buying vs renting equipment

Should you rent or buy equipment? Use our calculator to find out.

The rental economy might be surging, but not owning all your gear is nothing new to video makers and AV teams. Tech equipment can get mighty expensive, so renting specific pieces of gear you don’t use daily is standard fare. But in which cases should you rent or buy equipment?

TL;DR? watch this video! or immediately go to the calculator

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Reasons why

The first reason to rent rather than buy is of course the money. Renting allows you to use the gear more affordably. But often there’s simply no need for a long-term investment. You might want to increase your capacity during busy times, or there’s a short time project in need of special equipment. Renting would be the first option in those cases.

At other times, the choice is not so clear. Think of the gear you will be using regularly for a long time because a specific customer has requested a certain type of equipment or equipment that will serve several projects in a row. Do you rent or buy here? You’ll have to do the math.

The truth is, you are best off looking at it case by case and calculating costs every time. Yet there are some guiding lights to steer your decision.

Advantages of buying

Here’s what makes buying your own stuff attractive:

Lower overall cost

In the long run, buying is just cheaper. After a certain point, the rental price eclipses the buying price. Long before that, companies can already enjoy tax benefits for buying in most countries. To top it off, depreciation deduction tax makes buying newer gear – aka “fixed assets” – fiscally interesting to the point where you can essentially recover the buying cost and even make a profit.

Always available, always yours

From the day you buy your equipment to the last day you use it, the gear is yours for the taking. No need to worry if something’s readily available: you own it, it’s there. You can also safely store your own presets and preferences without having to reset every time.

More choice

Budgets aside, there are no limits to what you can buy. You have the freedom to seek out what it exactly is you need. You simply have a lot more choice when you purchase.

No time lost on logistics

Finally, you don’t lose time hopping back and forth between your set or equipment room and whichever rental service you’ve sought out. Time is money, after all.

advantages of buying equipment
It makes sense to buy equipment that you use the most.

Disadvantages of buying

Of course, there’s always a but… Or several in this case.

Larger short-term cost 

Shelling out more money in one payment will always impact your cash flow. Even if you buy equipment on a loan plan, you’ll have to make a sizeable down payment in most cases.

Your gear might become obsolete

Buying might give you full flexibility in choosing gear and having it on hand at all times… but afterwards, you will be ‘stuck’ with that piece of gear for as long as it lasts. Which you hope will be a long time, to get the most return on investment. Are you sure you’ll want that 2021 lens in 2024 still?

Maintenance, storage and repair costs money

Good gear might take some damage, and it for sure needs to be taken care of. These costs become a factor when making purchases, and you can’t always accurately predict those costs beforehand.

Make a calculated decision

It’s difficult to make the decision on renting and buying based on guidelines alone. You probably understand that by now. For the best decision, take a measured approach.

That means taking the net purchasing cost and factoring in the resale value and optionally the tax benefits – insofar as you know those – for each asset. 

Do consider the rate at which a certain piece will become obsolete, although that depends heavily on the tech you’re looking at.

So get your calculators out… or better yet, use ours.

Let us do the math for you

To save you some trouble, we built an easy-to-use calculator that will help you decide when to buy and when to rent.

It will tell you how many times you need to rent out the equipment during its depreciation time to gain profit from your purchase.

Choose wisely!

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