Laser vs inkjet printers – which waste the most ink?
Feel like your inkjet printer is guzzling ink? That may be because it is. Which? has discovered the most wasteful printers are using up to 500% more ink if you only print occasionally. That’s compared with printing the same number of pages in one go.
But how do laser printers measure up for toner use against inkjets? We’ve tested a number of laser printers to see how their occasional printing costs rack up and, when it comes to reducing waste, it seems that laser printers are the way to go.
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For the above infographic, we compared the cost of printing 20 text pages and ten graphics pages in one go with the cost of printing the same number of pages gradually over a period of weeks. The results showed an average laser printer is cheaper to run compared to an inkjet and uses a similar amount of toner in each case with little waste.
Why the difference in ink/toner use?
The key difference between inkjet and laser printers is that inkjets use ink and lasers use toner. Many inkjet printers use ink when you’re not printing, whereas laser printers don’t do the same with toner.
When we’ve asked manufacturers about inkjet waste, the response has generally been that ink can dry on the jets. This means to keep prints tip-top, the printer has to spit out ink to clean its heads.
Laser printers don’t have print heads to clean and although some toner ‘dust’ may be cleaned off the roller, it’s such a small amount that it’s barely noticeable in the scheme of things.
Should I buy a laser printer or an inkjet printer?
Looking at the running costs it looks like a no-brainer, with the average laser printer producing cheaper prints than the average inkjet. However, lasers don’t win on every count. If you like to print photos at home, the photo print quality of laser printers doesn’t come close to the quality you’ll get from a good inkjet printer with glossy photo paper.
Laser printers also tend to be bigger – although some inkjets out there are pretty hefty – but purchase price is the killer blow. Colour laser printers start from around £100 and if you want one that can also scan and copy you’re looking at closer to £150. Toner cartridges cost upwards of £40 each too. On the other hand, you can get a wi-fi all-in-one inkjet printer for a mere £30.
When you’re buying a new printer take all of the costs into account as well as the features you need. And not all inkjet printers are hugely wasteful or expensive to run – check out our top five cheapest printers to run.
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