I’m excited for the opportunity to compare two of the most iconic ergonomic chairs; the Herman Miller Aeron and Humanscale Freedom. While no chair is quite as recognizable as the Aeron, the Freedom chair, by Humanscale, is still near the top of that list.
While these chairs may have their obvious aesthetic differences, they do share some similarities as well. Which chair is best for you? In this comparison, we will be taking a closer look at each to help you decide.
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Aeron vs. Freedom Links
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Scope of Users
– Seat Comfort
– Back Support
– Armrest Comfort
– Ergonomic Adjustments
– Upholstery Options
– Bottom Line
|Aeron (size B)||Freedom w/ Headrest|
|Country or Origin||USA||Mexico|
|Overall Dimensions||27”D x 27”W x 36.5-41”H||26.75”W x 26”D x 48.2-53”H|
|Seat Height Range||16” – 20.5”||16” – 21”|
|Base Dimensions||27” Diameter||26” Diameter|
|Seat Dimensions||17”W x 16.75”D||20”W x 17.5”-19.5”D|
|Back Dimensions||21.5”W x 22”H||18”W x 20.9”H|
|Distance Between Arms||17”||19” Standard / 18″-21″ Adj.|
|Arm Height from Seat||5.5 -9 .75”||2.5” – 8.75”|
|Weight Capacity||350 lbs.||300 lbs.|
|Chair Weight||41 lbs.||38 lbs.|
|Aeron Chair||Freedom Chair|
|Fabric Options||N/A||$0 – $190|
|Leather Upgrade||N/A||$750 – $1570|
|Frame Options||$0 – $260||$0 – $160|
|Base Options||Included w/ Frame||$0 – $115|
|Add Fixed Arms||Included||N/A|
|Add Height Adjustable Arms||$100.00||$20.00|
|Add Fully Adjustable Arms||$160.00||$110 – $200|
|Adjustable Lumbar Support||$75.00||N/A|
|PostureFit Lumbar Support||$95.00||N/A|
|Tilt Limiter with Seat Angle||$100.00||N/A|
|Hard Floor Casters||$50.00||$16.00|
|Gel Seat Pad||N/A||$53.00|
Herman Miller offers a 30 day return policy on the Aeron. If you wish to return your chair, Herman Miller will cover the costs of the return shipment and will give you a full refund. It is recommended that you use the original packaging, but Herman Miller will still work with you on a return if you do not have it.
Humanscale chairs are made to order and cannot be returned.
Herman Miller includes a 12 year warranty on the Aeron chair. There are no parts on the chair that are excluded from the 12 year period. The warranty is valid for 24/7, round the clock use. The size A version is covered for 300 lbs. Sizes B and C are covered for people up to 350 lbs.
If a chair needs to be repaired, the costs will be covered by Herman Miller. They will also send on-site technicians to make repairs, depending on what’s needed and your location. Herman Miller’s warranty is one of the best in the entire office industry.
Humanscale seating products come with a 15-year, 24/7 rating warranty on all seating components. This includes frames, cylinders, casters, base, etc. Humanscale upholstery, cushions and arm pads are covered for a period of five years. It is a single shift warranty on the upholstery, cushions and arm pads.
Shipping & Assembly
The Aeron chair comes with a big advantage for those not wanting to assemble their chair. When ordered in smaller quantities, Herman Miller will ship your new Aeron fully assembled. Because they use a common carrier like FedEx or UPS, you can expect for it to be brought to your door or office suite.
The Freedom chair doesn’t come fully assembled, but it is very close. With the upper half of the chair fully assembled, you’ll need to drop the cylinder into the base and set the upper half of the chair onto the cylinder. Like the Aeron, the Freedom ships via common carrier which will bring the chair to your door.
See The Best Office Chairs For 2020
After months of testing 20+ office desk chairs, the results are in!
The Aeron is the number one ranked chair for build quality with a 95/100. The Freedom wasn’t ranked as high, but still found itself in the top five, with a score of 88/100. The Freedom tied with the Steelcase Gesture chair at number four overall. Both Aeron and Freedom featured componentry designed and made specifically for each chair. There weren’t any off the shelf components that are typically found on less expensive chair alternatives.
Taking a closer look at the Herman Miller Aeron, there is a clear reason why it was five points higher than the closest competitor. Built in the USA, the Aeron’s quality can be felt the first time you touch or sit in the chair. The quality in the components is especially noticeable as you begin to use it.
Even after close to a year of sitting in the Aeron, there aren’t awkward sounds and it moves just as smoothly as when it was brand new. The Pellicle mesh is hands down the highest quality of all the chairs we’ve tested to date as well.
Even though the Humanscale Freedom isn’t as highly ranked for build quality, it was still one of the best-built chairs we’ve tested. It only rated two points lower than the second-ranked Leap chair, making a Freedom a good investment, even at $1,000.
The attention to detail on the Freedom was obvious, with a perfect fit and finish throughout the entire chair. Humanscale used a ton of aluminum throughout the frame structure of the Freedom, which helps to keep the weight down and adds to the design elements of the chair.
The Freedom also incorporated a lot of plastic molded parts and like the aluminum componentry, it was well done throughout. Less expensive chairs will miss here, and the lower quality will shine through. All of the high-end chairs we’ve tested had much better-quality control in these areas of the chair.
Scope of Users
The scope of users score is important for many reasons, especially for those looking to buy a chair sight unseen. Understanding how likely a chair is to fit you properly is one of the most important aspects of proper ergonomics. When we score this category, we use a single chair’s ability to fit all users properly. The Aeron chair scored a 66/100 and the Freedom 71/100 for scope of users.
The way we score scope of users puts the Aeron chair at a disadvantage. Their take on fitting a wide range of the population is using three sizes of chairs. By doing this, Herman Miller has stated they can comfortably fit up to 98% of the population. This isn’t a great solution for shared work areas or people that fall between sizes.
There are three areas for improvement on the Aeron, that would instantly improve the scope of users score. Adding back height adjustment, a seat slider and width adjustable arms would go a long way to improve the Aeron’s ability to adjust to a wider range of people.
The Humanscale Freedom scored higher for this category, mainly because they included the adjustments that Aeron did not. The sliding seat function and adjustable height backrest helps to fine tune the fit to a wider range of users. The headrest on our model is also height adjustable, which is important to get positioned properly.
The advanced Duron arms on our test chairs provided a little over 6” of height adjustment, with the lowest position 2.5” above the seat pad. They also had 3” of width adjustment, going from 18” to 21” wide. At 18” wide, the arms could be too far apart for smaller users. Humanscale Freedom’s standard armrests are 19” wide.
One of the most subjective things about an office chair is the seat comfort. Because of this, we take a completely different approach to scoring seat comfort. Using the average of nine user scores from our office, we were able to come up with a better idea of how comfortable a seat would be to most people. The Aeron scored 73/100 and the Freedom scored 69/100.
The sitting experience for both the Aeron and Freedom was similar from the standpoint that either you liked it or preferred something else. The Aeron experience tended to be a bit more polarizing, with a couple scores in the 90’s and 50’s. The Freedom on the other hand only had one score in the 80’s, but had two in the 50’s.
The Aeron’s Pellicle mesh is the highest quality we’ve tested; providing good flexibility and softness to the touch. One of the most unique things about sitting on mesh is the floating experience that you feel. Even though it has this float like experience, mesh provides a firm sit which isn’t expected by most.
The Aeron’s seat is designed with plastic side bolsters, which created a feeling of sitting in the seat vs. sitting on top of it. Depending on your size and preference, this can be a limiting factor for overall comfort. The hard-plastic frame is also noticeable in the front edge of the seat pan, when in different positions in the Aeron.
The Freedom chair that we tested included the upgrade gel seat option. This was a miss overall for the office, as the seat score was middle of the pack with that option. Like the mesh material, the gel didn’t provide as forgiving of a feel as the standard seat pad alternative from Humanscale. On both the Liberty and Diffrient, the standard seat pad scored 10 points higher than the gel found on the Freedom.
When looking closer at the 18 user scores on the standard seat pad, tested on the Liberty and Diffrient, only one user scored below 70. If you’re on the fence about the gel seat pad vs. standard, the safest option is the standard pad. With a $53 savings going this route, it will even help bring the chair price down.
Back support is another category that we felt was subjective enough that we needed the help of our whole office. When scoring the backrest, we look at how the entire backrest supports you, instead of just the lower lumbar area. After polling our office, the Aeron scored a 78/100 and the Freedom scored a 72/100. Both chairs ended up in the top six overall so they each have a lot of nice things to offer.
The Aeron test chair included the PostureFit SL lumbar support system, which is unique in that it is vertical versus the horizontal system. The lumbar support covers a large vertical area and includes two pads that flex independently of each other. Even if you were to purchase your next Aeron without the PostureFit SL, the natural curve in the backrest provides good support.
The Pellicle mesh material on the backrest is soft and flexible, making it nice to lean back against. The material is breathable as well, so it keeps you cool throughout the workday. One downside to the backrest is the thick frame, that is similar to the seat. With a mid-back design, there are certain postures that you’ll feel the frame, especially when leaning back in the Aeron.
Because of the way we look at the backrest support score, the Freedom chair’s score suffered a bit. When you first sit in the Freedom, you’ll likely notice how pronounced the lower support is. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for great support up higher on your back, the backrest isn’t quite tall enough for that.
The Freedom chair’s backrest is height adjustable, which allows you to fine tune where you feel the support most. Paired with the pivoting function, I personally enjoyed how the Freedom promotes good posture, no matter what seated position you’re in.
Armrest comfort is the last of three categories that we used the input of all users in our office to create an average score for comfort. When scoring armrests, we looked at two areas. The first qwas how comfortable the pads are for your elbow and forearm, secondly was the ability to get a proper ergonomic fit. The Aeron scored 81/100 and the Freedom scored 72/100.
Our test chair for the Aeron included the fully adjustable arm set. This includes height adjustment, arm pad depth adjustment and pivoting adjustment. While not as adjustable as other arms like that on the Steelcase Leap, they are adjustable enough to offer a customized feel.
The pads on the Aeron were the standard version. Aeron does offer an upgraded leather arm pad option as well. The standard arm pads provided a nice squishy feel, with a durable exterior. The Aeron still ranked in the top three overall for comfort, so even though the arms didn’t include width adjustment, they were well received.
The Humanscale Freedom test chair included the adjustable Duron arm set. These arms had a squishy feel that was similar to the Aeron, but not quite as bottomless feeling. The Duron coating provided a nice durable exterior coating that is also similar to the Aeron chairs adjustable arm set.
The Freedom’s adjustable arm set is a two-dimensional armrest. There is height adjustment and width adjustment. The height adjustment is unique, only requiring the use of one hand to make adjustments. The arms move in tandem, which guarantees you’ll keep them in perfect unison every time.
The width adjustment on the Freedom arms is independent of each other. While the function is a nice addition, especially with the Aeron not having width adjustment, the arms tend to be a bit wide. The minimum width is 18” and can be extended out to 21”. If you have a smaller frame, the arms can be a bit too wide.
Both chairs have a good amount of adjustability, but the Freedom chair has the edge.
The Aeron chair has the option to add 3D arms, multi-position tilt lock, forward seat tilt and adjustment lumbar support. It is missing a seat slider, back height adjustment and width adjustable armrests.
The Freedom might look like a simple task chair at first glance, but it ranked in top five for best ergonomic office chairs 2019. It comes with almost every ergonomic adjustment you would want in a high-end ergonomic chair. The only area for improvement is within the adjustable arm set, with the most adjustable arms only available with height and width adjustment.
If you’re looking for a highly customizable chair, the Aeron is not going to be it. The Aeron is only available in all mesh and Herman Miller chose to go with some of the highest quality mesh on the market. It is a combination of polyester and elastomeric material. The mesh is soft to the touch, flexible and retains its shape. It has been tested to 200,000 double rubs so it is also durable. The Aeron is only available in three mesh colors: graphite, carbon and mineral. Graphite is black, carbon is medium gray, and mineral is a really light gray. The carbon and mineral are an upcharge of $140.00.
The Humanscale Freedom is quite the opposite, available in endless upholstery options. There are currently 46 fabric upholstery options, 3 sensuedes, and 7 premium leather options. If you select one of the premium leather options, there are eight different box stitching options as well. You can even select an arm option that includes matching upholstery on the arms. If you’re looking to make a chair your own, Freedom is a great option. Because of the number of options, it’s not a surprise they do not allow returns.
If you’re in the market for a high-end ergonomic chair, there is a good chance you’ve considered both of these chairs. When both chairs are similarly equipped, the price tag for each can jump north of $1,200. With solid warranties and good build quality, each chair is certainly worth their price tag.
If you’re looking for a mesh ergonomic chair, it’s pretty hard to beat the Aeron. With its best in class pellicle mesh, smooth tilt function and cushy arms, it brings a lot to the table. The three sized chair options and lack of certain key ergonomic adjustments could put a damper on some of those positives.
The Freedom chair’s simple design could have fooled you at first, but its plethora of ergonomic adjustments gives it an advantage in adjustability over the Aeron. If you want to create a unique chair of your own, Humanscale provides a ton of options with every Freedom as well.