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Used, Refurbished, or New: Which is Best for You?

Buying brand new lab equipment is not always the best option for your lab

While the appeal of shiny new equipment can be hard to look past, there is no denying that buying brand new lab equipment is not always a viable option for all labs, usually due to budget constraints. Thankfully, as seen here on LabX, there is a robust market for pre-owned lab equipment providing you with a wide range of options for almost any type of lab equipment you could need. But not all pre-owned equipment is equal. While many times you may encounter the words “used” and “refurbished” in similar contexts, there are some key differences to keep in mind when shopping for non-new lab equipment.


Used vs Refurbished: The Basics

Pre-owned lab equipment being sold as “used” means exactly that: the equipment has been used before. This can mean anything from “used once before we realized it wasn’t the right model for us” to “used for 15 years in a teaching lab,” so the quality of the equipment can vary widely. While the definition of used can extend to a piece of equipment that is really only usable as parts, many used instruments are still perfectly functional. In fact, most equipment being sold as used is in working order, but this also depends greatly on the seller of the equipment.

Refurbished lab equipment, on the other hand, indicates a consistent higher standard of quality. Items that have been refurbished have been cleaned, tuned, and tested by the seller to ensure that everything is in working order. Refurbished equipment has been used before, but buying refurbished provides a guarantee that the equipment is ready to use and trustworthy. Many refurbished equipment sellers also provide a warranty for their refurbished items, adding an extra level of security to your purchase.

When to Buy Used or Refurbished Instead of New

One of the main reasons to look for pre-owned lab equipment is budget constraints. Brand new equipment is always the most expensive option, and many labs operate on strict budgets, so looking for more economical options in the form of used or refurbished equipment can allow you more flexibility in other areas of your budget. Buying used or refurbished can also allow you to purchase a higher-end piece of equipment than what you could afford new, or allow you to find more add-ons to the equipment within your budget restrictions.

Another reason to consider used or refurbished equipment is delivery time. Brand new equipment is sometimes made to order, meaning it can take months of manufacturing before the equipment is even shipped to you. Buying pre-owned equipment means the only time you need to consider is shipping time, allowing you to get what you need into your lab sooner.

There is also the eco-friendly aspect to used or refurbished. Lab equipment can continue to work for decades, so if your lab is not in need of the absolute latest technology, buying a pre-owned piece of equipment can significantly lower your carbon footprint and improve the overall sustainability of your lab.

Of course, there are always situations where new equipment is still the best option, like for highly sensitive projects or when you require the latest technology and there aren’t used options on the market. But if you have the time to dedicate to a search for the right equipment and vetting of the seller, there is almost always a pre-owned option out there to save you money.


New equipment for your lab does not have to mean brand new. Sometimes, used but new-to-you is the best option. If you decide to forgo new equipment, there are a large number of places to buy used or refurbished equipment from. LabX hosts many of the top refurbished equipment sellers, such as GenTech, Agilent, Cambridge Scientific, and more. Buying from trusted resellers helps to ensure the product you receive will be functional and reliable. We will explore how to assess used and refurbished equipment sellers in a future article, so stay tuned!

Shop Used and Refurbished equipment sellers on LabX here