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November 29, 2021

Pneumatic vs. Electric Standing Desk

Sitting all day isn’t good for us, so we started using adjustable standing desks. Adaptable to your preferred sitting and standing heights, these desks show promise in improving our well-being.

There’s a big discussion going on with regards to these desks: pneumatic or electric? One is a manually adjustable desk while the other is electric and needs almost zero effort to adjust.

We went ahead and found out what we could about both so you don’t have to. Stay awhile, have a look, and we sincerely hope that this article makes your choice even clearer.

Is It Healthier To Have Standing Desks?

One of the biggest issues workers in the modern office face is increased back pain. We’re sitting most of the time that we work which plays a large part in how our spines are affected.

Having a standing desk helps to solve that problem. A study published by the CDC found that using a sit-stand desk helped improve upper-back and neck pain after four weeks. However, these ailments gradually returned once the sit-stand desks were removed.

Standing desks also don’t hinder your overall productivity. In fact, it can improve your mood by relieving you of stress and fatigue which can even help you work better.

So, the short answer is yes, standing desks have a positive impact on your body. The question now comes down to choosing between a pneumatic and electric standing desk.

Even if you want to use your  standing desk for dual monitors, you need to make sure it’s set to the right height to avoid neck and back pain.

Electric or Pneumatic Standing Desks

There are many  types of standing desks, but if you’re looking at an adjustable desk, you’re primarily going to be choosing between two options: pneumatic or electric.

Electric Standing Desks

pneumatic or electric standing desk

An  electric stand desk uses a gear mechanism to raise or lower the desk. It has a motor attached to a gearbox which lifts the desk upward or downward.

There are different mechanisms that are normally found in electric standing desks like a track gear, a worm gear, or a complex gearbox system. 

These systems don’t stick out anywhere, it’s all hidden inside the framework of the desk like the legs or central pillar which makes the designs flush and prevents anything from getting caught in the gears. 

Electric desks are straightforward and use buttons to adjust the desk’s height according to your preferences. Some of the fancier desks even feature Bluetooth connectivity, which means adjustments can be made through an app on your smartphone.

Pros

Load Capacity

The average desk supports a lot of weight. A lot of your office equipment can be hefty but that shouldn’t restrict the performance of the desk.

An electric standing desk is your best bet if you know that the total weight of your office equipment is going to exceed 10kg. 

Manually lifting a standing desk isn’t that much of an issue unless, of course, the weight on top is getting a little uncomfortable. This is where an electric desk can help you out a lot, as their average weight capacity is generally between 90kg and 100kg. 

Ergonomics

As far as ergonomics go, the electric sit-stand desk can provide a lot of benefits if you suffer from a condition like arthritis which can make movement and fine-motor activities challenging. You don’t need to turn a handle or apply the slightest amount of effort to raise or lower the desk.

A few of the “smarter” electric desks can be programmed with your preferred heights in mind, reaching them every time. Once your sitting and standing heights are set, it removes the hassle of re-adjusting it every time you want to move.

Operating an electric desk is typically smooth and often changes heights based on a single-speed adjustment. A pneumatic desk can be bumpy and abrupt when adjusting. 

Smooth adjustment means all the difference if your computer monitor or coffee mug is on your desk.

A three-stage electric standing desk provides you with a shorter start height at 70cm and a large stroke range of 120cm. 

Configuration

If you need more legs to support all the things on your work surface, then an L-shaped electric desk is your best bet. 

This provides you with enough workspace to have everything in front of you and is the  best standing desk for three monitors.

Considerations

Maintenance 

Electric desks use motors and gears to move up and down which means that they eventually wear out, although only after delivering many years of service.

The motors can degrade over time but in general, these mechanisms have hundreds upon thousands of operation hours on them before that happens, so it’s really not anything to worry about.

In general, this means that they often have a lot of years ahead before any major maintenance is necessary.

Noise

In some cases, an electric desk can make some noise because of the electric motors, which can have a certain whine to them along with the gears that turn.

Whether you have a  dual motor or single motor standing desk can make a big difference to the amount of noise the desk will make. Single-motor desks have to work harder to lift the weight of the desk, causing them to make more noise.

That used to be an issue with the earlier desks that came out, modern desks have advanced so far as not to make the slightest sound and in most cases, they’re not much noisier than a pneumatic desk.

Electricity

Of course, the entire idea behind an electric desk means being plugged into an outlet, which can limit your office layout. Although, if you’re going to use a laptop or desktop computer you’d have to be plugged in, anyway.

You may want to consider our  Pro Series Manual Standing Desk. It’s a hand-cranked desk that features excellent frame stability and your choice of wood for the desktop. We’d suggest going for the Victorian Ashwood option as it’s a native Australian wood and hard-wearing. 

Pneumatic Standing Desks

electric standing desk vs pneumatic

A pneumatic standing desk works by using a gas cylinder to adjust its height. It operates in the same way your office chair does, but on a bigger scale.

Tubes inside the desk are filled with gas which compresses as the desk lowers and expands when the desk is raised.

Pneumatic desks also have springs that have to be calibrated for the amount of weight they need to lift. 

Calibration is important because if the gas inside is pressurized higher than the springs, it would be hard to lower the desk, and can spring up with significant speed when you raise it, throwing around everything on your desktop.

Pros

Mobility

Pneumatic desks can be positioned anywhere in the office where it suits you the best. They’re also carbon neutral since they use gas springs. A lot of pneumatic desks have wheels so that they can be moved around easily.

Durability

A pneumatic desk uses different components than a motorized desk. This means that it also uses fewer pieces and parts that could wear down.

It really depends on whether or not the desk you’re looking at is well-designed. If it is, then it could last you a good few years. 

Cons

Pressure

The gas cylinders inside a pneumatic desk lose their pressure after some time. This happens faster when the desk is often overloaded or is frequently close to its weight capacity. 

After some deterioration, gas springs tend to leak which makes it difficult to adjust them and in the end, they won’t be able to hold their pre-set position anymore.

Balance

When the balance is out, the desk’s motion can become inconsistent and sudden. The balance is there to keep the desk operating smoothly. 

Putting too much weight on the springs or if they’re not the right size can result in this kind of motion while raising or lowering the desk.

Which Is Better - Pneumatic or Electric?

You might think that since pneumatic desks don’t use any motors or gears that an electric desk might be much more expensive. It’s actually a misconception, as there are loads of electric desks that can match the price of a pneumatic desk.

A notable difference between the pneumatic and electric standing desks are how each of them is adjusted. 

Some pneumatic desks use a crank that needs to be turned a few times to get that perfect height when you’re standing or sitting. An electric desk uses fancy buttons that make it a lot easier and hassle-free to adjust your desk to the heights you prefer.

Electric desks can adjust to your preferred heights within seconds, requiring no effort from you other than pushing a button. 

Besides, when you need to have your computer or laptop plugged in you’ll have to be close to an outlet to do it. Having an electrical desk means that you’ll have immediate access to that outlet.

These kinds of desks don’t use that much energy while adjusting, barely anything if you leave it plugged in. So, there’s no problem that’s going to come up in the utility bill, at least.

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