The Best Made-in-USA Standing Desks
- Must Read
[Editor’s Note Dec 21, 2020: See our updated articles on COVID-19’s Dramatic Effect on the Office Fitness Industry and Standing Desk Suppliers in Particular and How COVID-19 Reshaped the Office Furniture Industry Overnight with regards to further impact on Chinese standing desk producers. The novel coronavirus pandemic is likely going to affect the supply chain and product availability far more than any of the trade war disruptions have to date.]
[Editor’s Note May 11, 2019: New tariffs on Chinese imports are starting to have a real impact on the office fitness industry as inventories of imported standing desks, converters, ergonomic accessories, etc., that were stockpiled prior to the 10% hike have been completely depleted. Inventory that was stockpiled before the May 10th, 2019 increment up to 25% on Chinese goods is now starting to deplete. We’ve received notification from many manufacturers that plan to raise their retail prices to compensate for the tariffs in the coming weeks. We expect the prices on many China-sourced products to potentially exceed their American-made competitors’. At the moment they are closer to parity than they have ever been.]
When it comes to standing desks and standing desk converters, nothing beats made-in-America for component quality, precise machining tolerances, technology features, customer support and overall value over the lifetime of the product. In our comparison reviews in various office fitness categories—be they of standing desks, under-desk cycles or anti-fatigue mats—we always look for a way to stratify the many available options so that readers can quickly zero in on a short list of candidates for consideration. Sometimes we stratify simply on price (e.g. Premium vs. Value vs. Budget models in our main Electric Standing Desks Comparison Review) and sometimes we stratify on architecture (e.g. post-and-base, z-lift, x-lift, hover, corner and fixed-height models in our Sit-Stand Converters Comparison Review). But increasingly over the past few years we’ve had readers ask us to break out products that are specifically made in America, and this is our round-up of just those products.
Not that we’re addicted to stratification but we did break this round-up review into two main sections—Full Standing Desks and Standing Desk Converters—because online searchers often use the same term “standing desk” interchangeably between the two. So if you got to this page through a Google search, we’ve got you covered. But first, let’s talk about some generalizations when it comes to Made-in-America versus Made-in-China.
The case for buying American-made
The obvious needn’t be belabored, buying American is good for our economy and it’s a patriotic thing to do. And we also recognize for some customers in government, aerospace, etc., it’s a requirement to buy American whenever possible. But, generally speaking, there are many other benefits to buying American, such as:
- The product is likely to last you much longer. As evidenced by their warranties, American-made products are going to serve you longer as a rule. What does that mean in terms of a standing desk? The delicate, precision manufactured components that allow the telescoping leg segments to glide up and down continue to work in good order much longer. Cheaply-made plastic “glides” will wear down faster, one molecule at a time, every time you cycle your desk up and down, compared to the more advanced, albeit costlier alloys (e.g. Teflon plastic) that American manufacturers will use in their leg systems. Like any high-wear part on an automobile, this is where your focus should be as a consumer. More precisely laser-machined, American-made legs will also give you a more stable desk. And not just out-of-the-box, but over time. Going cheap on this componentry will lead to your desk becoming shakier, if not squeaky, much sooner.
- It’s better for the environment. Many components used in office fitness products involve toxic chemicals somewhere along the supply chain. While American companies must spend more money to produce products within EPA guidelines, Chinese companies have much more lax requirements and have historically put economic growth ahead of clean air and water. Even if you don’t live there it affects our global atmosphere. A great example of this is the highly popular “bamboo desktop.” They are touted by online marketers as being better for the environment because bamboo stocks replace themselves very quickly, but the reality is there’s a huge amount of chemicals (namely formaldehyde), water and energy required to reform essentially grass into a laminated wood product, not to mention the energy expended to ship it here from Asia. Don’t be fooled by the slick “greenwash” marketing, a bamboo desktop is an extraordinarily non-environmental choice, at least with today’s technology (bamboo farms have been planted in the southeast US that should start producing more responsible wood products here in the next few years) and the lack of FSC and Fair Trade Certifications. You’ll also notice very short warranties, if any, on Asian-sourced tabletops, because their cheaper lamination technologies can start degrading the moment the desk is exposed to air and humidity. Definitely pay attention to the tabletop warranty, not just the electric base, if you don’t want to be replacing it after a year or two because it delaminated, got easily scratched, or the “powder coat” (spray paint) dissolved when you spilled your cola on it. Part of being environmentally sensitive is buying products that last longer and don’t head to the landfill as quickly.
- Every customer matters more. We’ll be blunt. Anything coming out of China is by definition a commodity product, and Chinese factories have a much higher acceptable rate of defect than American factories do. It’s not uncommon for Chinese plants to run as high as 8% defect rate. That’s one thing if you’re talking about a cheap throwaway cat toy, but when the product is a heavy hard-to-remove actuator leg, you’re going to be facing a huge hassle factor and shipping expense getting replacement parts, while your desk will be out of commission. American companies count on their reputation and word-of-mouth advertising from one customer to another, and they tend to do 100% quality checks on their product lines instead of a 10% sampling.
- Customer support is better. If a part in your standing desk breaks and the factory that made the failed component is in China, you’re just a lot less likely to get your desk back in action quickly. And if the shorter warranties associated with imported standing desks runs out on you, once you find out what it costs to service, you’re going to be buying a new desk and junking the broken one. Speaking of warranties, some online sellers offer their own insurance product in the form of an “Extended Warranty” package. These are highly-profitable add-ons for these sellers, who are basically betting on “breakage model economics,” i.e. that most customers will forget where they even bought the product by the time it fails, much less remember they had purchased an extended warranty. Better to take the money you would have spent on an extended warranty and just upgrade to an American-made desk that was designed to last longer, as reflected in its longer (typically ten year) warranty.
- Rewarding innovation. This has real value to society. Chinese companies are very good at copying existing products and finding ways to make them cheaper. They’re not generally known for their innovation. American companies innovate with better technology as their primary defense against cheap imitation products from overseas. Granted, there are many products that are made in China or Taiwan but designed by American, Canadian or European engineers, and built in Asian factories that have to meet their higher quality standards.
The legal standard for claiming a product is made-in-America
Because it is virtually impossible to find any product more sophisticated than a toothpick to be made 100.00% entirely in the USA the Federal Trade Commission does establish some guidelines for when manufacturers can assert the claim that their product is made in America. It comes down to the percentage of the processing and components that are made overseas, and how far downstream those processes and components are. For example, a Danish-owned company can make the actuator legs of a standing desk in Kentucky, incorporating some electronics components from China, motors from Italy, and some bracket parts from Denmark, but if the metal-forming, assembly, painting, testing and packaging of the product all take place in Kentucky, that would be considered a made-in-USA final product. If sold as a desk system together with a tabletop that was fabricated from American lumber, and then laminated and packaged in the USA then the entire desk clearly meets the requirement for being American-made.
By the same token, there are numerous online sellers of standing desks who make only their tabletops in America, building desk systems using entirely Chinese-made bases. They will claim that they do their final assembly in the US by virtue of shipping both the tops and bases out of the same US warehouse, but this doesn’t reach the threshold for advertising the product as being Made in America. Just inserting an American-printed instruction manual in the box and resealing it does not meet the threshold for definition of “final assembly in the USA.” Yes, these sellers get away with the claim because they will be careful to mention it only in copy describing their tabletops, and not expressly claim that the entire product is made in America (they won’t go so far as to disclose their Chinese-made bases). This is, quite candidly, a consumer dupe. Small online sellers get away with this, though, because they are not large enough to attract the attention of the resource-constrained FTC. And this has been going on for years.
In our product reviews we try to get to the truth for our readers, often interviewing company executives and asking for documentation to substantiate their claims. Because we see so many of these products come through our test labs, and having personally toured factories both here and overseas that make components for standing desks, we know what to look for. For example, we’ve yet to see a height controller or power supply that doesn’t say Made in China or Made in Austria, but these components are relatively trivial to the overall cost of producing a standing desk, and reasonably-priced equivalent components aren’t going to be found in the US.
Made-in-America Standing Desks
If you’re searching the internet for American-made standing desks you’re going to find very few makes and models—namely the ones listed below—but there are hundreds of thousands of American-made desks sold every year by “contract furniture dealers, ” entirely to large enterprise customers. You just won’t find those models with a Google search because they are typically made-to-order in large quantities, such as when a new building is ready for employees to move in, or a campus undergoes a massive remodel. These sales often involve interior designers, architects, year-long bidding processes, a month or two for production, and professional installation crews. Not the standard fare. And because there are all those extra mouths to feed prices can be double to triple what you can buy directly from a company that sells primarily through their own website or through Amazon.
Our focus here is on American-made standing desks that the consumer can purchase through e-commerce and receive in a couple of weeks or less. It’s a pretty short roster dominated by iMovR, which currently manufactures three different lines of electric standing desks and their Synapse sit-stand meeting tables entirely in the USA. In fact back in 2017 iMovR discontinued several older desk lines that employed Chinese or Taiwanese bases paired with American-made tops—as Fully (Jarvis), Uplift, Autonomous, StandDesk and other competitors still produce—based on their customers’ increasing preference for their American-made models. The good news is that because iMovR uniquely manufactures all their desks on-demand they’re able to offer thousands of size, shape and color combinations, from compact to super-wide, rectangular to corner and L-shaped desks, in both 3D laminate and solid natural wood versions, and in 52 standard colors. If you can’t find an iMovR desk to fit your space and decor it probably doesn’t exist.
We’re including the Humanscale Float Table in this list even though it is a counterbalance desk, not an electric. According to the company, they do offer an electric desk as well, but only to bulk corporate buyers, and they don’t publish any specifications on it and you can’t buy it online.
If you’ve been shopping American-made standing desks you may be surprised that certain popular models such as the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk, Multitable FlexTable and Uplift Standing Desk are not listed here. That’s because their “made-in-America” models consist of American-made desktops bolted to Chinese Jiecang bases, so they don’t fit our criteria for inclusion here, nor do they comply with the FTC’s definition of American-made. Focal Upright is another whose products we’d love to include here because they are top-drawer quality but they obtain their bases from Germany, and they’re really leaning desks, not standing desks. Retail franchise chain Relax The Back offers several standing desk models that they claim on their website to be made-in-America, but we’ve checked them out and every one of them uses a Chinese base. There was a California based manufacturer called HealthyDesk that we encountered at several trade shows but their review samples never arrived at our testing lab, and the company appears to now have relocated to Bulgaria and no longer making or selling its products in the US.
So, let’s move on to the bona fide American made options that you can actually buy today…
Brimming with innovative tech features, there are two notable features that clearly set this desk line and its new sister product listed below—the Lander Lite—apart from any other in the market, as well as from iMovR’s other two models, the Freedom and Cascade, also listed below. The Lander Desk arrives almost entirely pre-assembled, requiring no tools to put together. No other desk on the market will have you standing within minutes of its arrival (the near exception being the Lander Lite). In fact, all the rest are to one degree or another an “IKEA DIY project.” So that’s fairly revolutionary in itself.
The Lander desk’s second most notable feature is its future-proof electronics. In place of the usual hand controller console with numerous buttons and segmented display readouts, the Lander employs a simply intuitive height control paddle. Two taps on the “DPG-style” paddle and the desk moves up or down to your next pre-programmed favorite height. The paddle has a multi-color hi-res display in it and a Bluetooth sync to your smartphone. There’s a built in health coach and other features you can access equally easily from the paddle or the app, including unobtrusive reminders to help you mix up your sitting and standing time. Even with its brawny 360 lb lift capacity and blazing 1.6 inches-per-second transit speed the Lander is as hushed as any of iMovR’s other desks, known for their ultra-low noise signatures.
The Lander comes in a wide array of sizes from 42″ to 83″ wide, and 22 standard colors of state-of-the-art Surf(x) 3D-laminated tabletops, as well as 36 species/stain combinations of solid natural wood desktops. An even more revolutionary version of the Lander is its L-shaped Standing Desk variant that comes in hundreds of size/color combos of its own. As with all iMovR desks the built-in SteadyType ergonomic keyboard tray is an option, as are a multitude of other monitor arm and keyboard tray options, matching file cabinets, grommet-mounted power modules and every accessory you could ever desire for your personalized active workstation.
Like the other iMovR desk models, Lander ships within one week of order. To read the results of our lab test see our iMovR Lander Desk Review. If you’re thinking of a walking desk setup be sure to check out the Lander Treadmill Desk.
We’re not alone in our ranking of the Lander Desk as the #1 best standing desk in the market. Recently, Reviewed.com (USA TODAY), named the iMovR Lander Standing Desk as its Editor’s Choice and Best Overall Standing Desk on the market in their round-up of The Best Standing Desks of 2019. The reviewers highlighted the Lander’s industry leading design, intuitive technology features, craftsmanship and ease-of-use, concluding that “The Lander is still our top choice for its American-made quality, durability and intuitiveness.”
iMovR has managed to take the industry’s #1-rated, premium-technology standing desk, the original Lander, keep 90% of the technology features and significantly lower the entry price with this new Lander Lite offering. Like the original, it’s made entirely in the USA from the highest quality materials and highest precision robotic manufacturing techniques, resulting in a superior value to the consumer. We predict it’ll vastly outsell the original Lander because now features like factory pre-assembly, Bluetooth-enabled height control paddle and smartphone app, built-in health coach, and the choice of 58 colors of Surf(x) 3D-laminated or solid wood desktops are accessible to a lot more users at this great price point.
Of iMovR’s four lines of American-made standing desks the Freedom line offers the greatest number of size and shape options. Combined with the 22 standard colors there are literally over three thousand custom-made desktops to choose from. Like all iMovR desks these are made on-demand and ship within one week of order. Within the Freedom line there are compact and full-sized tops, up to 71″ wide and 30″ deep, in two different thicknesses for modern versus traditional look, in rectangles and a plethora of corner shapes, and paired with either two-segment or three-segment bases.
Like the other two lines iMovR offers leg extensions to take the Freedom desks up to 55″ in height for tall users and treadmill desk users (no other desk maker offers this exceptional height adjustment range). The difference between the iMovR Energize and iMovR Cascade is that the latter has the built-in SteadyType Ergonomic Keyboard tray. Of the three lines of electric desks the Freedom lines is relatively low frills. It’s the budget model intended to compete with Asian import desks, for sure, but its thousands of top options make it the most configurable standing desk in the market, and it’s well worth consideration. While it doesn’t arrive pre-assembled as the new Lander does, its still easier to put together than any Asian desk model we’ve ever tested. Robotic manufacturing advancements are what allowed iMovR to make the Freedom base at a cost that is competitive with Chinese labor. If you’re looking for American-made quality and warranty (ten years on the bases, five years on the tops, like its sister models) at a price in the same range as Asian-made, this is going to be your go-to choice. If you’re thinking of a walking desk setup, be sure to check out our Energize Treadmill Desk and Cascade Treadmill Desk reviews.
Designed and built in the USA. Top-quality base technology and an industry-leading 10 year “top to bottom” warranty. Unique in the industry as the first “desk in a box” we’ve ever seen. And that means it can ship fast (even same-day through Amazon Prime in some markets) or even be picked up at a retail store. Plus it’s one of the fastest desks to set up, being almost completely factory pre-assembled (8 minutes, no extra tools required). This is also a great desk to be able to break down just as easily, transport and set up again in your next office – maybe after you’re done working from home and want to go back to the corporate campus. ANSI/BIFMA and NEAT Certification are a solid indicator of the ZipDesk’s durable and reliable componentry and stable user experience, matching up with our lab-test results.
Humanscale is one of the top brands in ergonomics—one of the largest makers of keyboard trays, monitor arms, and standing desk converters (the QuickStand and QuickStand Lite). The Float Table sits on a counterbalance base, rather than on electric legs. To change height you merely squeeze the brake paddle and lift or lower the desk. That advantages are sleek modern design, no power cord, and noise-free movement. As long as you don’t frequently change the weight or distribution of items on your desktop the counterbalance works great. The disadvantage is cost and reduced versatility. Whereas most electric standing desk bases can be adjusted to a wide range of top sizes, the counterbalance bases are specific to each top size, and they’re really heavy. So it’s not going to be as easy to move to a new space or decor as one of the electrics with swappable tops and telescoping frames. Professional installation is recommended. Humanscale prides itself on the modern industrial design of their products, which are most often found in high-end office spaces like law firms and ad agencies, so they cost a lot more for the brand panache.
Price: $ 1,499
The UpDesk Pro is positioned as “commercial grade” but really only in comparison to their UpDesk Home edition desk. Commercial buyers look for more stability, more size and color options to match their spaces, longer warranties and easier installation. In this price range we would have expected a little more in these areas.
[Editors Note: On March 3rd, 2020, UpDesk’s Nashville offices and factory were tragically wiped out by an EF-3 tornado. It is not clear at this time whether they will ever return to production again.]
Made-in-America Standing Desk Converters
Unlike the full standing desk category there are many more choices in American-made when it comes to standing desk converters (a.k.a. “desktop risers”, “desktop converters” or “desktop workstations”). And once again, we see a dramatic difference in product quality across the spectrum. Converters that are designed and made in Asia tend to be cheap, poor quality, the least ergonomic, least stable, and most likely to pinch your fingers. There are dozens and dozens of copycat products in the category, emanating from the fact that Varidesk advertises so heavily and sells so many (Chinese-made) converters that they’ve hung a huge target on their back. Since Varidesk only sells direct and has created such immense market demand through its massive TV, print and online media promotion, this has generated over 75 competitors riding their coattails at our last count. With an archaic, non-ergonomic design platform that relies on a patent that Varidesk actively defends by suing as many of its competitors as possible, it’s not a hard product to improve upon with even the slightest dose of design innovation. A couple of years ago Asian competitors just went after Varidesk with even more cheaply made copycat designs; today they are more apt to create different mechanisms to avoid getting sued, though these workarounds have had their drawbacks. Most of the units we’ve tested have been unable to earn more than a 2-star or 3-star review at best, due to their design inadequacies.
In sharp contrast, when you look at the American-made, as well as American-designed and Chinese-made products you see innovation, quality machining and componentry, better stability and ergonomics, longer warranties and vastly better customer support, as a general rule.
The ZipLift Patriot is iMovR’s first made-in-America standing desk converter, and it’s our top choice among homegrown options. Featuring all of the features we loved about the original ZipLift+ (which is made in Taiwan, but to iMovR’s exacting manufacturing standards), the Patriot takes the formula and improves it with 3D-laminated surfaces. Plus, the fact that it’s made in America allows to to be GSA-compliant.
Key features of all ZipLift models include the tilting keyboard tray, which reduces wrist strain and allows for more ergonomic typing, the gas-strut lift system that facilitates smooth, quiet, and easy height changes, and an extra-sturdy work surface.
The Winston is an attractive product, and has enough color options to ensure that it won’t clash with your office décor. With the added convenience of its brake handle height-adjustment feature, the Winston has its own fresh idea to bring to the table. Its dual-, triple-, and quad-monitor capability will also appeal to workers for whom the low weight capacities of other desktop risers have been an obstacle. But its lack of an independently adjustable monitor height setting, coupled with the possibility of the brake cable coming loose, keeps us from giving it the full 5 stars.
For the executive with a budget for office décor, the Winston-E offers an unparalleled combination of style, ergonomics, and stability. It’s a “Made in America” product with a classy design. And it’s the first free-standing desktop riser we’ve seen to boast monitor focal depth adjustment—a concept patented by the manufacturer—which gives you another dimension for positioning your monitor(s) ergonomically. Highly recommended for those who make it a policy not to settle for second-best.
At one time the leading maker of post-and-base style standing desk converters—because they were the first to market—Ergo Desktop is still a major player although its market share relative to the field has shrunk significantly. While their products are very popular with their existing customer base and continue to be repurchased, their basic design and industrial aesthetics have not changed in many years, and the company seems somewhat staid in their response to increasing competition.
ErgoDesktop, based in Ohio, is in a sense an on-demand manufacturer, happily customizing their products for the user’s monitor(s) weight, for example. The problem with that, of course, is that if you change to lighter or heavier monitors later the counterbalance force settings in the post structure may not be to your liking. While customization is great, one would expect on-demand production to mean fast production, but ErgoDesktop often has significant delays in shipping, so that’s just something to be aware of when you order. See the full lab-test results by reading our Kangaroo Standing Desk Review, Wallaby Standing Desk Review, and the newest Electric Kangaroo Standing Desk Review standing desk converters.
Price: $ 499
Ergotech’s electric desktop riser, the One-Touch Free Stand, represents a step in the right direction for electric-powered risers. ErgoTech is now owned by the same company that makes the Winston and E-Winston standing desk workstations, Innovative Office Products. ErgoTech’s focus is mission-critical environments like command-and-control, dispatch and stock market trading organizations.
One small rise for HealthPostures, one giant leap in riser design. The Taskmate Executive riser is the first entrant into what we hope will become a much more populous category. A satisfyingly “clicky” switch and a highly responsive electric motor don’t disappoint – the Executive is downright enjoyable to adjust. While it is an expensive option, and requires some tricky assembly, we’re extremely pleased with our first electric desktop riser.
Sturdy and with an excellent range of adjustment, the Taskmate Go has the same silhouette of some of our favorite risers. The keyboard tray comes with an attached swivelling mouse pad, and can also incline slightly – both very good features to have. The lever-locking height adjustment is easy to use and reliable.
Price: $ 598.43
Completing Your Ergonomic Workstation
Acquiring the best standing desk for your decor, budget and performance requirements is Step One. But making it a true ergonomic workstation involves adding the appropriate accessories you’ll need to keep your body in a correct posture, and have a neat and tidy setup. Check out our comprehensive guides to monitor arms, keyboard trays, anti-fatigue mats, ergonomic seats, cable management kits, power management modules, foot rests and under-desk treadmills for both expert advice and lab-tested product reviews of options in each of these categories.