A printer is an essential piece of home office equipment. Now that millions of Americans have begun working from home, the home printer has become even more invaluable. While it’s a large initial investment, a home printer is more cost-effective in the long run than heading to a local print shop every time you need to produce hard copies of a document. Most importantly, having a printer in your home office saves you valuable time in your workday.
You can reduce the costs of printing at home with hacks like selecting a monochromatic black ink cartridge or printing double-sided to save paper. Here are some of the other key ways you can save time and money long term by investing in a home printer now.
Cartridge Choice Matters
Printer manufacturers routinely price printers at or below the cost of production. These companies recoup the losses from the sale of brand name ink and toner. The type of printing you need to do will directly affect the associated costs, and the type of ink cartridges you buy for your home printer can ultimately determine if your home setup is less expensive than heading to the print shop.
If your job only requires you to print documents at home in black and white, a monochromatic printer will work for you. A monochromatic printer uses black ink or toner, so you won’t need to change other cartridges. If you can avoid using color cartridges in your home printer, this will cut your costs significantly.
How Affordable Are Laser Printers for Home Use?
If you’re wondering about the cost of laser printer ink, laser printers don’t use ink; they use toner. While toner is still relatively expensive, in the long term it’s more affordable than purchasing ink cartridges for your printer, making a laser printer a viable option if you’re looking to cut costs in your home office.
Toner is a dry powder consisting of electrostatically charged plastic particles. A charger roller inside the printer applies a negative charge to the optical photoconductor (OPC) drum in preparation for printing. When the printer receives information from the computer, it uses a laser to project it as a positively charged image on the OPC drum.
The toner, which is negatively charged, is attracted to the positively charged image. The OPC drum transfers the toner to a sheet of printer paper in the required pattern. The printer then passes the paper through a fuser assembly, which uses heat and pressure to bond the toner to the paper permanently.
Although laser printers are typically monochromatic, color laser printers do exist, but they’re more expensive. Color laser printers are more costly because there is a separate OPC assembly for each primary color: black, yellow, cyan and magenta. Increased technical complexity and more parts equal higher production cost and, therefore, retail price.
Choosing Between Inkjet vs. Laser Printers for a Home Office
Anyone contemplating buying a printer for their home office will need to determine whether inkjet or laser is the better fit for their needs. Both printer technologies have advantages and disadvantages.
Ink vs. Toner Cost
Inkjet printers are generally less expensive than laser printers, at least initially. The lower upfront cost of inkjet printers is due to less complex technology and more manufacturer emphasis on the sale of ink cartridges. If you don’t frequently print documents or require the highest level of text quality, an inkjet printer may be the more cost-effective option, especially if you’re operating on a limited budget.
If you print documents in vast quantities, laser printers are more cost-effective because, per page, toner is less expensive than ink. This is calculated based on factors including paper cost, page yield and cartridge price.
Before you can complete the calculation, you’ll need to determine your page yield. This is the maximum number of pages your toner cartridge can print before it runs out. The toner manufacturer will typically base their page yield amount on your printing at 5% page coverage, which works out to roughly ⅓ of a page.
Often, if you’re printing full pages of text, you’re actually printing at 15% coverage, which means you will need to recalculate the page yield provided by the manufacturer. To achieve a more accurate number when using the formula for cost per printed page, take the manufacturer page yield at 5% and divide it by 3 to get the page yield for 15% coverage.
Once you have this number, you can determine your cost-per-print based on this formula:
Cartridge cost of one cartridge ÷ page yield of one cartridge × 3 + paper cost = cost-per-print
Toner cartridges also don’t have a limited shelf life like inkjet printer cartridges do, allowing you to store them for longer periods.
Laser printers are best suited for text and monochromatic images. Inkjet printers can produce higher-quality photographs and print more complex and subtle color shades than laser printers.
For those laser printers designed to produce high-quality color images, such as photographs, you’ll need specialized photo paper designed for use with lasers. When using an inkjet printer, you can use standard photo paper. However, the laser printer remains the superior choice when printing black-and-white text, offering sharp, clean, highly visible characters.
One of the most important factors to consider for a home office printer is size. You often have limited desk or floor space for a printer, so the footprint matters. In general, inkjet printers are more compact than laser printers because they have fewer parts, including OPC drums and rollers, which means less weight and bulk. In addition to being compact, inkjet printers are also easier to transport.
There’s a risk of ink smudging on freshly printed documents when using inkjet printers because it continues to dry after leaving the printer. If you’re stacking or filing newly printed documents, you should consider letting them air dry for a while first.
As many laser printers fuse the toner to the page using heat, the result is that laser-printed documents don’t run or bleed color, making them more efficient for quick printing and storage. A laser printer is the better option if you value printing in large quantities at home and store the documents immediately.
How to Minimize Home Printing Costs Even More
Even though printing at home is cheaper than paying at a print shop, buying printer supplies adds up quickly, which is why you need to cut costs wherever you can. There are plenty of areas where you can do this, such as purchasing remanufactured ink cartridges from third-party sellers or buying cheaper printer paper when the highest quality is unnecessary for your document type.
Every area in which you economize like this will benefit you significantly in the long run. Consider, for example, whether you need to print all 12 pages of a document. If you only need pages 4–7, you can save money on 8 pages that would be thrown in the recycling anyway.
Using Duplex Printing
For example, using both sides of a sheet of printer paper (duplex printing) can reduce paper consumption by 50%. This makes duplex printing an environmentally friendly practice, reducing paper waste. Before printing on both sides of the printer paper, make sure there isn’t a preferred side for printing, as with photo paper.
Altering Document Size
Reducing the size of the document and adjusting the line spacing and margins can allow you to increase the word density of the document without reducing the font size. The result is more information condensed on a single page, thereby reducing paper use. It’s crucial, however, that you don’t edit documents in a way that makes the text difficult to read.
Inspecting the Print Preview
If you’re printing web articles, blog posts, hotel and travel itineraries or Google Maps directions, check the print preview before sending the document to the printer. It’s common for websites to include extraneous information, such as advertisements, in printed documents. By checking the print preview, you can eliminate these unnecessary pages, printing only what you need and saving you ink or toner and paper.
Proofreading Your Documents
Don’t neglect the importance of proofreading. Proofreading and editing save both time and money, which also applies to the use of printers. Every time you print a document only to discover a glaring typographical error or a factual mistake, you waste ink and paper. If you can, consider using tools that check for grammar, spelling and punctuation before printing documents.
Finding the Best Font Styles
Some fonts are simply more efficient for a printer to produce. Less ink or toner consumption means fewer replacements. For this reason, it may be worth researching which font styles are the most printer-friendly.
Printing in Draft Mode
Printing in draft mode can also sacrifice image quality for speed and cost. If you can accept a document that’s legible but rough, this mode can be advantageous. It’s designed to consume as little ink as possible during the printing process. This means the text and image quality are less detailed, but the printer produces the document quickly.
Heeding Low-Ink Warnings
Many printers display low-ink warnings when the capacity of the ink cartridge drops below a certain point set by the manufacturer, such as 40%. The ink cartridge may still contain sufficient ink to print several dozen pages. Replacing ink cartridges too early can be wasteful and costly, whether you buy new, compatible or remanufactured.
Buying in Bulk
When you purchase ink or toner cartridges and printer paper in bulk, you achieve two goals. First, you reduce the cost of both. When quantities increase, per-unit cost declines. You also ensure you are adequately prepared for unpredictable circumstances where you need to print at home. To maximize your time when printing at home, it’s best to have both additional paper and ink on hand. This reduces the risk of you running out of supplies part way through printing.
Prioritizing Printing at Home
To truly get the most out of your printer, you need to dedicate time to using it for printing personal documents. For example, before leaving on vacation, set aside an hour or two to print out and organize your insurance documents, travel itineraries, proof of vaccination documents and boarding passes. Having all of these printed at home before departure reduces your costs later since you won’t need to pay for a budget airline boarding pass at the airport or find a kiosk in a foreign city to print legal documents.
Invest in the Extra Features You’ll Use
When you’re searching for a printer, the benefits or features will also affect the price. Is the device strictly a printer or is it also a fax machine? Facsimile machines are still common in offices, although whether you need this feature in your home printer depends on your job and lifestyle.
Many printers also include the ability to scan documents, allowing you to convert physical media into digital media. This is useful if you need to instantly send a copy of a legal document or medical record by email. Manufacturers also often incorporate a photocopying function into printers, increasing multipurpose functionality. However, every added feature comes with a cost. Consider limiting the feature set to what you know you will use, and you can ensure that your home office setup remains budget-friendly.
Printers are necessary to produce documents, from contracts and tax returns to boarding passes and travel itineraries. To take full advantage of printer technology, you need to know where to minimize your costs. Failing to economize wastes ink, printer paper and electricity. Evaluating how you use your printer can increase efficiency, saving you time and money while protecting the environment.
At InkJetSuperStore.com, we understand the various costs associated with buying and using printers and can help you make an informed decision when developing a home printing setup. From posting product reviews, such as Epson vs. HP printers, to selling compatible and OEM ink cartridges, InkJetSuperStore.com has an option for every type of home office. Check out what we have to offer — you won’t be disappointed.