Printer ROI

When reviewing what printer to purchase for your office, how do you go about choosing? There are the required features needed for your business, which may include color, networking, duplexing. There are the features which would be nice, but not require — color, networking, duplexing. And we seem to do pretty good figuring out these on our own. The next area, where most of us start with, is budget. However, this is the area which we seem to do the worst in. Why? Because the total cost of a printer is far less than the cost of the unit itself. If you felt a pinch the last time you went to purchase ink for your printer, you know what I’m talking about. Infact, I’ve been asked several times — wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy a new printer instead of the ink for it. And in some cases this would appear to be true.

The reality is that you’ll spend several times over the cost of your printer in supplies for it – primarily ink/toner over the life of the printer. So if that is the case, shouldn’t we be looking at the cost of the toner instead of the cost of the printer? The false assumption here is that all ink/toner is the same. Toner seems to average around $80 – $160 per cartridge, but the capacity can swing (in the same price range) from 500 pages to 10,000 pages.

What you should do is select the printer you think you need based on features, and then look at the specifications for the next two printers up the line. So in the HP series, this would generically be: right printer 2055 — up-line would be a 3000 and 4000 series printer.  Look up the price and capacity of the related toner cartridges – divide it out and now you have a very basic cost per page. Now take a look at what you estimate your printing to be – how many pages per month. Multiply your page counts over three or five years by the cost per page, and then add back in the cost of the printer. What most people find is that they are shocked to find that a $2000 printer is cheaper in the long run over a $499 printer – all because of the cost of the supplies. And this cost difference can be thousands of dollars.

And before you think about re-manufactured supplies, don’t do it — we’ll go over that another time — but both independent research and years of personal experience have shown these to be a bad deal almost every time.