How to Calculate Cost Per Page
Forecasting and maintaining your printing costs is not easy, yet it’s an important task if you want to limit the amount you spend whilst still getting an office printer to suit your needs.
Over a printer's lifetime, the running costs will generally dwarf the upfront purchase price. So if you’re looking to buy a new printer, it’s important to work out what it will cost to run before you make your purchase.
Having said that, it’s more important to find the right printer for your needs. So start by deciding what features you need, and forget about limiting costs for now. You have to meet your office requirements, so you might as well address those first.
Printer running costs, ink and toner
Once you've determined your printer requirements and have some models in mind, you can start investigating printing costs. Begin by checking the cost of ink or toner cartridges. Manufacturers make their profits on these, so cheaper printers often have higher running costs.
To roughly calculate the cost per page, divide the price of an ink or toner cartridge by the number of pages the manufacturer says it should cover. However, these figures can be unrealistic. Printer manufacturers base their figures on 5% of each printed page being covered in ink. In reality a full page of text is usually closer to 10%.
The same problem affects any 'cost per page' figures that manufacturers quote, so always take these it a very large pinch of salt.
Accurately forecast the cost per page
If you know the format and layout of pages you will be printing (such as a company letterhead or marketing brochure), you can use page coverage software like APFill to predict the cost per page for printing in your company.
This will help you find the best value printer for your business’ needs – no matter whether you need to do lots of colour printing, or need standalone, high-volume black cartridges for more general printing. Combine the running cost with the initial printer purchase price to build a clearer picture of how much the printer will cost your business overall.
Monitor your printing costs
Once you’ve bought your new printer, see if it comes with printer maintenance or counting software to monitor how many pages you get from each ink or toner cartridge. With time, this will allow you to predict when you need to buy replacement cartridges.
Calculating your printing costs (cost/page)
There are a couple different ways you can figure out the cost-per-page on any given printer or copier. You can run a print assessment using print management software, which runs tests to gather data and provide you a pretty accurate assessment on your specific device. However, if you’re looking at purchasing a device this isn’t the best solution to get you a better gauge on the impacts that one machine may have over another on your bottom line. For that, you have to take a more manual approach to get that estimate.
The cost-per-print calculations vary by device and manufacturer, so determining the printer manufacturer and model number is an important first step. If you’re browsing out database of machines, you’ll find that here: (screenshot)
or on the machine, in the manual or, (if this is a printer you have access to on your computer), via your computer’s control panel.
Most manufacturers share their page yield figures on their website and most times on the side of their toner cartridge packaging, which makes it pretty easy to get these numbers even if you don’t have access to the machine or toner cartridge itself. Manufacturers test these by either:
- printing a text document that uses toner to cover about 5% of the page over and over again until the toner cartridge (black) is empty, or
- by printing a document that combines text and graphics using toner that covers about 20% of the page until each cartridge (black and colors) are empty.
Next, look online or at manufacturer websites to get an average cost for replacement cartridges. With this info, you’ll finally be able to calculate your cost-per-print for black and white prints and color prints.
For black and white:
- Divide the cost of the toner cartridge by the page yield.
Toner Cost Cartridge ÷ Page Yield = Cost-Per-Print
EXAMPLE: 79.99 ÷ 2200 = 0.036
- Divide the cost of the color cartridge by the color page yield, then multiply by 3, and finally add the black and white cost per print you found above.
[((Toner Cartridge Cost ÷ Color Page Yield) x 3) + Black and White Cost-Per-Print = Color Cost-Per-Print
EXAMPLE: [(109.99 ÷ 2600) x 3] + 0.036 = 0.163
While this method isn’t the most accurate, it should give you a pretty clear estimate as you consider machines for purchase. Of course, there are additional factors that can sway these results, like:
- The type of cartridge you select for your math
- The testing performed by manufacturers on toner cartridges
- Choosing a refilled or How to reset Cartridgecartridge
- The test documents themselves which can differ from what the user might print
- The age of the printer
- The environmental location of the printer
- How often the printer is used
- And More
Once you’ve purchased your new printer, see if it comes with printer maintenance or counting software to monitor how many pages you get from each ink or toner cartridge. With time, you’ll find this simple math updated with numbers you’ve gathered from experience will help you to be able to predict and budget for future printing-related expenses. Or consider stepping things up with something more robust like print management software.