Hiring vs. Buying
Power Quality Kit

Browsing through the catalogues of technical hire companies can be a bit daunting for the feint-hearted! Sometimes the prices appear to be astronomical, but…

Hiring a Power Quality recorder has two advantages as opposed to buying.

The first is it gives you a "try before you buy" option without any form of obligation (together with avoiding the salesman pestering you till you either purchase or have serious words). If you are genuinely interested in purchasing, hire companies are a good source of comparative advice as well as being a single source of the models you wish to try out.

The second advantage is even more attractive than the first. Such kit is rather dear, and one needs to spend ages justifying to the powers that be why the company should purchase one! Having just got the capital expenditure past management, one then needs to incorporate periodic calibration costs, repair costs, and all the other 'good things' that come with owing a piece of pricey gear.

Hiring avoids these costs and probably lands up being cheaper than even the maintenance budget if the kit is only used a few times a year!

But, as with most good things, there is a catch. Hiring has serious pitfalls if one chooses to hire the wrong type of kit and/or from a shady company.

The first and most important issue to bear in mind is being able to view your data three months after the recording when the investigation is about to come to a close. Although few, there are some suppliers who will not allow the software that 'drives' the instrument to be loaded on another PC and have "locking" features (one has even started using dongles) to ensure non-functional copies are unusable.

My criteria is: The software must allow me to view the prized data a year from now without any danger of "trial periods" having expired etc. If not, I don't hire the kit. Just remember, it's your neck your boss will want to see in the stocks when things cannot be retrieved. The software of most PQ kit is free, so there is no reason to fall into this trap!

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