Buying Used Lab Equipment 101


Equipment can be pricey. There’s no doubt about that. For this reason, businesses have come forward selling remanufactured equipment for more reasonable prices.

The biotech and pharmaceutical industries have exploded with suppliers and companies selling used lab equipment and it can be difficult to distinguish a great deal from a bad one.

Here are all of the questions you need to keep in mind that will allow you to make the best decision when it comes to purchasing used lab equipment.

#1 What makes a supplier a trustworthy source?

It’s vital to do the proper research to ensure that a company is credible and one you can trust. Spend some time perusing the websites of equipment repurposing companies. Look for positive customer reviews, upfront pricing, and other relevant information.

Ask your community. It goes without saying that you will be more inclined to look into a supplier that was recommended to you by someone you know. An expert in your industry may be able to refer you to a company they’ve worked with in the past that offers quality products.

Request records of testing, maintenance and possibly a tour of the facilities. If a company doesn’t offer on-site visits, ask for more information on where they get the equipment they are selling.

Be careful when dealing with lab equipment brokers and auctioneers. These types of resellers sometimes don’t have direct control over or access to their inventory and you could end up with a product you didn’t purchase.

A trustworthy supplier is one that is willing to take the time to answer your questions. They understand the value of great customer service.

#2 What are the different kinds of used lab equipment resellers?

The used lab equipment market is flooded with several different kinds of reselling models.

  • Auctioneers
  • Lab equipment brokers
  • Equipment service company
  • Used equipment dealer

When navigating the waters of purchasing refurbished machinery, you want to be able to decipher between these distinct types of companies.

It’s wise to avoid dealing with a “middle-man”, like an auctioneer or broker. An equipment dealer or service company is a better option as they are more upfront in what they have to offer.

Equipment dealers and service companies offer clients helpful services such as equipment repair, safe transportation of instruments, professional storage, and damage prevention.

One of the perks of going through a used equipment service company is that it was created for their customers to sell to other customers. This helps you in knowing where the equipment is coming from and you are able to discuss the details directly with the first, second or third owner of the equipment.

You want to make sure whatever supplier you are dealing with knows their inventory firsthand and can promise the proper maintenance and testing has been done to ensure quality.

#3 What is the right price for the equipment?

Used lab equipment can be significantly less than buying it brand new. However, too cheap could mean you’re going to get a product that isn’t well taken care of or could break easily in the near future.

Be sure to compare prices amongst different suppliers to get the best deal, but don’t sacrifice quality for a lower cost upfront. You could end up paying more for repairs when you are met with a functionality issue and the warranty is up.

#4 How do I ensure quality?

When purchasing refurbished equipment, you want to feel confident that you’re getting the highest quality possible. It is absolutely vital that the instruments are tested and checked for issues before you even consider buying.

There are a few ways to inquire about the quality of a product. First, request that the supplier provide any records of past evaluations. You can even ask for a live or recorded video that shows the equipment in use. If possible, set up a time to try the equipment out yourself.

For large distribution companies of repurposed lab equipment, one suggestion is to ask when it will be delivered. If a supplier promises next day delivery, it could mean they are selling you the equipment without sending it to the service department first. This could raise a red flag if they haven’t already proven that the product is in proper working condition.

#5 What should I expect in a warranty?

It is never a good idea to purchase used lab equipment without a warranty or some sort of money back guarantee. Of course, the longer the warranty the better.
Some suppliers offer a 14 to 30 day warranty, while others offer up to a 90 day warranty. Customer to customer based companies may offer a money back guarantee if you receive a faulty instrument or the wrong product.

The best approach is to ask what your options are in this case. An honest supplier will be upfront and clear in their warranty policies. Never purchase any refurbished equipment without some sort of protection plan in place.

Bottom Line

Buying used laboratory equipment is an incredible resource for the scientific and medical communities. It allows industry professionals to save money and time when they need a new instrument to conduct their studies.

Remember to ask the proper questions to give yourself some peace of mind and protect yourself from getting ripped off. Taking a little extra time to ensure that you’re buying from a trustworthy and reputable source will be worth it in the long run.

There are so many options out there. Keep in mind that the best used lab equipment distributors will most likely have proven reputations that will speak for them. These companies will also come recommended by people you know and trust.

And, not to mention, choosing to recycle used equipment is helpful to the environment that so many scientists are working hard to save. And to some degree, it also allows manufacturers to focus on inventing the next vital machine that could change the world. That being said, shop used, save money, and save the planet!