laser printer vs inkjet
Printing documents is a reality for pretty much any business, whether you operate from a home office or commercial office space. Even in a digital world, sometimes it’s necessary to print documents for clients, customers, and colleagues.

Perhaps you’re in an artistic field and need to print photographs, art proofs, or imagery for client approval. Or maybe you’re in the legal or accounting fields and simply print a high volume of black and white business documents on a daily basis.

Whatever it is, you’re bound to run into the need to print documents at some point – but which kind of printer do you choose?

The laser printer vs Inkjet debate has been going on for years, and for good reason. These two varieties of office printer work in considerably different ways and offer different benefits to different kinds of users.

Laser Printer vs Inkjet Printer, What’s the Difference?

Laser printers and Inkjet printers might both print documents and offer great print quality, but that doesn’t mean they work the same. In fact, they work in fundamentally different ways, which might impact your decision when buying a new printer.

Inkjet printers use a tried and tested printing method that has been in use since the 1980s. The system works by placing tiny drops of ink, taken from an ink cartridge, onto a piece of paper to create an image. Over the decades, Inkjet technology has improved to allow the dots to get smaller and the printing to get quicker, with modern Inkjet printers creating dots just 60 microns in diameter. That’s less than the width of a human hair!

Laser printers, however, work in an arguably more complex way. A photoreceptor drum is used in conjunction with a laser, which draws the image received from the computer and then transfers that image to white paper using positive and negative charges that attract or repel toner. Once the toner is in place, two hot rollers are applied to the paper, which applies the toner permanently to the fibers in the paper.

So, which is better, an Inkjet printer or a laser printer? Well, it depends on your usage and what your business needs.

What is Your Business Usage?

Choosing between these two popular printer types starts with determining what you need the printer for. Do you need to scan, copy, and print? Or do you require your printer for something a little more demanding?

First, consider how much printing you do in your place of business. If you find that you are printing hundreds, or even thousands of documents every month, inkjet printer cartridges may get costly over time.  However, if you are only printing sporadically, the higher costs of purchasing a laser printer and toner cartridges may not be worth the long-term savings.

Next, consider how fast you need your printer to print. If you have a business that is constantly printing documents, you may be interested in the efficiency and speed that a laser printer offers. If you are printing documents less frequently throughout the day, you may not have a need for the lightning-fast delivery of a laser printer. The one thing that any office manager wants to avoid is backlogs on print jobs, so make sure to take print volume into account.

If you don’t need a printer that’s quick, is that because you generally don’t print much, or that you would prefer something that produces higher quality images with greater levels of detail?  Or maybe you work in an artistic field, and need a printer that can accommodate photo paper, glossy paper, and various card stock?

Take all of these factors into consideration before moving on. They will all play an important part in the decision-making process and how laser and Inkjet printers can accommodate your needs.

Laser Printers vs. Inkjet Printers – Understanding The Upfront Costs

The first question that most consumers will have when deciding between a laser printer and an inkjet printer will be “what do they cost?”.   Inkjet printers and laser printers have very different costs of ownership and upfront price structures.

To start, there are a wide variety of inkjet printers that have a price tag under $100.  There are even a number of inkjet printer options that can be found for $50 – $60 if you’re really looking to keep your costs down.  Many of these printers will even come with inkjet cartridges, meaning your business can start printing for less than $100.

When it comes to laser printers, the lower range models will typically start around $250 – $300.  If you’re interested in a color laser printer, the low-end price may even be as high as $350 for the basic models.  Another main difference is that most laser printer models do not include toner cartridges, so you will also need to spend a couple of hundred dollars extra before you begin printing.

Typically, you should expect a laser printer to cost you significantly more than the average Inkjet printer. This is because Inkjet printers use less complex technology and are generally simpler in terms of their mechanical operation. These printers are also produced in large quantities and often sold cheap, making them an attractive option for many small businesses.

While the upfront costs for ownership may be far lower for inkjet printers, that does not mean that printing with laser printers is the less economical option.  It really depends on the types of documents you are printing, how often you plan to print, and the types of features you need from your printer. In many cases, a laser printer will end up saving you quite a bit more money in the long run, making it absolutely worth the higher upfront price.

Laser Printer vs Inkjet, Cost Per Page?

When considering laser printers vs inkjet printers, you should also consider the long-term costs in addition to the upfront costs.  One of the best ways to calculate the long-term costs is to determine your overall cost per page.

Cost per page is essentially the flat price for every page that you print, whether color, grayscale, or black and white. When determining this cost, you will need to know just how many pages your ink cartridge or toner cartridge is capable of printing and the costs of these cartridges.

While there are a number of variables that can be factored into the equation, to keep things simple, just divide the total cost of your cartridge by the number of pages that it will print.

When calculating the cost per page for an average Inkjet printer, it will generally be around 20 cents per page. If you are only printing in black and white, that value can be as low as 8 cents per page.

Laser printers, on the other hand, will present a much less expensive cost per page. Typically, toner cartridges will have a cost of  3 to 6 cents per page depending on the printer model. This, of course, makes it a more attractive option for those who print large quantities of documents and photos every day.

In addition to the cost per page, the lifespan of the printers should also be factored into the ongoing operating costs. Your average inkjet printer should last anywhere from two to three years.  If your business prints in higher volumes and you do not perform regular printer maintenance, that lifespan may even be shorter.

On the other hand, laser printers can often last five years or more depending, of course, on the type of printing you’re doing and the volume of print jobs you’re sending through the printer.  Laser printers will also typically require less maintenance than your average inkjet printer.

So if you just need something to print occasional documents, an Inkjet may be the best bang for your buck. However, if your business is constantly printing a variety of documents and photos, laser printing may be the most cost-efficient option for you.

What About Page Yield?

If you’re looking to print in volume, you need to ensure the printer you’ve purchased is designed for heavy usage. It is also worth considering the page yield of the cartridges your printer uses. In this situation, when comparing ink printers vs laser printers toner cartridges offer a higher page yield than traditional inkjet cartridges.

Toner cartridges can print between 2,000 and 10,000 pages without being replaced, making them the ideal option for big businesses with higher daily print volumes. The large standalone printers found in the middle of a bustling office will always be a laser printer because of the sheer amount of pages it can print without needing new ink. What’s more, they are designed to be more rugged and can withstand years of heavy use.

While many inkjet printers are will produce impressive page yields compared to the printers you could purchase 5 years ago, they still won’t come anywhere near the efficiency of your average laser printer. Basic inkjet printer models will yield anywhere from 130 to 1000 pages before the cartridges run out of ink.

Inkjet vs. Laser – Which Is Faster?

Inkjet print speeds and laser printing speeds are both measured in pages per minute.  The average pages per minute will of course vary depending on the type of printer you’ve bought, the price of the printer, and the features included. However, laser printers will always produce more pages per minute than even the fastest inkjet printer models.

Laser printers are capable of printing between 15 and 100 pages per minute, quickly running off black and white documents and producing high-quality and detailed color images at surprisingly fast speeds. An Inkjet printer, however, is generally limited to up to 20 pages per minute owing to the way in which the device operates. The faster an Inkjet printer works, the lower the quality of the print.

If you’re looking for a machine that can print good quality color and grayscale files quickly, laser printers are ideal for you. The print speeds are impressive, particularly for those looking to print off hundreds, or even thousands of pages in quick succession.

However, if you are looking for a printer that focuses more on detail than print speeds, Inkjet printers are your best bet. Sure, they’re slower, but what these printers lack in speed, they make up for in quality. Inkjet technology is able to produce a much more crisp document, especially when it comes to image printing and high-quality photos.

What Kind of Paper Can Each Printer Use?

Laser printers and Inkjet printers use different kinds of paper because of the way they print. An Inkjet printer requires paper that can absorb ink, whereas a laser printer (much like a copier) needs to use paper that allows for the toner to be applied to its surface.

When using both laser printers and inkjet printers, you should have no trouble using normal, uncoated printer paper. This is your average printer or copy paper that you’re used to seeing in a basic office environment.

Glossy photo paper typically doesn’t work very well with laser printers, as the ink will simply wipe away after being applied to the surface. This is why laser printers are often the preferred option for offices and companies that don’t need to print photos or colorful imagery.

Art studios, design agencies, and any other businesses that need to print high-quality images onto glossy paper or photo paper are probably better off using an inkjet printer that allows the ink to be properly absorbed within the glossy coating.

If you do need to print photos or images using a laser printer there are special types of gloss paper that will work. However, this paper is definitely more of a specialty item, so it’s a bit harder to find and will cost more than your average gloss paper options.

It’s also important to remember specialty paper will not be able to transfer between inkjet and laser printers. Attempting to use the paper interchangeably will always result in a poor-quality print, and the ink is likely to smear and smudge.

Which Printer Type is Best for Photos?

Printing photos and images is something that both laser printers and inkjet printers can do extremely well. However, it’s important to determine the type of photo you are printing before choosing the best printer for the job.

If you are planning to print a professional image like a headshot or professional photography, inkjet printers are usually the best option due to the higher quality and lower cost for materials.

While color laser printers can print in a very high resolution, you won’t be able to use standard photographic paper.  This means that the cost of printing the same document can be considerably higher using a laser printer as opposed to an inkjet printer.

However, if you’re simply printing a lot of documents that include basic images like graphs and reference materials, a laser printer should be able to produce more than adequate quality for your needs.  At the end of the day, both printers will be able to produce high-quality photo prints, the important thing to take into consideration is the cost of those prints.

Which Printer is Best for Documents?

Most office environments really only need a printer that can print black and white documents and the occasional color picture. So when comparing a laser printer vs an inkjet printer, the most important factor here is the print speed.

While quality may not be the primary concern in this scenario, it’s still an important consideration. The quality of black and white printing varies depending on the kind of printer you use, as well as the make and model. At higher volumes, a cheaper inkjet printer might not be able to achieve the kind of detail and quality required for professional usage.

Another consideration with document printing is the number of graphs and charts that may be included with your plain text. While inkjet printers are more than capable of printing graphs, you may find that the quality of those charts becomes degraded as the printer is being used at higher speeds.

One very popular, and low-cost option for offices that print at higher volumes are monochrome laser printers.  Monochrome laser printers are simply laser printers that don’t print in color. Monochrome laser printing is excellent for the traditional office print job, delivering crystal clear quality and defined lines in black and white.

These printers will be on the lower end of the price spectrum and will still have many of the same features as traditional laser printers, they just won’t be able to produce anything in color.

If you do require a laser printer that can print the full-color spectrum, color laser printers are ideal for text and documents, but can also print color photos in acceptable quality. These printers are perfect for printing graphs and small images in color, without compromising on quality or speed.

What About Printer Maintenance?

Another very important thing to take into consideration is printer maintenance and management.  Both laser printers and inkjet printers will require occasional TLC, however, laser printers are going to be a bit easier to deal with when it comes to ongoing management.

One of the biggest issues with inkjet printers is that printheads can become clogged.  When this happens, your prints will be lower quality and your output may even be compromised. Just about every printer will come with features that allow you to clean the printhead, but this process does involve using ink from your cartridge which will, of course, impact your price per page.

Typically, your printer will run through the printhead cleaning operation every time you power it off and on.  But if you go long periods of time without clearing out your printheads, the standard cleaning features may not be enough. In these situations, the best bet is to open your printer and clean the heads using a q-tip and isopropyl alcohol.

Comparatively, laser printers will be a bit easier to maintain.  Since these printers do not use ink, you won’t have to worry about anything clogging. However, depending on the type of laser printer you’ve purchased, you will have to worry about the printer’s duty cycle.

The duty cycle is simply the maximum number of pages that a printer can print within a given month.  Now, this isn’t to say that your printer will stop working after a certain number of prints within a 30 day period.

This number should be looked at as a guideline on how you should gauge your print volume. Your printer won’t stop working if you exceed the printer duty cycle every-once-in-a-while, but if you find yourself regularly exceeding your duty cycle it may be time for an upgrade.

Aside from minding your printer’s duty cycle, the ongoing management and upkeep of a laser printer will be considerably easier than that of an inkjet.

Which Is The Best Type Of Printer For Home Use?

One of the most popular questions that consumers have when comparing inkjet vs laser printers is “which is best printer for home use?”

Unless you are running a business from your home, it’s not likely that you will need the print volume and print speeds that a laser printer offers. Typically, your best bet will be an inkjet printer that is reliable, cost-effective, and relatively easy to maintain.

In most cases, home printers are going to be used to print black and white documents like homework, concert tickets, or other personal documents. There also may be a need to print color documents from time-to-time like family photos and other images.

While a laser printer would be more than capable of handling any of these tasks, it’s not likely that you’ll be printing at a high enough volume to realize the long-term savings.

If you’re considering buying a printer for home use, brands like HP, Epson, and Canon have a variety of great options at every price point.  Here are a few of our favorite options.

  1. HP PageWide Color 755dn
  2. HP OfficeJet Pro 8210
  3. Epson WorkForce ST-4000
  4. Epson Stylus C88+
  5. Canon PIXMA TS8220
  6. Canon PIXMA iP8720

Comparing Average Printer Sizes

One thing that many consumers don’t take into consideration before investing in a printer is the amount of space that they’ll have to store the printer.  Before making a purchasing decision, you should consider where you intend to keep the machine and exactly how much square footage you have to work with.

While technology has improved in recent years allowing laser printers to be manufactured at smaller sizes, your average laser printer is going to take up quite a bit more space than your average inkjet printer.

Laser printers on the smaller end of the spectrum will typically come in at around 30 to 35 pounds and have dimensions of at least 9″ x 15″ x 15″.  Comparatively, your average inkjet printer can weigh as little as 6 to 10 pounds and will only take up a fraction of the space.

The biggest reason for the differences in size is the underlying technology within the machines.  Laser printers have a number of different parts inside including corona wires, photoreceptor drums, and laser assemblies.  While manufacturers have been able to reduce the size and cost of these parts over time, they are still considerably larger than your typical inkjet printhead assembly.

So Which Is Better – Inkjet or Laser Printers?

So when comparing laser printer vs inkjet printers, there really is not a “best option” for everyone. The most important thing to consider is which is the best option for your needs.

If you are in an office environment and you need to print a high volume of documents on a regular basis, a large laser printer is probably your best option.

For a smaller office environment where you don’t need to print very much, a cheap inkjet printer will likely do the job just fine. However, make sure to consider the long-term savings that a laser printer will provide when considering the investment.

If you are an artist, photographer, or in a similar creative field where you need to print off photographs, an Inkjet will always offer superior image quality.  And even though you may need to purchase ink refills more often, you will likely save on other costs like photo paper.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that while a cheap deal on an Inkjet printer might be attractive initially, the quality of the device might mean that it can’t handle heavy usage. This can lead to costly repairs or even a full replacement within a year.

Remember also that if you would prefer to invest in a laser printer, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a large standalone unit that you might be used to seeing in an office environment. There are smaller laser printer units available designed for those on a budget, and who don’t need to print off hundreds of sheets every day.

The key thing to remember is that the higher your initial investment in a printer, the longer the device will last, and the higher volume printing it will be capable of. It might seem like a large initial investment, but it will pay off, in the long run, thanks to cheaper printing costs.

Buying The Perfect Printer

No matter what type of printer you think will work best for your needs, is sure to have something that is perfect for you.  We carry all of the top printer models from brands like HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Brother, and many other well-known manufacturers. We also have the lowest priced original ink and toner options anywhere online.

If you still need any assistance in choosing a printer model for your home or office, feel free to reach out to our helpful sales and support team. They will be able to walk through your needs, your budget requirements, and the different models you’re considering to help you make the best choice.