Electric vs Manual Standing Desk: Which is Better?

Debates around the electric vs standing desk problem don’t seem to have a clear answer. An electric standing desk is easy to adjust but a manual standing desk might be more affordable. Hand crank standing desks don’t need the power a sit-stand desk requires. Furthermore, some of Australia’s top standing desks such as UpDown Pros Series Desk allow you to choose between an electric standing desk and a hand crack standing desk, or a manual standing desk.

The electric vs manual standing desk debate is one that you need to tune in yourself, as an office worker looking to improve your health and posture.

Key takeaways:

  • An electric standing desk is easy to adjust without physical effort.
  • Motor drive adjustments allow saving a preferred standing position.
  • Manual sit stand desks can be more durable and will last longer than an electric standing desk.

The Differences between Manual and Electric Standing Desks

There are notable differences worth pointing are found between manual and electrically-adjustable desks. From durability to ease of use, these similar desks are different in their own ways.

CriteriaManual DeskElectric Desk
AffordabilityManual desks tend to be more affordable as they only use a manual crank for height adjustments.Electric desks may be more expensive to purchase and more expensive to repair.
InstallationManual desks are easier to install.Electric desks always need to be installed next to a wall plug.
WeightA manual standing desk is not much lighter than an electric desk.Both an electric and a manual sit stand desk come with the same weight.
AssemblyHand crank standing desks have straightforward installation.While also easy to install, an electric adjustable desk has a few extra assembly steps.
Load capacityA manual desk holds the same maximum weight as an electric version but requires a bit of muscle power to adjust.Single or dual motor drive makes even the maximum load capacity feel easy to adjust.
Accessory optionsCable management trays and monitor stands can be used on a manual sit stand desk.Some electric standing desks offer unique accessories such as built-in wireless charging.
SafetyThere’s is no collision warning sensor when adjusting the hand crank standing desks.Some electric desks have collision avoidance mechanisms that stop the desktop from lowering when noticing an object.
PowerYou need no power and can save on energy bills with a manual desk.Both desk converters and electric standing desks need power for all height adjustments.
Ease of useWhile straightforward, manual desks require you to use a crank.An electric version desk is adjusted by simply pressing the up or down buttons.
DurabilityYou can count on a manual desk for long periods of use as there are no electronics to break.This desk may come with a long warranty for the desktop and frame and a shorter warranty for its electronic components.

What Is An Electric Desk?

An adjustable standing desk with electronic height control is known as an electric standing desk. These types of sit-stand desks use one or multiple motors to elevate or lower the desktop. Electric sit-stand desks integrate a simple controller to program the standing desk to your preferred height. You simply press up or down buttons for a height-adjustable desk to go up or down.

omnidesk digital height panel

Electric Desks: Pros & Cons

Electric desks have plenty of benefits but they also come with a few notable drawbacks. While easy to adjust, these types of desks may only be used when plugged in. A power outage, for example, leaves you unable to adjust your desk.

Electric Standing Desk Pros

  • Easy to adjust with the press of a button.
  • Memorable elevation positions.
  • May come with an included display for elevation reading.
  • It has room for other electrical components such as wireless charging.

Electric Standing Desk Cons

  • Generally more expensive than a hand crank desk.
  • Electric motors can sometimes be loud.
  • You can’t place it anywhere around the house or the office as it needs to be plugged in.
  • Power cables can make it look like a cluttered desk without proper cable management for standing desks.

What Is A Manual Standing Desk?

A new standing desk can also be manual. A manual standing desk is a type of desk where manual frame adjustments are made using a hand crank. Manual standing desks are always a matter of personal preference. While they can look less modern than an electric existing desk, they may last longer and may even be more affordable.

Manual Crank Desks: Pros & Cons

Manual Standing Desk Pros

  • Setting the ideal height for a manual desk doesn’t need electricity.
  • A durable setup without any motors to fail under a very heavy load.
  • Typically backed by a better warranty.
  • Normally a more affordable than electric alternatives.

Manual Standing Desk Cons

  • A visible hand crank isn’t always great for a minimalist desk look.
  • Adjusting the whole desk requires some muscle power.
  • You may accidentally hit the hand crank when sitting on an ergonomic chair or stool.

The Practical Differences between Manual and Electric Desks

Apart from personal preference, there are practical differences to choose one desk over the other. While similar at a first glance, these desks have their practical benefits and limitations.

An electric standing desk is technically easier to adjust

Simply pressing a button is always easier than relying on muscle power to elevate or lower the desktop. A desktop can be heavy, especially when there’s a dual monitor setup to elevate. Office workers may already experience hand fatigue from using a mouse all day. It won’t be easier for these types of workers to feel relaxed while working when they need more muscle power to adjust their desks.

An electric desk can lift a heavy load as well

One of the common misconceptions about electric desks is that they come with a very low weight capacity, especially compared to hand crank desks. This is far from the truth. Some of Australia’s leading electric sit-stand desks come with very high weight capacity, however, the load capacity also depends on the size of your standing desk.

  • The UpDown Pro Series lifts a maximum load of 150kg.
  • The Everdesk Max comes with a 120kg maximum load capacity.
  • The Omnidesk Pro 2020 has a maximum load capacity of 130kg.

How much can a standing desk hold? Standing desks capacity, limits and common myths.

The hand crank of the standing desk needs to be pulled out for adjustments

One small inconvenience when it comes to hand cranks is they need to be pulled out. Some desks have fixed hand cranks, which may not be tucked in for the desk setup to look cleaner. Others come with pulling hand cranks.

You can’t adjust your electric standing desk during a power outage

A good practical reason to consider a manual sit-stand desk is if your home or office faces frequent power outages. A new neighbourhood or a developing area might face power outages which make your adjustable desk practically unusable. Loss of power is one of the most common reasons why standing desks can’t go up and become stuck until power returns.

Free desk positioning options for a hand crank sit-stand desk

A manual type of sit-stand desk can be placed in any part of the office such as against a wall or in the middle of an open area. The same freedom of setting up a desk in any location around the house is a major plus for those working from home. Power cables make electric sit-stand desks a bit less practical by comparison.

Manual standing desks aren’t ideal for left-handed users

Small inconveniences are also seen in manual crank desks. Most manual cranks are placed under the right side of the desktop. Left-handed users are at a slight disadvantage here, especially when a heavy desktop needs to be elevated and lowered multiple times per day.

The ergonomic differences between manual and electric standing desks

Both desks may prove superior choices to your existing desk that doesn’t adjust up or down from an ergonomics perspective. The benefits of working while standing are present in both options.

Both standing desks support proper posture and ergonomic sitting

You can improve your working posture both with a manual and an electric desk. Furthermore, you may even feel more engaged in your line of work which eventually leads to increased productivity. It can take some time to adjust to standing and sitting at the desk, but both these types of standing desks allow you to reduce back pain while sitting, or to improve your posture and posture issues such as forward head tilt.

You may feel more engaged with a manual crank desk

Engagement is a major topic in office ergonomics. The main problems with posture come from long hours of not moving, which can be the case with a classic desk. A standing desk makes you feel more engaged while forcing you to move a bit more. Manual desks might feel ever more engaging since you need to use your hands to adjust them, as opposed to simply pressing a few buttons on an electric standing desk.

Manual vs Electric: Which Standing Desk to Pick?

The manual vs electric standing desk debate can only have a clear winner. But this winner is not the same for all office workers. You might feel one of these desks is more appealing to your situation.

Choose an electric sit-stand desk if:

  • You like minimum effort adjusting your desk. Pressing a few buttons and even memorizing your preferred height makes electric standing desks highly convenient and even time-saving.
  • You’re into technology. Electric standing desks speak more to those in motors and electronics. They may even come with extras manual crank desks don’t offer, such as integrated wireless charging or USB charging ports.
  • You have the budget available. Standing desks powered by motors are simply the better option but they do tend to come with a hefty price tag. For those on a small budget, a manual desk is a budget-friendly alternative to an electric standing desk.

Choose a manual crank desk if:

  • You’re shopping on a budget. While not always cheaper, manual sit-stand desks may cost less as they come without electric motors. They may also last longer without any electronics failing in the future.
  • You are likely to move the desk often. One of the best reasons to choose a manual standing desk is to move it around the office frequently. You may prefer to work by the window one day or next to an AC unit the second day. You can do this with a manual desk that doesn’t need any electricity.

Frequently asked questions

Is a manual standing desk worth it?

Manual standing desks last long, they are easy to repair and may be cheaper. They come with the same ergonomic posture benefits as electric standing desks and work even in case of a power outage.

Is an electric standing desk worth it?

Your muscles don’t need to work hard to adjust electric standing desks. You can enjoy better posture without putting extra strain on your muscles and posture which may already be suffering from long hours of sitting.


A dual-motor standing desk may eliminate uneven loading issues on a single motor and may last longer than single-motor standing desks. An electric standing desk is the most comfortable solution to work on your posture and to see all of the benefits of working while standing. A manual standing desk may be a practical alternative if you don’t have access to a power plug. If you decide its time to make the move and get rid of the manual desk, here’s a guide on how to transition to a standing desk.

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