Electric Standing Desk

The electric standing desk is the most popular type of standing desk due to how quickly and easily the height can be adjusted. One or two electrical motors, under the desk or within the desk legs, move the desk up and down. The desk height is adjusted by pressing up and down buttons, or preset buttons, on a small control panel attached to the desk.

The main factors when choosing an electric desk are the warranty, lift speed, and noise level. Other factors include: adjustable height range, desktop material, control panel functions and presets, start and stop cushioning, number of motors, lift capacity, energy consumption, and appearance.

  1. Electric controls make it easy to switch between sitting and standing.
  2. Presets allow custom heights at the touch of a button.
  1. Electric standing desks are usually the most expensive.
  2. Raising and lowering the desk may be noisy.

Manual Standing Desk

The manual crank standing desk uses a physical crank mechanism to move the desk up and down. The desk height is adjusted by cranking a lever by hand until the desired height is reached. Most move at a rate 2-4 turns per inch, which would take under 30 seconds to switch between sitting and standing heights.

The crank speed and mechanism is the main factor in choosing a manual crank standing desk. Ideally, the crank should allow the desk to be adjusted at a fast speed without too much effort. Look for a solid mechanism that is sturdy, reliable, and has a good warranty.

  1. Less expensive than electric standing desks.
  2. Cranking gives you additional exercise.
  1. The time and effort to adjust your desk may discourage switching between sitting and standing.
  2. Cranking takes longer to adjust the desk height.
  3. Requires physical cranking to move the desk height.
  4. Some crank handles can get in the way


Instead of an electric motor, a counterbalance standing desk uses a balanced mechanical system to move the desk up and down. The desk height is adjusted by pressing a release lever, and then manually moving the desk to the desired height. Since everything is perfectly balanced, it is very easy to adjust even the heaviest desks.

Counterbalance standing desks differentiate themselves by the counterbalance mechanism that is used. The best mechanisms are reliable, need no maintenance, operate silently, and require little effort to move the desk up and down.

  1. Offers the fastest way to switch desk heights.
  2. Virtually silent operation.
  3. No electrical power is needed.
  1. Counterbalance mechanism may need to be manually tuned if you add or subtract weight from the desk.
  2. Since there are no height presets, the height needs to be set by hand each time.
  3. The weight capacity of these desks tends to be lower.


A fixed height standing desk is basically just a tall desk set at a fixed height. There is no way to dynamically adjust the height of the desk up or down. So you cannot change the height of the desk.

Lower cost is the primary benefit of a fixed height standing desk. However, since the desk height cannot be easily changed, you lose the ability and benefit of switching between sitting and standing. The exception to this, which will allow sitting, is to use a high chair specifically made for the height of a standing desk

  1. Less expensive than other standing desks.
  2. Simple design with no electronics or moving parts.
  3. No electrical power is needed.
  1. Fixed at single set height
  2. Cannot sit at desk unless you have a special high chair, which can be expensive.


If you are handy with tools, you could always build your own standing desk. The downside is that most DIY standing desks result in a fixed height desk, rather than an adjustable height desk.

If you are interested, do a search for DIY standing desks, or check out this video of a DIY Ikea standing desk built with inexpensive components from Ikea.

  1. One of the least expensive types of standing desks.
  2. Height can be adjusted quickly and easily.
  3. You can keep and use your existing desk.
  1. Sits on top of desk and takes up valuable desk space.
  2. Keyboard shelf has limited space.


A sit stand workstation is not a full desk, but rather is a separate item that sits on top of an existing desk. Sit stand workstations typically use a balanced mechanism that allows the height to be adjusted easily. Changing the height moves both the monitor and the keyboard.

This is the ideal solution if you do not want to part with your existing desk, or if want something less expensive than a full standing desk.

  1. Inexpensive.
  2. Custom built to your own specification.
  1. Usually results in a fixed height desk, not an adjustable height desk.
  2. Requires tools and building skills.
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