Should I Buy a Used Generator?

Should I Buy a Used Generator?

Where to Buy Used Electric Generators

It's tempting to save money by buying used items. With high inflation, no wonder there's a renewed interest in garage sales, thrift shops, and online shopping networks. While it might make sense to buy a used kitchen table that seems sturdy enough, buying a used electric generator is a completely different story.

When you buy a generator, you are buying the peace-of-mind that comes with backing up your home's power during an outage. You're buying the power you need when doing road trips, camping, or other activities. In some cases, people's lives and livelihood depend on having power-consider those who work from home or who need to run a CPAP machine.

Can a used generator meet these needs? Yes. Is there a greater chance that something will go wrong and it won't. Absolutely.

Used Electric Generator

Maintenance Issues with Used Generators

When you buy a used generator, you're buying all the problems that made the owner put it on sale in the first place. Here are some of the issues you may run into, assuming the unit works properly at all.
  • Worn Spark Plug: A worn spark plug will make starting your used generator difficult, if not impossible. Over time, this will decrease fuel efficiency, increase harmful emissions, and wear out your engine.

  • Dirty Filters: The air filter purifies the air used in the combustion process while the oil filter removes harmful buildup from the oil. If either is clogged up, contaminants will leak into your engine over time and cause serious damage.

  • Old Oil: You don't know how long that used generator has been sitting around, which means the oil inside may have turned into sludge and is corroding the internal parts.

  • Dead Battery: If the used generator has a battery, it may be dead or not have a full charge. If that's the case, you can say goodbye to the electric start capability until you get a new battery.

All the above are things you can inspect before buying a used generator. They can also all be fixed, but factor in those costs into the purchase price. If you're getting the used generator for a few hundred dollars but the cost of replacement parts is also a few hundred dollars, it may not be economical.

Generator Filter

What you won't know is if there are any deeper issues with the generator on the engine level. For example, if the previous owner never replaced their filters, there might be serious internal damage that will cut the life of the unit. Obviously, before buying a used generator you should ask to test it out, but that won't guarantee it'll last. Remember, you won't have a warranty when buying a used product.

Getting Enough Power

When you buy a used generator, you might be tempted to buy whatever is cheap, whether it's what you need or not. For example, if you need a 7,500-Watt generator to backup your essentials during a power outage but you buy a 5,000-Watt used generator just because it's available, you'll be short on power.

On the flipside, you might overpay for a used generator that produces more wattage than necessary. For the same price, you might be able to get a new generator at the lower wattage range you need.

Remember, a generator shouldn't be an impulse purchase or one you make without first doing research. Getting the right-sized generator,
with the right fuel source, and the right features is crucial for making it accomplish what you need

.Lights On

New vs Used Generators

You can definitely luck out with a used generator, and it could serve you well for years to come. Always ask yourself, though, why is the owner selling it? Unlike a car or phone, it's not the type of product that most people want or need the latest model of. If it's working fine, why get rid of it?

With a new generator, not only will you get a warranty backing up the product, but you'll be able to size and select the exact type of generator you need. Will you pay more? Probably. But what is the price of peace-of-mind and the knowledge that your power is safely backed up?

NEXT: How to Buy an Electric Generator

Jared, the Generator Expert
Generator Expert
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