There are a lot of “other” chairs available and even some Ergohuman knock offs that are closer to the $300-$400 range.
Buying Tips: While the Ergohuman is more expensive than a lot of other chairs on the market, its knock offs fail to capitalize on the Ergohumans comfort. It’s also important to know that the Ergohuman’s real competition is the likes of the Aeron and Leap chairs. These chairs retail for $900+ and the Ergohuman compares favorably to these products.
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The chrome base on the Ergohuman has been a standard feature on the chair since it first launched. We have had chairs in use at BTOD since that day. In fact, we recently just gave away our first LE9ERG. That chair had been put through it all, including sitting in it for much longer than the 40 hours a week recommendation on the warranty. One of the first things that started to wear on the chair was the chrome base. I personally sat in the chair and had a tendency to put my feet on the five star base while seated. The chrome started to show scratches pretty quick because of the rocks on the bottom of my shoes.
Buying Tips: Because this is the only option on the Ergohuman chair, you have to adapt to it if you want to protect the base. Wearing shoes that are only used within the office is an option. I started to use a footrest after a while, which allowed me to rest my feet in a more natural position. It also prevented me from resting my feet on the base all the time. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and putting my feet on the base was a natural progression of how I sit throughout the day.
Looks Like a Torture Device
I still remember some of the first calls I would get from customers. Especially the customers who I would recommend the chair to that had never seen it before. I would hear weekly “Man, that thing looks like a torture device,” and honestly I can’t really argue that point. With the flexible hinged back system, chrome tubes and the rounded shape of the seat/back frames it is certainly an acquired taste.
Buying Tips: If you need a chair with a ample lower support it’s hard to beat the Ergohuman. While part of the “torture device” design is the self-adjusting lumbar system, it provides consistent lower support. If you are within the height recommendations for the headrest it’s also a supportive feature. Instead of acting like a car’s headrest to prevent whiplash, it actually supports your neck and head. The Ergohuman might be an ugly duckling at first, but over time your improved posture will show it’s true beauty.
Made in China
The “Made in China” tag will scare some customers away. Products that are made in Asia are known to have less quality control and tend to be cheaper. While many Chinese manufacturers still test products with known ANSI/BIFMA standards, it’s generally only the parts of the chair. Things like the cylinder, casters and armrests are tested separately. In my opinion, quality products should be tested as a whole, after they have been put together.
Buying Tips: It’s known that US companies manufacturer in China to keep the costs down, but that isn’t the case with the Ergohuman chair. In fact, the designer of the Ergohuman chair resides in China and Taiwan. The Ergohuman was born and has continued to be produced in China. In the end this has definitely helped to keep the costs down on the chair. A similarly produced product in the USA would cost significantly more. Since we have been offering the Ergohuman from day one, we have seen quality issues quickly resolved. The United States supplier of this product, Raynor Marketing (Eurotech Seating), also offers one of the best warranties for mid-market office chairs. As long as you hold onto your proof of purchase, Raynor will replace everything on the chair (excluding foam/fabric) for the life of the chair. They cover the foam and upholstery for a period of five years.
Lumbar not “Adjustable”
The Ergohuman series is known for the design of its lumbar system and the incredible amount of adjustments that come standard on the chair. While the lumbar system can be adjusted vertically about 3”, the amount of pressure applied cannot. The lumbar support system protrudes out beyond the upper backrest and will hit your lower back before anything else on the chair. As you lean back into the chair it is self-adjusting, allowing you to sink into the upper backrest. This is definitely a one size fits all type of approach, not characteristic of a chair that is made to adjust to fit the user, not the other way around.
Buying Tips: You will either love this or hate it, there is no way around it. Personally, I really like the amount of the lower support offered by the Ergohuman. Depending on the backrest material you select (mesh or leather), the pressure you feel from the lower lumbar will vary. The mesh backrests found on the all mesh and mesh/leather combos of the chair are preferred in my opinion. They do a better job of flexing, spreading out the support through you lower back, rather than feeling specific areas of pressure from the leather backrest. If you like a firm lumbar system that you can feel in very specific areas, I would recommend the leather versions of the chair.
Back Angle Slightly Leaned Back
We haven’t had a lot of Ergohuman chairs returned over the past decade. Of the chairs we have had returned, it came down to an issue with the upholstery on the seat (mesh) or how the back rest did not go into a perfect upright position. The mesh backrests on the Ergohuman chairs will have a slightly slanted backward angle, most because of the way the upholstery is attached to the chair. This can be an annoyance, especially with how the lower lumbar pushes you out for the chair.
Buying Tips: While the mesh backrest models are preferred for numerous reasons, if you want a more vertical sitting position the leather backrest might be a better fit. Because of the added padding with the leather models, these will actually put you in a more vertical position. If you sit back in the chair properly they will actually provide a 90 degree sitting angle.
The Ergohuman series has continued to maintain its place of dominance in the Ergonomic seating category. This is largely due to an attractive price point and vast amount of ergonomic adjustability when compared to others in the seating industry. Unfortunately, it has its drawbacks and some of these problems might make it a bad fit for you. Having sold this product for over a decade, I have seen about all there is to see with a chairs life. We have countless original Ergohumans still in the field and that says a lot of about the product’s quality. If you’re looking for a product that adjusts to fit you at a price point that won’t break the bank, I highly recommend taking a closer look at the Ergohuman lineup.
Additional Office Chair Resources
- 5 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs For Back Support
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- Humanscale Freedom Headrest Ergonomic Chair Review
- Herman Miller Aeron vs. Herman Miller Embody: Which is best?
- Herman Miller Aeron Mesh Office Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)