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Excedr’s Guide to Laboratory Equipment Auctions

For those looking to purchase laboratory equipment, you might consider participating in a good old fashioned auction. Auctions can be a great place to find various lab equipment or individual parts you might need to repair or maintain the equipment you already have. If you’ve never participated in one and would like to learn more in order to make an informed investment, we’ve broken down the basics to the art of the auction.

How Lab Equipment Auctions Work

Where Does the Equipment Come From?

Items for auction typically come directly from a manufacturer as surplus laboratory equipment, but that’s not always the case. There are some auctions in which items can come from many different sources. Because of this, it’s important to research the auction itself and where the items are coming from before participating.

In-Person Auctions

In-person auctions take place as a live auction where an auctioneer announces the items and awaits bids from participants in an audience. In a typical in-person auction, you’ll be able to examine the items up for auction and ask questions before deciding to bid. The information you obtain may be able to help you estimate how much an item may go for, or how much you think it’s worth bidding for. 

If you decide to bid and win, you can pay for your item(s) and have it in your hands within minutes. However, depending on the size, weight, and transportation requirements of some items, they may be shipped and delivered to you at a later time.

In a live auction environment, you’ll also get to compete with other bidders in real-time and personally connect with other buyers and sellers. Attending an in-person auction may introduce you to others and help you grow your network.

Online Auctions

In an online auction, it’s all about convenience. It is often less expensive for sellers to use an online format and buyers are able to bid from the comfort of their homes. An online auction has potential to reach a wider audience because it won’t limit buyers and sellers to in-person auctions in their local area. On the other side, however, the online format can curtail a pool of buyers who don’t have access to computers or an internet connection.

In online auctions, items are listed in classified catalogs with specific information so potential buyers can easily learn more about them. While all the information is readily available, an online auction may prevent a thorough inspection of the item. If buyers still see items they are interested in, they can place bids with their credit cards.

List of Laboratory Equipment Auction Sites

Non-Industry Options

Tips for Purchasing At Auctions

Know Your Price Limits for Each Item

Researching specific items can help you understand how much they typically sell for and what is a reasonable bid. Checking instrument manufacturers such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Eppendorf, Beckman, and Sartorius allows you to see the brand new pricing of certain items, compare models, and more. Collecting this information can help you set a price limit and establish how much you are willing to spend on each item. This way, you can better allocate your overall budget.

Research the Auction

Whether you opt for an in-person auction or an online approach, it’s crucial to do your research on upcoming auctions ahead of time. Research the auction itself to make sure it’s reputable. Then, research the catalog of items to make sure they have what you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re looking for a mass spectrometer but the catalog only contains incubators, glassware, and freeze dryers, you know you need to keep looking elsewhere.

Assess the Quality of Items

With any item, it’s important to do a diligent quality-check to prevent any maintenance issues or identify any damages. The quality of items can be based on a variety of factors such as:

  • Instrument age: Check the serial number with the manufacturer.
  • Repair/maintenance history: Check the serial number and maintenance history with the manufacturer.
  • Who was using the instrument before you? Was it Big Pharma? A biotech startup? Academia? Manufacturer surplus assets? Industry usage varies widely in terms of intensity. Knowing where it came from can help you determine how it was previously used and whether or not it is worth the investment.

Keep in mind the information from the manufacturer may not be readily available, but if you can find it, it will be instrumental in assessing the quality of an item.

Look for Fees and Charges

Even if you find a great deal on the chiller or evaporator you’ve been looking for, by the time you add on certain fees and charges, it may not be the value you initially thought it was. Many auctions charge a buyer’s premium to cover the cost of running the event. Even online auctions may have extra or hidden fees. These can range from shipping costs, handling costs, and insurance fees that protect your items while in transit.

Disadvantages of Laboratory Equipment Auctions

Condition and Maintenance Problems

You may find the equipment is not in the best condition or up to your standard. If you do manage to find something that appears to be in good condition, there’s still the possibility of maintenance issues. If you spend a lot of money on a piece of equipment only to have it cost you a significant amount in repairs down the line, the initial investment may not have been worth it. Additionally, when you purchase an item from an online auction without inspecting it in person, it may increase the likelihood of running into problems.

Auctions Don’t Happen Often

Laboratory equipment auctions aren’t as common as car auctions or estate sales. Because of this, they don’t occur as frequently and you may have to invest the time to research available options. Depending on event timing and proximity, you may not find any auctions that are possible or convenient for you to attend.

You May Walk Away With Nothing

Attending an auction and placing bids don’t guarantee you’ll bring anything back to your lab. You could be outbid, find that the equipment available is not worth bidding on, or determine the equipment is all out of your budget.

Here’s Our Bid

If auctions don’t sound like the right fit for you, you can trust Excedr to help you procure all your laboratory equipment. You can skip all the risk and repair issues by allowing Excedr to do the work for you. 

We Only Lease Quality Equipment

Our equipment leasing programs only provide new or manufacturer-refurbished equipment. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that everything will remain functional because we include maintenance in all of our leases. If something breaks down, we’ll cover repairs, too.

Wide Range of Equipment

We lease lab equipment from today’s top manufacturers and we have the things you need no matter what type of lab you’re starting. Whether it’s general lab equipment, pathology equipment, or imaging equipment, you’ll have access to a wide variety that will meet your specific needs.

You’re Guaranteed to Get What You Need

Instead of scouting auctions with the hope that you’ll be able to find and get what you need for your lab, you can confidently lease all your equipment from us. You won’t run the risk of coming back empty-handed. Choosing Excedr won’t only save you time but money, too. When your lease is over, you have the option to upgrade the equipment or switch to another brand if you need to. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.