Paycheck Chronicles

Print A Lot? Consider A Laser Printer


If you do any quantity of black and white printing at home, you absolutely need to consider whether the purchase of a laser printer would decrease your overall printing costs.  Inkjet printers are great for color printing and photographs, but the ink is expensive and the prints aren't smudgeproof or waterproof.  Adding an inexpensive laser printer for basic black and white print jobs can save a ton because of the significantly lower cost-per-page expenses.  If you have students or run a home business, the cost of a laser printer will pay for itself very quickly.

Initial Costs

Laser printers designed for home use can be purchased for as little as $50, and run into the hundreds of dollars.  Commercial grade machines can be a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Cost Per Page

The major savings with a laser is printer is the per-page printing costs.  Inkjet printing averages 5 to 7 cents per page, while laser printing averages 2 to 4 cents per page.  Frustratingly, costs vary dramatically between the various printers and it can be hard to compare when picking a machine.  And, the more expensive machines often have the lowest cost-per-page for ink or toner.  The more expensive laser jet printers (in the $1000 range) have a per-page cost of under one cent!  If you're an ultra-high printer, a more expensive printer will save you even more money.


Another advantage of laser printers is that they are faster than inkjet printers.   A typical laser jet toner cartridge also has a larger printing capacity than a typical inkjet ink cartridge.  Most importantly, because they only have one color ink, you don't get those frustrating messages that one of your four ink cartridges is empty when you are just trying to print a black and white document.

I purchased a laser printer for $99 on Black Friday in 2008.  We have used it nearly every day since, and it has held up really well.  A toner cartridge (about $50, depending on sales and coupons and such) will last between 6 and 12 months, depending on our printing load.  At the same time, we also have a color inkjet just for color printing.  We rarely use it, it feels as if it is always out of ink, and each color cartridge costs $10 to $15.  I reckon that my $99 initial cost has saved me at least $1000 worth of ink during the last 7 years.  Crazy, huh?

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