The Real Cost of Printers

January 24, 2009

The Real Cost of Printers

 

When shopping for printers, the printer that cost the least to purchase is not necessarily the cheapest printer to own and operate. In fact, the cheaper printers usually cost more over the long haul to operate. So in addition to the initial cost of the printer, you should also consider the cost per page.

 
Cost per page is a calculation of how much it costs, per page, to use a printer. It takes into consideration the cost of the ink for that particular printer. The cost per page for a printer is different for black and white printouts versus color printouts. So for a color printer, you will usually find a cost for each.
 
Here’s an example. The HP OfficeJet J5780 sells for around $150 while the HP OfficeJet K5400dtn sells for around $200. The J5780 is cheaper to purchase, but let’s take a look at the cost per page and figure out how much it really costs to operate this printer. The J5780 has a cost per page of 4 cents for black and white and 10.7 cents for color while the K5400dtn has a cost per page of 1.5 cents for black and white and 6 cents for color.
 
So if you owned the printer for several years and printed 1000 black and white pages and 2000 color pages, you would spend about $255 in ink for the J5780 versus $135 for ink for the K5400dtn. That’s a difference of $120. So even though the K5400dtn costs $50 more, in the long haul, you would have saved $70.
 
Notice that both of the printers in this example are HP. That means you can’t assume that all printers made by a certain manufacturer have a lower or higher cost per page than another manufacturer. So be sure to look at the specs for each specific printer model.
 
There is another factor that is important to consider. You know that a printer will start alerting you when the ink starts getting low. You probably also know that you shouldn’t change the ink cartridge just because the printer says it’s low. You should wait until one of two things happen before you change the ink cartridge.
 
1. If you see a degradation in print quality.
2. The printer refuses to print until you replace the cartridge.
 
Number 1 is obvious, but number 2 is the one I want to touch on. Tests show that some printers will tell you the cartridge is empty and refuse to print, even though there is a substantial amount of ink still left in the cartridge. In some cases, the cartridge is nearly half full (or half empty if you are a pesimist)! That’s a lot of wasted ink!
 
It’s also important to point out that it also depends on if you are using an ink cartridge from the manufacturer, or a 3rd party cartridge. Tests show that 3rd party cartridges report being out of ink before the cartridges from the printer manufacturer.
 
The worst offender was Kodak printers which wasted 43% of the ink.
Next was Canon which wasted anywhere from 24% to 42% depending on if you use a Canon ink cartridge or a 3rd party cartridge.
Next was Epson which wasted anywhere from 8% for Epson cartridges to 41% for 3rd party cartridges.
 
The one anomoly to this is HP. Unlike Canon, Epson, and Kodak, HP printers never refuse to print based on the amount of ink it thinks you have in your cartridge. So with HP printers, just keep an eye on the print quality and when it starts to degrade, replace the cartridge.
 
One other important point to consider. Some color printers have one color cartridge that contains several colors while others have seperate cartridges for each color. The disadvantage to the single color cartridge is that if one color inside the cartridge runs dry, you have to replace the cartridge, thus wasting what was left of the other colors. When you have seperate cartridges for each color, there is less ink waste.

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