Top 5 Cheapest Printers to Run

You have probably owned a variety of printers over the years. Traditional wisdom says that a laser printer is cheaper to run. But is that still true today? Like many office workers, you have probably found yourself working from home a lot more and hesitating when it comes to printing a larger document. You may be thinking, hmmm, at the office I don’t need to consider printing costs because someone else takes care of that, but at home, this could end up being an expensive exercise. Or you may be a small business operator who has decided to print off your own marketing material due to the difficulty in outsourcing your printing needs. Whatever the case, often when it comes to printing from your home office, you really need to start thinking about how much it will actually cost you to print a page, especially if it’s in full colour.

In our previous article, we discussed how to save ink on your colour inkjet printer [see here]. The more important question is how much it costs you to print a page. There are some very big differences between printers of similar prices. Firstly, let’s look at the technology. The reason that laser printers have always been considered a lower cost per page is that it uses a dry toner dust that does not suffer from the same issues as an inkjet having to refresh the ink from time to time [see previous article]. Also, laser printer cartridges tend to hold a greater quantity of toner, allowing you to print more pages per cartridge. Some inkjet cartridges only hold a few millilitres of ink which can be used very quickly when printing a photo. Consider the volume of ink and the cost of that ink in comparison to the plastic cartridge that holds the ink. Ink is relatively less expensive than the cartridge that holds it. If you can increase the volume of ink, your overall cost per page is reduced.

What is the technology that will give you the cheapest cost per page?

So what are the cheapest printers to run? The answer is, whatever technology is going to give you the largest volume of printing material (ink / toner) vs the cartridge used to hold it and of course the cost of purchasing it. Many manufacturers will provide an estimated page yield for each cartridge which allows you to do a quick comparison of page yield vs cost. For example, a recent customer was set on purchasing a laser printer to replace their previous outdated model. I suggested that they consider inkjet and was met with hesitancy. After I explained the continuous ink concept, the customer was intrigued. Because you purchase a bottle of ink with a much larger capacity, the cost per page goes down dramatically and in many cases, this will be significantly cheaper than a laser printer. It may even be cheaper than outsourcing your printing to a digital printing service. There are drawbacks to this technology as it can be a bit messy, dealing with ink bottles (and stained fingers) and there may be limitations such as the inability to do borderless printing. Another thing to consider is that typically these printers cost a lot more than their cartridge cousins to purchase. If you are printing a higher volume, you will recover this cost in a short period of time. You can also get very cost efficient printing from a cartridge inkjet printer which is less messy when replacing ink. Laser printers, especially black and white printers, are great if you print infrequently, but when you do it is in large volumes.

The Golden Rule: The cheaper the printer, the more expensive the cost per page

Top 5 Cheapest Printers to Run

It’s worth considering the actual cost per page

Top 5 Cheapest Printers to Run

There are affordable home-office printers that are also low cost to run

There is something else to consider in this equation. Sometimes customers insist they need a specific feature or print volume. However, when asked how often they use that feature, say A3 printing, or a 2000 page print run, they discover it is only once a year. If you print large volumes or require the occasional A3 document infrequently, you should consider outsourcing your printing to a digital printing service, instead of spending extra on a printer that you really don’t need.

Below we take a look at the top 5 cheapest printers to run and give you our recommended inkjet and laser models. Some printers have not been included in the recommendations due to their suitability for home office / small office printing or reliability in general. Some models have not been included due to lack of availability for the foreseeable future (Estimated April 2021) due to the worldwide shortage of printers form the recent pandemic.

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