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What is the difference between single surface and dual surface consoles?

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Control Room Consoles

When it comes to control rooms or 9-1-1 dispatch centers, no facility is the same. Whether we are talking about the room dimensions, IT/power requirements, nb of users, nb of LCD monitors, and applications. For instance, air traffic control towers will have very different needs in terms of furniture from let's say, an energy plant. This brings us to the question, what's the difference between single surface and dual surface consoles? Well, it all depends on what you are planning to use it for, and how. In this article, we will go over some key differentiators, benefits, and advantages for each console style.

Single Surface Consoles:

Single surface consoles are available in two formats, with a fixed work surface or with an electric height-adjustable work surface. Choosing between either one of these options will influence the overall console design. For instance the cable management system, the structure, the type of monitor mounts, and the number of CPUs among other things. This is why it is important to understand from the beginning who and how the system will be used.

Single / Fixed Work Surface

Starting with the base of the structure, fixed work surface consoles require a sturdy leg system to support all the IT equipment, CPU monitors, and work surface. Sustema uses a metallic base for all of its consoles to ensure the system remains stable over time.

The leg system is mounted to the Focus wall for more support which also serves as a cable management system. Inside the wall, you can find cable raceways to run all the power and data cable, insert power bars, and telephone/radio lines. What's interesting is that with the wall system is that work surfaces can be installed on both sides of the wall, having two consoles using the same support system, back-to-back. CPU enclosures are attached directly to the lower base of the wall system and are easily accessible underneath the console.

The wall system does not only serve as a support or separator, it can actually be integrated with monuments directly on its structure, it can be used to mount accessories such as phone/laptop/file holders, and even serve as the mound for CPU monitors. In order to maximize the user workspace, monitor arms can be mounted directly on the wall system to save space. This is one of the main differentiators with height-adjustable work surfaces as monitor arms have to be mounted on the surface itself rather than the wall.

In terms of ergonomics, consoles with fixed work surfaces do not offer the same advantages as height-adjustable consoles as users do not have the same flexibility to stretch and move while working. Single fixed surface consoles such as the Focus C-200 series offer great flexibility in terms of the price. This is mainly due to the system not having as much or no electronics at all. The focus system is a great solution for 24/7 work environments with high-traffic areas as it is made to withstand intensive 24/7 use and integrate all the IT equipment requires for control rooms and command centers.

Single / Height-Adjustable Surface

Single surface consoles with height-adjustable capabilities will surely make your staff feel more comfortable while working. Height-adjustable work surfaces enable users to alter between a sitting and standing position throughout the day to avoid health issues due to the sedentary nature of office jobs. With the single push of a button, the work surface rises to the preferred position of each user. The system also allows users to program their preferred position on the console keypads.

The base of the structure differs slightly from fixed surface consoles. For instance, rather than using the standard leg system, the casing underneath the surfaces serves both as the support of the console and as the storage space for the actuators used to raise/lower the surfaces. The casing is made of metallic panels to ensure the sturdiness of the system.

Single surface console with height-adjustable capabilities also uses the Focus wall as support and a cable management system. The wall has removable panels on the back to access cable raceways, power strips, and other accessories. CPU's can be accessed from the front of the console inside of the secured enclosures.

Aside from the adjustable surfaces, the main differentiator is the way in which monitor arms are mounted on the console. As mentioned previously, fixed work surfaces enabled us to mount the monitor arms directly on the wall system. However, since we now have an adjustable surface, doing so would block the surfaces from going up, monitor arms have to be mounted directly on the work surface. A compromise has to be made between the available workspace and the advantages of an adjustable surface. Monitor arms can be mounted in many ways to the surface, for instance by using clamps, by inserting a hole on the surface, using the bolt-through system, or by using the sus-track which enables users to mount multiple monitor arms on the length of the surface.

Dual Surface Consoles

Dual surface consoles offer the greatest flexibility for users in terms of ergonomics, functionality, and technology. Dual surface control room consoles offer the height-adjustable feature on both surfaces for maximum comfort. So, what's the difference between single surface consoles and dual surface consoles? The key differentiator is that on a dual surface console, the primary surface serves as the workspace for users, and the second surface serves as the support for the monitors. The issues from having only one adjustable surface with less space to work is then resolved as the monitors do not take any space. It also offers a more comfortable work position either sitting or standing. The reason being that users can set their preferred height on each surface. For instance, setting the position on the primary work surface to comfortable place their forearms, and setting the second surface to have a comfortable vision to look at the monitors.

Dual surface consoles like the Transit C-300 series can be designed with or without the wall system. The main reason is that the cable management can be integrated inside the CPU enclosures underneath the console. The CPU enclosures are secured, ventilated, and can host all the IT equipment required for highly technical jobs. For instance, KVMs, 19" rackmounts, multiple power bars, and even host the actuators required to raise/lower the surfaces.

Since CPU monitors are placed on their own surface, the dual-surface console offers more flexibility in the number of monitors and the ways they can be mounted. For instance, monitors can be mounted using the bolt-through system, the sus-track along the surface, or even with the focal-shelf system which allows users not only to adjust the monitor height but also to adjust the depth of the monitors (closer or further away).

Which System Is The Best?

The answer is, it all depends. For example, dual surface consoles are made for 24/7 applications where users need to spend long shifts at their station. You may not need this level of ergonomic in a workstation that will only be used a few hours per day. Also, if you need to host a lot of CPUs monitors, and IT equipment on the console, the fixed console may not offer you the most space making the dual surface console more convenient. At Sustema, we will make sure to offer the best solution based on your specific needs. If you have any questions please contact us by email at, by phone at our toll-free number 1-800-455-8450, or by chatting with is directly on our website.


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