While standing desk converters have existed for years, their rise to fame has come mostly after Varidesk’s prominent advertising campaigns. Working within the industry, it’s easy to see why this type of standing desk has become so popular. Some of their benefits include: the shipment of fully assembled desks, an ability to keep your existing desk and average costs that are less than traditional standing desks. Unfortunately, like most things, they have problems as well. In this post we will be addressing those problems, providing solutions if they exist and ultimately letting you decide if standing desk converters are a good fit.
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1. Lacking Stability
One of the most important aspects with any standing desk is its stability. A rocking motion, wobbling, or monitor bounce all create distractions. Experiencing these problems while typing can quickly lead to discontinued use. Products like the Varidesk Pro Plus 36, Ergotron Workfit A and Duke Mount that extend out too far from the base are the worst offenders for monitor bounce. Cheap converters, like the Victor High Rise series, will experience all stability issues.
Solution: You will likely have to increase your budget and look at the higher-end of the category to find a product that is extremely stable. While products like the Fleximount and OFM 5100 are fairly stable when extended, a better solution is the post base system found on the Duke or Kangaroo product lines. These standing desk converters can cost over $500, but are some of the most stable available.
2. Takes Over Your Desk
Popular converters, including the Varidesk brand, can take up a ton of space on your desk. One of their smallest options will require a minimum of 24” D x 36” of space on your existing desk surface. Being able to adjust it efficiently requires an additional two or three inches on either side. You have now taken up a minimum of 40” of space on your desk, with the average desk size being about 60”. VersaDesk is even offering an electric converter that is 60” wide.
Solution: The best alternative to converters that require a lot of desk space are the clamp or grommet mount options. These products will mount to the back edge of your desk, allowing you to move them out of the way when not in use. Some of the popular options include the Duke Mount and Ergotron Workfit A converter. While these options take up less room, you will sacrifice stability for the additional desk space created by their mounting system.
3. Limited Working Space
It is unfortunate that many of the converters that tie up large portions of your desk surface do not provide the same space on top of the platform. Having the ability to put items that you use everyday on top of the converter is key to your comfort. For me, I find myself reaching awkwardly for items like a notepad or the phone. Not having these within your neutral reach zone can create posture issues. Smaller units like the Health Postures 6400 and large converters like Pro Plus 36” will only have enough space for computing tasks.
Solution: Find a product that offers a good amount of working space on top of the platform. Two standing desk converters that offer large working areas are the Flexispot MR 2 and OFM 5100. Ryan recently reviewed the OFM 5100 and agrees that it allowed enough space for a notepad, speakers and headphones.
After 10 months of testing 40+ standing desk converters the results are in!
4. Limited Range of Motion
Most converters in the $200-$400 range offer a limited range of motion, which will affect you if you’re short or tall. Because many of these products rest on top of the desk, their minimum height is slightly higher than the existing surface height. The average desk height is 29” to 30”, and the platform your keyboard will rest on is a minimum of .5” to 1.5” above that surface height. This will can cause your neck and shoulders if you are are less than 5’6” tall. The maximum height for these products can become an issue if you’re over 6’0” tall. Products like Varidesk and Flexispot only raise 13” or 14” above the desk surface.
Solution: If you’re shorter, it’s best to look at a converter with a split keyboard/mouse platform that extends below your desk surface. These products typically attach to long arms, clamp or grommet mounted to your desk. Because they have to extend out so far they will have bounce issues. Products like the Kangaroo, Duke or VersaDesk will offer more top end range, providing a better solution if you’re taller than 6’0”. However, even these products will not allow you raise the keyboard/mouse platform to the proper height if you’re over 6’6” tall.
5. Lack of Dual Ergonomics
Having the ability to adjust your monitor height and keyboard/mouse separately are key to proper ergonomics. Without this function you will find yourself looking down at your monitors or reaching too high for your keyboard. Both problems can create neck and shoulder issues.
Solution: Post and base systems are the best at offering dual ergonomics out of the box. Many of the platform models like Varidesk or Flexispot offers will require the addition of a monitor arm. This will balloon their costs up, sometimes even higher than complete standing desks. While this is oftentimes overlooked by novice standing desk users, tackling it early will create a much better experience.
6. Can Cost as Much as Full Desks
While there are options available under $200, standing desk converters that provide sit to stand flexibility can get expensive. Some of the larger standing desk converters; models that are 48” and larger jump significantly in price. Adding a monitor arm for dual ergonomics will bring the price tag well over $600.
Solution: With a limited range of motion and stability issues found on many converters, you may want to consider a complete standing desk. Our VertDesk v3 and the Uplift 900 Desk offer a full electric desk for under $600. These products will provide better stability and adjustment ranges over 20”.
7. Offer Limited Weight Capacity
Converters that utilize spring and gas cylinders will oftentimes offer lifting capacities of 30-40 lbs. Electric models provide weight capacities that can reach as high as 80 lbs. The closer you get to the converter’s maximum capacity, the more difficult they are to operate. Some will require a lot of effort to lift, while others may be difficult to push down. Adding two large 27” monitors with their base attached can exceed 50 lbs. quickly.
Solution: If you plan to exceed 40 lbs. on the converter, an electric converter would be recommended. VersaDesk, Kangaroo and Innovative all offer products that are operated by the push of a button. You may also want to consider a complete standing desk. Similar to the solution in the last problem, complete desks will offer the best flexibility for you if you have higher capacity requirements.
The benefits that a standing desk converter can provide are hard to ignore. While Varidesk’s popularity has certainly paved the way for this categories success, the ability to provide a quick fix for standing desk users is their biggest draw. If you do not want to assemble a desk or cannot replace your existing desk, a standing desk converter is a perfect solution. However, if you have specific needs like a large range of motion and heavy weight capacities you should consider complete standing desk. The converters lack of stability and usable working space are some of the biggest reasons I recommend the complete desk option. Regardless of the route you go, making sure you have taken all pros and cons into consideration to ensure a positive standing experience.