Have you thought about buying used lighting gear?
Do you need some new lighting gear but just can’t fit it into your budget? Pre-owned gear is a great option. With today’s technology changing at a maddening pace, there is a wealth of great items out there that can easily be purchased without paying premium prices. It’s a lot like the used car market: with so many people wanting the newest model, there’s a sizable market to choose from that’s only two or three years old. Fixtures that were all the rage two years ago are now more affordable.
There are several things to take into consideration before buying used gear. It’s not really a good deal if it doesn’t meet certain criteria. And, obviously, it’s only of value if it suits your needs. Before purchasing, ask yourself these questions:
Is it compatible with the gear I already own? If it doesn’t complement your current gear, you should reconsider. Are the lamp color temperatures the same? Different fixtures can have vastly different color temperatures, by that we mean more “yellowish”. If, for example you currently have very “white” light and you get a fixture that uses a lamp with a more “yellow” temperature, the difference may be visible in the form of a darker spot.
Is the color mixing the same? “Blue” may mean primary blue to one manufacturer but to another “blue” may be midnight blue. This would result in uneven coloring.
Does the fixture make noise in normal operation that would be distracting? Many fixtures whiz and whirr during normal operation. There’s nothing wrong with the fixture, it’s just doing it’s thing. However, you’ve got to remember that what’s considered quiet in an arena during a concert is not necessarily quiet during your performance of the Passion. It may have the most WOW factor going for it, but you don’t want it sticking out like a sore thumb and drawing attention away from what’s being lit!
Does it use the same protocol? If you’re currently running all DMX, you’re not going to be able to jump to an Ethernet run fixture. Some older control boards may not be able to command all the movements of some of the newer fixtures. Since control is an integral part of your system, you may not want to take on the added expense of upgrading your control board!
Is the gear already obsolete? You’ve got to find out if you’re looking at something that’s just hopelessly old. However, it’s not considered “obsolete” unless the manufacturer and/or dealer no longer supports the equipment – meaning they don’t make parts for it and the lamp that goes in it can’t be found – even on Ebay!
Does it come with any sort of warranty? Warranties depend upon the company from where you are purchasing the gear. On some newer items that are being liquidated, you may get the remaining manufacturer’s warranty.
Can you get the gear repaired if it breaks? This is really crucial if you’re not a “gear head”.
This goes back to the question of “is it obsolete?” Basically, you need to know if the dealer still carries spare or repair parts or still does repair work on this type unit, otherwise, you’ll definitely run into problems down the road.
There are probably a jillion other questions to ask yourself, but the bottom line is: if you deal with a reputable company you should do fine. So what if it’s not the hottest-thing-on-the-market-that-just-came-out-yesterday; neither is the PAR can, but you still need those. Be rational and save money.