Regardless of the type of office you work in, you probably use a printer every day – which means you’ll have to replace it eventually. When the time comes, you may end up asking yourself, how much does a printer actually cost?  

To understand the cost of a printer, you need to consider more than the initial price tag. You should also consider the overall cost of owning a printer throughout its lifetime.  

In this article, we’ll take a look at the factors that affect the cost of owning a printer, as well as a general price range, so you’ll be ready to upgrade your office printer when the time comes.  

What Factors Impact the Cost of an Office Printer?  

Type of Printer 

Inkjet Printers 

Inkjet printers are typically the most affordable type of printer – but they can also be the most expensive to operate.  

These low-cost printers use ink cartridges, though you’ll have to replace them frequently if you print a lot. In some cases, an entire set of replacement color ink cartridges can exceed the original price of an inkjet printer.  

Inkjet printers are suitable for personal use or very low print volume. They are not recommended for commercial or business settings where there is a larger amount of print volume.  

Laser Printers 

When you buy a laser printer, they can be more expensive than inkjet printers. You’ll probably spend less money on replacement toner, which means laser printers are the cheaper option. 

Laser printers are also more durable than inkjet printers. They have faster print speeds, higher page yields, longer lifespans, and better warranties.  

All-in-One Printers 

All-in-one printers – aka, multifunction printers – can copy, scan, and even fax, depending on the model.

While some multifunction printers need a computer for copying, they can also work as a standalone printer or replace other machines in your office.  

Color or Monochrome Printer  

Color Printers 

If you usually outsource your commercial printing needs, color printers can help you save money.  

Color printers can produce a full range of colors by layering four colors: cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow, and key (black).  

Some inkjet printers use tri-color ink cartridges, which are not as cost-effective since you have to replace the entire cartridge if one color runs out.  

Monochrome Printers 

Monochrome printers are an economical choice if you regularly print documents without color.  

These printers are less expensive than color printers since they only use black ink on white paper. The page yields are high, and the initial cost of the machine is affordable too.  

New or Refurbished Printer  

New Printers 

New printers may be more expensive than refurbished printers, yet they are the best option if you want the latest model on the market. New printers also come with full warranties, as well as better return policies than refurbished printers.    

Refurbished Printers 

If a new printer is out of your price range, you may want to opt for a refurbished printer.

Refurbished printers are pre-owned models that have been rebuilt to like-new functionality and pristine working condition. Although most refurbished printers come with warranties, they may have more stringent return policies than new printers.  

Still, refurbished printers are significantly cheaper than newer printers. Plus, with a large inventory of remanufactured toner on the market, you don’t have to worry about waiting a couple years for used OEM cartridges to become available.  

Type of Toner 

OEM Toner  

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) toner is any toner cartridge manufactured by the company that built your printer. OEM cartridges are more expensive than other types of toners, but they have low failure rates and produce high-quality output.  

Remanufactured Toner 

Remanufactured toner cartridges have been used, cleaned, replaced with new parts, and refilled several times.  

By purchasing a quality remanufactured toner, you can save a lot of money. Most remanufactured cartridges have excellent print quality and yields that are the same as OEM.  

Additionally, many remanufactured cartridges come with a lifetime warranty or guarantee.  

Compatible Toner  

When it comes to compatible toner, you get what you pay for. 

Sometimes called generic toner, compatible toner is manufactured by a third-party – so it has no affiliation with the original printer manufacturer.  

Compatibles may be cheap, but the quality is low compared to OEM or other types of toner. There are also malfunction risks associated with poorly made compatible toners.  

If you end up disposing of compatibles due to poor performance, you will not save any money.  

Type of Page Yield 

Page yield refers to how many pages you can print with a certain cartridge. High yield cartridges contain more ink or toner, so they have a higher page yield. The same principle applies to normal and jumbo yield cartridges.  

For example, when it comes to HP05 cartridges, the A version prints 2,300 pages, the X version prints 6,500 pages, and the J version prints 9,750 pages.  

Normal Yield 

Brand-new printers generally come with a standard yield (“A”) cartridge to keep the printer’s initial cost low. Standard yield cartridges print fewer pages than high yield or extra yield cartridges. 

High Yield 

A high yield (“X”) cartridge indicates extended or extra yield. It contains more ink or toner than a standard cartridge, which means it can also print more pages and save you more money.  

Jumbo Yield 

A jumbo (“J”), or extra-high yield cartridge, has even more ink and toner than a standard or high yield cartridge.  

Extra-high yield cartridges are the most economical choice and are more suitable for a heavy use printer. However, not all printers have a jumbo yield option.  

Reliability 

Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle 

Recommended by the printer manufacturer, the maximum monthly duty cycle is the maximum number of pages the printer can deliver in one month. Monthly duty cycles will vary depending on the type of printer.  

Recommended Monthly Page Volume 

The recommended monthly page volume is the number of pages you can print in a month to keep your machine in optimal condition. While a printer may have a maximum monthly duty cycle of 10,000 pages, the recommended monthly page volume may only be 200 pages.  

To understand the recommended monthly page volume, you can compare it to a car speedometer that goes up to 150 mph. You may be able to drive the car at 150 mph, but it will not last if you run it at that speed every day.  

The same principle applies to your printer – if you run it at the maximum every day, you’ll have to spend money on a new printer sooner than later.  

Type of Paper 

Regardless of the printer you own, the type of copy paper you use can also affect your overall cost of owning a printer. 

Specialty paper can provide better results for color copies and photos, but it costs more than other types of copy paper. Basic copy paper is the most economical option. 

Cheap copy paper can cause jamming in your printer, which results in wasted copies, wasted time, and wasted money.  

Print Quality 

Before you print anything, you should consider the quality of the printer delivering the message. After all, printed documents and flyers are a direct reflection of you and your business.  

Printers with high-resolution print quality may cost more, but they can save you from outsourcing commercial printing, which saves you even more money in the long run.  

What is the Initial Cost of an Office Printer? 

Overall, basic printers range in price from below $200 to over $500.  

To have a better understanding of how much your printer costs, you can calculate its cost per page, which will also help you calculate the final cost of a printer over its lifespan. 

How to Calculate the Cost Per Page 

To calculate the cost per page for your printer, you can follow these steps:  

  • Find the highest yield cartridge that will fit into your printer  
  • Take the price of the cartridge and divide it by the number of pages it yields to get the cost per page based on five percent coverage for black ink

How to Calculate the Cost of a Printer Over its Lifespan 

After you calculate the cost per page, you can move onto these steps: 

  • Multiply the cost per page by the number of years for the expected lifespan of the printer 
  • Add the price of the paper and initial cost of the printer 

For example, for a laser printer, if you have a cartridge that costs $79.99, you would divide $79.99 by 2,300 pages (the page yield), which gives you a cost per page of 0.036 cents. 

Then, you can take the cost per page of 0.036 cents and multiply it by 20,000 pages (the expected lifespan), which equals $720. 

Finally, you would add $720, $150 (the price of the paper), and $400 (the initial cost of the printer) together, which gives you a final cost of $1270 based on 4,000 annual copies for five years. 

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Andrew Stephens

Written by Andrew Stephens