When I purchased my standing desk, the Ikea Bekant corner desk, I didn’t think about the weight capacity of the electric raising mechanism. When I got home and placed my heavy desktop computer as well two monitors, a couple of work laptops and other smaller items on the desk, I realized I should have checked the weight capacity prior to purchase.
Lucky for me, the desk was able to support all the weight I placed on top, and hasn’t failed me. I’ve been using it for over a year now. That being said, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about how much weight popular standing desks can carry in order to aid others with their purchase.
The carrying capacity of adjustable standing desks varies from 150 lbs (68 kg) to 500 lbs (227 kg) depending on the brand and model. Most companies include the weight of the actual desk top (the wood surface of the desk) in this specification so you should substract this weight from the listed number to get the maximum weight you can put on top of the desk.
These are a few examples of popular standing desk models and how much weight they can carry:
- UPLIFT V2 – 355 lbs (161 kg)
- ApexDesk Elite – 225 lbs (102 kg)
- Fully Jarvis Bamboo – 350 lbs (159 kg)
- Branch Standing Desk – 275 lbs (125 kg)
- Flomotion Sisu Standing Desk – 353 lbs (160 kg)
- FlexiSpot EN1 – 154 lbs (69 kg)
- FlexiSpot EQ3 – 275 lbs (125 kg)
- Steelcase Ology – 314 lbs (142 kg)
- Evodesk Pro – 500 lbs (227 kg)
- Ikea Bekant – 220 lb (100 kg)
Moreover, you’ll be able to find some edge cases of desks that have smaller carrying capacities and some that have higher. Make sure to ensure that the desk you purchase can carry more than your planned loading.
An important note I want to mention is that a desk with a very high carrying capacity does not necessarily mean that it’s a better quality desk or a more robust lifting mechanism in terms of usable life.
Manual vs. Electric vs. Pneumatic Standing Desks (Carrying Capacity)
The mechanism by which the standing desk is able to move up and down defines the type of the standing desk. Nowadays, electric standing desks are the most popular, however manual and pneumatic standing desks also exist and can have their perks.
What Is A Manual Standing Desk?
A manual standing desk, as the name implies, is a height adjustable standing desk where the mechanism to raise or lower the desk is manual. Manual standing desks have a cranking mechanism that you must turn by hand in order to raise and lower the frame.
A common feature in these desks is the ability to retract the crank handle so that it is less visible and less in the way while you are working. Moreover, companies allows you to choose which side of the desk you want the handle on.
Moreover, the use of gears allows manufacturers to step down the force required to turn the crank and lift the desk up even when there is some weight on top.
These desks generally have a good warranty as all the moving parts of the desk are mechanical. Good build quality ensures that the desk will last for a long time whereas the pneumatic and electric mechanisms may be more likely to fail.
Generally manual standing desks have a smaller load capacity than the pneumatic and electric standing desks. Manual standing desks usually max out around 150 lbs or 68 kg of load.
What Is A Pneumatic Standing Desk?
Pneumatic powered devices utilize the power of compressed gases such as air to provide the mechanical advantage needed. You may also be familiar with hydraulic cylinders which utilize liquids to provide mechanical force in one direction.
Similar to hydraulics, pneumatic cylinders can be used to lift and lower objects in one direction. A very common example is the standard office chair. In most office chairs, a pneumatic cylinder drives the ability to raise and lower the chair. Similar technology is applied to each of the legs of a pneumatic standing desk.
There are few advantages of a pneumatic desk. First, there’s no power cord so you can actually place the desk wherever you like in the room. Moreover, this allows the desk to be moved very easily and so pneumatic desks usually come on top of wheels.
Furthermore, the operation of the pneumatic mechanism is very quiet and doesn’t require much force from the user when calibrated correctly. The mechanism has to be calibrated for the range of weight allowed to be places on the desk and it can be dangerous to operate the desk when the weight exceeds capacity.
While pneumatic desks are the fastest and quietest in operation, their load capacity is generally lower. For example, the ergotron WorkFit-D desk has a carrying capacity of 65 lbs or 29.5 kg. Pneumatic cylinders also lose pressure over time but you can generally get the same warranty life as a manual desk.
What Is An Electric Standing Desk?
Electric standing desks utilize electric motors as the raising and lowering mechanism and are the most popular these days. Similar to a manual standing desk, a gearbox is used to increase the torque output of the electric motor at the cost of speed. This is why, the electric standing desk operation will typically be slower than a pneumatic desk.
One huge advantage you get from electric motors is the ability to control them with electronics. This allows you to not only operate the desk with the push of a button, but you can actually use Bluetooth apps on your phone to wirelessly control the desk.
Similar to pneumatic desks losing pressure over time, electric motors and gears can wear out over time as well. However, for an electric desk this is more closely tied to how much the desk is used, where as the pneumatic desk can lost pressure regardless. With this in mind, as long as you are not operating an electric desk all day, it should last you for many years.
Another downside of the electric desk is that you need a wall outlet for it to operate and become restricted in the placement. That being said, if you plan on using a computer on the desk, chances are you will need a wall outlet for it anyways.
Electric desks can vary a lot in their carrying capacities. Most of the desks in the examples above are electric and you can see that they even go up and over of 500 lbs or 227 kg loads.
Consider The Weight Of The Desk Top
Usually, the weight capacity listed in the specifications of the desk is for the frame, not including the top surface of the desk. If you overload the frame, you will reduce the lifetime of the height adjustment mechanism and may cause catastrophic failure where the desk breaks or collapses.
Usually, desk tops are made from medium density fiberboards (MDF) which is generally pretty lightweight. A 4′ by 4′ square sheet of 3/4″ thick MDF weighs approximately 44 lbs or 20 kg. Depending on the size, thickness, and lamination of the piece the weight can vary from this approximation.
For a 63″ wide by 28″ deep desk as I recommend for a dual monitor setup, the weight if the material is 3/4″ MDF is around 33 lbs or 15 kg.
Does The Weight Rating On The Desk Matter?
As you can see from the shortlisted weight capacities at the beginning of the article, most of the electric, height adjustable, standing desks support decently large weights. With normal computer setups even with multiple monitors, laptops, peripheral, you will most likely be well within the capacity of the desk.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t run into issues, for example if you distribute all the weight on one leg of the table it can become problematic. Unless the lifting mechanism allows for unevenly distributed weights, it can cause issues for the mechanism if one side is loaded much more than the other.
Overall, if you are using the desk for regular home office use, with computers, monitors, a keyboard and a mouse, and a few other small devices, you should not run into any issues with the weight capacity of the desk.
If you also plan on having a large printer, a heavy desktop computer and heavy plants on the desk, then go for a desk with a higher weight capacity.
Standing Desk vs. Normal Desk Weight Capacity
For ordinary desks, without any sort of height adjustment mechanism, the weight capacity varies greatly based on the design, materials, structural support and size of the desk.
Typically, executive style desks will support a higher weight than normal bedroom desks. Overall, when standing desks are compared to ordinary desks, both have a large variance in weight and you should get the right desk for the weight capacity you plan on using each for.
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More