Cutting Costs: How To Save On Toner
Shake It, Baby: When
the "Low Toner" light appears on your front panel, it doesn't
necessarily mean that you're going to have to change your toner
cartridge. You can usually get significantly more use out of
that cartridge by redistributing the remaining toner.
Remove the cartridge, gently move it back and
forth two or three times, and then replace it. Do this every
time you get the warning light -- if you still get the warning
light when you've replaced the cartridge, you know it's time to
get a new one.
Buy Lasers With Separate Drums: Laser
printers use two components: a toner cartridge and a drum. Some
printers include the toner cartridge and drum in a single unit.
This makes it easier to install, but it also makes it more
Why? Because drums have to be replaced a lot
less often than cartridges. For example, the drum for the
Brother HL-5140 printer has a typical yield of about 20,000
pages -- a lot less than the toner cartridge's yield of 3,500.
So printers with separate drums can be cheaper in the long run.
Join The Draft : Read
your printer manual and find out if your printer has a "draft"
mode. Draft modes use a lot less ink than normal printing modes
-- while not good enough for sending out, you can use it for
documents that are for your eyes only, and save some of ink
Buy In Bulk: If
you tend to do a lot of printing, then you might want to look
into buying your toner cartridges in quantity. You can get some
good deals if you buy a lot at once.
Before You Buy, Check The
Yield: As with any product, it is
always a good idea to do some research before you actually buy.
One of the things you should be checking is the toner yield.
What is that? That is the number of pages that
a typical ink or toner cartridge may be expected to produce.
Most manufacturers estimate their yields based on coverage of
about 4 or 5 percent -- in other words, about 4 or 5 percent of
the printed page will actually have ink on it. So a toner
cartridge that has a yield of 3,500 based on 5 percent coverage
should be expected to print out about 3,500 pages, assuming that
each page has about 5 percent of its surface covered by the ink.
This means, of course, that if you tend to
print pages that have a great deal of text on them, or that use
images, or that use a great deal of bold lettering -- your
results will vary greatly.
For example, take a typical inkjet printer
like the Brother HL-5140, which costs about $200. A Brother
toner cartridge that yields (according to the manufacturer)
about 3,500 pages runs about $71. The printer drum, which has a
yield of 20,000 (so it should last you quite a long time), costs
Unfortunately, there are few independent
sources that can tell you the true yield for each printer out
there. As a result, we have to rely on the manufacturers'
figures. But even using those as a guide, you can figure out
which printers will cost more in the long run.