Desk Buying Guide

Desk Buying Guide

Desk Buying Guide

Buying a desk? Hopefully some help hints and tips on getting it right!

There are an awful lot of desks out there so we are going to try and explain what you should look out for and how to be sure you are getting value for money. First of all we should cover off some basics on why you should buy one and how to think about your purchase

Why buy a standing desk

OK so you are going to buy a standing desk. Question is why. What will it bring me? Well there are a lot of health benefits you might not be aware off and some of what is on the web is not quite true. Let's jump in.


  • More energy. Most of our users report higher energy levels and for longer
  • Much much better posture. You will be using your musculoskeletal system more meaning a stronger posterior chain (back and leg muscles) and a more toned lower half
  • Better sugar regulation in the body. A complex one however active muscles will help regulate blood sugar levels much better than inactive ones
  • Improved digestion. Many desk workers suffer from indigestion. Stand up and it will go.
  • Sedentary lifestyles are highly linked to increased mortality rates.

Unproven Claims

  • Weight loss. We have studied this and could not replicate any long term weight loss mostly because it is incredibly difficult to monitor calorie intake from food labelling.
  • More engaged and attentive. Not entirely true and it would be hard to prove over long periods however improved stamina and better blood sugar regulation mean workers often feel more focused.


  • Over 40's and the over-weight should be cautious about venous pressure which can lead to varicose veins and also pressure on the joints. Standing is not an all day activity and you should listen to your body and campaign your standing.

Cost and finances

Maybe now you have decided to have a more active working environment so now you need to look at the financial logic behind buying your desk


  • Firstly your standing desk, depending on use, should last 8-15 years so consider it an investment and not a pure cost.
  • Divide your desk price by the number of days you use it annually and try to relate it to something that you buy regularly. So, for example, if you have your desk for 5 years it will roughly cost £100 per year or £0.50 per day. You will struggle to purchase a coffee for that price.  
  • The quality will still be remembered when the price is long forgotten. Don't necessarily believe that the headline price is everything.
  • Buy from a company that will be around and contactable if you do need a warranty repair. It might not be for free but it beats scraping your desk.
  • Check and check again the specifications. The range of options and features mean you can overpay for what may look like a cheap desk.

Main specification differences between desks

  • Single motor vs dual motor
  • Position memory or simple up and down
  • Anti-collision and no anti-collision and also the type
  • Motor thermal protection or none
  • Two section vs three section legs
  • Leg cross section (bigger is better)

Manual, Single motor, Dual motor - What does it all mean!

Manual vs Electric is pretty easy to spot however there are also some technicalities you might want to look into such as the motor number. Read on.

Manual Desk

These you can tell by the wind up handle. To make the desk go up it winds clockwise and winding anti-clockwise brings it down. Clearly with no motor in them they are the cheapest option if you want a full desk. We really like these products. No electrics mean a more reliable product and even if not used as a standing desk they allow sitting at the correct height. Main things to check are has it been tested to BIFMA standards and also is the handle fold away. Also double check how long it will take for the desk to go from bottom to top height. You do not want to be winding all day.

Single Motor Desks

On a single motor desk there is only one motor driving both legs. The two legs are mechanically coupled to the single motor via a drive rod as they would be on a manual desk, The downside of this is that you get significantly more noise and vibration than in a dual motor desk. Single motor desks are cheaper than dual motor desks so you need to look closely at the number of motors you are getting for your spend. In our opinion these are average desks and under heavy use the lifespan of the desk may be lower than a dual motor desk. We would seriously question if it is worth buying a single motor desk at all given the drawbacks and the incremental cost of moving to a dual motor desk is not hugely significant.

We no longer stock or sell single motor desks.

Dual Motor Desks

With dual motor desks there is a motor which is built into each leg. The legs are coupled by means of an electronic control box which regulates and maintains the same identical leg height. These desks are more expensive than single motor but are also considered to be more robust. Most commercial companies buy these as their desks are used 40 hours per week. They are the most refined in terms of noise and vibration of the three options available. We would recommend that if you can afford the extra cost they are well worth the extra spend.

On top of the refinement and quiet function these desks also have improved diagnostics built into them and they can be interrogated remotely if something does go wrong to check if a repair is needed.

How many segments are in the legs and does it matter?

This is not easy to spot and it has an effect on how your desk will perform.Basically there are either two or three segments and the differences are explained below. 

Two section legs

On this design of desk there are only two sections making up the leg actuator. This means the desk is cheaper to manufacture and should cost less. Fewer components. It also means that the desk will rise and fall more slowly so 25mm/s instead of 38mm/s. It's quite a bit and if you go from sitting to standing a lot this could become annoying.

Generally two section desks do not go up as high as three section desks either. It would be typical to see a top height on a two section desk at 1190mm and on a three section desk 1280mm.

Currently we do not sell any two section electric desks. We just think who wants to wait all day for their desk to go up and down.

Three section legs

There is an extra segment in the leg which means the desk rises and falls at 38mm/s. This costs more but.....Be aware that the moving part of the desk can be at the feet or at the top of the desk. We have shown it at the foot in this example.

Eventually due to market pricing we may have to offer a two section leg desk but at least with this page you will know what to look out for.

Simple or Complex controller?

This is rarely totally clear however it is worth being sure which your desk will have. There is a big difference in the cost and again you want to make sure your spend is going to you as much technology as possible.

Simple Contoller

This type of controller just has a simple up and down button. They work well however you will not be able to return to the optimal seated or standing height each time without some adjustment. This is very much a cost reduction item on a desk. A four position memory controller is more expensive to put on a desk.

Complex Controller

These have a lot more technology built in. There is a digital display to tell you what height your desk is set at. Four memory locations so you can return to the same seated or standing height every time. There is also access to diagnostic functionality in the control box and if there is an error on the desk or it needs reset the controller will let you know. We believe these are well worth having however some companies sell them as an add on and not with the desk. They can cost as much as £50 to add on. All our desks have them as standard with either 3 or 4 memory positions.

Other considerations?

There are a few other things you should consider. Has it got collision detection. This is in the control module and means if the desk is being driven onto an object it will stop automatically. Useful if there are kids at home. Another option to look out for is thermal cut-out. If the desk is overused or misused will it shut itself down and stop the motors from overheating. Finally what is the lead length. Ours are 3 meters but some desks only have 2 meter leads which means if the desk is at full height you only have 0.7 meters to spare. Our electric desks come with thermal cutout and anti-collision as standard.