Pneumatic vs. Electric Standing Desks

If you’re in the market for a standing desk you’ll have two choices –a  pneumatic model or one with electric motors.

Both of them fulfill the same goal of allowing you to sit or stand at your desk as you see fit.

Each of these have their redeeming qualities and downsides, and both have legions of loyal users ready to tell you that their standing desk is the best thing.

For the newbies, it can be challenging to choose between the two.

So in this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about pneumatic vs. electric standing desks.

Pneumatic Standing Desks Explained

A pneumatic standing desk is a standing desk that uses a gas or liquid-filled cylinder to raise or lower the desk to whatever the user requires.

They are operated by a simple control panel that regulates the amount of air entering the cylinders.

As the air pressure increases, the desk rises, and as the pressure decreases, the desk lowers.

But the issue is that you have to move the desk by hand – both when raising and lowering it.

Electric Standing Desks Defined

On the other hand, electric standing desks use electric motors to raise and lower the work surface instead of pneumatic cylinders.

And because it uses a motorized system there’s no physical effort required on your part – you just push a button and your desk moves up or down.

Most people find electric standing desks easier to use because they’re a push-button solution instead of relying on any kind of hand-crank system.

Pneumatic vs. Electric Standing Desks

Both standing desk types are great options depending on your needs, but let’s compare them and see which one is best suited to your needs.

The Mechanism

Pneumatic standing desks have a slower mechanism when adjusting the desk to different heights. In contrast, electric standing desks can be adjusted far more quickly.

As mentioned earlier, pneumatic standing desks are powered by a pneumatic tube and gas or oil cylinder.

Pneumatics can generate a lot of noise, especially as the pistons and gaskets age- you end up with a loud squeaking noise at times.

 In contrast, electric standing desks use electric motors, which are a lot quieter than pneumatic cylinders.

So that makes electric standing desks are much quieter, and many people find this a big plus.


Pneumatic standing desks are often bigger because they need the extra space for the pneumatic cylinders.

Electric standing desks are smaller in size and can typically easily fit into any space.

The actual physical size of the desktop work surface doesn’t change – it’s the mechanism underneath is far bulkier with most types of pneumatic standing desks.


Electric standing desks last much longer than pneumatic standing desks because pneumatic standing desks are often powered by gas pressure, leading to problems over time. Basically, the pistons don’t provide consistent support over the long term.

Electric standing desks have fewer moving parts, so they will last longer and be more reliable in the long run. There’s also the fact that electric motors are usually far easier to replace than a set of pneumatic cylinders.

You can use an electric standing desk for up to 10 years, while pneumatic standing desks will last about 5 years if you don’t take care of them.

Individual Ergonomics

Suppose you have a special medical condition such as arthritis, carpal tunnel, or other medical problems.

In that case, an electric standing desk is a much better option for you as you can adjust it to your specific requirements with the push of a button the control panel.

On the other hand, if you don’t have any special issues that might require you to have your standing desk customized, a pneumatic standing desk can be workable for you.

The Price

Electric standing desks are more expensive than pneumatic standing desks because pneumatic standing desks use a gas cylinder that is often sourced from cheaper materials.

Pneumatic desks have no electronic components and use technology that’s over 100 years old. This keeps their cost down.

Electric standing desks are the mirror opposite in terms of complexity of construction, so there’s a cost associated with this.

Electric standing desks start at around $300 for a very basic money, while pneumatic standing desks are much cheaper and can be found for as low as $150.

The Maintenance

The better care you take of your standing desk the longer it will last.

 In terms of maintenance, electric standing desks are easier to take care of than pneumatic standing desks.

Pneumatic standing desks need to be calibrated every few months to ensure that the desk is still at the desired height. If this is not done, the desk can easily go out of calibration and be difficult to adjust.

Electric standing desks do not require any calibration, and as long as you keep the desk clean, don’t overwork the motors, you’ll find it will last much longer.


There are many users of pneumatic and electric standing desks.

Yet, pneumatic standing desks are not as popular as electric ones yet.

This is because pneumatic standing desks are newer to the market, and people are still discovering the benefits of using them.

Electric standing desks have been around for longer, so they are more popular and well-known. Still, pneumatic standing desk users are rising in numbers, and electric standing desk users are too close to call.

Power sources

This is something to think about considering the current issues around both energy supply and how much available energy actually costs.

Pneumatic desks will continue to work even if you have no power and are cheaper to run because they don’t user electricity.

Electric standing desks, on the other hand, will simply stop working if there’s a power cut. And this could be extremely inconvenient if your electric standing desk is stuck at a height that’s not comfortable for you to work at.

Also, this means that pneumatic standing desks are the more environmentally friendly (or green) option for an adjustable desk solution.


When it comes to buying a standing or adjustable desk only you can make that final decision.

Only you can decide if standing desks are good for you.

So your final choice will be based on your personal preferences, and both types of standing desks have redeeming qualities.

So choose the one that’s the best suited to your personal circumstances.