Printers, running costs and life expectancy

Our main A4 colour printer just reached the end of it’s life and is not worth repairing so I turned to my spreadsheet of printer costs to work out what to replace it with. We buy the printers and don’t lease them as this has always been a lot cheaper in the long term. This is our main daily use printer, we also have an A3 printer/scanner which gets less use. I like having 2 printers for when one goes wrong or I forgot to order toner, we can use the other until I get around to fixing it.

Interesting observations from looking back at my workings:

  • I started the spreadsheet when buying a printer in 2010 and bought a new printer in 2014,2018 and now 2022. So that’s 4 years per printer
  • I assume we only use original toner cartridges even though they are more expensive
  • I work out the total cost of ownership for a printer and all consumables assuming it lasts us for 50,000 pages
  • The current printer has made it to 80,000 pages, the previous one I think around 75,000 pages, so I might have to increase my assumed working life total page prints when comparing TCOs
YearModelPrinter costTotal Cost of Ownership 50,000 pages Total Cost of Ownership 75,000 pages
2018P6035CDN£362£2,702£3,510
2014FS-C5350DN£442£2,442£3,000
2010FS-C5300DN£766£2956£3,285

So although inflation has been increasing through that time, our printing costs have remained similar. Also of interest is the hardware cost of the printer has been decreasing. Before 2010 I also remember having to buy more trays for a printer but now we print letterheads on demand for free using ubuntu as a print server and a PDF template document

We have always bought Kyocera printers because they always seem to have the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Many other printers cost less to buy but have much more expensive toner or maintenance needs. From my workings in 2018 you can see from models I compared;
the £362 Kyocera printer forecast a cost of £2,702 but
the £185 Xerox C400N forecast £4,872
so the up front machine cost is not a good indicator of the total cost of using a printer. Likewise you can also see that at 25,000 pages for a working life, the Lexmark CS727 had a lower TCO than the SC827. Summary: Knowing how many thinks you’re likely to print is important to optimise the total cost of printing.

Here’s an extract from spreadsheet from 2018 I used to choose a printer. Assumptions that may not apply to you:
We print lots of kitchen and bathroom photos at Roots, so I’ve assumed our average page has 15% coverage of ink (3 x each colour at 5%).
My prices were all excluding VAT
I suspect the prices I get for HP are high compared to what larger businesses can get, we’re small so I generally get prices online with no volume or scale discounts.

PrinterMachine costColour Toner single colour costpages coverage at 5%cost per page @ 5% using 3 coloursColour cost per 1000 pages (1 month)TCO 25KTCO 50K
ECOSYS P6035cdn£362£15610000£0.0468£47£1,532£2,702
Lexmark CS827de A4 Colour Laser Printer£405£23915000£0.0478£48£1,600£2,795
CS727de Lexmark£185£18010000£0.0540£54£1,535£2,885
ECOSYS P6130cdn£242£1005000£0.0600£60£1,742£3,242
Xerox versalink C600NW£730£19810100£0.0588£59£2,200£3,671
Xerox Phaser 6600DN£330£1456000£0.0725£73£2,143£3,955
Xerox ColorQube 8580DN£350£1124400£0.0764£76£2,259£4,168
ECOSYS P5026cdn£195£803000£0.0800£80£2,195£4,195
ECOSYS M5521cdn£163£802600£0.0923£92£2,471£4,778
Xerox Versalink C400N£185£1504800£0.0938£94£2,529£4,873
HP LaserJet Pro 500 color M570dn A4 Colour £516£1936000£0.0965£97£2,929£5,341

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