What is a Standing Desk Converter? Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Michael Lipka on

By: Mike Lipka  |  Date: January 13, 2023


If you're in the market for a standing desk, you have probably come across the term "standing desk converter" and wondered what the difference is between a standing desk converter and a standing desk. 


The difference is simple. One sits on top of your existing desk and one replaces your existing desk. But there are some differences amongst standing desk converters that I would like to cover as they are important in deciding what is the best standing desk converter for you.


In addition to this, I will also provide you with a list of the 3 best selling standing desk converters here at Desk Riser that might help you in your search.



Table of Contents: What is a Standing Desk Converter?


What is a Standing Desk Converter?

A standing desk converter is a device that sits on top of your existing desk and moves up and down, letting you switch back and forth from sitting and standing.

 What is a standing desk converter?


The main difference between a standing desk and a standing desk converter is that a standing desk is meant to replace your existing desk, while a standing desk converter is an add-on device that converts your existing desk into a sit to stand desk.


There are quite a few differences amongst standing desk converters, but some key features to pay attention to include:


1. The Number of Levels on a Standing Desk Converter

A standing desk converter typically has two levels or platforms (one for your monitor and one for your keyboard tray) but it can also just have one level.


standing desk converters - one level vs two levels


A single level desk converter like the Desk Riser 28X consists of a base or legs and then one flat platform or level at the top that will hold your laptop or desktop computer, your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and mouse pad all on the same level.


A two level standing desk converter typically has a lower level that is used for your keyboard, mouse, and mouse pad, and then an upper level that is used for a laptop or desktop computer, monitor(s), and note pad. 


Some two level converters have enough space on the lower level to place your laptop on it for a multiscreen setup. This is popular for video gamers. Below is a picture of the Desk Riser Classic with this setup.

Standing Desk Converter with two levels


2. Adjustable Height Settings

Every standing desk converter has a different number of adjustable height settings. Some have continuous height settings, which means they stop at any small interval between its lowest and highest height setting.


Other desk converters have fixed height settings at defined intervals between its lowest and highest height setting. For example, it might have an adjustable height range from 5 inches to 17 inches high with 6 different height adjustment levels.


You can adjust the height of the converter to your preferred standing position, which can help reduce the strain on your back and neck. 


If given a choice, I personally think you should always opt for the converter with the most height settings.



3. Manual vs Electric Standing Desk Converter


Standing desk converters come in two versions: a manual version and an electric version. 


Manual Standing Desk Converter

Manual standing desk converters adjust up and down with the help of one or two handles on the sides of the converter. The handles that you squeeze will activate hydraulic pistons which help lift and lower the converter. They typically can hold between 25 and 50 LBs of weight.

Manual standing desk converter


Manual standing desk converters typically are priced lower than electric converters. One under the radar benefit of manual converters is they automatically promote movement because it requires you to lift and lower your desk with your arms. Granted, it is not strenuous, but it does promote blood circulation.


Electric Standing Desk Converter

Electric standing desks have a touch pad that allows you to lift and lower your converter by a simple touch of the screen and/or buttons on it. Like manual standing desk converters, electric converters typically can hold between 25 and 50 LBs of weight.


Some electric standing desk converters like the Electric Standing Desk 3.0 also feature USB ports and AC outlets on the desktop to plug in your devices, as shown below. This is a nice feature that I would recommend opting for if it is in your budget.


Electric standing desk converter with AC outlets



4. Sliding Keyboard Tray vs Fixed Keyboard Tray

Standing desk converters with two levels (discussed above) feature 2 types of keyboard trays: a sliding keyboard tray or a fixed keyboard tray.


Sliding or Retractable Keyboard Tray

A sliding keyboard tray helps you maintain an ergonomic posture while standing as it extends the depth of the standing desk converter, allowing you to stand further away from your monitor screen, which prevents eye strain.

Standing desk converter with sliding keyboard tray

Additionally, a retractable keyboard tray allows you to move closer to your converter if you want to write. You can just push in the keyboard tray until it is underneath the top level.


There aren't a lot of standing desk converters with retractable keyboard trays, but we do have a few at Desk Riser that are very popular, including the following models: 


Be sure to check the dimensions of the sliding keyboard tray to see if your keyboard + mouse pad / mouse can fit on it.


Fixed Keyboard Tray

Some standing desk converters like the Desk Riser 32X, feature a wide keyboard tray that isn't retractable. Instead, it is attached to the top level usually with screws and it doesn't move.

Desk Riser 32X with fixed keyboard tray


Most fixed keyboard trays tend to be wider because they don't have to tuck underneath the top level of the converter. 



5. How Does the Converter Rise?

There are 2 ways in which standing desk converters move up and down: (1) they rise straight up and down and (2) they rise up and toward you and down and away from you.


Below is the Desk Riser Grande in Teak, an example of a standing desk converter that rises straight up and down:


Below is the Desk Riser Classic, which is a standing desk converter that rises up and toward you and lowers by going down and away from you:

Desk Riser Classic in Gray

Typically, a standing desk converter that rises straight up and down will rise higher than one that rises up and toward you and down and away from you. If you're taller than 6'1", this will matter. Otherwise, its not really a factor other than which design you like better.



6. How High Up Does it Rise?

A common question that we get asked from customers is "How high does the standing desk converter rise?"


Before you purchase your desk and accessories, take into account how high up the converter can rise to. Here is a good size chart you want to keep in mind when choosing a standing desk converter that fits your height:


Standing Desk Size Chart

Guide to Understanding the Standing Desk Size Chart

If you're not sure what height range you need for your standing desk converter, do this simple math.


First, measure your existing desk height (note: an average desk height is approx. 29 inches). 

Existing Desk Height

Second, add 2 inches to that to include the thickness of the keyboard tray when the desk converter is at its lowest height. This will give you the height from the floor to the top of the keyboard tray.


Third, measure the distance from the floor to your elbow when you're standing.


Lastly, compare the distance to your elbow to the distance you previously measured (ground to top of keyboard tray) and the difference between the two numbers is how much you want your standing desk converter to rise from its lowest level to meet your elbow height when standing.


Let's Use an Example

Assume the following: You are 6'2" tall and have an elbow height of 44 inches (that is, the distance from the ground to your elbow when standing), and your current desk is 29 inches tall. 


Using the above measurements, you can assume that with the standing desk converter on top of your desk, the lowest height of the standing desk converter would be 31 inches to the top of the keyboard tray. 


Now take your elbow height of 44 inches and subtract 31 from that. The answer is 13. As someone who is 6 feet 2 inches tall, you would need a converter with a height range of at least 13 inches.


Take a look at the screen shot below of the Desk Riser Classic, which shows the 4 sizes that this converter comes in. Shown in red is the height range of each of the sizes.


Standing desk converter height range

As you can see, the 40 inch wide size would accommodate someone up to 6 feet 4 inches tall because it has a height range of 15 inches, whereas the 32 inch wide size would accommodate someone up to 6 feet 1 inch tall because it has a height range of approximately 12 inches.


So if you are 6'2" tall, you're going to want to look for a standing desk converter that has a height range of at least 13 inches. In the example above, the Desk Riser Grande (40" Wide version) or the Desk Riser Extra Grande (46" Wide version) would be best for you. 


NOTE: All of the above is an approximation as every person has different length arms.




To recap, if you're looking for a standing desk converter, the key features you want to focus on are as follows:

1. The number of levels on a standing desk converter.

2. Adjustable height settings.

3. Manual vs electric standing desk converter.

4. Sliding keyboard tray vs fixed keyboard tray.

5. How does the converter rise? 

6. How high up does the standing desk converter rise?


Best Standing Desk Converters - DeskRiser.com

And now, without further ado, below is our list of the 3 most popular standing desk converters at DeskRiser.com. 


1. Electric Standing Desk 3.0 - 37 Inch Wide  

Electric Standing Desk 3.0

The Electric Standing Desk 3.0 comes with just about every popular feature in the list above. It rises extra high for tall people (works for people up to about 6 feet 4 inches tall), it has a sliding keyboard tray, it rises straight up and down, and it has 4 AC outlets and 2 USB ports to plug in your devices.

The one drawback is that it is our most expensive standing desk converter.


2. Desk Riser Classic - 32 inch Wide

Desk Riser Classic

The Desk Riser Classic is actually our best selling standing desk converter. The reasons why It is so popular are as follows:

  1. It is one of the lower priced 2 level standing desk converters that we offer.
  2. It has a sliding keyboard tray.
  3. It is wide enough to fit two monitors, but not so wide that it takes up too much room on your existing desk.


3. Desk Riser 32X - 32 In. Wide

Desk Riser 32X

The 32X is popular for several reasons:

  1. The price point is great for people looking for affordable standing desks.
  2. It rises straight up and down.
  3. It has a wide keyboard tray that can fit a full size keyboard and mouse. 
  4. It has a slot for putting your iPhone or iPad in so you can stand it up and charge it while working.
  5. It also rises up to 20 inches high and is perfect for someone up to 6 feet 4 inches tall.


Conclusion - What is a Standing Desk Converter?

Hopefully this article helps clarify not only what a standing desk converter is, but also the key features you should look for as you're searching for a standing desk converter.


The list above of the best selling standing desk converters at Desk Riser should provide you with enough options to satisfy the needs you have for your desk setup.

If you're looking for more options, though, try our DeskFinder tool, which lets you find the standing desk that is perfect for you.



FAQs - What is a Standing Desk Converter?

Q: Standing Desk vs Standing Desk Converter? 

A: The main difference between a standing desk and a standing desk converter is that a standing desk is meant to replace your existing desk, while a standing desk converter is an add-on device that sits on top of your existing desk and converts it into a sit to stand desk.


Q: What is the Best Standing Desk Converter with a Keyboard Tray?

A: Most standing desk converters have either one level or two levels. Converters with two levels feature a lower level that is used for your keyboard and mouse and an upper level that is used for your monitor and/or laptop. Two level converters have either sliding keyboard trays or fixed keyboard trays (read more above). Converters with one level do not have keyboard trays. 

Q: Which standing desk converters have a sliding keyboard tray?

A: We have 5 models of standing desk converters with a sliding keyboard tray:



Older Post | Newer Post