Old Electronics Get New Life

As a custom installer, I’m routinely asked, “What should I do with my old stuff?” It’s a great question, because with all the recent advancements and price drops in technology, lots of people are upgrading and ending up with older gear still in working order but with no idea what to do with it. If you find yourself in this predicament, here are some suggestions that I give to my clients.

Reuse It
Unless it’s an old CRT that’s going dim, the picture likely looks as good as when you bought it, especially with lamp-based projection sets where you can replace a lamp and return the set to original operating performance. TVs can be moved to other areas of the house, say to a guest room, garage, or patio. I often do the “TV shuffle trickle down” for people where older TVs move to different rooms, with the old “flagship” TV going to the master bedroom, the old bedroom TV going to another room, etc.

Older audio receivers might not have HDMI inputs to decode the latest surround formats, but those amp channels are great for powering other areas with music, say to power zones in a housewide music system. If you have an old pair of speakers lying around, you can create a local listening area in any room. Add a mini-to-RCA cable and connect an iPod or phone to have access to all your music for next to nothing!

Sell It
You could try to turn that pile of gear into a stack of cash. When business was slow at our firm a few years ago, we scoured our back room, clearing out old inventory on eBay for several thousand dollars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and depending on how much effort you want to put into it, your old gear might have some serious value to someone else.

If you want to get rid of it with minimal effort, take it to a pawn shop. They’ll buy almost anything on the spot but generally give you about 50 to 60 percent of its value. Craig’s List is another good service but generally limits you to a local audience. We’ve had good luck on eBay, and that reaches a huge audience of potential buyers. For better gear, try Audiogon.com; the buyers there seem to have an eye for quality gear and are usually willing to pay a decent amount for it.

Gift It
The emotional reward of giving often outweighs the potential financial gain of selling used gear, and just because it’s old to you doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be new and awesome to someone else. If you have any kids/grandkids going off to school or moving into their first place, they’d likely love to get some free stuff. Or you probably have other family or friends that aren’t as technologically well off as you who would dig getting some hand-me-down gear.

Donate It
As long as it’s in working order, organizations like The Salvation Army and Goodwill will gladly accept your old gear. In many cases, you can even arrange for them to come to your home to pick the equipment up. You could also try contacting your local VA or local shelters. Additionally, tech/trade schools often use gear to work on in class, and your old TV might be used to spark the imagination of the next technology breakthrough!

Recycle It If your equipment is broken, or morbidly obsolete like a giant old furniture/console television unit, your options are a lot more limited, and recycling (or paying for a repair) will be your best option. MRM is a group founded by Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba to lead a nationwide, environmentally sound recycling effort. The Website mrmrecycling.com shows local collection centers in your area.

Further, Best Buy has a pretty sweet recycling program and will accept many of your outdated items at no charge. Best Buy will even schedule to pick up your gear for a fee. Details about Best Buy’s policy in your area can be found at BestBuy.com/recycle.

LordoftheRings's picture

Put it in storage and don't pay your bills.
The storage's owner will grab what he likes for himself and give the rest to his friends.

You'll make people happy to own part of your history.