Wondering why your inkjet printer’s cartridges aren’t lasting as long?
Instead of ink going onto pages, it’s used to clean print heads and for other maintenance chores, usually when the printer is preparing to print after sitting idle for some time.
Consumer Reports created a new test: 30 pages were printed, in batches of two or three pages, once or twice every day or two, skipping weekends, for three weeks. And testers shut off the printer between sessions – the way many consumers do.
The testing organization found that in intermittent use, many of models delivered half or less of their ink to the page and a few managed no more than 20 to 30 percent.
However, several models that were good performers also used the least ink for maintenance. See the test results at ConsumerReports.org.
Consumer Reports test showed that Brother printers were the most consistently frugal with ink when used intermittently. With other brands, maintenance ink use varied widely depending on the brand line. For example, with HP, the Envy series of printers used relatively little ink for maintenance while HP’s Photosmart series used much more.
While consumers can’t directly control how often a printer maintenance cycle occurs, Consumer Reports says consumers can reduce the number of cycles, and ink consumption, in the following ways:
- Leave the power on. This avoids triggering a maintenance cycle each time you use the printer. Inkjets left on consume little power when not in use, so your ink savings should outweigh the energy cost.
- Print in draft mode for less critical work. This will reduce the amount of ink used in printing.
- Don’t change cartridges unless you have to. Whenever you take out an ink cartridge that still has plenty of ink left in it, for example, if you use a less-costly brand for less critical work, you trigger an ink-consuming initialization cycle.
- Consider buying a laser printer as a second printer for black-and-white, since they don’t use maintenance ink, and they print excellent text.
The intermittent printer ink test report is available in the August 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, available at libraries and bookstores, and online at ConsumerReports.org.