man starting generator

Tips for Buying a Used Generator

Homeowners and (some) businesses alike can benefit from a used generator. They’re often cheaper to buy, but along with the inexpensive cost, the decision to buy a used one also comes with some risks. As the generator is pre-owned, it doesn’t come with in-store warranty protection or refunds. Additionally, there may be hidden issues with the unit that aren’t visible during a routine inspection.

The idea of buying a second-hand generator isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are a few things to keep in mind before making a purchase. To ensure that your used generator is worth all of the trouble (and money), consider following these tips when buying one:

General Wear and Tear

Before even beginning to inspect the generator, take an initial look at it as a whole. The engine and exterior body should be free of excessive dirt and grime. Ensure that all plugs and sockets are fully attached, without any signs of corrosion or other damage. If you’re not buying from a brick-and-mortar store, ask for as many pictures as you can of the exact unit and closely inspect for damage. It may also be a good idea to ensure proper maintenance was done and the generator was winterized correctly.

ONLY Buy From Trusted Sites

It’s tempting to purchase from “buy and sell” groups on Facebook or other similar sites, but there are reputable stores that sell second-hand generator units. Buying from reputable stores ensures some level of protection (in the form of buyer/seller ratings). It also means that you can quickly return the generator if it’s faulty or doesn’t meet your expectations.

Private sellers may offer lower prices, but companies selling used ones may provide better aftersales service and protection. It may be worth the extra expense to purchase from a company that refurbishes and/or sells used units rather than an individual owner for a fraction of the cost. In the long run, the cost of the portable generator may be similar to buying from an individual.

Test the Generator Before Buying It

Before you fork over any money, make sure that the generator is fully functional. Run it for approximately 10 minutes (and no less than 5). If the unit doesn’t work properly when running, consider looking elsewhere instead. You may request a video to see if the generator is running properly when buying online.

Ask for a Warranty

Most times, companies offer some level of warranty protection on their used generators. This usually comes in the form of 30-90 day coverage (whichever is longer). If the generator fails and proves to be faulty beyond this timeframe, there should still be enough time for you to return it and receive a replacement.

Signs of Excessive Use

If you did your general inspection and found nothing but dust, it’s time to turn this generator on. Before starting, look at the various parts of the engine closely. If there are signs of excessive use (e.g., lots of black/gray smoke streaming out), you may want to stray away from buying this one.

Once you’ve inspected the exterior and started up the engine for a test run, look at the functions and features of the machine. Make sure that each part works without fault (e.g., LED lights, outlets, etc.) If there is an issue, try to resolve it before completing the sale; otherwise, you’ll likely not get a refund on your purchase.

Date of Manufacture

Most newer generators have a sticker on them indicating when they were built/manufactured. As a best practice, don’t buy a used generator that’s more than two years old. If there’s no date of manufacture to be found, assume that the unit is at least three years old.

Aside from the manufacturing date, it is also vital to find out the exact make and model. Ideally, you’d want your second-hand unit to have replacement parts and maintenance options widely available. Older models may have replacement parts that are hard to find, and if in case they are available, most of these parts may cost a substantial amount of money.

Research, Research, Research

Before buying any used generator, conduct exhaustive research to know what’s possible when making a purchase. You don’t need to buy anything just because it’s cheap. You also don’t want to buy something that won’t run for its intended use.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned above, buying a used generator isn’t always bad. However, it does present some risks that aren’t seen when purchasing new units. To increase your chances of success, buy from reputable companies that offer trusted products. They may cost more than private sellers, but the added security is worth it.