inkjet vs laser

The Inkjet vs Laser printers clash is about to begin. On one side inkjet printers, on the other laser printers. Who will win? Which one will you choose?

Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between inkjet and laser printers? This in depth guide breaks down each type for you by quality, cost, and reliability. Our inkjet vs laser printers rivalry compares the benefits and drawbacks of each type. In order to make your decision easier.

Whether you’re looking for the home or office, this guide will help you decide which is better. The three things to consider when choosing which type are:

  • Print quality. This guide will show you inkjet vs laser printers quality so you can see for yourself which is better.
  • Costs. Your total costs for each type are explained. The most popular models of inkjet and laser printers are compared. How paper effects your costs are also covered.
  • Reliability. Everything you need to know about what can go wrong with each type will be covered. How long they last. What you can expect from each type.

More in depth articles on how an inkjet printer or laser printer works are also found at The Printer Jam. How they work isn’t important for you to decide which is better. But it can provide you a basis for understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

What is an Inkjet Printer?

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

An inkjet printer uses ink to create images or text on paper. They spray tiny drops of ink onto paper. Basically, inkjet printers are just really good at spray painting.

Any printer that sprays liquid ink is considered an inkjet printer. Which are different from printing presses. If you touched press inks they are the consistency of a gel or hand cream.

Inkjet printers use cartridges with a built in printhead. Others have a separate tank connected to the printhead. These are called supertank inkjet printers.

The printhead is the heart of any inkjet printer. The more nozzles and smaller the openings the better. Some printheads use heat. While others use mechanical energy.

Brands you’ve heard of like HP and Canon use the heat method. Epson and Brother use the mechanical method. Both somewhat work the same way.

A resistor or tiny crystal is behind every nozzle. The crystal vibrates instead of using heat to spray out ink. If you look real close at a slow printer you can kind of see the ink being sprayed out.

No matter which method is used, each color has its own printhead. A tri color cartridge has 3 separate tanks and printheads.

An encoder strip is critical for letting the printer know where the printhead is in proximity to the paper. This allows for precise timing of the spraying of ink as it moves back and forth across the paper.

The ink process is simple but it does produce high quality images. Which you will see for yourself in the quality comparisons.

What is a Laser Printer?

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

You’ve experienced static electricity before. Laser printers use an electrostatic process to create images or text on paper. They work on the principle of opposites attract and likes repel.

This principle will get the toner to stick where it should and keep out of the areas it shouldn’t. Finally heat and pressure are used to fuse it to the paper. One customer of mine used keep his coffee and donuts warm by placing them near the exit.

A critical component of any laser process is the photoconductive drum. It’s basically a capacitor that changes to a conductor when exposed to light.

The laser writes an image on the drum. It’s similar to the laser light you use to play with your cat.

In my experience most brands use a write to black method– where the light hits, the toner sticks. The laser can write a negative image too. In the write to white type, the light creates the blank areas.

The difference you can see between them are mainly with halftones. The write to white types I’ve worked on do have slightly bolder text but not as good halftones.

Color printers typically need a drum and developer for each color. Unlike inkjet printers, they don’t make 6, 8, or 12 color laser printers.

You can mix liquids to make more colors of ink. Toner is a dry powder and doesn’t mix as well. Instead they make finer and finer toner to get better quality. If you shook a bottle of yellow toner, it actually looks like a liquid.

Compared with inkjet printers, laser printers have many steps.

Print Quality Overview

The type of printer that will give the best quality completely depend on what you print. Color images or B&W? Text or photos? Certain images do better on one type of printer than another.

In general, an advantage of an inkjet printer is its color print quality. However, laser printers have the advantage when it comes to printing text.

If you print images with a lot of color gradients and smooth backgrounds, inkjet printers will suit you well. Artwork, landscapes, or nature also tend to have the best results from inkjet printers.

For example, these images will not give you good results from laser printers :

inkjet vs laser printers
inkjet vs laser printers

On the other hand, if you print images with sharp edges or solid blocks of color you should consider a laser printer. Charts, graphs, logos, or some graphic art will look good on a laser printer.

Certain maps and engineering drawings with fine lines will also look good with a laser printer. Not that they will look terrible on an inkjet printer, just that these images are easier for a laser printer:

inkjet vs laser printers
inkjet vs laser printers

Types of images that are acceptable from either an inkjet or a laser printer:

  • Images with few fine lines or sharp edges
  • Colors that are broken into smaller parts
  • Images with no large blocks of a single color or gradient

If you print images like these, they will be a challenge for a laser printer though an inkjet printer will do fine:

inkjet vs laser printers
inkjet vs laser printers

An inkjet printer can generally match or exceed the quality of a laser printer. A laser printer can save you some money on larger volume, if a lesser quality is acceptable. Then again, the getting best quality is worth paying more at times.

In order to make web friendly images some loss occurred. However you can still see the difference between inkjet and laser printer quality.

The inkjet printer matched nearly every detail of the image on the monitor. The laser printer didn’t match the colors as well as the inkjet but it was passable quality.

Left side: from a typical 4 color inkjet printer, on good paper. Between the two types, the inkjet was able to match the colors better. The print was slightly darker than the original, which the scan did capture.

Right side: from a typical laser printer. The scan doesn’t look as sharp as the original print. As expected the laser printer did struggle with smooth gradients and matching colors. The scan captured that it was light overall.


Left side: from a typical 4 color inkjet printer, on good paper. The inkjet was able to make an impressive print, the scan doesn’t do it justice. It was slightly darker when held side by side with to monitor. Other than that it was an excellent reproduction.

Right side: from a typical laser printer. Some details in the strawberries were lost in the print but not quite as bad as the scan shows. Red and yellow were a bit strong in the print as well but the scan only amplified it. Overall the print was lighter than it was supposed to be.

As expected, the inkjet printer did better with both images on good paper. While both printers used good paper, you can see the difference were more drastic with the inkjet printer.

Inkjet vs Laser Color Gamut Comparison

Inkjet vs Laser Printer

inkjet vs laser printers
Original

Left side: from a typical 4 color inkjet printer. The colors show smooth transitions from one color to another. There aren’t any banding patters. Overall they are slightly muted or faded. Though you can fix this with better paper.

Use slider to compare

Right side: from a typical 4 color laser printer. Cyan and yellow are brighter than the inkjet. Though the fruit image shows brighter isn’t necessarily better. While the abrupt color transitions and banding pattern are more apparent with the test chart. They are hard to see in the comparison images.


Left side: from the same 4 color inkjet printer, only with better quality paper. If you move both sliders to the right, you can see the difference paper makes. The top and bottom are from the same printer.

Inkjet vs laser
Use slider to compare

Right side: same as above, from the laser printer. While better paper for laser printers does make a difference. The results aren’t as drastic as with inkjet printers.

Examine the smaller dots around the edge. How many distinct colors can you count? Somewhere around 9? Or possibly 10? Neither printer is capable of achieving all 12 colors from the original.

While the laser printer gradients don’t look nearly as good as the inkjet, it virtually ties the inkjet printer for the number of distinct colors. Since they both use a 4 color process their color range or gamut is similar.

If you use an inkjet with even one more color of ink, it would reproduce more distinct colors on the wheel.

Inkjet vs Laser Text Examples

Left side: from a typical 4 color inkjet printer. It’s printed on multipurpose paper. Which soaks up the ink giving it a jagged appearance. This isn’t as quite as obvious at normal size.

Right side: from a typical laser printer. The text isn’t as jagged as the inkjet printer. If it seems lighter, it’s only because the text is thinner. Both have acceptable density.


Left side: from the same inkjet printer, only it is on high gloss paper. Coated paper prevents ink from bleeding into the paper. Though using photo paper for text documents may not be a fair comparison.

Right side: same as above, from the laser printer. The thinner text seems lighter however, with larger or different fonts this isn’t as noticeable at regular size.

Both type printers will print readable, dark text for you. Just as the color print from the laser printer looked good until it was compared with something else. So is text rom an inkjet printer. It looks fine until you hold it side by side with a laser printer. Only then can you see the advantage of a laser printer become apparent.

Magnified Text Comparison

Left side: from a typical 4 color inkjet printer. You can easily see the jagged appearance under magnification.

Inkjet vs laserInkjet vs laser

Right side: from a typical laser printer. Ink and toner are the same shade of black. But no white can be seen through the toner.


Left side: from the same inkjet printer, only with photo paper. You can see the huge difference better paper makes for inkjet printers.

Inkjet vs laser

Right side: same as above, from the laser printer.

It’s clear inkjet printers with photo paper make the best text. But you probably don’t want to spend 48 cents a page. Especially when at regular size the inkjet on photo paper and the laser printer on multipurpose paper are hard to tell apart.

Print Quality Summary

An inkjet printer has the advantage when it comes to color images. A laser printer has the advantage when it comes to printing text.

Still there are images that are fine with a laser printer. Text is perfectly readable from an inkjet printer. These images and comparisons should help clarify the quality difference between the types of printers.

This clarification will inform any decision on which printer is a better fit for your printing needs. What you print most will determine which type is more appealing.

Inkjet vs Laser Cost Overview

The operating costs of each type of printer can be a useful metric for you when deciding which type is better.

Operating costs of a printer are calculated by the cost and yield of its supplies. Supplies includes paper, toner, ink, and any other items that are replaced as routine maintenance.

Ink cartridges tend to cost less than toner cartridges but they need replaced more often. Over time the inexpensive ink cartridges costs will add up to more than toner cartridges.

This usually happens after a few thousand pages. Which type of printer is better for you will depend on how much you print during a printers lifetime.

Operating costs can fluctuate based on these factors:

  • How much color is printed
  • Whether aftermarket supplies are used
  • Type of paper

Most printer reviews calculate operating expenses without paper. This way printer specific costs are compared with each printer.

All things considered, paper costs would be the same no matter which inkjet printer you use so they are left out. The same applies to all laser printer operating costs.

Only when paper costs for inkjet and laser printers are compared is there a difference. This difference will be considered later.

Inkjet vs Laser Cost Analysis

In order to compare inkjet vs laser printer cost differences a level playing field needed. For each type of printer the same color print volume and supply types are used.

All supplies are calculated using OEM and extended life (XL) supplies when available.

In my experience businesses tend to print more B&W than color. Yet many home or small offices print mostly color. This cost comparison uses a home printing model based on 60% color printing and only 40% B&W.

Some brands offer ink or toner programs to you for a monthly fee. While these programs do cap printing costs they aren’t factored into this comparison.

Cost of Inkjet Printers

Your costs for inkjet printers will include ink cartridges and rarely a maintenance kit. Home, office, and a few supertank printers are included in the comparison. While these inkjet printers vary on features, speed, and durability, we’re just looking at ink costs. Features, speed, and durability will effect the initial price.

ModelHP Deskjet 4155Epson Ecotank ET-15000HP OfficeJet 3830Canon Pixma TS3320HP Envy 6055Epson EcoTank ET-2720HP OfficeJet Pro 6978Canon G3260HP OfficeJet Pro 9015Brother MFC-J491DW
Initial Cost$99$600$214$80$140$230$180$200$250$150
1,200 pages $233$600$380$194$237$230$238$200$250$150
2,500 pages $349$600$561$317$421$230$348$200$295$173
6,000 pages $771$600$1047$648$831$244$584$218$540$306
15,000 pages $1,779$639$2296$1510$1867$298$1190$263$976$606
50,000 pages$5699$850$7250$4833$5896$480$3,646$422$2,766$1,670

The numbers on the left represent the total pages printed before selling, replacing, or throwing away the printer. Now, you may think 1,200 pages is a bit low. But some people I talk to tell me they get a new inkjet printer every 6 months. Others could take 10 years to get 1,200 pages out of their inkjet printer.

Then again 50,000 pages seems high. Many businesses I know replace their inkjet printer not long after the warranty is up. Some make it past the 50,000 page mark.

Cost of Laser Printers

To keep it simple laser printer costs use the same range. Your only expense for laser printers are toner cartridges, at least for the first 50,000 pages. Then you may need an image unit if you have a Lexmark or Brother.

You probably won’t need a fuser for a long time. Fusers last between 120,000 to 250,000 pages. You can buy a new printer for nearly the cost of a fuser in many cases.

Just like inkjet printers, not all these printers have the same features. Which is reflected by the difference in initial price. Laser printer operating costs are more consistent than inkjet printers.

ModelHP Laserjet M281Canon MF644CdwBrother MFC-L3770CdwLexmark MC3224iHP Laserjet M476fdwCanon MF741cdwBrother MFC-L8900CdwLexmark MC2535adweHP Laserjet M255dwXerox VersaLink C405
Initial Cost$700$399 $399 $350$649$489$550$600$329$900
1,200 pages $700 $399 $399 $350$649$489$550$600$329$900
2,500 pages $700 $467$474$575$649$489$550$600$329$900
6,000 pages $979$684$687$994$1,049$1,110$858$954$632$1,750
15,000 pages $2,026$1,696$1,677$1,960$1,351$1,550$1,535$1,510$1,623$2,379
50,000 pages$5,123$4,723$4,655$5,716$4,617$4,151$3,935$3991$4,642$5,830

Your supply yields and cost will change depending on the model. Yet many laser printers work out to roughly the same cost per page.

It would be rare to get rid of a laser printer after printing only 1,200 pages. The lower end is included just to compare with inkjet printers.

The middle figures have the most overlap between inkjet and laser printers. As for the high end of the scale, laser printers can last much longer than 50,000 pages. Some can handle that many pages per month.

Cost of Paper

TypeCopy PaperMulti-purpose PaperColor PaperGlossy Color PaperInkjet only>Photo PaperProfessional Photo Paper
Cost per page.012.013.019.029.37.62
1,200 pages $14$16$23$35$438$744
2,500 pages $30$34$48$73$913$1,550
6,000 pages $72$78$114$174$2,190$3,720
15,000 pages $180$195$285$435$5,475$9,300
50,000 pages$600$650$950$1,450$18,250$31,000
For an explanation of the different types of paper, copy, laser, inkjet, and even transfer paper are covered.

These figures show how your paper costs are minimal for a laser printer. Compared to your costs with photo paper for inkjet printers. How much photo paper you use will drastically change the operating costs.

For laser printers, the glossy color paper is the best you can get. Photo paper and professional photo paper are for inkjet printers only. The coating on those papers will not work in a laser printer.

As we saw in the text comparison, good photo paper makes great text. Still it would be very expensive for you to print documents on photo paper. There is usually some mix between multi-purpose paper and the good stuff to save you on printing costs.

In the paper cost comparison, inkjet printers will use photo paper 20% of the time and use multi-purpose 80% of the time. Since laser printers can’t use photo paper, they will substitute the coated color paper. Laser printers will use coated color paper 60% of the time and multi-purpose paper 40% of the time.

ModelHP Officejet Pro 9015Epson Ecotank ET-15000HP Envy 6055Canon Pixma TS3320HP Deskjet 4155<Inkjet Laser>Canon Image CLASS MF644CdwHP LaserJet Pro M255dwBrother MFC-L3770CdwHP Color LaserJet Pro M479fdwLexmark MC3224i
Initial Cost$250$600 $140 $80$99$399$329$399$649$350
1,200 pages $351 $702 $338$295$334$426$356$426$676$377
2,500 pages $506 $811$632$528$560$531$386$524$706$632
6,000 pages $1,046$1,106$1,337$1,154$1,277$822$767$819$1,184$1,129
15,000 pages $2,242$1,905$3,133$2,766$3,045$2,015$1,962$2,035$1,690$2,299
50,000 pages$6,889$5,030$10,116$7,248$9,919$5,785$5,772$5,853$5,747$6,846

Cost Summary

Your total cost of ownership includes the initial cost of the printer plus supplies over its lifetime. Whether you can spread the initial cost out over 1,200 or 50,000 pages will determine your cost per page.

The longer you can keep a printer the lower your cost per page.

You can see differences between inkjet and laser printing costs are mostly influenced by paper costs. The type of paper you use has more of an impact for inkjet printers. Often brands don’t use paper that costs 37 cent per page when advertising their cost per page.

In the cost analysis supertank printers emerge as the lowest total cost of ownership. They’re quite an anomaly on the chart.

Some inkjet printers can be extremely inexpensive at lower volumes with cheap paper. But your costs eventually invert at higher volumes. Making laser printers very cost effective for larger volumes.

While supplies for a laser printer are more expensive, the higher yields will eventually make up for it. Eventually.

At low volumes and with cheap paper, you won’t notice the difference in operating costs as much. An inexpensive inkjet printer only using a couple reams of paper a year is a cheap way to print.

How much printing you plan on doing will impact which type of printer is better.

Reliability Overview

When you’ve been working with printers as long as I have you learn to love them. That or go crazy. I understand why most people totally hate printers and wonder why they have so many problems.

The problems with either type of printer fall into these three categories in my experience:

  • Print quality issues
  • Paper jams
  • Error codes

Most print quality issues for inkjet or laser printers are typically resolved by supply items. Common points of failure for both types of printers are inkjet or toner cartridges.

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) supplies tend to have few issues. They are more likely to have prorated warranties based on usage and may be easier for you to get exchanges.

Aftermarket brands cost much less than OEM but are prone to have more issues. Their warranties sometimes only last 30 or 90 days from purchase. Getting exchanges may be difficult.

Problems with a print driver or the original file can sometimes cause your print quality issues.

Issues with a laser or LED unit are rare. In my experience if those units are going to fail they usually fail within the warranty period.

Quality issues from an encoder strip on an inkjet printer is also rare. It does need cleaned after tens of thousands of prints or sooner if your printer is prone to overspray.

Paper Jams

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

The next most common issues with both types of printers are paper jams.

Paper jams can be more frustrating than print quality issues. Tips on avoiding them in both types of printers include:

  • Keep paper stored in a way that avoids humidity
  • Fan the stack of paper before loading it in a printer
  • Keep paper stored flat to avoid curl

Laser printers are warm enough that humidity generally isn’t a problem for paper in the paper trays. It’s how paper is stored before it gets in the printer that causes issues.

Too much humidity in the paper is bad for both types of printers. If you live in high humidity area use sealed storage containers for paper that is not going to be used promptly.

Also, if paper is stored on an uneven surface it will retain that shape and tend to jam. Especially if your printing two sided.

You can clear paper jams easier with an inkjet. They tend to have simpler paper paths. Laser printer jams can hide from you in several access points.

Printer Errors

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

This is a catch all for anything from printer offline to hardware errors.

You will have errors from time to time with both types of printers. Many times errors go away after you reboot, reseat supplies, or clear a paper jam that’s obstructing a moving part.

Both inkjet and laser printers are susceptible to losing WiFi connectivity; although laser printers seem to wake up from inactivity more reliably than inkjet printers.

Laser printers consume more power than inkjet printers in sleep mode and are less likely to need rebooted.

Neither inkjet or laser printers are more prone to fatal errors in my experience.

Inkjet Printer Maintenance

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

As far as what can go wrong with your inkjet printer, they have few moving parts. Apart from the printhead little goes wrong with them.

Over time ink overspray builds up inside an inkjet printer. This can cause issues with the encoder strip or rollers tracking ink on the paper.

Compared to laser printers though, inkjets do require more user intervention. You will need to replace ink cartridges often. Also printheads need aligned or cleaned from time to time.

Inkjet printer drivers usually have a maintenance tab which has a list of items:

  • Alignment
  • Head Cleaning
  • Deep Cleaning
  • Nozzle check
  • Roller cleaning
  • Bottom plate cleaning

Cleanings, alignment, and a nozzle check are simple tasks. Good instructions are usually included for you by the manufacturer. These maintenance items only need done if there’s a problem, which is rare.

Roller or bottom plate cleaning is just feeding paper. It’s kind of useless to be honest.

Supertank printers seem to need less maintenance. The printheads don’t need aligned as much as other inkjet printers. You add ink when it’s new. Then it will be a long time before you need to do it again.

Rarely a printer will have a maintenance kit. If a printer has one you won’t need to replace it often. Some last the lifetime of the printer, some need changed only a couple times.

Laser Printer Maintenance

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

Your laser printer maintenance mostly involves replacing toner cartridges. Toner generally lasts thousands of pages instead of ink which lasts hundreds. You won’t need to add toner as frequently as ink cartridges.

Though adding an ink cartridge can be easier than removing an image unit. Then separating the drum unit from the toner cartridge. Then replacing the toner cartridge. Finally putting everything back together again. Looking at you Brother.

In Brother’s defense, separate units are very cost effective. Also, you would only have to go through it a few times a year. As opposed to adding an ink cartridge every couple of weeks.

Unlike inkjet printers, supply items for laser printers vary greatly depending on the model. These supply items need replaced only a few times or possibly never depending on the model.

  • Drum
  • Developer
  • Toner
  • Fuser
  • Transfer unit
  • Waste toner

HP toner cartridges generally include the drum, developer, toner, and waste toner. Whereas Brother generally separates them.

The drum is part of the image unit, while the toner and developer are part of the toner cartridge. This is a generalization though, brands change configurations from one model to another.

Brands will list the supplies you will need on it’s product page or on the box. Some online retailers are better than others about which supplies are necessary. For most retail printers toner cartridges, whatever parts are included, are the main supply item.

Inkjet vs Laser Printer Longevity

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

People often ask, how long will my inkjet or laser printer last? It depends, anywhere between 20,000 pages to over a million. A printer is only as good as its weakest link.

In the retail market inkjet or laser printers have few, if any, serviceable parts. When a part wears out you have to replace the printer.

Printers with serviceable parts can last as long as worn out parts can be replaced. Printers without replaceable parts won’t last much longer than the first part to wear out.

The weakest link in an inkjet or laser printer is the paper feed rollers. This will be the first part that’s going to give out on you for either type. Most printers have a paper feed roller that can last roughly 50,000 pages. The smallest ones last around 20,000 pages.

inkjet vs laser printers

They’re a lot like tires on your car. Once the tread wears down things will start slipping. The bigger the diameter of the roller, the more surface area. Which means it will last longer.

Most manufacturers tend to over estimate how long their feed rollers last. They may tell you the life is 100,000 pages but in my experience after 50,000 paper jams will be more frequent.

How long your average inkjet printer will last boils down to a few items. If your printer has serviceable paper feed rollers and cleaning station. It can last as long as a laser printer if replacement parts are available.

How long your average laser printer will last boils down to feed rollers, image units, and a fuser. If those parts are available, there’s no reason your printer can’t make 1 million pages.

Summary

For inkjet vs laser printers quality, the images speak for themselves. Inkjet printers can produce great quality print and text as long as you use good quality photo paper.

Laser printers make excellent text and are better suited for business color. Meaning charts, graphs, logos, or simple graphic arts.

Your printer costs largely depend on the type of supplies and paper.

If you use only cheap paper in an inkjet, it can keep costs down. But the quality will not be the greatest. Which defeats the purpose of getting an inkjet printer.

Laser printers operating costs are generally lower. But you won’t notice the difference until you print ten of thousands of pages.

Neither has any overall problems that make a big difference between inkjet and laser printer reliability.

Your average printer will occasionally have a paper jam, issues with WiFi, or not printing a specific document for any apparent reason.

Both types of retail printers have one weakness in that paper feed rollers are not serviceable.

Pros and Cons

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

Inkjet printer pros and cons:

Excellent print quality
Low initial cost
Slow print speeds
Expensive paper

Laser printer pros and cons:

Faster print speeds
Low maintenance
Average print quality
Expensive supplies

Final Thoughts

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

Inkjet printers have the best results if quality is a priority. Laser printers have good outcomes with large volumes of text. If cost savings is the most important a supertank inkjet printer will have the best results.

Print volume shouldn’t steer you toward one type of printer or the other. Unless your volume exceeds 50,000 a month. Though it will help choose one model over another. Not many inkjet printers are designed to handle that volume.

The intended use for a printer has the greatest impact on which printer to choose.

Bottom line:

In our inkjet vs laser printers clash, we’ve gone over quality, costs, and reliability. Each type of printer has its own strengths and weaknesses. Which type of printer wins will ultimately depend on the purpose of your printing needs.

FAQ

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

Which type of printer gives the best quality?

For color images, inkjet printers are best. Grayscale images are also better with inkjet printers. Text is better with laser printers.

Which ink is cheaper laser or inkjet?

While inkjet printers take ink and laser printers take toner, toner is slightly cheaper. For example, an HP 58x toner cartridge costs $232.99 and contains 375g of toner. Compared with a HP 962xl black ink cartridge which costs $20 and contains 47.86 ml of ink. In general toner costs .621 per gram and ink cost .836 per mL.

Which is more expensive inkjet or laser?

If you mean printers, laser printers are typically more expensive than inkjet printers to buy. For operating costs, inkjets tend to cost more per page. So laser printers will eventually make up the difference in time.

Which printer is best for home use laser or inkjet?

This will largely depend on what you print and your budget. If cost is your priority, get a supertank inkjet printer. For print quality get a good photo inkjet printer. If your print volume is above 500 pages per month, a laser printer is a good compromise on cost and quality plus it will last longer than a typical inkjet printer.

What are the disadvantages of a LED printer?


The only issue I’ve seen with a LED unit is toner dust can build up on them. After several hundred thousand pages (or 10 years) it will need cleaned otherwise prints will be light. Pretty much the same as a laser printer.

FAQ Specific to Laser Printers

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

What are the advantages of a laser printer?

1. They can print faster.
2. Toner doesn’t dry out.
3. They will last longer than an inkjet printer.
4. Toner doesn’t need replaced as often as ink cartridges.

What are the disadvantages of a laser printer?

1. Color print quality isn’t as good when compared with an inkjet printer.
2. Their initial cost tends to be more than an inkjet printer.

What can go wrong with a laser printer?

The most likely issue you will run into with a laser printer is a toner cartridge causing a print quality issue. Just about every manufacturer offers a prorated warranty for those cases. Better ones will exchange the cartridge.
Other than that they are very reliable. In the extremely unlikely event a PCB’s (printed circuit board) or laser unit fails. It has been my experience that if something is going to fail it usually happens very early, well within the warranty period.
Other issues apply to both types of printer. Offline, won’t print, paper jams, etc.

Are laser printers better for infrequent use?

Yes, a laser printer does fine with infrequent use. Toner does not dry out or expire. The only concern is having it plugged in and not using it for a year or so. Hot fusers can get a flat spot. Inactive printers are fine. For instance, printers that get deployed with troops sometimes sit in storage for a year. They usually print fine when used.

FAQ Specific to Inkjet Printers

Inkjet vs Laser Printers

What are the disadvantages of inkjet printers?

1. While an ink cartridge costs less than a toner cartridge, the price per page of inkjet printers costs more. After printing a few thousand pages, this is more apparent.
If you only print less than a few thousand pages before discarding an inkjet printer you won’t notice the difference.
2. Ink can dry out and clog the printhead. It will need replaced or cleaned
3. Retail inkjet printers aren’t meant to be serviced. Once the feed rollers wear out or get coated in ink, it’s time for a new printer.
4. Good paper for inkjet printers costs much more than for laser printers.

copier guy

The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I have certificates from Canon, Xerox, Ricoh, Kyocera, Lexmark, HP, and Konica Minolta. My experience includes other brands as well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.

Inkjet vs laser printers

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