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NECA 2018 Key Considerations When Buying Surplus Equipment

Surplus Electrical Equipment: What Is It and Should You Buy It?

Take these things into consideration when choosing a surplus equipment vendor and its offerings

Jay Adams of RESA Power doesn’t mince words when it comes to defining what surplus equipment is and what you should take into account if you plan to purchase some.

To dispel any confusion over the term “surplus electrical equipment,” Adams kicked off the speaker session, “Key Considerations When Buying Surplus Equipment” with a definite definition: “The term surplus equipment refers to genuine products that no longer fall under the terms, conditions, and warranty of the original manufacturer or factory-authorized distributor.”

It does not:

  • Dictate a specific condition
  • Include aftermarket or “off-brand” replacements
  • Include equipment supplied by an OEM

So just how does surplus electrical equipment, which includes canceled equipment, incorrect orders, items removed from service, and slow-moving inventory, make it back onto the market? According to Adams, sources may include the manufacturer, distributor, contractor, and end-users.

And although it doesn’t offer any traceability to the factory or a manufacturer warranty, there are various advantages to purchasing surplus equipment, such as:

  • Cost efficiency
  • Availability
  • Minimal obsolescence in a cycle
  • More choices for buyers sourcing material
  • An increased focus on small and medium-sized electrical contractors
  • Individually tested items

As the saying goes, however, buyer beware. If and when choosing a surplus equipment vendor, Adams says the following should be taken into consideration:

1. A transparent business process

  • How is the equipment obtained?
  • What is your testing capability?
  • What are your warranty terms?
  • Are you a factory-authorized distributor?
  • Do you sell used or aftermarket equipment?
  • Can I get a copy of your W-9?
  • Do you have a copy of your insurance certificate?

2. Reputation and establishment

  • Does the business have a mailing address?
  • Does the business have an EIN number?
  • Is the business established with known agencies such as the BBB
  • Does the business maintain certifications such as NETA or PEARL?

3. Uniform QC documentation

  • Traceable, serialized inventory
  • Code-compliant labeling
  • Available test reports
  • Standard testing procedures

4. The ability to serve as a technical resource

  • Do they offer application support for a variety of manufacturers and vintages?

5. In-house testing capability

  • A surplus vendor who is serious about safety and reliability will make significant investment in testing apparatus and personnel

“If a prospective surplus vendor trips or hesitates over these questions or requirements, then you probably don’t want to buy from them,” advises Adams.


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