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Warranties on Pre-Owned Analytical Equipment

Used equipment can help keep your costs down, but you'll want to make sure you have the right warranty.

Mike May, PhD

Mike May is a freelance writer and editor living in Texas.

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Getting the coverage you need

When it comes to running a lab, you need analytical equipment, but it’s not always affordable unless you can find it used. Even then, it might not be the best choice unless it comes with the right warranty. Just being used doesn’t make analytical equipment a good deal unless you can count on it. That means being sure that the seller stands behind the product with a warranty and fast responses to problems in order to keep your lab running.

At LabCentral in Cambridge, Massachusetts, lab manager Lyndsey York takes the used equipment approach for many devices, including minus-80 freezers, cryogenic freezers, CO2 incubators, biosafety cabinets, and centrifuges, as well as multiple plate readers and balances. She says, “Having a warranty included with the purchase of used analytical equipment is a critical deciding factor. We find that having support available during the install and initial operating period is extremely valuable.” She adds, “Having a warranty included with the equipment reduces the impact of malfunctions and lessens the risk associated with buying used equipment.”

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But how long a warranty do you need? York says, “I would suggest seeking a warranty for a minimum of 90 days from receipt of the equipment, which should be enough time to install the system and operate it.” The right warranty, though, depends on the equipment. If you are purchasing equipment that has a lot of moving parts, or parts that wear over time, York says, “it may be in your best interest to try extending the warranty up front if the option is available.”

Company considerations

At American Laboratory Trading (ALT) in East Lyme, Connecticut, chief operating officer Jayson Bernstein says, “Everything in our building comes with a 90-day warranty— all parts, all labor.” He adds, “We also offer an upgraded one-year warranty with all parts and labor included.”

It’s one thing to offer a warranty; it’s another to offer servicing. That all starts with what you receive. Bernstein says, “Our equipment has to run at the manufacturer’s specifications before it leaves the building.” If a device ends up needing on-site service, ALT provides it.

A buyer should expect that. In some cases, a buyer can expect even more. As Bruce Jones, chief coordinating officer at GenTech Scientific in Arcade, New York, says, “If we install the instruments, we are able to offer a oneyear warranty on most instruments, because we are confident in the expertise of the technician and the quality of our refurbished instruments.” He adds, “For certain instruments, we may be able to extend the warranty up to five years with installation.”

To be sure that you get the warranty you desire, the key could be checking with your colleagues about their experiences buying used analytical equipment. Also, be sure to ask the crucial questions: What is the warranty, and how will it be serviced? Only then can you feel safe buying used analytical equipment. Otherwise, you’re taking a financial and professional risk.