Estimating Your Printer Cartridge Capacity
Imagine you’ve finally decided to commit your Instagram reel to paper: you know the cloud won’t last forever, and you want your grandkids to see your photos some day (at least some of them). You’ve just purchased printer ink cartridges in cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, and you’re ready to put all 300 photos onto paper. Maybe you’ll even frame a few.
But you’re starting to wonder—how many pages can an ink cartridge print?
When you’re purchasing ink, you may notice your cartridge has an estimated page yield emblazoned on the front. Unfortunately, if your Epson cartridge advertises a page yield of 450, that doesn’t mean it can actually print 450 whole-page photos—or even half that.
The ink industry has a few tricks when it comes to estimating page yield, but this guide is meant to teach you those tricks so you can get an accurate picture of your printer cartridge’s longevity.
The Truth About Page Yield
When cartridges advertise an estimated page yield, it’s precisely that—an estimate. A number of factors impact the number of pages a cartridge will actually print, and some of them are out of your control. According to Canon, these include:
- The types of documents you print
- The kind of printer and its age
- The print setting you most often use
- Environmental conditions
- The age of the cartridge
- The frequency with which you print
The secret that cartridge and printer manufacturers don’t want you to know is that page yield is calculated by test-printing business documents.
Pull up a business email on your screen, and you’ll realize it may be only a couple of lines. Even a memo has plenty of white space. On average, the test documents used to estimate page yield are covered between 5% to 20% with ink.
That means that if you’re printing out your best friend’s novel, your family photos, or slides from your art history class, you’ll be able to print only a fraction of the number of pages your cartridge’s page yield estimates.
However, even if you are printing business documents, you may not get anywhere close to the page yield. Let’s take a closer look at other factors that may affect the health of your printer.
Age Isn’t Just a Number
When it comes to printers, age matters. Older printers are less efficient than newer printers. Now, many cartridges on the market are compatible with a wide range of printers. However, its page yield is usually arrived at through testing on brand-new printers. If your printer is much older, expect a lower page yield.
The same goes for cartridges themselves. If you have a laser printer, your toner cartridge will never expire. However, inkjet cartridges generally expire after two years, and may dry out before that. This is when replacement cartridges are necessary.
Most printers have several modes and settings you can manipulate to avoid using unnecessary ink and toner. Try:
- Printing black and white documents in “Draft” mode rather than in high resolution
- Checking your settings to avoid including background images when printing from web pages or emails
- Printing in black and white rather than with color cartridges to conserve your color ink cartridge
Know Your Printer
Most homes and offices have either a laser printer or an inkjet printer. These printers use different cartridges (toner and inkjet, respectively), and perform differently over time. Which kind of printer do you use?
If it’s an inkjet, beware that environmental factors may have a greater impact on page yield.
Dry conditions improperly sealed ink cartridges, and infrequent printing may all affect your page yield and print quality. To find out how to maximize the lifespan of your inkjet cartridges, check out our guide on keeping your printer ink from drying out.
Not all Inks are Equal
Now, you have a better sense of how many pages your ink cartridge will probably print. If you know you print more in a year (or a month!) then a single cartridge can handle, it’s helpful to know that not all ink cartridges are alike. For most printers, you have three ink options: regular ink, high yield ink, and ultra-high yield. These can vary quite a bit in page yield.
More Isn’t Always More
While you may be tempted to get the cartridge with the highest possible page yield, consider your printing habits in more detail to get the most out of your cartridge.
- If you print infrequently, and your jobs are usually small, purchase a regular cartridge to avoid issues with printer age, cartridge age, or environmental conditions.
- If you print often and/or print ink-intensive jobs, go ahead and spring for a high yield or ultra-high yield cartridge: you’re likely to max out its capacity before you pass the two-year mark.
The Right Ink at the Right Time
Whatever your ink needs, Supplies Outlet has a toner and ink cartridge that’s right for you. Check out the wide array of regular and high-yield inks, including options for multipacks. Keep your ink costs low while taking advantage of ultra-fast shipping speeds so you never run out of ink again.
Canon. “How Page Yields are Measured.” https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/products/groups/page-measure