The Reason Why Oscilloscopes Are So Expensive (in 2024)
In this blog post, we are going to discuss a few reasons why oscilloscopes are so expensive. If you have ever looked for an oscilloscope for personal use, you would know that they can be quite an investment.
Even compact and portable models tend to cost north of $500. Furthermore, the more bells and whistles your oscilloscope has, the pricier it gets.
If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance that you are not an electrical engineer or another specialist who needs to use an oscilloscope as part of your day-to-day job.
But even if you’re not using one as part of your job on a regular basis, these handy devices are still extremely useful in various situations and circumstances.
Why Are Oscilloscopes So Expensive?
The oscilloscope has been around for almost 90 years now and has seen a steady rise in popularity among electronics enthusiasts, hobbyists, and scientists.
However, despite its utility, oscilloscopes have always been very expensive. For example, a high-end oscilloscope model from Tektronix would cost several thousand dollars. Why are oscilloscopes so expensive?
A few reasons can be considered as follows. First and foremost, oscilloscopes are precision instruments designed to measure and visualize a variety of electrical signals.
Since good quality oscilloscopes are designed to function for many years and produce consistently accurate readings, they have to be made with high-quality components.
Oscilloscopes designed for industrial applications, for example, may even use gold-plated connectors.
Another reason is the low productivity of oscilloscope manufacturing. In order to ensure that oscilloscopes are built according to high-quality standards, they are manufactured in low volumes.
Due to the high cost of production, oscilloscope manufacturers have to pass on the high cost of goods to customers. This also explains why oscilloscope repair is so expensive.
The Price Of Quality
Oscilloscopes manufactured for industrial use are very expensive, but they are also extremely high quality.
A small mistake in the manufacturing process can lead to a low-quality product, which is not worth the high price you will have to pay. For example, the trigger mechanism that activates the oscilloscope when an electrical signal is present can be very finicky.
If the trigger mechanism is not working correctly, it can make it very difficult to analyze the signal you are trying to view.
If a low-quality oscilloscope has a faulty trigger mechanism, you may not be able These kinds of issues can plague budget-friendly oscilloscopes and lead to a poor user experience, but they are less likely to occur in high-end oscilloscopes because of the advanced and meticulous manufacturing techniques used.
Limited Availability And Demand
Another reason why oscilloscopes are so expensive is their limited availability and high demand.
Oscilloscopes are not exactly common household items and tend to be used by only a few professions. For example, an electrical engineer designing a power grid may need to use an oscilloscope to troubleshoot problems and determine if there is a shortage in the system.
Unlike many other electronic items, oscilloscopes are not commodity items. This means that they are not manufactured and sold in bulk by companies like Apple or Samsung. Instead, oscilloscopes are made by specialty manufacturers in small batches. This means that there is a limited supply of oscilloscopes available globally, which in turn leads to high demand and a high price.
Utilization Of Premium Materials And Manufacturing Processes
On top of the components and manufacturing costs, oscilloscope manufacturers also use premium materials.
For example, the outer casing of a device is often made from a high-quality solid metal that is designed to withstand external forces and impacts. This extends the lifespan of oscilloscopes significantly and ensures that they continue to function optimally for many years.
A large part of the cost of oscilloscope manufacturing comes from the manufacturing process used by manufacturers.
Many oscilloscope manufacturers use a manual production process, which is more time-consuming but ensures high-quality end products.
How To Buy An Oscilloscope under $500
If you are looking for an oscilloscope for personal use, you should consider a budget of $500. While this may seem like quite the investment, you can definitely find a quality oscilloscope for this price.
Just keep in mind that you will have to make some concessions in terms of functionality and design.
If you only occasionally use an oscilloscope and want to spend as little as possible, you should consider getting a used model. You can usually find high-quality and newly manufactured oscilloscopes for sale second-hand on websites like eBay and Craigslist.
Be sure to check the seller’s feedback to ensure that you are buying from a reliable source. If you are looking to buy a new oscilloscope, you should consider purchasing one of the entry-level models.
For example, the Agilent U1241B is a popular entry-level oscilloscope that costs less than $500. It has all the basic features that you will need to view electrical signals and conduct basic troubleshooting.
Reviewer Final Comments
If you are an electronics enthusiast or a hobbyist, you will most likely have to purchase an oscilloscope at some point in your life.
It is a very useful and handy device that can help you troubleshoot a plethora of issues and problems related to electrical circuits. That being said, you will have to invest in purchasing a good oscilloscope.
And the bad news is that oscilloscopes are notoriously expensive. While there are a few reasons for why oscilloscopes are so expensive, you can still invest in a high-quality oscilloscope for less than $500.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for an oscilloscope. First, you should consider your power source and voltage. Make sure that the oscilloscope can be powered by your wall socket and that it can handle the voltage of your power source.
Additionally, you should consider the type of signals that you will be looking at with your oscilloscope. If you will be viewing high-frequency signals, you will have to invest in a higher-end model.