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Pneumatic Standing Desk vs Electric Standing Desk: Which is Better?

19 April 2021

When it comes to sit-stand conversion desks, there’s the eternal question of which is better. The electric motor fans insist their standing desk is better than the pneumatic pressure pneumatic desk. On the other, the pneumatic pressure advocates say theirs is the better product

Different desks have different designs. Some desks have cranks and some gears to adjust the desk. Using pneumatic pressure which is similar to office chairs that can be adjusted up and down. While some of them have electric motors that raise or lower the height of the desk automatically.

So, the discussion goes on which is better? Pneumatics or electrics?

The Straightforward Answer

The answer is this: whichever the user chooses. Both have their pros and cons. The fact of the matter is that neither one of them can be truly better than the other

The Pros and Cons of Pneumatic standing desks

Pneumatic desks are just like how office chairs work by using a gas cylinder. The same technology is used by the desk just on a larger scale. Pneumatic tubes contain gas. Once the desk is lowered, that gas is compressed. When raised, the compressed gas expands, putting pressure to make it lift.

The gas springs regulate the amount of weight they have to lift. If the gas is pressurized too much, it’s difficult to operate the desk or chair. Fortunately, the pneumatic tube is calibrated for the range of weights on the desk and the users’ weight.

The Pros:

  •  A gas spring can easily raise or lower the desk to the position desired. The spring when calibrated can makes the desk weightless. The user can lift or lower the desk with a single finger.


  • Pneumatics is silent.  There is virtually no sound coming from the gas cylinder. There is only a little creaking from the frame and a slight hiss of gas.


  • Pneumatic desks have no need for electricity. They leave no carbon footprint due to the fact it doesn’t use resources to operate, and they’re not tied down by cords. Most pneumatic standing desks have wheels, so they can be transferred from place to place. 

The Cons:

  • Gas cylinders lose pressure over time. Especially when it is overloaded close to its weight capacity. Gas springs can deteriorate and can leak, making it difficult adjusting them which cannot hold their pre-set position very well. 


  •  Its motion can be erratic or abrupt if the balance is out. Pneumatic desks are balanced to operate smoothly. Too much weight on the spring or it is poorly sized, the result would be erratic jerky motion when moving up and down.

The Pros and Cons of Electric standing desks

Electric sit-stand desks use a gearing mechanism to operate the desk. Usually, a motor is attached to a gearbox that moves the rotational motor power into vertical power in operating the desk.  It ranges from a track gear and a worm gear to a complex gearbox system encased in a low-profile cylinder. This entire assembly is typically hidden inside the legs or central pillar of the desk, to keep it hidden and preventing objects from getting entangled in the gears.

Electric desks are simple mechanisms with a button to operate it. They can connect with smarter devices with Bluetooth apps, or with programs to preset the heights to the desired settings. A smart desk is a very accurate tool and has the best range of adjustments and convenience.

The Pros:

  • Electric motors have zero effort to raise or lower the desk. The motor handles the operation with only you pressing a button. Even with the simplest electric desks, pressing a button requires far less effort than the smoothest pneumatic desk.


  • The operation is completely effortless. Pneumatics tend to erratic if not maintained properly, but an electric desk is a completely smooth, one-speed adjustment. This is important if a monitor is perched on the desk, or you keep a drink at the desk. Electric desks won’t jerk or wobble, thus keeping the objects on the desk undisturbed.

  • Smart desks can be preset to specific heights every time. Once you set the desk to the precise height requirement whether sitting and standing. Just press the button and wait for it to reach its programmed settings. No longer need to adjust.

The Cons:


  • Like any other equipment, electric motors and gears will wear out eventually. Just like gas springs, electric motors burn out over time.


  •  Electric motors are noisier than gas desks. They have a distinct whine to them, and gears groan while turning. But thanks to modern technology, electric desks are nearly silent when operating. In the end, it depends on the model purchased.  Some electric desks are definitely quiet.


  • It needs electricity to work. Being an electric desk, it needs a power source to operate. The desk needs to be plugged in which limits its mobility. It can only be placed where electricity is available. Since computers are used nowadays instead of a manual typewriter so power is no problem. 

Price Comparisons

There is no such thing which has the best price whether pneumatic or electric standing desk. There are high-cost and low-cost models for both types of desks. Whatever the budget is, there is a desk that is suited for everyone and is affordable. 

Does Electric Desks Pose a Hazard?

Standing desk safety

Since an electric-powered standing desk uses electricity, there is always a risk of an electrical accident. Things like something that cuts the power cord open, can produce sparks or blow a fuse. Or spilling a container of water on electrical components could cause electrocution. 

All the same, electric desks are no more hazardous than the computer, electric lamp, or other electrical items on the same desk.  As always, use common sense and adhere to all safety precautions. 

Another safety concern is the “automatic” feature of an electric desk compared to a pneumatic desk. A pneumatic desk won’t adjust unless you press it, while an electric desk can automatically adjust itself while you are away. There’s little chance that, during that time adjusting, something fragile could get caught in the workings and get damaged, like a wire or object stuck under the desk. 

While this is possible, electric standing desks have fail-safes features. If they sense resistance, they shut down automatically to avoid damage to whatever object got caught in the mechanism. Some basic electric standing desks are no different from the pneumatic desks in that there's no safety or smart features.

But in reality, electric desks are just as safe as pneumatic desks, and may even more with the models with built-in safety features.