How to Calculate Your Printer’s Cost Per Page

Printers, in general, are affordable. Printer ink, on the other hand? Not so much. It’s the age-old conundrum that students and office workers have been dealing with and trying to combat with tricks of the trade such as stocking up on off-label and generic brands that are compatible with the big-name printer, such as Canon, HP, or Brother.

Major printer manufacturers mark down the rates of their multi-function printers, both large and compact, with the expectation that their consumers will then be locked into purchasing replacement cartridges—which can end up becoming a serious expense.

In order to avoid replacing ink cartridges so often that it makes a serious dent in your profit margin, you can either print less—which isn’t always possible if you work in a busy office—or keep a close, hawk-like eye on your expenditures. If you’re the type to crunch numbers, it’s likely you’re keeping track of the cost per page so that you know how much you’re getting for your money.

How Much?

Some online third-party retailers, such as the popular millennial brand Moustache, will offer the information willingly, right next to their online reviews and page yield. But not every company will provide you with the exact cost per page you can expect to pay, and companies are expecting that a sale price in bold red letters and other psychological tricks will dissuade consumers from doing the math.

They’re expecting you to see a good price, click “add to cart,” and never think about the cost per page—at least until it becomes relevant. Surprisingly, even the smartest shoppers skip over this very important step, assuming that the calculations will be too difficult to do on the spot. But even if you flunked out of grade eleven calculus, you’ll be able to handle the basic mathematical formula required to figure out how much each page costs.

Simple Math

First of all, it’s important to remember that basically, all printer bands base their yield on the expectation of a certain percentage of page coverage: 5%, to be exact. The percentage of coverage is certainly not exact.

Thorough legal documents, glossy full-colour wedding photographs, and the final draft of your doctorate thesis are going to yield a much higher amount of page coverage, meaning that you’ll run out of ink a lot sooner—and have to pay for a replacement cartridge a lot sooner, too.

Even slight variations in page coverage are known to make a significant difference, experts say, but the math itself is fairly simplistic. Divide the expected page yield by the cost of the cartridge. That’s all you really need to know!

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