Research has shown that between 50-70% of the population is sitting for more than six hours a day. This sedentary lifestyle has increased the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer. Awareness for sitting disease is on the rise around the globe; as are products designed to create a more healthy lifestyle. Reducing the risk for this disease can be easy as getting up and standing more frequently throughout the day. One way to break up the day in the office is with the use of an adjustable standing desk. This post will look at three of the most popular versions, explaining the pros and cons of each.
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Standing Desk Comparison Quick Links
Electric Standing Desks
- Easy to operate: Just push the button up or down, the desk will instantly begin to move. Whether the user is taking a phone call or has their hands full, push-button operation is the easiest to use.
- Increased weight capacity: The average electric standing desk will have a higher weight capacity than a crank or converter. This is great for users who like to keep a lot of items on their desktop.
- Quick adjustments up/down: Spend less time transitioning from sitting or standing. Most electric models will move at more than 1” per second, moving from sitting to standing takes the average user 10-15 seconds.
- Larger desk sizes: Because the desk is moving with the assistance of motors, the size of the desks available are limitless. Larger L and U-shape standing desks will oftentimes have three motors vs. two on rectangle shapes. Having all of a user’s items at standing height makes for a much more efficient workstation.
- Most expensive: The technology required to make the desks move will cost more than most crank and converters. Higher end models made in the USA retail for over $2000, while dependable entry level products can start closer to $500.
- Require power: The power requirement leaves the desk tethered to an outlet and reduces mobility. If there is a power loss the desk will be stuck at any given height until power is restored. Most brands will require a desk reset after power outage, which means the user has to lower the desk in safe mode (slow movement) to it’s lowest point. In certain regions this can be more frequent.
- Electronics failure: Many of the electric models being sold today have been cycled tested for a minimum of 5000-10000 rotations up/down without failure. For most users this would equal about 5 to 10 years or usage before a problem arises. While the reputable brands hold up well over time, electronics can still fail for a multitude of reasons. This can leave a desk at an undesirable height until the electronics are fixed or replaced.
- Can be loud/disruptive: The whining sound that comes from the motors as the desk is lifting any amount of weight might become an annoyance. Most of the electric models operate between 45-60 DB. If the workplace is very quiet, any time the desk is moved it will be noticeable. A typical office will be around 45-50 DB and the average conversation is had around 60 DB.
Crank Standing Desks
- Slightly less expensive: While the crank version isn’t the least expensive option available, most will be less expensive than their electric counterparts. It is important to note comparing an entry-level electric model to a mid or high-end crank model will typically result in a more expensive crank desk.
- No power required: Because power isn’t required, the user will not be tied to an outlet. This is a good fit for regions that experience more power outages, organizations that require mobility and users that might not have electricity.
- More reliable: When power is removed from the equation there are fewer things that can go wrong. We have experienced very few issues with our crank desks out in the field. Some have been in the field for over ten years.
- Larger desk sizes: Many of the same sizes of desks found in the electric models are also available in a crank desk.
- Very slow adjustment: Unfortunately one of the biggest drawbacks to the crank desk is the effort required to make them move from sitting to standing. The average user will need 10”-15” of adjustment to transition into a standing position. The majority of the crank desks on the market today require 3-5 cranks per inch of travel. The results in about 30-75 rotations of the handle each time the users moves sitting to standing.
- Lower weight capacity: Crank desks will generally have 20-30% less lifting capacity compared to electric. Desks with higher weight capacity require the most cranks per inch of travel.
- Uneven loading: Balance plays an important role in how efficiently crank desks move up and down. Having too much weight on one side of the desk will make it more difficult to make adjustments. If the user has a lot of items on or attached to the desk attention to even loading will be a priority.
For more information and to see our selection of crank standing desks click here.
Standing Desk Converters
- Least expensive: For the most part, the desk converters are the least expensive option. While some of the new powered models can get a little pricey, most of the fixed height models start at $100. More stable models that can adjust up and down will start closer to $300.
- Keep existing desk: One of the biggest draws to the converters is the fact that users can keep their existing desk. Some organizations will not allow for the replacement of an entire desk and these types of standing desks are the perfect fit.
- Less assembly required: Many of the converters being offered today are either being shipped fully assembled or can be assembled very quickly. Depending on a user’s skill level, this could save a lot of time and get them standing sooner.
- Limited working space: Unfortunately the small size of these desks means that all tasks cannot be done on them. If a user spends a good majority of the day with writing tasks this is probably not a good fit. Not being able to bring items like a phone to standing height creates a less efficient workspace.
- Tend to be heavy: This will come as a surprise, as the small size would lead many to believe the converter would be fairly light. Because they extend 14” to 18” above the desk surface, stability from a heavy base is required. Depending on the converter it could be very difficult to move them around on your desk once it’s in place.
- Don’t go low enough: While this isn’t true for all converters, many of the models available do not go low enough for shorter users. Because they rest on top of an existing desk, the thickness of the converters worksurface and base can raise the keyboard/mouse another 1-2”. This can result in discomfort and lead to an array of ergonomic issues.
- Small yet bulky: Depending on the location or the job title of the user, standing desk converters to tend to be a little bulky. This can be an issue for receptionists, users working in corners or cubicles. It important to double check the footprint and overall height of the unit to avoid sizing problems.