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Height Adjustable Standing Desks: Why Go with Electric?

by Will M on August 19, 2013

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The Electric Company

We're gonna bring you the power! (Photo: PBS)

So you’ve read all of the statistics about how sitting all day is killing you, and you’ve decided to take the plunge and get a sit-stand desk. There are many options to consider at this stage, all of which can vary wildly and can be a bit overwhelming. A good place to start when you’re trying to figure out the ergonomic desk that’s right for you is to choose how your desk is going to adjust from sitting to standing. While there are manual options like pneumatic or crank desks, we here at The Human Solution almost always recommend going with an electric height adjustable desk.

First off, most people interested in non-electric height adjustment are under the assumption that electric standing desks are the most expensive. Actually, we carry plenty of electric options that are comparable to, or even less expensive than, their manual counterparts. Our budget-friendly pedestal-base UpLift 970 costs less than any crank or pneumatic desk you’ll find, and even a two-leg standing desk like our UpLift 900 Desk is comparable in price to a crank desk, and less than most pneumatics. So if price is what is drawing you towards a manual sit-to-stand desk, there’s no reason to rule out an electric standing desk.

UpLift 970 Pedestal Base Electric Sit-Stand Desk

A standing desk like the UpLift 970 is generally less expensive and easier to adjust than a manual adjustable height standing desk.

If you’re still leaning toward a crank adjustable desk, you also need to take into account the time and effort it takes to adjust your desk from sitting to standing. An inch of height adjustment usually takes five or six turns, which can be cumbersome if you’re raising and lowering your desk often. Of course, that’s the entire point of a sit-stand desk, which is one of the reasons we recommend electric if feasible. Electric adjustable height desks go from sitting to standing in only a few seconds, and they require no force from you to do so. (Yes, physics nerds, I realize pushing a button is technically force, but you catch my drift).

And even though a pneumatic desk can conceivably go from sitting to standing height almost instantaneously, it too requires physical exertion to adjust up or down – even one properly counterbalanced for your desktop weight. In fact, counterbalance is a unique problem to pneumatic desks. While most pneumatic desks have a counterbalance mechanism, you need to know how much weight will be on your desk. Not enough, and your desk will come flying up when you release the mechanism. Too much, and it’s impossible to move. With an electric standing desk, as long as you’re within the weight capacity, you never have to worry about counterbalance every time you add or subtract weight to your desktop.

Getting it to the proper height can be tricky with a pneumatic desk as well. An electric desk has infinite stop positions between the lowest and highest height, and a quick push of the button will allow you to make minute adjustments. I know because I’m constantly moving mine slightly up or down, especially when standing, depending on the task. Making a small height adjustment with a pneumatic desk involves releasing the mechanism and physically moving it up or down, and it can sometimes be frustratingly hard to find the sweet spot that way.

So if your desk is going to be near a regular ol’ wall outlet, there’s really no reason not to go with an electric height adjustable desk. They hardly take any electricity to operate, and you can leave it plugged in even when not adjusting as it barely uses any power when in place. Some people do need manual adjustment – for a desk in the middle of a room, or a place where no electrical power is available. And don’t get me wrong, manual sit-to-stand desks are great and a huge improvement from a fixed height desk. But if you’re going to upgrade, an electric standing desk is the way to go.

Learn more about electric adjustable-height desks at TheHumanSolution.com

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Written by Will M

Will M

Will Moore has been with The Human Solution since 2011, and currently resides in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife Angie and their dog Eli. When not writing about or selling ergonomic furniture, he’s usually catching a live music show or watching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. He enjoys bacon, Pearl Jam, and sitting in a Steelcase Amia Chair when not using his desk’s standing capabilities (ah, the perks of working at THS). He is responsible for spearheading the very popular Music Friday at THS, in which a theme is picked and everyone plays a song in turn, culminating in the entire office ceremonially playing “Who Let the Dogs Out,” no matter what the theme, every Friday at 6 pm when we close.

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