Used Lab Equipment Options
Acquiring used laboratory equipment can be an easy way to access scientific instrumentation you need at a fraction of the cost compared to buying new.
While buying a pre-owned instrument can seem cost-effective and simple, it’s important to consider the quality of the specific used equipment before you finalize the purchase.
Buying Used Lab Equipment vs. Leasing
When it comes to buying used laboratory equipment in the life sciences industry, buying used is generally easier and more inexpensive than buying new.
Used lab equipment typically comes from an auction, a third-party vendor, or consignment. There are various websites which make finding used lab equipment auctions, resellers, and distributors easier.
Many new laboratories often find themselves buying used, especially when there isn’t a whole lot of capital available to make new equipment purchases.
Depending on the site or company you’re looking into it, the types of used equipment available can differ. Some used lab equipment dealers have large inventories of equipment from leading manufacturers, including Bio-Rad Laboratories, Agilent, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Shimadzu, Beckman Coulter, Tecan, and more. The inventories differ as well, but can often include:
- HPLC systems
- Microplate readers
- Spectrometers and spectrophotometers
- Freezers, refrigerators, and chillers
- Mass spectrometers, LC/MS, and GC/MS systems
- PCR systems
- Curing ovens
- Fume hoods
- and much more
While buying a pre-owned instrument can be cost-effective and simple, it’s important to determine whether or not the piece of equipment is in good condition.
Although it was at one point a high-quality instrument, it may have gone through wear and tear that greatly reduces its performance, and, consequently, the results of your own work can suffer. We’ll cover some of the factors to consider before you finalize the purchase.
Determining the Quality of Used Equipment
Some of the most important factors to consider are the previous setting the lab instrument was used in, the previous servicing and maintenance of the instrument, its year of manufacture and serial number, and the resellers source.
- Previous Setting: If the unit was used in a hospital or manufacturing production facility, it’s likely that it was put to frequent use, which means it’s probably more run down. On the other hand, if it was used in an academic or startup setting, it may have been used more sparingly, thus having less wear and tear.
- Previous Servicing and Maintenance: If possible, find out how regularly the instrument was maintained in its previous setting. Ask the seller if they have field service reports which document the instrument’s maintenance track record. If maintenance and servicing was frequent, you can be more confident in future usability of the equipment.
- Year of Manufacture and Serial Number: Having access to this information will provide you with a greater understanding of its previous maintenance, as well as how expensive service costs might be in the future. You can usually check the serial number with the OEM and inquire about the unit’s age and history.
- Reseller’s Source: Did the person or company selling the instrument get it from a liquidation “fire sale”, company wind-down, or auction? Knowing the source will give you insight into why it is being sold in the first place and help you avoid poorly performing lab equipment.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, and getting an answer for each one, can help you determine whether or not the equipment is in good condition still and worth buying.
If it has gone through a lot of wear and tear, is relatively old, and wasn’t properly maintained during the course of its use, you probably won’t to avoid buying it, as the instrument may cost more to repair than simply buying a new or refurbished model.
Pros & Cons of Buying Used Laboratory Equipment
There are some important pros and cons to consider when weighing your equipment procurement options. Let’s review the most common when it comes to buying used.
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- The price for used equipment is lower than new or refurbished equipment.
- Buying used can often be time-efficient. When you buy new from a manufacturer, it can sometimes take a long time for them to build the instrument.
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- It may be difficult to find an instrument with the specifications your lab needs.
- There is a substantial risk that the equipment you buy is faulty, worn down, or more likely to break unexpectedly, increasing your lab’s downtime and incurring unnecessary costs.
- Used equipment doesn’t guarantee the device will be under warranty. This can lead to high repair costs in the event the instrument breaks down.
- Securing service contracts for repairs and maintenance for used equipment is very difficult.
- The dealer might not perform refurbishing services themselves, which can lead to issues of quality with the instrument down the road.
Buying Used vs. Leasing
Buying used lab equipment isn’t the only cost-effective option available for laboratories. Leasing scientific equipment is another cost-effective solution that many lab managers take advantage. In fact, leasing can often be a better option than buying used.
That’s because, if you’re strapped for cash, leasing new or refurbished units is another great way to save money. Not only do you spend significantly less cash up front, but you also spread your payments out over time, allowing you to stretch your budget and use your remaining cash for other immediate needs like staffing, consumables, or investment opportunities.
When leasing through Excedr, we also cover repairs and maintenance for the duration of the lease term, saving you time and administrative headaches by minimizing downtime associated with repairs and by handling all service contracts associated with the equipment.
Check out our refurbished equipment page for information about how used equipment is different from refurbished. Plus, some of our blog posts give insight into where to find used equipment in different areas across the country, if you decide that option is best for your lab.
Lease Your Lab Equipment & Have Peace of Mind
Yes, buying used lab equipment can be cost-effective. However, the uncertainty surrounding the quality of the instrument, as well as whether or not you’ll be able to meet your own and regulatory bodies’ standards, can make buying used a huge headache. In fact, it can even cost you more than simply purchasing.
Our leasing program meets in the middle. We’re not as cheap as buying used, but we make procuring equipment as easy as it is to buy used. And, we guarantee that the equipment you lease is not only top-of-the-line, but that it’s in excellent condition, covered under warranty, and protected with comprehensive repair and preventive maintenance coverage.
Our leasing options range from analytical instruments to microscopes to chromatography, biotech, and clinical equipment; however, if there’s something you don’t see on our website, chances are we can source it for you. Just let us know!
So, if you’re going to buy used, try leasing instead. It might be what you’re looking for. Request a lease estimate today or simply get in touch with us to learn more about our program and the costs of leasing.
This off-balance sheet financing structure provides three options at the end of the term. The lessee has the option to return the equipment to the lessor, renew at a discounted rate, or purchase the instrument for the fair market value. Monthly payments are also 100% tax deductible which yields additional monetary savings.
If you recently bought equipment, Excedr can offer you cash for your device and convert your purchase into a long-term rental. This is called a sale-leaseback. If you’ve paid for equipment within the last ninety days, we can help you recoup your investment and allow you to make low monthly payments. This also frees up money in your budget rather than tying it down to a fixed asset.