Spray Equipment Cost – Purchase Price is the Tip of the Iceberg

Posted by Andrew Greess on Jul 27, 2009

Have you ever calculated what your pest management spray equipment actually costs?  Spray equipment cost is like the iceberg; only a small portion is visible.  The rest is hiding, waiting to sink your company ship. Don't assume purchase price is the same as cost.

Total pest control spray equipment cost is comprised of the following costs:

  • Purchase Price
  • Installation
  • Maintenance
  • Repairs
  • Productivity
  • Longevity.

Let's discuss each component in detail.  Note: this article will focus on power spray equipment but the concepts apply to many types of equipment.

Purchase Price is the most obvious component of total cost.  Unfortunately, it is often the only cost that is considered in the purchase decision.  Purchase price includes total purchase price of the base unit plus any optional equipment, sales tax and freight.

Installation Cost includes the total cost of installing the equipment in the vehicle.  Generally speaking, rigs requiring electric power will cost more to install.  This equipment must be wired to the truck battery, which takes more time and requires wire, fuse, etc.  Be sure to ask your rig vendor if electrical components are included in the purchase price.

If you are installing the rig yourself, be sure you know what is under the truck bed.  Drilling through the bed into the gas tank adds significant cost.  Note: This observation is based upon personal experience.

Maintenance Costs include regularly scheduled maintenance, e.g., engine oil changes, pump rebuilds, spray gun rebuilds, etc.  Maintenance cost includes the cost of the components and labor.  Regular maintenance will extend the life of your sprayer.

We recently serviced a spray rig, in the bed of a John Deere Gator, with a broken engine pull cord.  Because of the rig design (not by Quality Equipment & Spray), we couldn't replace the pull cord without removing the skid from the gator.  A five-minute task became a 1-hour job.  Think of what this does to maintenance cost if you must remove the rig to change the oil.  Make sure equipment is designed for ease of maintenance.

Repair Costs. Does the rig constantly break down?  Repair cost includes not just the cost of the repair but the downtime that results.  Are replacement parts readily available?  Waiting for parts can be a productivity killer.

Productivity Impact. Does the equipment boost technician productivity or hinder it?   Are key components properly situated for easy, safe, ergonomic access?   Must the technician waste perform extra motions just to do her job?  (For more on this topic visit

Longevity/Replacement Cost. How long do the components last?  Are top quality components used?

Two examples.

One of the most expensive components is the gas engine. Honda engines cost more than other engines, but will provide years of uninterrupted service if properly maintained. This is not an area to try to save a few dollars. The higher upfront cost is more than offset in reduced repairs and downtime and extended life.

Some of the cheapest components of your sprayer are the plumbing fittings.  Yet these inexpensive parts can cost you a bundle. A plastic fitting in the wrong place can be easily damaged, resulting in chemical spillage and lost productivity. Be sure you know everything you are getting when you order your sprayer.

Here is one final example from a large pest control company. The local office orders rigs from national. The rigs are delivered to our shop, where we make improvements and modifications requested by local management before installing the rig. The rig purchase is booked by national as a capital expenditure and the extensive modifications are booked locally as repairs. The company does not know the total cost of their equipment.

As professional owners and managers, it is critical to the success of your business that you understand the true costs of your equipment. Learn where your icebergs lie.

Andrew Greess is President of Arizona-based Quality Equipment & Spray, a designer and custom manufacturer of  power spray rigs for parks and recreation applications, pest and weed control, landscape, pest equipment parts, etc. He can be contacted via e-mail at