4 things you need to know before you buy a standing desk – CNET

ikea-skarsta-1

The Ikea Skarsta is our favorite budget desk.


Megan Wollerton/CNET

Standing desks provide more flexibility throughout the day than models that don’t raise or lower. Feeling a little restless? Make a quick adjustment to stand. Tired feet? Lower the desk and sit down. 

There’s no perfect equation for how long you should sit or stand, or even general agreement on how many extra calories are burned while standing (just that you do burn extra calories standing). Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any specific questions about how sitting or standing could impact your health. 

If you’ve decided it’s time to get a standing desk — but aren’t sure where to start — we’ve got you covered. Below are four key things you need to think about before you buy.  

Standing desks 101: What to know before you buy 

As with any new piece of furniture, you’ll want to take a little time to balance your needs with the space and budget you have for it. Start here: 

  • Price. Prices range widely for standing desks, but you can find a great one to suit your needs at almost any budget. Do your homework (or check out my best list) to find great options in the $200 range. 
  • Measure. Make sure you have enough space for your standing desk before you make your purchase. Don’t just consider the room it’s going in, either. Also think about the doors, stairwells and other places the box must pass through. It might fit in your planned office space, but if you can’t get it up your third-floor walk-up, you’ll be in trouble. 
  • Check the height range. All adjustable-height desks have a low and a high range for sitting and standing, but the ranges aren’t universal across different styles and brands. If you’re on the shorter or taller end, certain models might not be comfortable for you, so check the specs beforehand to determine if you’ll be comfortable using the desk, both sitting and standing. 
  • Electric or manual? Electric standing desks cost more than manual desks, so your budget will absolutely come into play here, but there’s more to consider. Manual desks, which have pneumatic pedals, hand cranks or other manual controls, are lighter and quieter (because there’s no heavy, noise-making motor mounted under your desk). Manual desks also don’t require proximity to an outlet to work. Electric desks allow for easy raising and lowering with the press of a button; some even have digital height readouts so you can always return your desk to the exact same sitting or standing height. 

Additional thoughts

Those are the main things you should keep in mind before you buy a standing desk. But there are additional features available on some standing desks worth factoring into your decision. 

Do you plan to keep your desk in one spot or move it around? Some standing desks (typically the smaller ones) come with wheel attachments for better mobility. Others allow you to mount the electric or manual height control to the left or right side, to favor your dominant hand. Some even have two levels so you can put a monitor on the higher level and your keyboard and mouse on the lower one.

Take a look at CNET’s list of the best standing desks to get a better sense of the options available today. And after you’ve narrowed down your options, here are some things to keep in mind after you make the switch to a standing desk.


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