Guide for Buying Used Lab Equipment


Are you on the hunt for a specific instrument to adequately conduct your research and not sure where to begin? Are you on a tight budget and the equipment you need is just too expensive?

Buying used lab equipment is an affordable and accessible option available to the scientific and medical industries. Buyers beware however, as it can be a risky process to navigate.

When purchasing used lab equipment you want to remember the importance of the following:

  1. Evaluate your needs.
  2. Learn about the supplier.
  3. Get a referral if possible.
  4. Compare prices.
  5. Make sure the equipment comes with a warranty.

What is the right equipment for you?

The first step to take when purchasing equipment, new or used, is to determine what will best suit your needs, your lab and your experiment or operations. Look up the dimensions of each option and be sure to choose the one that fits in the space it will be used in.

Take the time to evaluate the features and specifications of the equipment to be positive that it will be most efficient for your needs. This might seem like an unnecessary step to mention, but purchasing equipment can be a grueling process, so it’s important to be clear on where to start.

Research Equipment and Suppliers

Once you’ve determined which specific product you’re on the hunt for, the next step entails doing the research to find the most reputable suppliers. Begin by visiting the websites of companies that offer refurbished products and audit all past customer reviews and the history of the company.

If possible, opt to visit the warehouse or service department in person to inspect the on-site refurbished laboratory instruments. This can give you a clear idea on the quality of the used products a supplier provides.

When reviewing the many different websites of suppliers, be sure to avoid online resellers with extensive lists of thousands of used instruments. These middle-men are most likely posting equipment they have no control over or do not have on hand in a warehouse.

A broker will negotiate deals with other used lab equipment distributors and end up charging you a higher price. They cannot guarantee quality or timing. It’s best to purchase from suppliers directly.
It is wise to avoid resellers that pull from auction houses or unknown distributors. Trust in suppliers that offer member services, and specialize in customer to customer sales.

A trustworthy supplier will have excellent customer reviews, offer warranties, and disclose where they get the equipment from on their website. They might also provide maintenance records, and live or recorded videos of a remanufactured piece of equipment being tested.

Request a Referral from an Expert

Most reputable suppliers are well-known and trusted within the scientific and medical communities and have been for several years. They’ve taken the time to build up good rapport with a long list of clients.

If you have the opportunity to ask another industry professional to refer you to a reseller that they trust, do not hesitate to ask. It is never a bad idea to opt for guidance that will ensure you get the best deal.

Customer service is an essential factor to consider when choosing a supplier. In a situation in which your purchased equipment stops functioning, you want to feel comfortable calling the supplier to explain the issue. A supplier with the right customer service skills may offer discounted repair services (if the equipment is no longer under warranty).

Compare Pricing and Quality

Once you have established your own needs and done thorough research on different suppliers, it is extremely important that you ask the right questions. It is wise to request quotes from multiple suppliers so that you can compare the pricing.

Remember, the price can be a direct reflection of the quality of a product. If the price is low, it could mean the equipment is not comprehensively evaluated and tested. Trying to save money upfront could ultimately lead you to spending more money in the long run.

Regarding the quality of the equipment, there are other ways to gain more insight other than requesting maintenance records or videos. One approach is to inquire how long it will take to receive the equipment after ordering. A company that offers next day delivery is not to be trusted as this could mean they did not properly test the equipment.

Warranty or Money Back Guarantee

A supplier should offer a warranty no matter what, or at least have a system in place to handle repairs.

The longer the warranty terms the better. Of course, this is true for the obvious reason that you are covered for longer and able to have your purchased instruments repaired should an issue arise. This also shows the supplier has enough qualified staff and inventory to handle the problem.

Other suppliers have membership services in place that offer repairs, installations and preventative maintenance.

Unless you are a skilled expert at repairing equipment yourself, don’t be fooled by a supplier regarding their warranty policy. Choose a company that offers a warranty or provides services through their own team.


Remember, when purchasing used lab equipment, asking the proper questions to make the best decision that ensures you’re getting the best value is important. Evaluate your needs first and determine what equipment is most suitable.

Conduct thorough research on all of the possible suppliers in your industry. It’s not rocket science. Spend the time to find the right deals and a company you can trust.

Still unsure which route to take? Ask an expert! Welcome a recommendation from someone who knows.

Remember you get what you pay for, so don’t jump on the cheapest opportunity that comes your way. Make sure you’re still getting the best quality while still saving some money.

And lastly, don’t purchase without a warranty, or money back guarantee. You don’t want to be stuck with a piece of equipment that no longer functions because you forgot this vital step.

Buying used lab equipment can be made easy as long as you keep the important factors in mind.