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I say this to anyone within earshot whenever this topic comes up: Get a motorized adjustable desk that you can stand or sit at. Unless you are a freak of nature, sometimes you will want or need to sit down. These desks are the norm in every office here in Denmark and I am always baffled that it is some kind of esoteric thing worthy of debate in America.

Having gotten used to them at the office, I got one for my home because I could no longer bear having to sit all the time. It cost around $500, a beautiful desk with customized bezel and finish. There are many suppliers, I used this one: http://www.conset.dk

(My desk: http://imgur.com/A1eS2)

Adjustable is useful, motorized is not. I have an Ergotron, and it takes me about two seconds to move it from sitting to standing position or vice versa. It's less time than it takes to switch the gel mat and the chair. When I bought it, there was about a 4x price difference between that and a motorized version that would have consumed yet another power outlet for no good reason.

Perhaps you're both solving the wrong problem... It's not necessary to spend so much money, nor time moving a desk up and down.

Get a tall drafting table, and a nice bar stool. Then you can get up or sit down to your hearts content all day. No waiting.

Well, yeah, except for the "sitting on a bar stool" part. Blech.

It's not really a stool, but a high chair, with a back and armrests ... may not be using the right word..

I usually see them advertised as Drafting Chairs :) I have tried this very solution, and it worked fairly well. Unfortunately my drafting chair broke and I haven't replaced it yet.

A bar stool isn't known for providing good posture to sit and work at a desk. If you find standing at a desk useful, you'll also find good ergonomic posture when sitting very helpful.

Ergo: feet flat on floor or a box, knee and elbow joints at 90 degrees back straight. Less clear-cut if back support helps (given sitting on a medicine ball due to the wriggling can be good, I don't know the best outcome)

It's not really a stool, but a high chair, with a back and armrests ... may not be using the right word.

I picked myself up a drafting chair (best term for online trawling I've found so far) without armrests (since I can't stand armrests), and a small cheap coffee table for me to rest my feet on. Much easier than trying to constantly readjust my quad monitor setup -- I set up the desk at one ideal position for standing, and leave my chair adjusted in another ideal position for sitting.

This is essentially what I did except I didn't get a drafting table, I got the IKEA jerker and jerry-rigged a bar stool on top of a treadmill. Now I can walk , stand or sit while working. My setup : http://imgur.com/xq3KkFa

I also have an Ergotron, and I completely agree.

It's Victorian-level counterweight technology, and it's absolutely brilliant.

Can you provide a link? Thanks

Looks like it costs $699, which is about $100 less than I paid for my motorized desk.

Actually it was about $500 for the version with the extra tray, and the motorized versions I saw when I was shopping were all at least twice that to move more surface than I want anyway. It's fantastic that you found something that suits you better at a good price, just like it's fantastic that some people like to sit on barstools or rig up extra shelves for printers and routers, but I think in most cases a good monitor/keyboard stand is closer to the sweet spot of practicality and price.

For those of you in Austin, TX, there is a local store that sells adjustible height desks[0]. I haven't actually bought one yet, but it was nice to play with them to see what they are like.

[0] http://www.thehumansolution.com/

Interesting this should come up just now. My (human solution) electric base arrives in 2 days. I bought a finished piece of birch marine plywood for the top. Total cost $674 plus a little elbow grease to trim to size and sand. :D

It does seem ridiculously expensive for a motor to drive the desktop up and down. But I'm trying to fix a shoulder injury that seems to have gone chronic. We shall see...

I also purchased an adjustable desk base from The Human Solution back in March. I paired it with a 73" x 26" kitchen countertop from Ikea.

I also put my monitors on an Ergotron dual monitor arm (http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/65/PRDID/355/default.aspx) so I can adjust the height of the monitors for sitting vs standing.

Overall I'm quite happy with the setup.

For those of you in Austin, TX, there is a local manufacturer.


Thanks for the link. The desks look gorgeous, but I'll be honest: the absence of even ballpark pricing and the presence of prominent financing offers make me a bit leery of looking further.

A coworker got one of these. He loves it but, IMHO it's a bit too expensive. I understand it's a good quality desk but I personally can't afford that.

My work has a similar model. They're quite nice, and I've gradually been working on how much I'm standing - up to about 2 hours now.

As far as power goes, my desk has a hidden power strip on the underside. It powers the lift feature for both legs (so there's only 1 wall plug), but you can also plug in your monitors so you don't need to have 10' cords on all your equipment. They also sell a power strip that can mount to the top of the desk, so again you don't need very long cords for all your peripherals (phones, chargers, etc).

For network cables you'll still need a cord long enough to travel to the standing height.

I tend to be a neat freak when it comes to organizing a desk, and will often have a surge strip velcro'd to the underside of a desk. Industrial velcro & straps are pretty cheap, and can be adjusted pretty easily when moving/relocating equipment. I've been thinking of getting monitor arms, since I am fairly tall, I tend to want my desk lower (at elbow height) and my monitors higher than most will rise up from that height, so that I can actually sit up straight and look forward... I'm pretty heavy so don't think going straight to a standing desk would work as well for me.

I'm a bit baffled that you think this is an esoteric thing worthy of debate in America. Seems like a pretty silly and useless generalization. I can make an opposite anecdotal observation and point out that the majority of my colleagues in the last five years have used standing desks of some sort (motorized or not).

The big issue that I've seen is cost. If you buy something pre-built or motorized/adjustable over here, it's going to be a bit more expensive. I opted to take the do-it-yourself route for my home office, which is what a lot of my colleagues did as well.

Here's what mine looked like the day I installed it: http://i.imgur.com/TiYJrZi.jpg

Came in at about $75 bucks, including the stain/varnish/mounting brackets/boards/etc.

Lowes and Home Depot sell wood specifically for stairs that have a rounded edge (so you don't kill your feet/shins). The desktop is just two of these butted up against each others' flat side, screwed down into the bracket below. Each board was about $10. The computer shelf below is made out of a single stair board. A set of super basic $8 wall mounts will hold all of this up without an issue.

The whole thing is rock solid, attractive, durable, and if I took more time to do some cable routing, it'd look really "floaty" and free-standing.

> I'm a bit baffled that you think this is an esoteric thing... the majority of my colleagues in the last five years have used standing desks of some sort

His example is still esoteric as you didn't show us a motorized adjustable sitting/standing desk either.

The "generalizations" would be sitting desks, and an emerging interest in standing desks. A motorized adjustable desk, in America, remains esoteric.

I don't think a motorized/adjustable desk is worth the expense, in my case. A cheap stool is perfectly good and serves a similar purpose without the danger of breaking. This is subjective, of course, and some of my colleagues have gone the motorized route. I'd just rather spend more on other things and forego the motorization. I've got like $75 in my desk and $15 in my stool, with the rest going towards a nice keyboard/mouse and monitors (things I'd rather spend top dollar on).

I'm a bit baffled that you think this is an esoteric thing worthy of debate in America.

That's because it is. In most offices, you have 1, maybe 2 people who use a standing desk. They're easy to spot because they stick out like a sore thumb. Those desks are almost always hand made too, because employers won't spend money on non-standard desks. Depending on how big the company is, you also may piss off the "workplace ergonomics expert" if you don't consult them before building your own desk.

Not to mention, most office space is pre-constructed out of snap-to-fit desk/cubicle walls. The chance of me getting a height adjustable desk is between zero and a very small number. Unless I qualified for an actual office (~10% of the workforce, management naturally), in which case I could probably swing it.

I'm not defending cubespace at all, but this is what we have to work with.

FWIW, I actually had my first standing desk at a large company (International Paper) in one of those pre-fab cubes. One of the "benefits" of the cube farm is that some of them are extremely adjustable. My desk was secured against the walls on these brackets that you could pull out of the rack in the wall and move the pegs up/down. In my case, I "adjusted" my desk surface up a few feet and stopped using my desk chair. Whala, standing desk.

YMMV, but the cubes were sort of an enabler in getting me started (since the investment was $0 and about 20 minutes of work adjusting things).

How do you adjust the height to sitting position? Or do you sit on a drafting chair or similar?

I use a really cheap stool (pictured in the lower left corner). It was about $15 on clearance at some home goods store.

The thing I've struggled with a little is reminding myself not to slouch when using the stool. It may be worth buying one with a back, if you have the budget for it.

Also of note is the fact that this desk is only really comfortable for me since it's fixed and non-adjustable. That's not a big deal in this case since this is my office, though. I'm a shade over 5'4", so my desk wouldn't be much fun for anyone a few inches taller/shorter.

> I use a really cheap stool (picture in the lower left corner).

-5 for my observation skills today :) Thank you!

Yes! When I first started using a standing desk I found I actually got quite sick of standing for long stretches and would just end up taking my laptop over to the couch to work. I finally got a http://www.geekdesk.com and I'm happy as a clam.

Why are these things so damn expensive? Looks like they are fleecing money ( or it appears so for my cheapskate sensibilities ). Someone should start a kick-starter project to make good ones for a reasonable price.

How much do you think a sturdy steel frame with reasonably precise synchronized lifting motors with a combined capacity of over 300lbs designed to put up with years of use and abuse should cost?

I'm gonna go with US $120-305 per piece.


Probably best to leave out the garish tabletop and find your own, though.

Then surely you'll be importing them en masse and selling for $400 a pop to undercut GeekDesk et al., yes?

Alibaba gives unexpected insights into the products all around us!

Has anyone ordered anything like this from alibaba? Just wondering if it was legit.

Well, it's all good, but buy one for this price first. Even when Ikea was selling motorized desks, they weren't this cheap.

What is a reasonable guess here..hmmm. I have no idea about how much these motors would cost but I am assuming given the number of office chairs (which move up and down with a lever) we produce, they shouldn't be costing a lot. We get good office chairs which support up to 300 lbs for under $100. I am assuming the technology for moving tables should be similarly priced. A sturdy steel frame + planks (wood/composite) + up/down motor/hydraulic lift shouldn't cost more than $300 in my subjective opinion. I am not willing to pay more than that. Wonder how much would IKEA charge for these, if they made one (edited for typos).

The >300lbs on a GeekDesk Max isn't how much it can support, it's how much it can lift. Your office chair can't lift 300lbs. It can't lift much at all. I also don't believe in the ability of a pair of $300 hydraulic lifts to consistently reproduce my presets.

As someone who weighs close to 300lbs, I can also tell you you won't find a good office chair rated for 300lbs for under $100. Go look at the specs on office chairs closely. Most of them will be rated for less than 250lbs with no more than a few hours/day of use.

If you want your own crappy top (planks? really?), the actual cost of a GeekDesk Max is $725-745. The non-max (275lbs lifting capacity) is $525-549. You want a vastly inferior product to save $225?

Why does a desk need to lift 300 lbs? Seems like a ridiculous requirement.

Perhaps because you weigh 160 lbs and your spouse / sexetary weighs 140 lbs?

I got a geek desk, the original. Put my own top of plywood on it finished. I've got 3 24" flatscreens and abunch of other crap. I'm still not even near the lifting capacity. But I think of the higher end desk as a good idea for a quieter motor, not so much the need for more weight. With that said, I think a hand crank desk should be fine for most of us. If only I could find one that's reasonably cheaper. The hand crank desks I've seen basically cost the same as the geekdesk though, which I don't understand at all.

50lbs desk surface, 3x ~15lbs LCDs, 5.6lbs laptop, ~15lbs desktop, other electronics, lamps, some books, papers, stands, containers with misc parts and things, whatever else I might be working on.

It's a 6.5' x 2.6' foot surface, it holds a lot more than a laptop.

One problem I see with the chair-piston approach is that if you don't get each leg moving up or down at the same rate then you might get a jam. This could probably be overcome if it is indeed an issue at all, but probably worth considering.

I have a simple(minded) idea here. Connect a damn horizontal rod between the two pistons/moving-legs on each side

Which will cause the desk to jam at a (potentially disastrous) angle when the motors get out of sync.

Are you a programmer? Do you like it when a non-programmer tells you "just do X", because it must obviously be so simple?

Why, then, are you so sure that you can come up with a better design than mechanical engineers without even studying the problem?

Apologies for shooting from the hip. Never meant to say I can come up with a better design than mechanical engineers. You seem to suggest that building this table requires some serious engineering chops. May be there is some truth to it. As a layman ( in mechanical engineering ) I find it extremely hard to believe that technology for synchronized hydraulic lifts is not commoditized yet.

It just feels like these ergonomic goods producing companies are selling chairs/tables with super high markups ($900-$1500) for ergo chairs - really?). Seems like you have a better handle on the production costs of a hight-adjustable table. How much does it really cost?

FWIW, we certainly can make synchronized tandem lifts, but as always it comes down to costs. Basically if you want both actuators to move in unison, you either need to directly link them mechanically, which is expensive to build/repair, and not very feasible over large distances, or you need to connect them electrically via their control signals.

In the latter case, you would usually synchronize their controller clocks, and specify the motors/cylinders/whatever to both have a very tight positioning tolerance. Then you mount the surface being moved on a system of bearings that have enough freedom s.t. it will self center automatically, absorbing the tiny bit of misalignment that can (and WILL) occur.

However, in my experience it's almost always better to use two passive, i.e. non-lifting, supports along with one actuator in the middle that is twice as powerful. In heavy lift applications it often comes down to getting a single cylinder that is powerful enough without blowing the cost through the roof. Nevertheless, if you look at marine architecture, airport gangways, earth moving machinery etc. you will often see just a single lifting point.

And in three paragraphs we've gone from office chair pistons to front-end loaders! Yay HN! As I said... for what it's worth ;-)

They probably make about 20-30% profit on each one dependent on the company.

Making shit is expensive unless you're doing it at scale, the majority of people don't care about adjustable desks so the marketshare is by nature a niche. You then have staffing costs, design costs, distribution costs.

Why not use a crank then?

I think if you want to do it cheap, then a handcrank, 4 rubber belt drives, and 4 screw legs would be the way to go. The problem would be making it look acceptable (either hide the mechanism, or display it prominently and make it look nice.

package that with a corded drill and you are good to go.

Hydraulic lifts on chairs work because you can stand up to raise the chair! It doesn't have to lift hardly any weight.

A bit pedantic, but I think you mean "pneumatic lifts". Unless you have something very exotic, there's no fluid in your chair!

They do make one. They charge 600 €.

Dunno, but fixed height desks of similar style and excellent build quality run around $150.


That table has 40% the surface area of my desk, and a static weight limit of 176lbs. I'd have to buy two for $300, still wouldn't have the same surface area, then I'd have to put it on something else because its maximum height is 32 inches (mine's over 43 when I'm standing). And, of course, the non-adjustability is a complete deal-breaker.

Over 5 years, a $1000 desk is about $0.55/day. It's strange to me how many people think it's outrageous for such a critical tool to cost that much.

Over 5 years, a $1000 desk is about $0.55/day. It's strange to me how many people think it's outrageous for such a critical tool to cost that much.

I suspect they're thinking about how a $100 desk is 1/10 that price, whether it's amortized over 5 years or not.


Perhaps, but a cheap and sturdy plain old IKEA desk with a wooden desktop costs about that much.

Why should it be made of wood? Any composite material will do. We just need to build one which is affordable. It looks like a niche product right now, and a whole lot of average americans cannot afford to purchase one. It looks like one of those things we have to pay a premium to own. You get sturdy and durable hydraulic barber chairs between $100-$150. A table with the same kind of lift mechanism should cost you ~$750 to own?

You get sturdy and durable hydraulic barber chairs between $100-$150.

This is difficult to believe, given that new cheap office/task chairs start at that price. Do you have a link?

These are the sort that I see in most barber shops, and are in that price-range: http://www.bestmassagesalon.com/product_p/pro3.htm

They probably wouldn't make a good drop-in replacement for office chairs since they aren't on wheels. On the other hand, footrests are nice...

"Why should it be made of wood? Any composite material will do."

To be clear, the IKEA table is probably made of a composite wood, not a proper slab of wood, but I agree with your point. Material cost should not dominate the price of a desk.

To be honest though, I think the value of a motorized desk is being overblown. I have just put my desk up on 4 stacks of office paper in the past; worked great. Everyone needs new expensive toys though...

That's the price of a shitty little desk from Staples. You pay shit, you get shit.

>You pay shit, you get shit.

That's what you say to suckers with your arm around their shoulders. I hope you don't mention that philosophy before you get the quote, because people are willing to sell you shit at any price.

Steel is >$0.60 per kilogram when purchased by the tonne. I believe the GeekDesk frames weigh over 100kg. So that's $60 just for the raw steel before it's been turned into anything useful or adding the motors and electronics.

I invite you to try to just break even selling adjustable 100kg steel desks to end-users at $150 each.

The shitty desk I use was $20. If $150 is still shitty, this shits too expensive.

The nichier the market, the more price has to go up to compensate. I also doubt there's much competition in the field, other than DIY or not using a convertible desk at all.

There are actually more options for height adjustable desks than you might imagine. I wrote up a post a while back that listed 7, but commenters have since added quite a few more.


It's not quite that simple because the high prices force the market to remain niche. It may be that the market could become surprisingly large if an affordable commodity version of this were available.


If you saw a day in my life, "hyper-sloth" would more likely be your term for me. "hyper-optimizer" isn't even on the list of possible descriptions. And I use an adjustable standing desk.

And no, ergonomic suicide is not an alternative to a proper desk with external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Welcome to the world of furniture; the world of huge items taking lots of warehouse space, all with low turnover. Furniture is expensive, full stop.

They need to be more Lean!

There are other options. Why a huge desk in the first place? The Jesper Workpad [1] is just $299 on Amazon [2] -- a minimalistic laptop desk with a minimal footprint and clean aesthetic. It's not motorized, but it doesn't need to be.

[1] http://www.jesperoffice.com/jesper-office-ergonomics/526-hei...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/Jesper-Height-Adjustable-Computer-Tabl...

I don't know about you, but I commonly have a lot more stuff on my desk than would fit on that thing. I don't work with keyboard+mouse+monitor, but even with just that it would be cramped. Maybe if you just use a laptop.

I got a ModTable (multitable.com), which is a bit more cost effective. Bought it through Amazon. You can buy just the hardware, and supply your own top if you want too (ikea sells some).

It isn't automatic (has a hand crank), but it works great! I don't run it up and down all day, and taking a minute to crank the handle (which is removable) when I want to change positions, is not onerous.

Do you think it would be feasible to use a drill to raise/lower it?

I think so!

Here is a picture of the handle: http://cl.ly/image/1e2k0a1Q2u38

I don't see why you couldn't leave the handle off (you insert the large allen wrench thing into the handle as part of assembly) and use a large-capacity bit grip, and a drill.

Might be a bit unwieldy though.

I've been quite happy with one of these: http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=modtable

Somewhat expensive, but costs less than a geekdesk/etc.

Since I have a laptop, I think it would be easier (and cheaper) to just have a standing setup and a sit-down desk nearby to switch between.

I bought mine at a garage sale for $100! (I do recognize that I am SUPER lucky) -- but keep hunting CL.

They're not so bad if you supply your own table-top.

This geekdesk looks like the desk I have. My situation is much like the op.

I started really getting back/shoulder/arm pains a few years back, so I started standing up all day. In the beginning it was really hard, but after about one month you sorta get used to it and develop the necessary muscles.

Another thing I can recommend is getting one of the good standing mats. Best one I've found is this one: http://www.kybun.com/products-and-stores/kybun-products/kybo...

They are comfortable standing on, and they make you change positition even more and excersize more different muscles in legs and knees.

What's wrong with a fixed standing desk with a drafting stool?

I like my Aeron for when I do have to sit.

It surprises me that guys will easily drop a thousand dollars every six to eight months on the latest phone, yet cheap out on their workspace. In fact I would be hard pressed to think of anything more worthy of my money than my desk and chair that I spend most of my day using.

Another thing is that most standing desks, including the one in the OP, seem to have a very small work area, which would be unacceptable to me (I like to draw stuff on paper).

I've got a very nice "bar stool."

Nothing at all. It is much cheaper and frees up money to spend on other things. I went this route and invested a little more in my keyboard/mouse/monitors with the savings.

I don't think people realize there are stool versions of many high end chairs so you can get the nice comfy chair + the ability to stand on the cheap!

This is my solution. It's cheaper and no less functional.

I didn't "get" standing desks at all till the last few months. Combined extended hours on long distance commuter buses, multi-hundred mile daily drives old home office chairs and crappy work office chairs have turned my lower back into a wreck.

I don't know if I could manage standing for long hours, but I imagine a nice stool, combined with adjusting into sitting for a few hours a day would do wonders.

However, the desks I use at both work and home run around $100-$130, it's hard to imagine spending $500+ on a desk with a bit more material and a simple up-down motor or manually adjusted height latches (or whatever).

In the meanwhile I'm working at a mix from home from my kitchen, my couch and a local coffee shop (with a nice easy walk to and fro) that seems to be helping.

Alternatively, you can put the standing desk in place, but have an rolling stool under it. Costs less, but us just as effective.

I've got an adjustable desk and I'm quite happy with it. I tend to alternate an hour standing with an hour sitting. I concur that when I'm standing, I'm a lot more likely to move around, e.g. to get a drink of water or use the toilet.

I stand my working time (for 3+ years now) behind a home made standing desk; when I feel the need to sit down, that's a break or end of the work day. Works really well.

Edit (reading through comments); I don't stand still; I walk in place.

Seems like you've struck the right balance!

Workfit is a great option that's easy to use when standing and sitting. It attaches to an existing table. It allows for two monitors and a keyboard at a nice height when standing and sitting.


Or sit on a couch for a lot less money.

I have this fantasy where my desk is able to attach rack mount chassis (u1/U2 x 2). It seems to me this would need to be a mod... Do you think the motor on these desks would be strong enough for such a feat?

A barstool is much cheaper than a motorized desk.

You should get a motorized chair like Dr. Evil.

> These desks are the norm in every office here in Denmark and I am always baffled that it is some kind of esoteric thing worthy of debate in America.

No company I've worked in within the U.S. has had a standing desk or even an adjustable-height desk that I can remember. It's a rare sighting for most.

In the U.S. cubicles are the norm, and their desk height isn't usually adjustable.

As for ergonomics, in the past few years I was working for a large institution owned by an even larger company that was all well-funded, and even their ergonomic team (yes, they had one) was completely inadequate. When I asked if they would assist me with recommendations for simple monitor and macbook stands, they stuttered and then suggested outlandishly expensive equipment ($3000 USD) just for a monitor stand! That would never be paid for as part of our team budget. So, when I told them this, they just said, "Then try Amazon." They never came by to measure me or ask me any relevant questions to help. It was a total farce. I ended up using books to lift my monitor and laptop to the correct position.

So basically, yes it seems esoteric here and products are pushed that are too damn expensive. I'm glad that you and your crew have nice desks. Thanks for the link and pic.

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