A lot of office chairs have wheels. And you might not notice it enough, but if your office chairs didn’t have wheels on them, you’ll have a more difficult time working.
Wheels make it easier for us to move around our workspace without dragging the chair with a lot of effort. They help us go from point A to point B without standing, which helps save time and increase productivity.
The five wheels are the result of a good balance of manufacturing costs and stability. Fewer wheels will reduce the cost to make a chair, but it also compromises stability and balance.
To know more about why it’s recommended that our chairs have wheels and why they have to be five casters, read more.
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Why do office chairs have wheels?
There are many benefits to having wheels attached to your office chair. One is the ease of movement.
This is the most obvious benefit because that’s what wheels are made for! The wheels on your chair allow you to easily reach for things at the far end of your desk without needing to stand.
This is what Charles Darwin had in mind when he first created the chair with wheels. Because he found it was easier for him to work, he attached bed legs to his chair.
Another benefit of having wheels is that you can swivel your chair. If your chair didn’t have any wheels, the chair won’t have the capacity to twist and turn.
Lastly, the wheels increase productivity. Since you don’t need to stand up and get things, you save time from getting up and walking.
In turn, the company can maximize your working hours as an employee. The time you save from getting up can be used to work on other tasks.
Why five wheels?
There are two things that determined why office chairs should have 5 wheels – manufacturing costs, stability, and mobility.
It’s in the manufacturer’s best interest to have fewer legs because this will decrease their manufacturing costs. The more legs, the more expensive it is to make an office chair.
However, there is a limit to the number of wheels you can use that will keep the chair stable and balanced.
This number was found to be five. The five wheels are few enough to manage manufacturing costs while distributing a person’s weight evenly.
And since weight is distributed to five wheels, there is less weight given on each leg. In turn, each leg will not have as much pressure to leave dents on the floor.
Let’s not forget the importance of mobility. Since office chairs with wheels are designed to give ease of movement, five wheels are the ideal number that allows the best mobility.
What is more stable: a four-legged chair or a five-legged chair (or more)?
When it comes to office chairs (or anything that carries weight), the more legs you have that will support it, the more stable it will be.
This is because physics would tell us that you’re less likely to fall over a chair that has more support than when it has fewer legs. And four wheels are too few to properly maintain that balance that you would need when you start tilting or moving.
So why not have more than five wheels on a chair? Aside from making sure that the cost of making a chair is at a minimum, more than five wheels would only have marginal effects on your stability.
For example, a five-wheeled chair carrying 200 lbs will have each leg carry 50 lbs. But if you add a sixth wheel, each wheel would carry 34 lbs each.
The marginal effect is that for every wheel added, lesser weight is taken from the other wheels. There will come a point where adding more wheels will not help the chair significantly.
Besides, more wheels mean more maintenance. And users might not be willing to clean 8 wheels every few weeks.
What is the minimum number of casters you should have on your office chair?
The minimum number of casters you should have is four. Fewer than four casters will make the office chair unstable and prone to breakage.
Despite five being the ideal number, there are still office chairs that have four wheels. However, their design will be slightly different.
For example, instead of having an axel where the casters are connected, you’ll have the legs directly connected to the seat itself. This is mainly because the four wheels will perfectly fit in the four corners of the chair.
The use of four casters was an innovation from the wooden chairs that people used as office chairs years ago. But if you try sitting on a four-legged chair and lean back, you’ll notice that it’s easy to fall back because there is no other leg that supports the chair’s tilting.
On the other hand, if you have five casters, there will be additional support that will prevent you from toppling backward.
Office chairs that have five wheels will most likely be on an axle. Meaning, the five wheels won’t be fixed on positions making the chair easier to distribute weight and move in any direction.
So while it’s possible to have four wheels, it’s not the most ideal number of casters that would be safe and easily movable.
Office chairs have wheels to increase your mobility and reduce time going from one place to another. Hence, increasing your productivity in the workplace.
Office chairs with wheels are designed to have five casters because this number is the sweet spot of maintaining manufacturing costs at a minimum while allowing better balance and mobility.
If office chairs only had four wheels, more weight will be given on each leg pushing the legs farther down your carpet or floors. Besides, fewer legs mean less stability.