Understanding the total cost of ownership for your workplace technology.

Cheap does not always mean economical, especially when it comes to printers.

If your interested in the numbers, then here is how to calculate TCO.

Your printers total cost of ownership

Of all the factors to take into account when buying a printer for your small or medium business, the price tag is just one. And its importance fades quickly when you consider total cost of ownership (TCO) factors such as life expectancy, toner costs and downtime.

Printer Buying Basics

Any business purchase starts by identifying how it will be used. For a printer, multi function photocopier or digital press that means:

  • How many pages will you print each month? (Count how many reams of paper you use each month.)
  • How many will be color?
  • How long do you expect to own the printer before you replace it?
  • What other features do you need? Two-sided printing? Envelope printing? Will you print on 11 X 17 paper?

With answers to these questions, you can put together a list of printers that meet your criteria.

Calculating TCO

But don’t buy just yet; you want to calculate the TCO first. Along with the information above, four more variables go into calculating the TCO.

  • The price of the printer.
  • The capacity of the “starter” toner cartridges. That is, how many pages can you print using the cartridge that comes in the box?
  • How much will replacement cartridges cost? What’s their page capacity?
  • Will you buy or lease the printer?

If you have advanced Excel skills, you could plug all of this data into a spreadsheet and produce a bar graph displaying the relative costs of each printer. But here’s how you can do it with a calculator, a piece of paper and a pencil: