Considerations for Purchasing Used Lab Equipment


Buying laboratory equipment can be quite a task. However, it can be similar to buying a house or a car. You need to consider essential elements to ensure that you purchase a piece of high-quality equipment. If you’re already thinking of so many things for this mission, grab a pen and paper and start to write. Organize your thoughts and layout the factors for your purchase.

If you or your institution is going to be practical, this means that brand new items are the least of your options. So, the best choice is to look for used laboratory equipment. Surely, this will save you a lot of costs.

If you decide to purchase used lab equipment, here are six things you need to keep in mind to ensure you get your money’s worth:

The Equipment You Need

Before shopping, you need to identify the things you need to buy. Else, you’ll end up picking up unnecessary items. If you’re a scientist, for instance, you need to determine the right equipment for the experiments or projects that you’ll be doing. Such as researching for a cancer cure, you will need specific equipment to get this right. Making a list and description of these tools would be the smartest thing to do.

If possible, make your list specific. You should include the type and size of each apparatus and how many do you need.

Since you’re considering buying second-hand items, you should also understand terminologies that are used in the market. This ensures that you and the seller are on the same plane.

For example, the term ‘used’ may mean different things, and you can categorize them as such:

  • Refurbished: Refurbished equipment are items that have been thoroughly inspected and fixed by a qualified technician.
  • Reconditioned: These items were retested by the manufacturer most probably because the buyer rejected and returned it. Some returns claim that it’s due to packaging or actual damage to the items.
  • Remanufactured: These are products that had its integral parts replaced and its appearance improved, making it look and function as new.
  • As-is: This is the term used by brokers or vendors for items that are truly “second-hand.” It means that the seller doesn’t have an idea of the history of its usage.

If you familiarize yourself with these terms, you have a better chance of getting good bargains, allowing you to buy quality items for an affordable cost.

The Source

Normally, when you buy something from the mall, you have a guarantee that the item you’ve purchased is new and has a warranty. With this assurance, you don’t need to worry about any defects. If there is, you can easily return it for repair without additional charges.

When buying used laboratory equipment, you need to approach the right and legitimate dealers. You can classify them as the following:

  • Original manufacturer: There’s a huge advantage if you’re able to deal with an original manufacturer. If you’re lucky, you can buy brand new units for a fair price, complete with a service contract and warranty. If it’s still not within your budget, manufacturers can also offer returned items or demo models for a cost that you can afford.

Even if returns and models are used, you still have an edge since the manufacturer knows their items best. They can easily provide you with great customer support and information about the product you purchased.

  • Third-party supplier: When it comes to buying lab equipment, third-party suppliers are also a good source. They have wider connections from various manufacturers and can help you compare with different brands. They may have new or used supplies with warranty. Needless to say, with these vendors, you can also guarantee that the items are still of standard quality.

Although that’s the case, you’ll still have to consider that these companies are already selling the equipment at a retail price. While you aim to get the equipment at its cheapest price, third-party suppliers might unlikely be able to offer you that. That’s unless the apparatus is low quality and already out of condition.

  • Equipment broker or auction sites: It’s easy to spot these kinds of dealers. They’re the ones you see on the internet that advertise lots of products.

Most of the time, they only post stock images and not the actual photo of the item. Most probably because they really don’t have the item on-hand or are still going to look for it if they see the demand.

This should be the first red flag for buyers like you. Unfortunately, some people easily get scammed with false impressions and great marketing skills.

Brokers don’t offer any warranty. They’ll try to deal with you by insisting that you get what you see. Although this seems like these are the people that you need to avoid, there are still good used laboratory equipment sites that you can trust. However, they’re quite rare and you need a reliable source or friend to help you out with that.

Actual Photo or Demo

As mentioned, you might come across a dealer that doesn’t post actual photos. Nevertheless, you need to require this one to ensure the legitimacy of your transaction. Just a snap of an actual photo of the equipment is good, but if they can provide you with a demo video, that would be a very good sign. If you’re able to meet personally, that’s even better since you can test the equipment by yourself.

You shouldn’t give in to flowery promotional talks unless you’ve seen that the product is still in great condition. Good suppliers should know the importance of giving proof and assurance to get the trust of their buyers. So, if they don’t hesitate with your request, you know you can proceed with the negotiation.

Warranty Policy And Service Contracts

Look for a seller who can offer you a warranty and service contracts even though the items are already used. With a warranty, you can ask for an equipment repair without having to pay additional costs.

However, the warranty of a used item is carried from the original purchase and not from resellers. So, there’s a chance that when you buy it, the warranty has already expired.

That’s why you should ask for service contracts. It’s wiser to get into service contracts when buying used items because it’s prone to damages. Although you pay monthly fees for service contracts, that’s more practical than having to pay a one-time repair fee that might cost you more.

To protect yourself and to make sure that you have more advantages, always read and understand contracts before signing. You should take the time to study the terms as you can also compare this with the other companies.

Customer Reviews 

You should also consider what other customers say about a specific seller. Even though you feel that you’re ready to get into a deal, it’s not right to hinder yourself from knowing this information.

Sales representatives have the skills to make you believe that you’re making the right decisions in buying their products. That’s why you need to hold on to that bargaining until you’ve heard the real deal.

One way to know this is to look for customer reviews online. Since businessmen now take advantage of websites, it can also benefit you. Go to the page where customers can leave their comments and read what they say about the company’s services and products.

Customer reviews can definitely influence your decision because these statements are raw and authentic. If not online, you can ask around from friends or colleagues. Don’t underestimate referrals as their first-hand experiences are proof of their satisfaction or disappointment. In fact, you can rely on reviews initially, before having to go through the long process and most probably end up disappointed as well.


Since you’re primarily considering cheap buys here, do compare costs. Don’t only think about the price of the item itself, but also the associating costs. These include the fees for service contracts, repairs, and or replacements. Not to mention, costs for shipping and service including tax.

Although used items allow you to save, repairs will still be costly. That’s why you need to think forward and anticipate expenses. Just think of it this way, when you buy an item for an equivalent price, how long will it last for its value?

To help you avoid spending more than what you can afford, you can set a budget. If you can do this, it’ll be easier to find the right people to negotiate with.

How would you know if you’re buying equipment for a fair or cheaper price? It’s best that you educate yourself with its original retail price. Make sure that you’re also familiar with the brand or manufacturer as it’ll tell you which item is a grade or not.


Even if you’re considering second-hand items, you still need to ensure that your purchases can still withstand multiple usages. As mentioned, there are tips and guides out there to help you find the best deals. What’s important is you familiarize yourself with the market and how it works to avoid getting scammed.

Sometimes, trusting your instincts also helps with purchasing lab equipment. If you feel that you’re working with a bogus seller, don’t hesitate to leave your negotiation.


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