June 4, 2008

Should you buy an laser printer to save money?

Most of us use inkjet printers in our homes. Inkjets are the most common printer sold to the home market. The printers themselves are very cheap and the technology is simple. Generally in the past laser printers were very expensive to buy compared to inkjets and for the amount of printing people did it simply didn't make sense to even look at laser printers for the home. However nowadays the cost of black and white laser printers has become very reasonable. For the cost of a few inkjet ink cartridges you could probably buy a laser printer. In general laser printers have higher cost for the printer and higher cost for individual toner cartridges compared to inkjets. However the laser toner cartridge will last a long time compared to an inkjet cartridge and you get a lot more pages / $ with the lasers. So in the long run the cost / page for printing is lower with the laser printers.

So does it make sense to buy an inkjet printer for use in your home?

Lets look at the two options and see how it breaks down:

Black and white Laser printer

I looked around a little on Newegg.com, Amazon and Bestbuy. I found a Brother HL-2170w for $100 on sale. I've seen other laser printers for around $80 on sale but you just have to watch for a bargain to catch a deal. I'll look at the HL-2170w for an example.

The printer:
Brother HL-2170w laser black and white printer with network on sale at Bestbuy for $99.99
Toner cartridges:
TN360 printer cartridge at Newegg for $44.99 + 8.55 sh = $53.54
TN330 cartridge for $29.99 + 8.55 sh = $38.54

The printer comes with a starter toner cartridge that does 1000 pages. The TN360 will handle 2600 pages and the TN330 does 1500 pages.

pages cost $/page
printer 1000 $99 $0.10
and TN330 2500 $137.54 $0.06
and TN360 3600 $152.49 $0.04

So once you get up over 2500 pages you're down to 6 cents a page and if you hit 3600 pages then you're at just 4 cents a page. If you print more than that it is even cheaper on a per page basis. However your out of pocket cost is a minimum of $99 for the printer.

Inkjet printer
Lexmark Z1300 at Best buy for $29.99
The #28 cartridge is at Newegg for $16.99 +5.99 sh = $22.98
The #34 cartridge is at Newegg for $22.99 + 5.99 sh = $28.98

The #28 does 175 pages and the #34 yields 500 pages. ref: Lexmark page yields

pages cost $/page
printer 175 $30 $0.17
and 28 350 $53.00 $0.15
and 34 675 $59.00 $0.09
and 2x 34 1175 $88.00 $0.07
and 3x 34 1675 $117.00 $0.07
and 4x 34 2175 $146.00 $0.07
and 5x 34 2675 $175.00 $0.07
and 6x 34 3175 $204.00 $0.06
and 7x 34 3675 $233.00 $0.06

The printer itself is dirt cheap to buy for just $30. Then out of pocket costs stay below $100 for the first 1175 pages of printing. But your cost per page is 7 cents to 17 cents.

Which should you buy?

In general I'd say if you are sure you print a lot (over 500 pages a year) then go with the laser printer. But if you do not print a lot then stick with the inkjet printers.

Keep in mind that this comparison is only about black and white printing. If you have much need for color printing then the its a different situation.

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