Manual vs Electric Standing Desk: Which One Should You Buy?

Manual vs electric standing desk

Table of Contents

Are you torn between purchasing a manual or an electric standing desk? The dilemma is understandable as both types of desks offer unique advantages. Our comprehensive guide will help you navigate the pros and cons of each type, taking into account your budgetergonomic benefits, office space needs, and personal preferences.

Ready to find out which desk type suits your needs best? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Manual standing desks don’t need electricity and aren’t at risk of technical issues. However, they can be inconvenient in the height-adjustment process.
  • Electric standing desks are easy to usehave precise height control, and usually have programmable memory presets. But they might break down or be expensive.
  • Think about your budget, comfort needs, office environment, and how often you’ll change desk heights when picking your perfect desk.

Understanding the Differences Between Manual and Electric Standing Desks

Manual standing desks, often known as hand-crank standing desks, operate solely on user strength. People adjust the desk height by manually turning a crank. 

Manual standing desks also often prove cost-effective due to the lack of motorized parts or electrical systems.

In contrast, electric standing desks elevate convenience by allowing you to effortlessly and precisely adjust the height with just a push of a button. They are powered by an electric motor drive, enabling precise control for achieving perfect ergonomic alignment between person and desk while sitting or standing.

Furthermore, some high-end models feature programmable presets, allowing users to save their favorite sitting and standing heights for quick adjustments in future uses. 

Pros and Cons of Manual Standing Desks

Hand-crank standing desk

Manual standing desks are usually cost-effective, and have no risk of tech issues or need for electricity. However, the required physical effort might pose a challenge to some users, and adjusting the height could be a quite slow process for physically weak individuals.

No Need for Electricity

Manual standing desks offer a competitive advantage because they function without electricity. This trait makes them ideal for any location, even ones with unstable power supply or those aiming to conserve energy.

If you have a manual standing desk, you will also not have to worry about outlets being near your desk, which may be convenient for some of you.

No Risk of Technical Problems

Manual standing desks eliminate the worry of facing technical issues. Unlike their electric counterparts, these desks have no complex circuitry or power components that could potentially malfunction.

This also eliminates added costs from potential repair fees or replacement costs tied to motor drive failures in electric versions.

Therefore, it’s clear that the manual one provides an efficient solution for users seeking an independent, long-lasting adjustable workspace option.


Manual standing desks are an economical choice for many. If you compare several different manual standing desks with several different electric ones, you’ll notice that manual standing desks are usually more affordable. This means that if you have a lower budget, you have a wider range of options when it comes to manual standing desks. So, if you’re on a tight budget but still desire the health benefits of using a standing desk, the manual type might be your preferred option.

And because a manual standing desk isn’t at risk of technical issues, you wouldn’t risk having to pay potential repair fees or even replacement costs, as already mentioned. 

Therefore, opting for this budget-friendly alternative allows office workers to enjoy adjustable height features while keeping expenses at bay.

Physical Effort: Potential Challenges for Some Users

Manually adjusting a standing desk requires physical effort. Users turn a hand crank to raise or lower the desk, which demands muscle power and could be strenuous for some. This might discourage frequent height adjustments throughout the day, limiting the versatility of these desks.

Especially for people with back problems or those recovering from surgeries, using a manual standing desk could pose challenging tasks. It encourages active living indeed but also tests your strength and endurance at work.

Slower Height Adjustment Process for Physically Weak People

As mentioned, manually adjusting a standing desk’s height may be challenging for individuals with physical limitations. The effort required to crank the desk up or down can be particularly taxing for those who are physically weak, elderly, or have certain medical conditions.

Unlike electric desks that adjust at the push of a button, manual models necessitate some level of strength and stamina. Consequently, this could result in slower height adjustments by vulnerable users who might find it difficult to routinely change their working positions as recommended by ergonomic experts.

Such scenarios subtly underscore the crucial role individual health profiles play when choosing between manual and electric standing desks.

Pros and Cons of Electric Standing Desks

Person using an electric sit-stand desk

Let’s quickly take a look at the pros and cons of an electric standing desk. We’ll consider how electric standing desks work and how their features can benefit you.

Convenient and Easy to Use

Electric standing desks win in terms of convenience. With a simple push of a button, you can adjust the height to your desired level. This feature saves precious work time and eliminates physical strain often experienced with manual adjustments.

The electric desk offers an effortless transition from sitting to standing throughout the day, promoting productivity and active living without distraction or disruption. Besides, some electric sit-stand desk models also come with programmable presets for further ease of use; users just need to set their preferred heights once, and the desk remembers it every time.

So if you’re looking for efficiency in adjusting your workspace position, choosing an electric version is undeniably easier to use compared to twisting a hand-crank method in manual ones.

Precise Height Adjustment and Programmable Presets

With programmable presets, you can set your preferred heights once, and with a simple command, the desk will smoothly transition to these positions, saving you even more time and effort. Additionally, the precise height adjustment capability ensures that the desk aligns perfectly with your ergonomic needs, enhancing comfort and promoting a healthier work posture throughout your day.

Additional Features for Enhanced Functionality

Electric standing desks offer a plethora of additional functions for enhanced user experience. As mentioned, many models include programmable presets, allowing you to easily recall your preferred heights at the push of a button.

Good models give you the opportunity to make use of additional features with the help of an app, such as a feature that allows you to schedule adjustments. Other beneficial extras may encompass USB ports or built-in speakers for increased convenience in the office environment.

In essence, these advanced capabilities provide flexibility and adaptation to any workspace, outpacing manual standing desks in terms of functionality.

Risk of Technical or Electrical Issues

Electric standing desks come with convenience and added features but also bring potential technical or electrical issues. These types of desks rely on electric motors to adjust height, which can malfunction over time.

Power surges or short circuits may affect the control mechanism, rendering the desk unusable until repaired.

The decision between a manual and an electric standing desk isn’t just about ease of use; it’s partly about reliability too. While these problems are not guaranteed to occur, they do exist as a risk associated with electric standing desks.

On the other hand, manual standing desks lack mechanical components that could fail, offering robustness that may be more advantageous for some users.

Typically More Expensive

While there are some cheap options, electric standing desks are usually more expensive than manual standing desks. This price difference arises from the advanced components integrated into electric models, such as programmable controllers and motorized lifts.

These all add up to create a feature-rich desk that requires minimal effort to adjust but comes at a premium price. Despite this investment, users gain the convenience of adjusting their desks with just the push of a button— an advantage that might justify the additional expenditure for some buyers.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Standing Desk

Person searching for a standing desk on the internet

Selecting the ideal standing desk involves careful consideration of your budget, ergonomic needs, available office space, frequency of height adjustments, and personal preferences.


Cost plays a significant role in any purchase decision. Electric standing desks, with their added features and conveniences, usually come with a higher price tag compared to manual standing desks.

If your budget is limited, you’ll have more options when searching for manual standing desks. Because they don’t require electricity and therefore aren’t at risk of technical issues, there is also a long-term savings potential.

Even if you have a quite limited budget, there are still several options for buying an electric standing desk. However, pay attention to the brand and customer reviews to avoid buying an electric standing desk that will break down after only 2 days.

Ergonomic benefits

Electric standing desks are equipped with precise height control, an essential feature for proper ergonomics. This function allows users to find the ideal position that meets their comfort level. Manual standing desks may require more effort to adjust but can still offer a customizable experience based on user preference and needs.

The right height is essential for reducing strain on the neck, shoulders, and back by promoting better posture. 

Both types of desks encourage movement and postural changes throughout the day, playing significant roles in reducing musculoskeletal issues associated with long periods of sitting.

Office space and needs

When choosing between manual and electric standing desks, the location of available outlets is an important consideration as well. Electric standing desks require a power source to operate their motorized height adjustment feature.

In a workspace where outlets are scarce or inconveniently located, setting up an electric standing desk could pose a challenge. This could lead to additional costs and hassle, as you might need to install new outlets or use extension cords to power your desk.

Frequency of Height Adjustments

The frequency of adjustments is a pivotal consideration when choosing between manual and electric standing desks. Individuals new to the sit-stand routine often find themselves switching positions more frequently as they seek a comfortable balance.

Electric standing desks cater well to this exploratory phase with their effortless height adjustment and programmable presets, making transitions between sitting and standing a breeze.

Personal preferences

Personal preferences play a significant role in the choice between a manual and an electric standing desk. Depending on your work style, you might opt for the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of a manual desk.

If ease of use ranks high on your priority list, an electric sit-stand desk may suit you better with its push-button convenience. The eco-conscious among us may also prefer manual options as they don’t demand electricity to function efficiently.

Those who enjoy tech-savvy features like programmable height presets found in good electric models will favor this option. Indeed, personal preferences can be the ultimate deciding factor in choosing the right type of standing desk.


Choosing between a manual and an electric standing desk involves personal preference, budget, and specific needs. Manual desks may appeal more to those seeking simplicity, eco-friendliness, and affordability.

However, if ease of use and convenience are top priorities, consider investing in an electric model. 


1. What are the two most common types of standing desks?

While searching for the right standing desk, you will be confronted with two types of standing desks: manual, also known as hand crank desks and electric standing desks.

2. How does an electric vs manual standing desk differ in use?

Electric standing desks use electrical power to lift and lower the desk for the transition between sitting and standing positions whereas with a manual or hand-crank option, you need to twist the crank manually.

3. Can an app be used with either type of height-adjustable desk?

While some electric desks might have associated apps that can help adjust their heights, no such feature exists generally for manual ones.

4. Are there any other types of standing desks besides the typical electric and manual ones?

Yes, there are some other types of standing desks. For instance, there are fixed-height standing desks that cannot be adjusted in height at all. If you have one of those, you can only switch between sitting and standing if you have a drafting chair and feel comfortable using one. There are many ergonomically designed drafting chairs. However, they are usually not preferred as they don’t allow for proper and comfortable foot placement when you are sitting on one at a standing desk.