Power Tool Rental - Should I Rent or Buy?

Factors to consider when renting power tools

Power tool rental

Power tool rental might seem like false economy at first. When you’re renting a house or apartment, well-meaning acquaintances often tell you that renting is “dead money”, and that you should get on the property ladder as soon as possible. Perhaps they have a point, depending on the property market and your own circumstances, but power tools are different.

With power tools, deciding whether to rent or buy is mainly a financial decision. You need to do the math and work out which option will save you the most money. To do this, you need to have several facts to hand:

  1. The cost of buying the tool you need new.
  2. The cost of buying the tool in other conditions, whether that’s used, reconditioned or factory refurbished (see our page on reconditioned power tools for an explanation).
  3. The cost of renting the tool for a day.

To find out these figures, you’ll need to do a little old-fashioned digging, checking out your local Yellow Pages, looking on the Internet and calling around. Then you need to estimate how many days in the next year you’ll need to spend using the power tool.

Multiply the estimated number of days by the cost of daily power tool rental. For example, if you think you’ll need five days to lick the garden into shape with that brushcutter, and it costs $20 per day to rent it, your total should be $100. Compare that figure with the cost of the same brushcutter, new. Perhaps it’s about $200. In that case, power tools rental is much more cost-effective than buying new.

However, perhaps you can get the same brushcutter in used condition for only $110. In that case, your decision is more difficult. When you make your decision, look very carefully at the item on offer. Does it come with a manufacturer’s warranty, or any sort of guarantee? Does it seem to be in good working order? If staff in the shop refuse to let you examine the power tool before buying, walk away.

Psychological pitfalls of power tool rental

Part of the decision-making process is being honest with yourself. There are several traps that we fall into when deciding whether to rent or buy power tools. The first trap is to underestimate the time we’ll need to complete a task. If you think you’ll need five days and you actually take ten, your calculations of cost-effectiveness are suddenly useless. However, for some people, the putting-off factor becomes worse when we buy a power tool. Once you own it, there’s no rush to use it. That sometimes means that your new tool lies in the garden shed for a whole year, and that’s not cost-effective at all. For some of us, making the decision to rent a tool, and knowing you’re losing money for every day you don’t use it, can provide the impetus to get on with the job.

Other economic factors

The calculations above aren’t quite as simple as they seem. For example, many tools rental outlets offer a discount for long-term rental, so renting for double the time doesn’t always mean paying double the money. Secondly, the reason we asked you to estimate your power tool use over a year, rather than your use in the foreseeable future, is that this provides a more accurate comparison. Power tools, just like cars, suffer depreciation. Advances in technology mean that the prices are slowly coming down, and it usually isn’t long before the most top-of-the-range item is superseded by a new model. That means that buying new isn’t cost-effective if you’re going to be craving a different model in a year’s time.


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