“What does it cost?”
This is perhaps the fundamental question that encompasses every material good or service on the market.
With printers/copiers, there is no unequivocal answer that can be applied to every machine or work environment. Instead, like most things, it depends on your situation.
But as a long-time print vendor that knows how important it is to address pricing upfront and transparently, we’re going to break down the main factors that go into the price of a printer, before setting expectations on what you could pay if you decide to buy one.
There is a lot that goes into the final cost of a printer, and it will not be the same at every vendor, print provider or retail store you choose from.
Furthermore, what you pay for the machine will depend on whether you choose to purchase it outright or lease it, something we will get into more later on.
As you’ll see throughout the article, there is an abundance of caveats and plenty of situation-specific stipulations that will play a determinative role in how much you ultimately pay for your device.
But let’s first start with the basics: What goes into the pricing of a printer?
4 Factors That Go into the Price of a Printer
Before getting into the four factors that construct the foundation of pricing in the printer industry, it must be noted that these will not be the only elements to consider when discussing the price of a printer.
The total cost of ownership (TCO) of a printer can change from consumer to consumer and depends on many components, such as what services or accessories you want to add.
The total cost of ownership considers the price of the machine and everything else that it takes to operate, such as supplies, services, and even more subtle things like energy usage and security.
To keep things concise, though, we are going to discuss the four main factors you need to know about what goes into the cost of the machine itself:
Type of Printer
Arguably the most predominant factor that goes into the cost of a printer is the type of printer you choose, usually either a single-function or multifunction printer for most offices.
Single-function printers are print-only machines and will normally be cheaper and smaller than multifunction devices.
Multifunction printers are larger machines that can print, copy, scan and fax and are built to act as an all-in-one office printing solution, which means they can fit the needs of workplaces that want one machine to do multiple tasks.
Deciding whether you need a single-function or multifunction device depends on what you desire in your ideal printer and whether you need more than just the print function.
If you need a multifunction machine to serve as your office’s printer, you should expect to pay more for it, since that one device acts as your copier, scanner and fax machine, in addition to its printing duties.
Read our blog on what a multifunction printer is and how it differs from a regular printer to learn more.
Monthly Print Volume
Another crucial element that helps determine the cost of a printer is how much the machine can safely print per month, or what’s called its recommended monthly print volume.
A printer’s recommended monthly print volume will go a long way in determining which machine is right for you, and ultimately, the price you will pay for the machine.
The recommended monthly print volume of a printer is the main measuring stick to figuring out how much somebody can print or copy in a month. That’s why almost every printer in the marketplace will list a specific recommended monthly print volume under their machine’s basic specifications.
The estimated monthly print volume gives you a range to go off, rather than just trying to guess at which machine could handle your company’s print capacity.
The higher the monthly print volume, the more expensive the printer will be, which is why it’s a central pricing element for printers.
Read our blog on why print volume is important when choosing a printer to learn more.
Maintenance and Supplies
The third major factor that makes up the total cost of a printer is the supplies the machine needs to function and the parts necessary to execute your basic printing goals.
Supplies make up part of the monthly payment that you will pay during your printer ownership period, no matter if you lease or purchase the machine (more on this later).
Some consumers opt for automatic toner shipments as a part of their maintenance contract, which is usually around $12 a month, and that adds to the total cost of ownership once you purchase the printer.
Purchasing supplies, mainly toner and ink cartridges, contribute significantly to the total cost of ownership of a printer, no matter if you buy it yourself or have them shipped to you by your print provider.
Maintenace also works into the final pricing point for printers. Maintenance work is usually included as a part of the maintenance contract and serves as insurance for repair issues your machine might experience during your ownership period.
The last of the four major pricing factors is a broad category encompassing all the added features and accessories you may want to include with your machine.
These accessories can include print finishing options, such as staple and hole punch, applications for your printer or extra paper trays, among many others.
Adding accessories to your printer will increase the cost of your machine, sometimes by a substantial margin depending on what you add.
For more information on additional printer accessories, read these blogs:
How Much Should You Expect to Pay for a Printer?
Now that we’ve gone over the four main factors that go into the overall cost of the printer, let’s address the ultimate question: How much does a printer cost?
To break down the cost of a printer in the most precise way possible, we’re going to be providing a price range for small, medium and large-sized businesses for both leasing and purchasing.
Before getting into pricing, the numbers you will see in subsequent sections are based on workgroup size and volume, with no additional accessories or maintenance plans added.
This is to give you a feel for the minimum amount you would be paying for the printer itself at a basic usage level, since additional accessories, while common, are optional and aren’t required to be added.
With that out of the way, let’s go over the cost for each sized workgroup, starting with the small ones:
Printer Cost for Small Workgroups
For teams of five individuals or less who print about 1,200 pages per month, a color printer will cost around $99 per month and a black and white machine will be around $79 per month if you choose the leasing option.
If you’re a small workgroup and decide to purchase a printer outright, either color or black-and-white, you could expect a range of $1,000-$2,600.
Printer Cost for Medium Workgroups
For teams of 10 individuals or less, that print around 5,000 pages per month, a color printer will cost $265 per month and a black and white machine will cost $163 per month if leasing.
If you want to purchase a printer built for medium-sized workgroups outright, you would be looking at a range of $4,500-$9,300.
Printer Cost for Large Workgroups
For businesses with 20 employees or less that print about 10,000 pages per month, a color printer will start at $535 per month and a black and white machine will start at $322 per month under a standard lease agreement.
Purchasing a machine for large workgroups outright would yield a price range of $7,500-$16,000.
It must be restated that these are estimated numbers generated so you can understand what a printer might cost you based on workgroup size and volume.
But every situation is different, and there are hidden costs, such as property taxes and an insurance fee, that you might incur during your ownership of a printer.
But if you’re looking to lease or purchase a printer, find the workgroup size relevant to you and use the prices discussed in this article as a starting point for what you might pay for your next printer/copier.
Monthly Printer Payment Structure
The previous section covered the cost of the machine itself, but part of the total cost of owning a printer lies in its usage fees (cost per print or copy) and maintenance fees.
Both the usage fees for printing and maintenance fees for supplies and service are customary charges for printers, no matter if you decide to lease or purchase the machine. It’s much like paying for a car, where you have to pay for gas and oil changes in addition to your car payment.
Because of that, it’s important for you to know how much you could be paying for printing and maintenance even after you’ve purchased the machine.
Below are monthly price breakdowns for printing and maintenance for the purchasing and leasing options:
If you opt to purchase your machine, below is what you can expect to see on your monthly invoice:
Maintenance Fee: Around $10-$30 per month
Black-and-White Prints: Around $0.0079-$0.03 per page
Color Prints: Around $0.05 - $0.30 per page
If you decide to lease your machine, below is what you can expect to see on your monthly invoice:
Base Lease Payment: Around $79-$535 per month
Maintenance Fee: Around $10-$30 per month
Black-and-White Prints: Around $0.0079 - $0.03 per page
Color Prints: Around $0.05 - $0.30 per page
These numbers can differ dramatically depending on the type of machine you have, the supplies it takes and the types of prints you are making.
However, you can think of these estimates as a baseline for what your monthly payment could be, including maintenance, usage and your base lease payment if you decided to lease your machine.
Read our blog on leasing vs. purchasing a printer/copier to learn more about which option would be best for you.
See the infographic below for a monthly price breakdown example for purchasing and leasing a printer:
Want a Free Guide to Purchasing the Right Printer?
There’s a ton that goes into the final price of a printer, and the true answer when it comes to what you will pay for your next machine is based on your requirements, goals and ideal features.
But what this blog does is it gives you a baseline price range to work off of, so you’re not lost on how much you need to budget for, no matter if you want to purchase or lease your next machine.
There’s still a lot to go over before you can press “Buy” on the right machine for your business, though.
What is your budget for office equipment?
What is your monthly print volume?
How many daily users do you have?
What additional accessories do you need?
These are pivotal questions to answer before you can figure out which machine will suit your printing needs for the long haul.
If we were to leave you with one word of advice about making the right printer purchase, it’s to take the time to educate yourself before dropping significant money on a machine.
Many consumers opt to purchase a machine unequipped to handle their print volume, failing to conduct enough research to know otherwise. The result is having to pay more for a replacement printer that they should have bought the first time around.
The best way to avoid that scenario is to educate yourself now, so you won’t have to figure out what went wrong later.
Read through our free Guide to Purchasing or Leasing a Printer to take the next step on becoming as informed as possible to make the best office equipment purchase for your situation.