If you ask any printer owner what’s the most unpleasant part of owning a printer, they’ll all probably say expensive ink cartridges. How expensive? In a year, inkjet printer owners spend more than the price of their printer on ink replacements. That expensive.
Why is ink more expensive than the printer itself?
The amount of money you spend on ink cartridges can easily add up to more than what you paid for the printer itself. This is usually the case if you have one of those budget-friendly inkjet models which uses cartridges that print only a few pages before running out.
Counter-intuitive as it may sound, a lot of small businesses can save money in the long run by purchasing a more efficient printer, even if you have to spend a little in the process.
How do you decide if it’s cheaper to replace your printer than buy ink for your old one?
- The page yield of your ink cartridge (how many pages you can print with one ink cartridge before it runs empty),
- The cost of each cartridge, and
- How often you use your printer (monthly print volume)
Let’s say you have an Epson Workforce WF-3820 printer in your home office. This printer uses 4 Epson 822 ink cartridges: a black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. All cartridges come in high yield XL sizes which print more pages than a standard 822. Here’s how much each high yield cartridge can print and how much each costs.
|Epson 822XL Black||1,100 pages||$39.99*|
|Epson 822XL Cyan||1,100 pages||$29.49|
|Epson 822XL Magenta||1,100 pages||$29.49|
|Epson 822XL Yellow||1,100 pages||$29.49|
If you’re printing 1,000 pages a month, that means you’ll consume approximately 1 set of ink cartridges and spend $128.46 per month on ink cartridges.
So when is it cheaper to buy a new printer or replace cartridges?
Case #1: A new Canon PIXMA TS3520
For the sake of this article, let’s say you’re thinking about buying the Canon PIXMA TS3520: is it cheaper to buy this printer than get new Epson 822XLs for your old one?
The Canon TS3520 uses only 2 cartridges: Canon PG-275 black and CL-276 tricolor ink, both of which also come in high yield sizes (PG-275XL and CL-276XL). The page yields and cost for original Canon PG-275XL and CL-276XL cartridges are below.
|Canon PG-275XL Black||300 pages||$25.99|
|Canon CL-276XL Tricolor||300 pages||$29.99|
To print 1000 pages per month, you’ll need 3.3 sets of ink cartridges and spend $167.94 on ink monthly.
That’s the ink cost. A new Canon PIXMA TS3520 is currently priced at $79.99 which isn’t so bad.
Compared with Epson 822XL
Even if a new Canon TS3520 printer is pretty cheap, the monthly cost of Canon ink cartridges ($167.94) is more than your current monthly cost for Epson 822XL ($128.46).
Conclusion: Considering all the numbers so far, is it worth buying a new Canon PIXMA TS3520 printer than get new Epson 822XLs for your old printer? No, it is not worth getting a new printer; it would be cheaper to replace your current Epson 822XL ink cartridges.
Let’s try a different printer, shall we? With an HP printer this time.
Case #2: A new HP OfficeJet Pro 9015
Is it cheaper to buy a new HP OfficeJet 9015 than replace your Epson 822XL cartridges? Let’s dig in.
The HP OfficeJet 9015 printer uses four HP 962 ink cartridges, a black, cyan, magenta, and yellow–just like your good ol’ Epson WF-3820. HP 962 cartridges also come in high yield XL sizes. Here are the page yields and cost of each HP 962XL cartridge.
|HP 962XL Black||2,000 pages||$46.99|
|HP 962XL Cyan||1,600 pages||$35.99|
|HP 962XL Magenta||1,600 pages||$35.99|
|HP 962XL Yellow||1,600 pages||$35.99|
Just by looking at the page yields of HP 962XL high yield cartridges, you know this is already going to be interesting.
If your monthly print volume is 1,000 pages, you wouldn’t even need to replace ink cartridges before a month is over. You probably would need to replace cartridges in another two weeks or so. With a print volume of 1,000 pages a month, a set of HP 962XL cartridges will last you about 6 weeks.
In 3 months (or about 12 weeks), you would have used 2 sets of HP 962XLs. Since a set of HP 962XLs costs $154.96, two sets would cost $309.92.
Compared with Epson 822XL
To compare, let’s calculate the cost of Epson 822XLs for 3 months:
We take our monthly cartridge cost ($128.46) and multiply it by 3 = $385.38
Comparing the cost of cartridges for 3 months, you save $76.46 with HP 962XL cartridges.
But how much does a new HP OfficeJet 9015 cost? This printer model is currently priced at $250. Pretty pricey for an inkjet printer but if you’ll be saving $76.46 every 3 months on ink cartridges, it won’t be long when your savings on ink have made up for the printer price (after 9 months, to be exact).
Conclusion: Going back to our question, is it worth it to buy a new HP OfficeJet 9015 instead of replacing Epson 822XL cartridges? Yes, according to our calculations, it makes more sense to switch to the OfficeJet 9015 than to replace cartridges as this printer would save you money in the long-term.
Here’s a comparison table with all the costs and page yields of all printer models we discussed.
|Printer||Cost of Printer||3-Month Ink Cost||Ink Savings|
|Epson Workforce WF-3820||$0 (currently owned)||$385.38 ($128.46 x 3)||—|
|Canon PIXMA TS3520||$79.99||$503.91 ($167.94 x 3)||-2% (or -$12.15)|
|HP OfficeJet 9015||$250||$309.92 ($154.96 x 2)||36.9% (or $181.84)|
Remember that these calculations are based on the printer models chosen to illustrate the thought process and calculations needed to help us compare which printer models are more ink efficient. Make sure you do your own math based on your own print consumption and your own prospective printer models when applying to your own scenario.
A Quicker Way:
Once you’ve wrapped your head around the concept of how the cost of cartridges and page yields greatly affect how ink efficient a printer is, it would now be easier for you to understand this simpler method of determining whether a new printer is more ink-efficient and is worth the investment than getting replacement cartridges for your old printer. All you have to do is get the cost per page of the black cartridge of your printer.
To get the cost per page, simply divide the cost of one cartridge with the expected page yield of your cartridge.
If we take the black cartridges we used in our example above:
|Cartridge||Page Yield||Cost||Cost per page (CPP)|
|Epson 822XL Black||1,100 pages||$39.99||$0.03|
|Canon PG-275XL Black||300 pages||$25.99||$0.08|
|HP 962XL Black||2,000 pages||$46.99||$0.02|
The HP 962XL black has the lowest cost per page lining up with our conclusion earlier that HP OfficeJet 9015 is a more ink efficient printer.
There might also be instances when there’s more to the decision than pure by-the-numbers efficiency like maybe your new printer doesn’t come with some features you frequently use. Here are a few more considerations to think about.
More Things To Consider:
Third party compatibles. The cartridge prices we used earlier in this article are all OEM prices. Aftermarket versions of those cartridges are so much cheaper than their name-brand equivalents–sometimes as much as 75% cheaper! So yes, you can save even more on those HP 962XL ink replacements!
Before you spend on a new replacement printer, it literally pays to check if aftermarket ink cartridge versions are available for your existing printer. You may save enough to justify keeping the old printer around for a little longer.
When you’re shopping for a new printer, ensure that you can get affordable alternative ink replacements for your new model, too. If you can easily find third-party ink compatibles for your old printer, but can’t find any for the new unit, you may not be saving much at all. You may even be spending more at the end of the day!
Ruggedness. Not all printers are designed with the same user expectations. A printer that is perfect for your home office will quickly buckle under the stress of day-in and day-out workplace printing. Before you purchase a new printer, compare how much you regularly print to that model’s monthly duty cycle. Going much over the manufacturer’s expected workload will cause your new printer to degrade quickly, which means costly repairs and even a premature replacement.
XL cartridges. Nearly every printer manufacturer today offers high yield XL ink cartridges for several models that hold two, even three times more ink than standard cartridges. XL cartridges give people who print more an option to buy more ink at once, and they are often quite cost effective.
Replacement parts. Take a look at the replacement cost for print heads and allow that to factor into your decision, too. Different manufacturers take different approaches to design, and those decisions can impact both the quality of component pieces and how much they cost to repair. For example, Epson uses a fixed print head design, in which ink cartridges slide into a fixed carriage. This allows for the print head to be made with higher quality component pieces, but also means that, when it breaks, it is more expensive to replace. Repair cost matters little when you’re buying a forty-dollar home printer, but if you’re looking for something office-grade that needs to last . . .
Quality control. In other words, not every printer is built to the same standard, and often design flaws make troubleshooting a task. Check reviews online and see if customers share common complaints. If a disproportionate number of people express displeasure with a major component, such as the print head or feeding system, you may want to find another comparable model with better reviews.
New features. Your older printer may be plenty efficient, but lack some of the new technologies that can make your day to day work easier. The way we do business is always changing, and new features like easy connectivity with mobile devices can make a big difference.
Small expenses add up quickly when you run a small business. Thankfully, small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to protecting your bottom line. Saving twenty or thirty dollars monthly doesn’t seem like much, but over time it adds up to a pretty hefty total.
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.inkcartridges.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from Staples®. All prices effective as of July 26, 2021. OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse 4inkjets.