How Reliable are Used & Refurbished Electronics?

When we’re on the hunt for an electronic product, many of us like to purchase the newest model available. Although buying new electronics can be exciting to some, and safer than previously owned models, we can’t always afford to purchase the latest products, or we might like the moral and environmental concepts of reusing available resources.


What is the difference between “used” and “refurbished?”

All refurbished items come with a warranty. Some used items come with warranties, but most do not. Refurbished items are intended to appear and perform like new and they often do. Used items, on the other hand are sold as they are, and could be damaged.

Furthermore, a refurbished item might merely be an item that cannot be marketed as new for superficial reasons, such as having an opened box or having a dent or scratch on the outside cover. Refurbished items are generally sold by original equipment manufacturers, and have proven to be more reliable than third-party vendors who routinely sell used or “as-is” electronics.

Refurbished items purchased from an original equipment manufacturer are frequently newer models, and therefore will still be supported by the company who made it. If there is a problem with the product, you may call the original equipment manufacturer for help. There is also a better chance that you can purchase any of the product’s parts or extensions.


Can we rely on used and refurbished items to last well into the future?

Refurbished items, because they come from the original equipment manufacturers, tend to be more reliable than used items. Original equipment manufacturers want to keep a good name for their company and they want to reap any potential profits from selling reliable refurbished items. The consumer can ascertain the confidence a company has in its refurbished product by looking at the duration of the warranty, and seeing how it compares to the brand-new model of the product.

When buying a product labeled as “used,” the consumer is taking more of a gamble. Used electronics can often be purchased at much lower prices than refurbished items but because used products are generally sold from a third-party or other independent source, there is no way to anticipate how long the product will last, or if it will even work at all. Independent sources do not have their reputations on the line like equipment manufacturers do, and therefore have limited incentive to sell quality products. To help weed out untrustworthy used electronics, the consumer can purchase from a reputable retailer, check to see if a given item is under warranty, and limit purchases to electronic items that can be returned.


Is the price difference worth it?

Some retailers, often the more reputable and trustworthy ones, will sell refurbished products at a price more comparable to the new version of it. However, when it comes to buying used electronics from various independent sources, prices are more variable. It is generally considered more of a gamble for a consumer to buy used products than new or refurbished items, and consequently, they can often be found for significantly less money. Electronic items in a discontinued model can often be found in a much lower price range in the used or refurbished categories.


This article was provided by CJ Gordon, Computer Science graduate and penny-pinching environmentalist. If you’re looking to save money while re-using resources, CJ recommends state-of-the-art Cisco equipment.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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