The Difference Between Refurbished & Remanufactured

By Brian Jung

If you're shopping for a decent device and you don't have much cash, you have a couple of options. You can take a chance and buy a machine on Craigslist or eBay or at a rummage sale, but there's no protection for you if it goes belly up in two weeks. You're better off buying equipment labeled "remanufactured" or "refurbished." Both labels refer to products that are fully tested before being sold or resold. These products often come with warranties and sell for a good deal less than the stuff in shiny new boxes.

Make It Newish

A remanufactured or refurbished product is one which is not new but has been tested, often repackaged and sold with a "remanufactured" or "refurbished" label. A remanufactured or refurbished product may not look new, but it will show only limited wear and it should perform as new. These devices might have been opened and returned, or they could be demo models, trade-ins or items returned at the end of a lease period.

Remanufactured or Something

There is no standard industry definition for either remanufacturing or refurbishing, and in most cases the two terms can be used interchangeably. Some sources indicate that a remanufactured product has been repaired and tested by the original manufacturer rather than by a third party. In general, a manufacturer has better access to the original engineering and schematics of the product and can more easily acquire replacement parts. This does not mean that a remanufactured product is identical to the new product. Other sources suggest that remanufacturing is simply a more thorough process than refurbishing, involving a physical inspection, replacement of worn parts and extensive testing.


Like remanufacturing, refurbishment can refer to range of processes, from running a few simple tests to thorough rebuilding. A product can be refurbished either by the original manufacturer, the original vendor or some other party. At a minimum, you can expect that a refurbished product has been tested to ensure that it performs as well as it did when new. Warranties on refurbished equipment can match the warranties of new product counterparts or they can be nonexistent.

Remain Vigilant

While you are generally safer buying a refurbished device instead of a "used" one, given the confusion over terms, it may be best to contact the seller to determine exactly what it means by a refurbished or remanufactured label. If you are buying online, clarify the return policy of the seller to make sure you won't get stuck with a massive shipping bill if he sends you a DOA unit. Do your research. Look up the product's value on a site like GadgetValue, WorthMonkey or to make sure that the refurbished or remanufactured device you buy is a good deal.