Buying Cheap Arduino Modules from eBay – China Vs United Kingdom

Not so much of a moan today but more of an observation when it comes to buying cheap Arduino modules from eBay.

I recently ordered a BME280 Sensor Module which senses Temperature, Humidity and Barometric Pressure all in one little module. The module is about the size of a thumbnail and is perfect for keeping the size of projects compact and the number of components and pins to a minimum.

Cheap Arduino Modules from Ebay - China Vs United Kingdom
BME280 – Buying Cheap Arduino Modules from Ebay – China Vs United Kingdom


Ordering Cheap Modules from China

The BME280 module I ordered came from China. In this instance I ordered it through AliExpress but they are available on eBay from Chinese sellers at around the same sort of prices as AliExpress. The module cost me £2.80 and that included Postage and Packing etc. Delivery took around 10 days.

Unfortunately, I seem to have been sent a dead module. Having tried every BME library imaginable, I finally resorted to using an I2C scanner but nothing gets detected. The sketch stalls and doesn’t scan. The same sketch works fine on my other I2C modules so I would definitely say my BME280 is dead.

So now I’m desperately close to finishing my project but am lacking the final component needed to complete it. In my hour of need, I turn to eBay to find a UK seller so I can get a replacement ASAP.


Ordering Cheap Modules from the UK

Having determined my BME280 module to be Dead on Arrival and needing a quick replacement, I turn to eBay to see what the UK sellers are offering. As it turns out, buying cheap arduino modules from eBay in the UK isn’t so cheap…

The cheapest BME280 sensor module like mine was a smidgen under £7 inc P+P but the rest were all in the region of £9 – £11 inc P+P! WOW and OUCH all in the same sentence. Now I face my dilemma…


What to Do, What to Do?

For the price of a replacement BME280 module from the UK, I could order two or even three modules from China and increase my chances of getting one that actually works – but that would mean waiting 10 – 14 days. On the other hand, I could give in to my sense of urgency and begrudgingly pay the UK asking price and have one here by early next week – or even tomorrow if the seller dispatches first class today and the post is kind.

ARRGH! I hate predicaments like this. If I don’t get one from the UK I’m going to lose time waiting for replacements from China. If I pay the UK price to get a replacement then it works out that one module has effectively cost me £10 (£7 replacement plus £3 for the original module that arrived DOA) so a cheap project soon becomes not so cheap.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t grumble over the loss of £3 on a cheap module but I’m working on a tight budget and trying to keep the costs and development time to a minimum on this project. Paying £3 per module Vs £7 is a massive leap.

In this instance, I think I’m going to be a penny-pincher and contact the seller I purchased the original BME280 module from and claim a full refund back to put towards paying for replacement from the UK.


Final Thoughts When Buying Cheap Arduino Modules from eBay

I’ve only myself to blame for the predicament I’m in. What I should have done was to order two or three of these BME280 modules originally. That way I would have hopefully had at least one working module out of the batch to fall back on. Lesson well and truly learned and it has cost me.

I usually order modules in batches of two or three but I’ve not had a module that has been DOA for a long time. I got complacent this time by only ordering one and it has bitten me well and truly.

What would you do if faced with a similar situation? Would you be a Scrooge and go for the refund? Would you have ordered two or three modules to begin with? Have you ever been faced with a similar dilemma? Let me know below!


Thanks for reading!

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