How Much Do Ink Jet Printers Really Cost?

The range in prices for ink jet printers is significant. You can get a printer for under $50 or you can pay hundreds. The price isn't always the best indicator of quality or if it is the best printer for your needs. Just as important as the price of a printer, if not more important, is the price of the ink cartridges. Replacing the ink cartridges in a printer can cost more than the printer itself. In fact, printer prices may be artificially low to lock you into buying ink for it.

Costs of Printer Use Outweighs Printer Price

What you are really paying for with a printer is not just the cost of the initial printer purchase, but also how much it costs to use it. A bargain purchase price isn't a bargain if you pay a huge price to use the printer on a day to day basis. To truly compare printer costs, then the cost to use the printer over the course of a year, for example, has to be considered as well.

To estimate the cost of using a printer, first estimate the number of pages you print each week, then multiply it by 52 to determine the pages printed per year. (If it is difficult to estimate the number of pages you print, then use history as a guide. How many cartridges did you buy last year?)

Now divide the yearly number of pages by how many pages the ink jet cartridge will print. This information is usually available on the packaging or can be found online with the manufacturer’s product information. Finally, multiply the number of cartridges used by their price and you will have annual printing costs.

For example, if you print an average of 50 pages per week, then you will print about 2600 pages per year (50 x 52 = 2600). If the printer cartridges can print 200 pages, then you will use about 13 cartridges per year. At $55 per ink cartridge the annual operation cost of the printer is $715 (13 x 55 = 715).

The same user who buys a printer and uses replacement cartridges that are $25 has an annual operation cost is $325. Cartridges with more page capability can have a big impact on cost as well. Over the average life of the printer, which can be two to five years, it is easy to see how purchase price is not the most significant factor in total printer cost.

Calculating Lifetime Printer Costs

With this information, you can make an intelligent decision about the lifetime costs of the printer. Even if the printer is used for only two years, seeing the big picture can save you from basing the decision printer price alone. Let's look at another example:

Printer 1: Cost $100. Ink: 13/year @ $55 ea.: 2 year life cost = $1530
Printer 2: Cost $200. Ink: 10/year @ $25 ea.: 2 year life cost = $700

While printer 2 costs twice as much to purchase, its larger and less expensive ink cartridges makes it half the price of printer 1 over its lifetime. The longer the printer life then the bigger the lifetime savings will be. Making an informed decision about printers can save you or your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Finally, explore using reputable third party manufacturers of ink cartridges. They are produced to OEM specifications and will work just as well as the printer brand ink cartridges. As demonstrated above, finding lower cost options for ink can have a big impact on the operational cost of printing


Updated 5/19/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff