Should You Rent or Buy a Tool?

A chainsaw is a commonly rented tool

There is often internal debate between buying a moderately expensive tool and renting the same tool when the occasion for it arises. Sometimes even once you decide to rent a tool the rental price has you eyeing a cheaper or used model model to purchase.

Generally speaking, if renting the tool is on your radar you should probably rent the tool. It will not hurt to research buying a used or new tool, but ultimately you will probably find the value gained by buying does not exceed the added cost of owning a tool.

To know what option, buying or renting, is the best for you start by gathering this information:

  • The exact cost per hour to rent the exact tool you will be renting.
    • Divide the total cost you will pay rent by the number of hours you will actually be using the tool.
    • Set accurate times for pick up and return
    • Consider taxes and other fees
  • The number of hours you will likely to use the tool over the next seven years
    • Include the number of hours you will be using the tool during your upcoming project.
    • This can be a difficult number to measure. You must be as honest as possible with yourself to get an accurate result
      • It is very possible you will not be using this tool beyond your upcoming project for the next seven years
    • Seven years is a less than average life expectancy for modern tools under moderate use
      • If you feel certain the tool you want to buy will last more than seven years feel free to increase the number of years
  • The exact cost of the tool you would buy
    • Add shipping and possibly sales tax to your cost

Next you need to take the numbers you have gathered and determine the actual rental cost over time :

Rental cost over time  =  Cost per hour to rent  ×  Number of hours you will be running the tool over the next seven years

Now compare the rental cost over time to the cost of the tool you would buy.

If the cost of the tool you would buy is lower than the rental cost over time then you should probably buy the tool if you have the cash to do so.

If the cost of the tool you would buy is higher than the rental cost over time then you should probably rent the tool for your upcoming project.

For example, I need a 16″ gas chainsaw to cut down three trees in my yard. The three trees will take me 1 hour to cut down, but I must pay a minimum half-day rate of $21 at my local rental company.

For the 16″ chainsaw I want to rent my cost per hour to rent for my 1 hour project is $21.

Over the next seven years I estimate I have 3 hours of chainsaw work to do in my yard. I will be clearing back woodlands every few years as I prepare for projects I have planned.

Including my current project, I will likely use a chainsaw 4 hours in the next seven years. At $21 per hour to rent my rental cost over time is $84.

The chainsaw I would want to buy costs a total of $166.

So, for me the best option in this case is to rent the chainsaw. If I were to purchase the chainsaw I would spend twice as much money over seven years than I need to.

We hope our guide has helped you decide to rent or buy the tool you need