If you're anything like me, you may be a bit overwhelmed or confused by the countless features and variations that are available for standing desks. Some are more straightforward and easy to understand. Others, not so much.
Choosing between a single motor standing desks vs. dual motor standing desks falls into that "not so much" category.
The common thought is, "two has to be better than one, right?" No, not quite. There are a number of factors that influence how many motors is best.
In this article, we're going to break down the differences between single motor and dual motor standing desks. First, we'll explain the how each type works within a standing desk. Then, we will outline which one is more reliable.
This post focuses specifically on commercial-grade sit stand desks. A simple way to identify if a standing desk is "commercial-grade" is if it has passed ANSI/BIFMA testing. To learn more these standards, check out this post "Do You Know the ANSI/BIFMA Standards?".
One Motor Standing Desks - How They Work
Single motor standing desks are often more reliable than two motors desks and have a sufficient lifting capacity for most use cases. Here’s why:
Standing desk motors have two hall sensors. The hall sensors detect the number of revolutions and the direction of those revolutions that the motor has completed. That information is then sent through the cables to the “brains” of the desk known as the control box.
The control box will then use that information to calculate and monitor the desk’s current height, programmed height positions, container stops, and other features. This happens for most commercial grade standing desks, no matter how many motors it has.
Two Motor Standing Desks - How They Work
A dual motor standing desk works similarly to a single motor standing desk (described above).
However, standing desks that have two or more motors have an important, additional task: the motors must remain synchronized with one another. This is so all of the leg columns are at the same height and the worksurface remains level.
Why is Synchronization is Important on a Dual Motor Standing Desk?
Synchronized columns normally work great and without and problems. However, if a dual motor standing desk becomes out of sync do to a malfunction, the leg columns may be at different heights. The columns can even travel at different speeds.
This means the desk will become lopsided, it may have damaged the worksurface or metal worksurface mounting bracket, and will be unusable until the legs are resynchronized.
What Causes a Two Motor Sit Stand Desk to Become Out of Sync?
There are two main things that cause a commercial-grade dual motor standing desk to not be synchronized.
1. One of the Motors Malfunctions or Stops Working
One cause is if the hall sensors inside at least one of the motors malfunctions or stops working. This means that the information (# of revolutions completed) being sent to the control box will be incorrect. The control box doesn’t always recognize this error and may continue to move the table even though only one of the leg columns is properly operating.
Very rarely do columns become out of sync due to a faulty hall sensor.
2. Motor Cables are Compromised
Another reason motors can become out of sync is if the motor cables are compromised. This often happens for one of two reasons:
- Motor cables are not properly connected to the control box
- Motor cables have a bad connection from being pulled on or having poor wire management.
Can a Single Motor Standing Desk Become Out of Sync?
No. Since a single motor standing desk only has one motor, it does not have to synchronize with another motor to keep the table level. So, it’s highly unlikely that a desk with one motor will ever become uneven and cause damage, unlike a dual motor standing desk.
Also, a single motor sit stand desk has less cables, decreasing potential for poor connections.
A Single Motor Standing Desk is More Reliable Than a Dual Motor Standing Desk
Overall, a commercial-grade single motor standing desk tends to be more reliable than a commercial-grade dual motor standing desk. A sit stand desk with one motor is more reliable because it does not require synchronization with another motor and has fewer cables that can become compromised.
With that being said, it's important to note that we are NOT saying that dual motor standing desks are unreliable. Desks with two or more motors can still be a good option depending on your needs and the desk manufacturer. The goal is to increase your awareness and understanding of potential synchronization issues. Speak with your desk's manufacturer for other questions or concerns relating to a dual motor desks synchronization.
Our qualifications on the topic of standing desks:
RightAngle™ Products has been manufacturing office furniture for over 30 years. For the last 15 of those years, we've been designing and manufacturing both single and multi-motor standing desks here in the U.S. Previous projects have even included single workstations that have as many as 8 synchronized motors, and others that have had up to 12 columns.