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Bill Knighton 3/10/2022 29 min read

Is the Best Standing Desk Worth the Price?

RightAngle’s Elegante XT Desk is expensive when compared to other adjustable height desks. That's the main knock from online reviewers, and they're right. Regardless of the pricing criticism, the Elegante XT always ranks in the upper tier of quality standing desks with several outstanding features.

From 50 feet away, one standing desk looks like another. So what's the big deal? It's after you get much closer before you see the differences.

Before going any further, let me run something by you.

Sitting before you on a table are two watches. Each does their job very well telling time and displaying the date. If you only described their primary functions, it's hard to choose the better of the two watches.

What is the difference? One watch is a Timex, the other a Rolex. The former is a good watch, while the latter exudes quality.

But what is quality?

Rolex-v-timex-1Ask 11 people for a definition, and you'll get 11 answers. Aristotle once wrote, "Quality is not an act, it is a habit." When a company has made an effort over many years incorporating a quality assurance program, which results in a pure quality culture, then that habit turns into a mindset.

The SeaGull Watch Company of Tianjin, China makes Timex® watches. No disrespect intended, but it's hard not to assume the gears and springs used have price based and questionable sourcing. It's this process that makes Timex watches affordable for most people. For $50, you can find a good Timex watch.

The adage, you get what you pay for is apt for this comparison. A low-end Rolex® is around $5,000 and created with the precision befitting a Swiss watchmaker. Quality is a huge component of a Rolex watch and shows from the type of steel used, the technology shared, insane quality control, and the fact that each Rolex is handmade in Switzerland.

Rolex watches are legendary. In fact, James Bond wears one. Me? I use a Timex.

Comparing an Elegante XT to a Rolex may seem extreme, but as an analogy, it works. From ten feet away, the Elegante XT doesn't look like most standing desks. When you examine the components, engineering, and design, it becomes plain the Elegante XT sets itself apart from other sit to stand desks.

You can't build a magnificent building on a weak foundation. The Elegante XT doesn't suffer that problem; its foundation is strong.

Why We Use Aluminum Legs

 

Aluminum-on-Periodic-Scale-150x150Almost all standing desks in the market have steel legs, also called columns. Those legs are strong, durable, and much cheaper than aluminum.

For the Elegante XT, RightAngle went a different direction and decided to use anodized aluminum as the material for its legs. Why? The finished aluminum columns have a high-end look and feel. Additionally, the anodization process explained below, produces a more durable surface color whereas painted steel chips and peels. The thicker aluminum we use equals the strength of steel.

Let's break this comparison down further.

Aluminum vs. Steel

Aluminum is one of the most common elements on and in the earth – it's 8% of the earth’s crust. Despite being all around us, fabricating aluminum is more expensive than steel.

Extracting iron from ore by reducing carbon in a blast furnace produces steel. The energy-intensive and costly process of electrolysis removes the aluminum.

There are other differences between aluminum and steel, including:

  Aluminum Steel
Definition Aluminum is an element found in the Earth's crust. It's the third-most abundant element and the most abundant metal. Steel is an alloy made by combining iron and other elements, such as carbon.
Customizing Shapes Available extrusion in any shape. Only available in squares, rectangles, and tubes.
Raw Color The raw aluminum ranges from silvery to dull gray, depending on the surface roughness. Raw steel is silver.
Finished Color The anodized surface doesn't chip, and its finished color lasts longer than steel. Finished steel offers limitless colors. The painted steel chips and wears out faster than anodized aluminum.
Strength The unfinished surface isn't solid. After anodizing, the surface of the aluminum becomes stronger than diamonds. This hard surface prevents damage, such as scratching and corrosion. The tensile strength of steel is higher than aluminum, yet it corrodes and scratches with ease.
Recyclable Aluminum is 100% recyclable, considered infinitely recyclable, and the cost of doing so is cheaper than steel. North America’s most recycled material and is also considered infinitely recyclable.
Applications Used in transportation, packaging, construction, utensils, electric transmission lines, paint, etc. Used in roads, railways, other infrastructure, appliances, buildings, transportation, aerospace, etc.

 

The Extrusion Process

 

play-doh-extruder-325x369

 

Customizing its shape is one of the most significant advantages aluminum has over steel. Steel, although less expensive than aluminum, is only available in three configurations: squares, rectangles, and tubes.

Because of extrusion, aluminum has potentially an inexhaustible design capability; almost any shape becomes possible. Extrusion is a process that compresses a solid cylinder of aluminum, called the billet, through a smaller die opening.

Pushing Play-Doh® through a mold is an example of the extrusion process.

A Little Aluminum History

 

Loewy_Press
 
Gordon Aluminum's Original Loewy extrusion press

Aluminum, when compared to other metals, is rather young; identified as an elemental metal in 1807, first refined in 1825, and considered more valuable than gold. After the invention of the smelting process and the development of commercial production, producing aluminum became cost-effective. Rolling, casting, and forging aluminum became the standard process until 1894.

For 125 years, the hot extrusion process was used for most non-ferrous alloys because of the work of Alexander Dick.

 

Alexander Dick invented the modern hot extrusion process in 1894, which was applicable to most non-ferrous alloys. Today, aluminum is the most extruded metal, used with both hot and cold extrusion processes. North America had its first aluminum extrusion press in 1904 in Pennsylvania, USA. The introduction of extrusion created a sharp rise in leading-edge applications for aluminum, particularly in the manufacturing of automotive parts.

The burgeoning demand for aluminum extrusion reached new heights during the two world wars for use in aircraft manufacturing and other military requirements. The rapid development of extrusion continued after World War II and began to expand into various industries including the residential housing sector, which experienced substantial growth in the postwar period.

 

Today, aluminum is the most extruded metal.

The Process of Hot Extrusion

Extruding aluminum depends on heat. Keeping an eye on temperatures throughout the entire process is critical to making sure the properties of the aluminum alloy meet tensile and yield strengths.

  • The extrusion process begins by heating the billets to 750 to 900 ºF. The aluminum is still solid, but malleable. Aluminum doesn't glow when heated: it looks the same hot or cold.
  • The heated billet transfers to the press container where a hydraulic ram forces the billet to fill the press container.
  • As the pressure inside the container increases, it pushes the aluminum alloy through the extrusion die.
  • The aluminum extrusion emerges from the other side of the die as a long length, consistently shaped aluminum. A puller clamps on to the aluminum and guides it down the run-out table.
  • At this point in the process, the aluminum is between 950 to 1022 ºF.
  • After cooling at a particular rate, the aluminum now meets alloy properties.
  • The long lengths of the extruded aluminum transfer to the cooling table, allowing it to cool to room temperature. The cooled spans stretch to make sure they're straight, then cut to specified lengths.
  • The aluminum extrusions cook in a large oven for eight hours bringing them to the required hardness

It’s essential for us to support our neighbors whenever possible. Gordon Aluminum is the local manufacturer of our extruded aluminum. Courtesy of Gordon Aluminum, Bill Knighton toured their facility and watched the extrusion of our columns.

 

 

T-SlotThe aluminum received from Gordon Aluminum includes several features extruded into the columns such as the T-slot. By adding the T-slot, we're able to attach a variety of accessories not possible with steel legs.

Once complete, our aluminum columns take another journey before arriving at RightAngle Products.

 

Anodizing Aluminum

 

anodizing-aluminumWith most metals, oxidation is a bad thing. With aluminum, it is the opposite.

RightAngle Products sources its anodized aluminum from Wausau, Wisconsin-based Linetec.

Linetec describes the process of anodizing aluminum:

 

 

Anodizing is the process of electrochemically controlling, accelerating and enhancing oxidation of an aluminum substrate. The anodizing process, because it is an integral part of the substrate, produces an oxide film that is uniform, hard and protects the rest of the aluminum substrate from deterioration - providing excellent wear and abrasion resistance with minimal maintenance in most environments.

The coating produced is extremely durable, and the hardness of the surface is comparable to a sapphire—the second hardest substance on earth. This characteristic makes anodizing an excellent choice for use in high-traffic areas where resistance properties are important.

Anodized aluminum resists the ravages of time, temperature, corrosion, humidity and warping, adding to its long life cycle. Anodized aluminum is an inert material that is not combustible, 100% recyclable and poses no health risks.

 

The process of anodizing aluminum begins with giving it a chemical acid bath. This bath creates an electrical current running through the aluminum that “rusts” the surface creating a protective film. Linetec's VP of Engineering & Technical Services, Andy Joswiak, explains the process in this video:

 

 

After anodizing, the surface of the aluminum becomes harder than diamonds but not stronger. The anodizing process preserves the appearance by resisting scratches on the surface.

 

Aluminum Legs are Better

Most standing desk manufacturers use steel legs for their desks. Although steel benefits from lower costs, aluminum has the edge over steel.

 

Elegante-wear-and-tear-cleaned

 

Steel-column-wear-and-tear-2
 
Wear and tear on steel legs

The advantage of anodized aluminum surfaces over printed steel is how much wear and tear occurs over time. The scratching nickel demonstration in the video above illustrates another benefit of using anodized aluminum legs instead of painted steel. The anodization process doesn't merely coat the surface, it infuses the color and makes the surface harder than a diamond.

Alternatively, paint or a powder coat covers the steel. In either case, given time, the surface coating becomes scratched, chipped, or worn down.

By choosing to use anodized aluminum legs, RightAngle prevents damage to a top-end height adjustable desk.

 

Smooth Moving Legs

The Role of Glides as Bearings

Glide-Bearing-Inside-ColumnGlides are one of the most critical pieces of a standing desk; they are also among the least known. A glide system serves two purposes on adjustable height desks:

  • Proper Fit: glides create the exact fit between different sized columns
  • Lubrication: as the components of the legs move, glides provide lubrication.

The Elegante XT desk uses Dupont® Delrin® Acetal plastics for its glide system. The acetal plastic is very durable and provides the best performance for high cycle counts.

All the glide bearings used in the Elegante XT are hand assembled, ensuring the proper fit.

Bill explains in detail the role glide bearings play in standing desk stability in his article, Top 3 Reasons for Standing Desk WOBBLE. That role does not change for the Elegante XT.

A version of glide bearings exists in all adjustable height desks inside the leg columns between the tubes. These bearings help smooth out the movement between the columns. The glide bearings found in the Elegante XT adjust for tube size tolerances because of their various sizes.

Lubrication

 

contaminated-wet-lubrication
 
Example of contamination getting
caught in wet lube.

In the world of lubricants, there are two kinds: wet and dry.

Wet lubrication remains wet after it's applied to a surface. One benefit of wet lubricant is how well it works in wet and humid conditions. Offsetting that benefit is the fact that dirt, swarf, and other particulates stick to the damp surface. Although it's a bicycle chain, the image to the right shows how dirt and other material adheres to wet lubrication. (I mentioned this earlier in the article, but the photo also shows how easy painted metal chips.)

After its application, dry lubrication is wet but dries on the surface. The main advantage dry lube has over wet is that particulates don't stick to it. Additionally, when compared to a wet lubricant, dry lubricant adheres to the surface better than the wet version.

RightAngle Products uses dry lubrication on the height adjustable legs in the Elegante XT. The two benefits, no contamination, and better surface adhesion come with a higher price tag over a wet lubricant. It's those two benefits that made the higher cost of dry lubrication irrelevant for us.

Optional—but strongly recommended—Cross Support

 

Standing-Table-Centers-of-Gravity-1-585x374
 
Center of gravity on standing desks

Cross supports are standard for the Bonita ET and the Eficiente LT, but not for the Elegante XT. By choosing to add cross support, the amount of wobble in the Elegante XT desk almost disappears. The cross support for the Elegante XT differs from other RightAngle versions. While the cross support for other desks remains stationary, the version on the Elegante XT moves up or down with the desk.

Although optional, we recommend using our cross support on the XT.

But, you ask, doesn't the cross support limit legroom? Good question! Bill answers it here: Top 3 Reasons for Standing Desk Wobble.

 

Some competitors say that the cross support decreases the amount of knee clearance and creates discomfort. That statement is true if desk has a T-Shaped leg and foot. The T-shape limits the amount of knee clearance when adding a cross support since the legs are in the middle of the table.

However, Knighton writes that tables designed with an L-Shaped leg and foot ensure there is a sufficient amount of knee clearance, especially when adding a stabilizing crossbar for support. You see that with this shape, the leg is further back on the table giving more room for the user’s knees than in the T-shape.

 

For more information on the relationship between cross support and legroom, please read What Kind of Legroom Does a Cross Support Leave You?

The Motor

Ketterer-MotorThe Elegante XT uses a motor from the German manufacturer, Ketterer. Ketterer initially focused on clocks and became a leading manufacturer of gear and motor systems for nearly 200 years. Small in stature, overpowering in delivery, the lifting capacity for the Ketterer motor is around 150 pounds per leg.

Ketterer manufactures and tests their motor components in Europe. There is no doubting their quality control because of the continuous testing ensuring those components meet their stringent quality standards.

With a motor box located at the top of each leg column, the Elegante XT provides a unique advantage over most standing desks.

Regardless of the environment, capacity, or usage, all motors fail. On average, most sit to stand desks exceed their warranty, so what happens when the electric motor dies?

If the motor to your height adjustable desks fails, typically there are two options: live where the worksurface stopped when the motor failed or buy a new one. The Elegante, however, provides a third option: replace the motor.

After removing the desktop surface and accessing the motor box, remove the old motor by pulling the clips holding it in place. Few standing desk manufacturers offer the option of replacing their motor. However, none have such a simple replacement procedure like the Elegante XT.

Controls

 

Portrait-of-Ra
 
Meet Ra!

GyroSenseRightAngle Products is one of the first manufacturers in the industry to feature the GyroSense. For more detailed information on the GyroScope, please read The Solution to Soft Collision Damage: the GyroSense.

A gyro sensor senses angular velocity. The gyro detects changes in orientation and rotational motion. What this does for your desk is that if it bumps into something, the GyroSense detects the obstruction and reverses direction, preventing damage.

The GyroSense provides several benefits over standard controls, including:

Senses Hard and Soft Collisions

Gyor-Sense-Axis-2Let's say you're standing at your adjustable height desk and decided to lower it to sit. Before the worksurface reaches the programmed height, a box of tissue you've forgotten about impedes the progress of the table.

In the image above, you see the three axes the GyroSense monitors during operation. If an impediment causes the table to rotate in one or more axis slightly, the control box stops the table from moving any further.

 

See for Yourself

We tested our new GyroSense on two tables, ours and a competitor's. Check out this video to see what happened. The results are very dramatic.

 

 

Gyro-Control-BoxOverload Protection

Electrical overloads occur when amperage increases across a circuit or an electrical wire. If there is no overload protection available, overheating or damage occurs.

Overload relays protect the motor by monitoring current traveling to the motor. If the incoming current exceeds the designed amperage for a motor, the overload protection shuts it down before any damage occurs.

Technical Data

  • Max output power: 300 watts
  • Ratings: 100 to 115 volts, 50/60 Hz, 5.3 amps
  • Motor Channels: 1-4
  • Output voltage: 24 volts
  • Output current total: 15 amps
  • Standby power: 250 Milliwatts

Features

  • 2-Button programmable switch
  • Optional 4-button programmable switch
  • One Touch height adjustment: once a button is pressed momentarily, the table automatically adjusts to the programmed height.
  • Upper and lower container stops
  • GyroSense for an accidental collision
  • Overload protection

Elegante XT's Features

made-in-USA-and-Wisconsin-1 (1)

RightAngle's Elegante XT features:

  • A wire management system
  • Configurable control box
  • A power strip with six plug-ins and two USB charging ports
  • Manufactured and assembled by hand in Wisconsin

The standard operating ranges for the Elegante XT are as follows:

  • Height range: 24- to  51-inch programmable height
  • Under desk clearance: 22.875-inches low to 49.875-inches high
  • Mounting clearance (depth) for under desk accessories: 24-inch workstation is 17-inches; 30-inch workstation is 20-inches

Categorical Specifications

Base Only Work Surface
Optional crossbar available Standard depth 24- and 30-inches
Total Lifting Capacity Base Only:
325 pounds 2-leg; 450 pounds 3-leg
Custom sizes available
Height Adjustment: 1.5-inches per second Custom shapes available
Base Color: black or silver Worksurface: ten standard thermally fused options, high-pressure laminate and custom colors available

 

 

Customizing the Elegante XT

The Elegante XT isn't limited to size or application; only by your imagination. You receive your workstation in whatever shape you dream up.

Here are just some of the standard shapes available to the Elegante XT:

xtshapes

 

Custom Feet

There are ten feet options available for the Elegante XT, shown in the photo below. If you find that one of these options doesn't work for you or if you prefer an unusual design instead, RightAngle Products offers the opportunity for customized feet.

 

Standard-Feet
 
Standard Foot Options for Elegante XT
 

Comparing the Elegante XT

There are many adjustable height desks in the same price range as the Elegante XT. No two tables offer the exact specifications for a red apple to red apple comparison. However, they're close enough for an apple to apple comparison. The table below shows how five of them stack up against the Elegante XT.

 

  Elegante XT Stir
Kinetic M1
Steelcase Migration Xdesk
Terra Pro
Ergotron Anthro Elevate esi Premium
Range 24"-51" 25"-50.5" 22.6"-48.7" 24"-50.5" 30.6"-50.6" 21"-47"
Column Material Aluminum Steel Steel Steel Steel Steel
Capacity (lbs.) 325 150 195 630 150 220
Speed (inches/second) 1.5 1.5 1.67 1.7 1.5 1.5
Base Colors Black, Silver Black, White Black,
White,
Merle
Silver, Black Silver Black, Silver, White
Price List price: $2,546

Average Selling Price
$1,273

$2,990 List Price: $2,936

Average Selling Price:
$1,400

$2,697 $2,535 List Price: $2,487

Average Selling Price:
$1,450

 

In Sum

Gears-of-a-watch-325x276

Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” To see a real-life example of that, look no further than Japan. Japanese manufacturing spent decades building up a sterling reputation only to see it suddenly collapse.

There is a myriad of reasons why manufacturers lose their reputations for quality. For the manufacturer that retains their reputation, they don't forget the little things.

Look at the image of the gears to the right. I could tell you that those gears met or exceeded all quality expectations thrown at them. Would you take my words at face value?

But, they are just gears, so what? Companies producing high-quality items, such as Rolex, focus their attention on the quality of the minutiae. When assembled with high-quality material, the resulting finished product is the among best that industry has to offer.

People buy quality. Look no further than YETI® coolers. Two brothers from Texas started the company and discovered they needed to sell their coolers for at least $300 to offset manufacturing costs. At first, the brothers worried they priced themselves out of the market. However, YETI established itself as an aspirational brand, becoming a "gotta-have" for its niche customers. Some people pay a premium for a brand name, but YETI backs its premium price with a high-quality product.

With the Elegante XT, RightAngle Products created an adjustable height desk worthy of its price tag. Particular attention paid to simple things such as glide bearings and the location of the electric motor resulted in a standing desk that functions and looks extraordinary in any office.

Illustrating Desk Wobble

Changing to standing desks requires a significant financial committment. During the decision process, trying to compare desks and choosing the best alternative is no easy task.

We've described what causes desk wobble, but not what wobble looks like. Since no two standing desk manufacturers build their products the same, no two desks have a similar wobble. Not to mention, no two people define wobble in the same way.

With so many adjustable height desk manufacturers in the market, even comparing the relative wobble of each desk to others becomes problematic.

The WobbleMeter by RA Answers solves that problem.

WobbleMeter

WobbleMeter-Setup-325x462

Our stability tests using the WobbleMeter measures the wobble of a standing desk.

Using the same methods against the same scale for a variety of desks, we compare results from a variety of standing desks manufacturers.

We share our results on the Scoreboard page. Similar to golf, the lower the score, the better.

Smaller totals mean there isn't much wobble in the standing desk.

Click this link for an in-depth explanation of how RightAngle performs WobbleMeter tests.

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