Asset Management

The Hidden Costs of Equipment Depreciation: What You Need to Know

Understanding equipment depreciation is crucial for making informed decisions on equipment replacement, insurance, and tax deductions to improve your business's financial health. This blog post explains what depreciation is, why it matters, and how to calculate it using different methods.

Understanding equipment depreciation is an essential aspect of managing any business that relies on equipment, machinery, or vehicles. Depreciation is the loss in value of an asset over time, and it can have a significant impact on a company's financial health and decision-making.

With a strong understanding of how equipment depreciation works, you can make informed decisions about when to replace equipment, how much to insure it for, and how to optimize your tax deductions.

What is equipment depreciation?

Equipment depreciation is the decrease in the value of an asset used by a company over time. It's important to note that depreciation doesn't reflect the actual market value of the asset but rather its estimated value.

Essentially, when you purchase an asset, it has a certain value. However, as you use it over time, it loses value due to wear and tear, obsolescence, and other factors. This loss of value is referred to as depreciation, and it can be calculated and recorded in a number of ways.

Why is equipment depreciation important?

Well, for one, understanding asset depreciation can help you make more informed decisions about when to repair or replace equipment.

  • If you know that a certain piece of equipment has a high rate of depreciation, you may want to consider replacing it sooner rather than later in order to avoid losing more money in the long run.
  • If you know that a piece of equipment has a low rate of depreciation, you may be able to get more use out of it before needing to replace it.

Another reason why understanding equipment depreciation is important is that it affects your financial statements.

  • Depreciation is recorded as an expense on a company's income statement, which can impact its net income and tax liability.
  • Accurately tracking and recording depreciation can help ensure that a company's financial statements are accurate and reliable, which is important for investors, lenders, and other stakeholders.

Finally, understanding equipment depreciation can help companies plan for the future. You get accurate estimates of when replacements are due and how much they may cost depending on continuous tracking of depreciation over time.

This can help with budgeting and forecasting to minimize operational expenses too.

How is Equipment Depreciation Calculated?

There are several methods used to calculate equipment depreciation, but the most common one is the straight-line method.

Straight-line depreciation

This method involves dividing the asset's initial cost by its useful life, which is the length of time the asset is expected to remain in service. The resulting value is the amount of depreciation per year.

The formula for straight-line depreciation is:

Depreciation Expense = (Asset Cost - Salvage Value) / Useful Life


  • Asset Cost: The initial cost of the asset
  • Salvage Value: The estimated value of the asset at the end of its useful life
  • Useful Life: The length of time the asset is expected to remain in service

Let's take a look at an example. Say your company purchases a new piece of equipment for $10,000.

You estimate that the equipment will be in service for 5 years and have a salvage value of $2,000 at the end of its useful life.

Using the straight-line method, the annual depreciation expense for the equipment would be:

($10,000 - $2,000) / 5 = $1,600

This means that each year, the equipment will depreciate by $1,600 in value.

However, the straight-line method for calculating equipment depreciation may not be the best approach for every situation.

It doesn't consider factors such as maintenance costs and variable usage patterns, resulting in inaccurate depreciation calculations. Some alternative methods may help you paint a more accurate picture.

Alternative methods to calculate equipment depreciation

Alternative methods, such as the accelerated depreciation method and the sum-of-the-years' digits method, may provide more accurate calculations in certain situations.

The declining balance method

The declining balance method is an accelerated depreciation method that applies a fixed percentage of depreciation to the asset's book value each year.

To calculate equipment depreciation using the declining balance method:

  1. Determine the asset's cost and salvage value and its useful life.
  2. Choose a depreciation rate (usually double the straight-line rate).
  3. Calculate the annual depreciation expense by multiplying the book value by the depreciation rate.
  4. Subtract the annual depreciation expense from the book value to get the new book value.
  5. Repeat for each year of the asset's useful life.

The book value is the cost minus accumulated depreciation. The declining balance method is an accelerated depreciation method, so the depreciation rate is higher than the straight-line rate, resulting in higher depreciation expenses in the early years of the asset's life and lower expenses in later years.

Sum of the years' digits method

The sum-of-the-years' digits method is also an accelerated depreciation method that assigns a higher depreciation expense to the early years of the asset's life.

This method takes into account the fact that an asset's efficiency and usefulness tend to decline over time.

To calculate equipment depreciation using the SYD method, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the total number of years of useful life for the asset.
  2. Add the digits for each year of useful life. For example, if the asset has a useful life of 5 years, you would add the digits 5+4+3+2+1, which equals 15.
  3. For each year of the asset's useful life, divide the remaining years of useful life by the sum of the digits. For example, in the first year, you would divide 5 by 15; in the second year, you would divide 4 by 15; and so on. This will give you a percentage to use in calculating the depreciation for that year.
  4. Multiply the percentage calculated in step 3 by the asset's cost basis to get the depreciation expense for that year.

Units of production method

The units-of-production method is based on the asset's usage or production. This method calculates depreciation based on the number of units produced or the hours of usage.

It's commonly used for assets such as manufacturing equipment or vehicles.

To calculate equipment depreciation using the UOP method, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the estimated total number of units the equipment can produce over its useful life. Historical production data or industry standards can determine this number.
  2. Calculate the depreciation rate per unit by dividing the cost of the equipment by the estimated total number of units it can produce over its useful life.
  3. For each period, multiply the depreciation rate per unit by the actual number of units produced during that period to calculate the depreciation expense for that period.

Is equipment depreciation a reliable metric?

Depreciation is not just a theoretical accounting concept. It has real-world consequences for your business. It affects your tax liabilities, your ability to secure loans, and your insurance premiums.

When you calculate depreciation, you're not just looking at a number on a balance sheet. You're also affecting your business's financial health in multiple ways.

Depreciation is a non-cash expense, which means it doesn't directly affect your cash flow. However, it indirectly affects it in several ways. For example, if you have a high depreciation expense, you may have to pay more taxes, which reduces your available cash.

Additionally, if you have a lot of assets that are fully depreciated, you may have to spend more cash on repairs and maintenance, which can also impact your bottom line.

Take a holistic approach to equipment depreciation

Instead of relying solely on equipment depreciation, you should consider alternative metrics such as return on investment (ROI), net present value (NPV), and internal rate of return (IRR).

These metrics provide a more comprehensive view of the value of your assets and can help you make better decisions about when to replace or dispose of equipment.

Also take into consideration the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your assets, including the cost of acquisition, maintenance, repairs, disposal, and replacement to optimize your business's financial performance.

It's time to rethink the traditional accounting method and consider alternative metrics that provide a more comprehensive view of your assets' value.

Take a holistic approach to equipment management and considering the total cost of ownership, you can make better decisions that will improve your bottom line and set your business up for long-term success.

Minimize the rate of depreciation for your assets with a CMMS

If you're looking to keep your equipment in top-notch condition and ensure accurate depreciation calculations, a CMMS software like Facilio is just what you need.

A CMMS can help in several ways. Firstly, it keeps track of equipment usage and provides accurate data to help you accurately determine how much of the equipment's useful life has been utilized and calculate the amount of depreciation accordingly.

Also, it simplifies and automates scheduling and tracking of maintenance tasks to keep your equipment in peak conditions throughout their lifecycles and avoid premature breakdowns or the need for replacements.

With Facilio, you can manage complete asset lifecycles with features like:

  • Custom connected assets dashboards
  • Centralized asset management
  • Fault Detection & Diagnostics (FDD)
  • Root cause identification
  • Conditional alarms
  • Asset QR code generation
  • Geotagging
  • Mobile maintenance
  • Inventory and stock management
  • Rental and warranty contracts

It enables you to stay on top of the condition and health of your assets in real time and empowers you to simplify assessment, digitize compliance, and get the most out of your assets at every stage in their lifecycle.

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