Since my job is to rent you stuff, you'd expect me to say "Rent. Rent now. Rent often... And be sure you rent from me!" And I do believe that. But there are legitimate reasons to consider both renting and buying.
Let's start with the two most common reasons customers tell me they're renting: (1) they don't need the equipment often enough to justify the cost of owning it, and (2) they just don't have the budget to buy. The most-rented instruments in my fleet cost thousands to purchase, and may only need to be used once a year to comply with OSHA requirements. At that point, is it worth investing in owning, and paying the cost of maintenance, overhead, reliability, and watching an asset sit on the shelf and lose value?
Are you sure you've found the right tool for your job? If so, and you have the budget and the need, purchasing may be the right move. But if you want to try out a few different devices and decide which works best for you, why not try renting on a short-term basis? That way, you get to try out the instrument, make sure it fits your needs, and not worry about the hassles of returns and re-stocking fees on stuff you don't like or can't use. Plus, it's a great way to try out the latest version of an instrument that you're already familiar with, to decide whether it's worth upgrading your own instruments.
How much of your time and money goes into instrument maintenance? If you don't use your equipment often, can you be certain that it's going to work when you need it? Do you spend a lot of time calibrating and testing? Age is the enemy of the asset: Sensors decay and expire, batteries go dead, kit parts get lost. So, unless you have the time and money to be vigilant about maintenance and upkeep, renting is a great solution.
It's my job to keep the latest instruments in stock, make sure their calibration certifications are up-to-date, keep them in working order, and make sure all the parts are in the kits. That way, when you're ready to use them, they arrive and you can get right to work. Call it reliability insurance.
How important is instrument cost in project budgeting? For our consulting customers, we've found that renting makes their job-cost reporting and budgeting easier. If they need an instrument for a one-week job at a client site, they have an exact cost for the instrumentation and consumables. There's no trying to figure out how to attribute a portion of a $10,000 instrument they own to the budget for a two-week project.
Do you have support for your instrument fleet? Someone to help you when you're using new software, or can't get it installed? What if the instrument flashes an error during calibration or stops working when you need it? One of the most compelling reasons to rent is the service that comes with it. RAECO Rents has highly trained people who work with the instruments on a regular basis. Plus, we provide additional resources you may not get when you buy. For instance, check RAECORents.com for manuals, quick-start guides, application notes, and video training.
To rent or buy? That's still the question.
You may find that a combination of the two works best for you. Buy the stuff you use on a regular basis, that you're comfortable supporting in-house, and that's easy to maintain. If there are instruments you don't use often, or can't get budget approval for, try renting. I think you'll find the experience truly easy and valuable.
One more option: If you find yourself renting an instrument from RAECO Rents and using it often enough to consider purchasing, call me and ask about our rent/lease-to-own program. Or, take a look at our gently-used instruments, which can be purchased at a discount.