The power system on power recline motion furniture consists of three parts. I'll explain what is involved for each part so that you know how easy it is to replace any one of the three parts.. Anyone that is somewhat handy can swap out any of the parts including the actuator.
1.) The Power Supply. This part is the easiest to swap out. You just unplug it and plug in another power supply.
2.) The Switch. This is the second easiest part to replace. It is usually mounted on the arm of the chair with two screws. Just unscrew the two screws and cut any zip ties that may be holding the cable in place under the chair. Mount the new switch, feed the cable down through the arm and zip tie the cabling again to keep it out of the recline mechanism. Some chairs have the recline switch on the cup holder. The process is almost the same for this. Just pry the foam pad from the bottom of the cup holder to reveal 2-4 screws. Unscrew these screws and pull out the wiring. Pop the new one in, screw it in and replace the foam pad at the bottom.
3.) The Actuator: This is the most difficult of the three and make take you 15-20 minutes to replace. Most I have seen use two bolts to secure the actuator to the frame, then one cotter pin and bolt to hold the actuator to the recline mechanism. It's still pretty simple to replace: Unplug the motor from the power supply. Undo the bolts. Replace with the new actuator then screw the new bolts in and put the cotter pin and bolt back in. Plug the power supply back into the actuator.
It really is that simple for all of the parts, so whoever you spoke to was pretty accurate in the "plug and play" description. A lot of people are nervous about purchasing power thinking there may be a ton of electric parts that can't be serviced, but they really are easy to service yourself should anything go wrong. And these parts will range anywhere from $20 to about $60 for the actuator. If you're still worried about the power purchase a third party warranty that will cover the power systems on the chairs for 5 years. But the failure rate is under 2% and if anything does go wrong it's usually in the first month or so.
Edited by KenLerch - 5/20/13 at 6:30pm