Are laser printers better for infrequent use? [EXPLAINED]

If you’re planning on getting a new printer for your home or office, you need to consider several things such as price, print speed, resolution, and maintenance cost. But when deciding between an inkjet printer and a laser printer the main factor to consider is how often you will be using the printer.

Compared to inkjet printers, laser printers are better for infrequent/occasional use because they use a long-lasting toner that doesn’t dry out fast. This means you don’t have to worry about the cost and inconvenience of constantly replacing ink cartridges or clogged printhead nozzles when the printer has sat unused for a long time.

The initial cost of purchasing a laser printer is usually higher compared to that of an inkjet printer, but in the long run, it is much cheaper to run a laser printer. If you don’t need colored prints (i.e if you mostly print text and documents), it is much more economical to get a monochrome (black and white) laser printer as compared to a colored laser printer.

How long a laser printer can sit unused

laser printer sitting unused

Laser printers can sit unused for about 2 years since their toner is usually in powder form and doesn’t dry out. However, after sitting idle for too long the print quality might not be the same once it resumes printing. This is because changes in humidity and temperature tend to clump up the toner, resulting in print defects such as color imbalances and fading.

Therefore, if you intend to leave your laser printer unused for a long time, you should make sure the toner is stored away from extreme temperatures and moisture. 

Also, if a toner warranty is of concern make sure you check the warranty duration that comes with your toner to ensure it covers it for the duration you intend to store the toner. Most original manufacturer warranties cover your toner for a period of 90 days.

Reliability of laser printers compared to inkjet printers

Laser printers are not necessarily more reliable than inkjet printers nor are inkjet printers more reliable than laser printers. Reliability in both types of printers depends primarily on the build quality of the printer itself as well as how it is used and maintained rather than the technology behind it.

For example, a printer with flimsy pull-out trays and weak inner reinforcements will generally be less reliable than one with sturdy pull-out trays and heavy, metal reinforcements. 

Printers that are squeaky or very noisy could indicate that they experience a lot of friction in their various moving parts and will wear out fast. A lot of vibration in a printer during operation is also a sign of an unreliable printer. 

Besides just the build quality, you also need to consider other different factors between laser printers and inkjet printers in order to decide which one you should get. The table below shows a comparison between the two types of printers:

Laser vs Inkjet Printer Comparison Table

Laser PrinterInkjet Printer
Printing SpeedAre very fast at printing text and documents in large volumes.They are generally slower at printing lots of pages compared to laser printers.
Print QualityPrint quality is best when it comes to printing text and documents but not color photos.Print high-quality color images and photos even for commercial purposes.
Printer SizeHave a larger footprint and thus require more space and are harder to carry around.Have a smaller footprint, even with a built-in scanner, and need less space.
Cost of RunningHave a high cost when purchasing but are cheaper to operate in the long run.They have a cheaper initial cost of buying but you spend more on ink cartridges.
DurabilityDepends on usage as well as build quality.Depends on usage as well as build quality.

Are laser printers cheaper to use in the long run?

It is clear that laser printers have a high initial cost when compared to inkjet printers. But the question is whether this high initial cost saves you money in the long run.

Compared to inkjet printers, laser printers are cheaper to use in the long run. This is because a laser toner, also known as a laser printer cartridge, can print significantly more pages than any inkjet cartridge. This means laser toner cartridges don’t have to be replaced often, thus saving you a lot of money.

On average, an inkjet cartridge can print about 350 pages before it needs to be replaced. On the other hand, an ordinary laser toner cartridge can print up to 3,000 pages while a high-yield toner can print 6,000 pages or more. This significantly reduces the cost of running a laser printer in the long run.

Things that can go wrong with a laser printer

Similar to inkjet printers, lots of things can go wrong with laser printers. However, once the problem is identified you can take the necessary steps to correct the situation. Some of the things that can go wrong with a laser printer include:

  • Paper jams
  • Low toner
  • Wrinkled paper
  • Skewed images
  • Failed/worn-out Fuser
  • Worn out gears
  • Misaligned paper trays
  • Crooked guides and rollers

Taking steps such as replacing depleted laser toner cartridges, aligning paper guides, and replacing worn-out gears and rollers can prevent paper jams, skewed images, and low-quality prints. You can learn more about problems associated with laser printers as well as their causes and solutions here.

How often a laser toner should be replaced

Unlike an inkjet cartridge, a laser toner cartridge does not need to be replaced often because it doesn’t dry out. The lifespan of a toner is limited by its page yield which is usually printed on the toner itself or the packaging it comes with.

A laser toner cartridge should be replaced if you notice a drop in the quality of the print produced. For example, if the printed pages come out too faded or you notice that there is a color imbalance.

How often you should replace your laser toner is dependent on the page yield of the toner, how frequently you print, and if there are defects in the quality of the print.

Why laser printers are so expensive

Laser printers are more expensive than inkjet printers because the technology they employ is faster, more advanced, and more reliable. In addition, they utilize more hardware components when carrying out the complex process of transferring dry toner powder onto a precise location on a paper and then fusing it in place.

This also explains why they are much larger and bulkier than inkjet printers.


Laser printers are the best choice for people who print occasionally because they use a laser toner cartridge that never dries up. 

This allows those who print a few pages every once in a while to switch on their printer and immediately start printing without worrying about dried-up cartridges or clogged print heads.

Eustace G.
Eustace G.
Eustace is a technology enthusiast and avid gamer who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.


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