As a tech in the church, we are always trying to maximize our budgets, to match the needs of the church. One way that can be a great way to maximize your financial efforts when purchasing gear, is to purchase it on the used market.
By purchasing used lighting gear, you can typically save 20 percent to 40 percent off the new purchase price.
In this article, we will explore how you can best utilize your budget in this way, while minimizing your risk.
Why buy used?
Just like purchasing a car, many lighting elements lose much of their value, coming out of their original box. This is especially true for high-cost products like moving lights, lighting consoles, and peripherals.
By purchasing used lighting gear, you can typically save 20 percent to 40 percent off the new purchase price. This can translate into hitting a tight budget, getting higher powered fixtures, or getting a more feature-packed fixture for the same cost.
Are used lights lemons? One of the biggest things that is necessary to the process of buying used lighting, is figuring out the use that it has undergone. It’s always best to know the type of use, locations of use, and care that’s been received for the lighting gear that you are looking to purchase.
Typically, lights that are used on beaches, for example, are not the best candidates for purchasing used. The best fixtures and gear to look for in used lighting, have had a low impact life, such as those being used in corporate events.
Often, used fixtures are in a company's inventory for one to two years, and still have a lot of good life in them. This is especially true for fixtures that have not been out for more than two to three years. Purchasing lighting from a reputable company that puts a high standard on maintenance, is always the best way to purchase used lighting.
When companies have great internal maintenance, it lengthens the life of their lights.
As a general rule of thumb, it is always best to purchase lights that have minimal moving parts. LEDs, LED moving lights, and consoles are great examples of this. The reason for this, is that there are fewer potential parts to break, even if the fixtures are not taken care of phenomenally.
Fixtures with more moving parts, arc sources, and complex electronics, can be found, and with that can experience great savings. You must be much more careful, though, in such instances, to ensure those fixtures are in good shape.
A great way to learn if these fixtures are in decent shape, is to check voltages on power supplies, and PCB (electronics boards), to look for issues that could be indicators of larger issues down the road.
Another, even easier way to see the care taken for a fixture is the amount of residual dust, dirt, and debris built up inside the fixture. With more dust, heat builds up, damaging and shortening the life of these fixtures. A clean fixture is a happy fixture!
Another great place to consider purchasing used gear is in cable. Many times when you purchase used cabling, you will save significantly. Most of this cable will already be color coded as well, saving you time on creating a color code system within your inventory. Typically, this cable is in good condition and has many years of life still in it.
One thing that is a must on all used gear purchases, is to ensure you thoroughly test each piece of gear when it arrives. By taking the time to test the gear, it can catch issues, while it is still possible to get a remedy.
Many used lighting brokers will offer a warranty which is typically 30 days long. It is important to find any issues early, because if any issue is found after that 30-day window, it’s very hard to get products replaced or fixed, as part of the transaction.
Purchasing used lighting can be a great way to steward your funds well, when done with some forward insight.