Cost vs convenience: is it worth having your own printer?

You would probably have to print at least 200 pages a year to make it financially worth having your own printer.

It can be handy to have a printer at home, but how often do you actually use it? When you consider the purchase price, plus the cost of paper, ink and electricity, it could be cheaper just to pop to the local copy shop when you need to print something. 

So when is it worthwhile to have a home printer? The Freiburg Eco-Institute in Germany has a clear answer: "If you print less than 200 pages a year, it is more economical to go to the copy shop," says Jens Groeger.

Taking into account the typical purchase price of a printer and its average four-year lifespan, as well as the other costs mentioned above, printing 100 pages a year will cost you around €0.40 (RM1.88) per page.

If you print 300 pages a year, that cost falls to US$0.13 (RM0.55). The cost per page in a copy shop is around US$0.05 (RM0.21) to US$0.10 (RM0.42). Of course, if you have to drive to the copy shop, the cost savings could quickly disappear.

If you only print rarely but don't have a copy shop around the corner, Dirk Lorenz from German consumer goods tester Stiftung Warentest recommends getting a simple black-and-white laser printer or a basic inkjet device.

But before you buy, you should consider the cost of the ink cartridges, which are often as expensive as the printer itself.

Even when not being used, a printer can be costing you money. This is because the ink nozzles can clog up when not in use. "After six weeks of non-printing, some printers in a test cost up to €10 (RM48.20) to clean," Lorenz says.

If you don't have a copy shop nearby and don't want to spend money buying a printer, "you could share a WLAN printer with a neighbour," Lorenz says. That would halve the costs, but would only work for well-organised people.

And a copy shop is not only a good option for occasional printers - it could also work for those who print a lot, Groeger says.

One reason is time. Copy shop printers are a lot faster than home ones and can handle double-sided printing or special formats quickly. Who has the time to wait while the domestic printer spits out 100 pages? dpa


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