How to Work Out the Running Cost Of Your Printer

19-11-2014 by

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Printers are expensive pieces of equipment, and some can be more expensive to run. Knowing how much your printer will cost to run before you buy it will help you make a more informed choice the next time you need to purchase one.

Working out the running cost of a printer is an important step in the buying process. The running cost calculation factors in the cost of printer cartridges and other consumables as well as the paper and maintenance costs. This is often higher than the initial cost, or selling price, of the printer and will give you a better idea of how much the printer will cost in the long run.

The printer you ultimately choose should also meet your printing needs. It’s no use going for the printer with cheapest running costs when you need a printer that can scan and copy as well. Before working out printing costs, you’ll have to look at what you need and then make your selection from the options available.

Printer cartridge costs

When looking at printer cartridges, it pay to remember that the cheaper the printer, the more expensive the printer cartridges will be. This is especially true of ink cartridges.

Before buying your printer, sit down and work out what your cost per page will be by taking the cost of the cartridge and dividing it by the estimated page yield. To get the cost per page for colour, you’ll have to add all four totals together.

Keep in mind that the page yields on the manufacturers’ websites are based on 5% coverage so you won’t get an entirely accurate estimate (for more info on that check out What Does 5% Coverage Mean).

To get a true cost per page, you can use software like APFill to work out how much of a page is actually covered.

Paper and other consumables

You should also factor in the cost of your paper. To get the cost of a single sheet of paper, take the total number of sheets in the pack (whether it’s a box or just a ream) and divide it by the cost. Buying paper in bulk will ultimately save you money.

Some printers also need other consumables, like drum units and fuser units for laser printers and printheads for inkjet printers. If this is the case, you’ll need to work out their cost per page as well. You can use the same formula you use to work out the cost per page of printer ink and toner cartridges.

You can also use online calculators to work out the running costs of your printer and to easily compare the running costs of different models. This one from PC World allows you to compare two printers, while this one from Kyocera lets you compare a printer model of your choice to an equivalent Kyocera printer.  

Before you buy your printer, you should also look at what the warranty covers and if the printer comes with a maintenance plan as paying for unexpected repairs or maintenance can be expensive.

Nic Venter

About the author

Nic Venter+

 is the founder and director of He started the business in 2009 with the idea to sell ink and toner cartridges online and to provide you with a quality product, value for money and convenience. He regularly blogs on about printing and technology. Part of his philosophy is having fun and making sure that he and his team think everything ink, so you don't have to.

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