buying used instruments

An Insider’s Guide to Buying Used Instruments

By: Kris Dietrich, Vice President of Services, Quantum Analytics

Many labs turn to buying used instruments to reduce the long-term cost of their laboratory. Just like cars, computers and other consumer goods, there are both benefits and drawbacks to buying used products.


Let’s quickly dive into the benefits of buying used instruments… 

The benefits of buying used or refurbished analytical instruments are obvious. When it comes to refurbished instruments, you can get an amazing deal on top performing systems. If the refurbished systems are being warehoused domestically, you can avoid long lead times due to supply chain issues. If a lab is looking to install a system for redundancy, a refurbished system is perfect as a more affordable back-up solution. There are even some cases when buyers are looking specifically for an older generation system, so the only units available are used. 


And conversely, let’s explore the drawbacks of buying used instruments… 

Purchasing used instrumentation can also have serious risks. There are hundreds of sites and sellers on the internet that sell used analytical instruments. And their quality can range significantly. Just like any online purchase, there is a lot of risk buying something sight unseen. The quality, functionality and condition can vary drastically from what is posted. Even taking into consideration the reduced cost of the system, the amount of money being transferred is still significant. Auction sites are another source for getting lab equipment from lab shutdowns or liquidation sales. Caution should be exercised when working with online sellers with unknown history. 

So understanding the risks and rewards associated with buying used instruments, what is the best way to start your buying process? Here are four quick tips that can save you time, money, (and headaches) down the road. 


buying used instruments


Tip 1 – Ask for pictures 

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture can tell you a lot of things, including how well the instrument was maintained during its lifetime. Look closely at pictures that show wear and tear, scratches, dents and other cosmetic imperfections. For instrument experts, some of these flaws might be truly only cosmetic and easily mitigated. However, other features might be an indicator of deferred maintenance and other red flags.  

Another best practice is to check that the instrument pictured matches the product’s written description and configuration. Often product listings can be written by copying-and-pasting from another source and may be misleading. If there is a discrepancy, we recommend investigating further before buying. 


Tip 2 – Ask for serial numbers 

Serial numbers, for many manufacturers, can reveal the exact model and age of an instrument. Having this information will help when evaluating the purchase price and comparing it to the market value of the asset. 


Tip 3 – Ask about warranties 

When it comes to instrumentation or any large, expensive piece of equipment, understanding the warranty is critical. And although warranties are more clearly defined for new instrumentation, it is imperative to know what is covered or not covered when purchasing a used or refurbished instrument.  

Even though the instrument is not brand new, it still is a financial investment. Buying from a company who stands behind their products by defining their warranties upfront can be incredibly assuring. And conversely, be wary of any used or refurbished instrument that is sold without some level of warranty period. This could lead to headaches down the road. 


Tip 4 – Ask for performance data  

Whether it’s a tune report or a chromatogram of an injected standard, any reputable seller will not hesitate to show you data confirming the instrument is in solid working condition and is operating as designed.  



Used and refurbished analytical instruments can be your secret weapon to getting much needed instruments for your lab quickly and affordably. But as we’ve outlined, buying used lab equipment from an unknown source can be high-risk.  

When a company has a good reputation and stands behind the products it sells, there is peace of mind knowing that a “great deal” also comes with some reduced mitigation.  


Rest assured with Quantum Certified

We created the Quantum Certified program because we saw a gap in the used instrumentation market that was being neglected by other suppliers. Although the used instrument aftermarket feels like it has grown substantially over the past few years, the number of suppliers focused on delivering high-quality, fully checked out instruments is still surprisingly small.  

Quantum Analytics has a rich history of selling and supporting refurbished instruments, which was the catalyst for launching the Quantum Certified program. Each instrument is fully checked and is held to the highest standard of performance by manufacturer trained service engineers. Enjoy peace of mind and confidence in your purchase of Quantum Certified pre-owned analytical instruments. 

Get industry-best quality instruments you need to complete your testing and fit your budget. Quantum Analytics has years of experience selling, maintaining, refurbishing, and configuring analytical instruments. For your next instrument, look for the Quantum Certified stamp and know you are in good hands. 


What you get when you purchase refurbished instruments and accessories from Quantum Analytics: 

  • Preventative maintenance completed with new OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) consumables  
  • Evaluation and updates performed beyond the scope of the preventative maintenance service 
  • Meets original manufacturer sensitivity and performance specifications 
  • All Quantum Certified instruments come with a 6-month standard warranty from the date of delivery. A discounted service agreement or extended warranty beyond the standard 6-month warranty can be bought separately. 


We have a rich inventory of refurbished systems available for immediate shipping on our online store. Don’t see what you need? Call or email us to see what we have coming into inventory over the next few weeks. 




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buying used instruments