Which Is Better for Home Office Use: a Laser Printer or Inkjet Printer?

By Rob Orr / Last updated: Nov 8, 2022

Which Is Better for Home Office Use: a Laser Printer or Inkjet Printer

If you work from home, a printer is an essential tool for your home office needs. So, which is better for home office use: a laser printer or inkjet printer?

While both inkjet and laser printers have their benefits and drawbacks, laser printers are typically the best choice for home office printers. Inkjet printers can function well as home office printers, but laser printers cost less to operate. 

The primary difference between laser printers and inkjet printers is in their functionality. Laser printers apply toner to paper through static electricity while inkjet printers spray ink onto paper from ink cartridges.

As someone with a home office, keeping track of expenses is important. Laser printers are more expensive up front, but they cost less to operate when you print constantly. Inkjet printers are less expensive to purchase, but cost more to refill. There are other considerations to keep in mind as well when choosing between the two. Read on to find out which is better for home office use: a laser printer or inkjet printer?

Which Is Better for Home Office Use: a Laser Printer or Inkjet Printer

Inkjet vs. Laser Printers: How Do They Work?

Printers have gotten smaller and more affordable in the last decade, but printer technology has not changed much. To be honest, the perfect printer has yet to be invented. So, those of us who need to use printers in our home offices have to decide which type of printer out of those available to us will suit our needs the best.

As mentioned above, the fundamental technologies of inkjet and laser printers are different. However, most people aren’t all that familiar with printer technologies and tend to just pick whatever is available at an affordable initial cost. In fact, upfront printer costs can be misleading because printer operation is where the real costs rack up.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers use ink. Ink droplets are sprayed by a print head onto a piece of paper, creating texts and images. Different inkjet printer models have different ink cartridge types.

  • Cheaper models have two cartridges: black and color (which includes cyan, magenta, and yellow).
  • Typical models have four cartridges: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.
  • Higher-end models have multiple ink cartridges. There can be several black cartridges, multiple cartridges of each color, and more specific cartridges that are used for different printing jobs.

The most basic affordable models have the lowest upfront costs, but when multiple colors are in one cartridge, you have to replace an entire cartridge when one color runs low. When each color has its own cartridge, you can replace them as needed.

On the other hand, inkjet cartridges can become extremely expensive if you print frequently. For example, a full set of ink cartridges, which includes

Original HP 951 Cyan, Magenta, Yellow Ink Cartridges (3-pack) | Works with HP OfficeJet 8600, HP OfficeJet Pro 251dw, 276dw, 8100, 8610, 8620, 8630 Series | Eligible for Instant Ink | CR314FN

  • Original HP Ink is engineered to work with HP printers to provide consistent quality, reliability and value
  • This cartridge works with: HP OfficeJet 8600; HP OfficeJet Pro 251dw, 276dw, 8100, 8610, 8615, 8620, 8625, 8630

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three color cartridges and

Original HP 951 Cyan, Magenta, Yellow Ink Cartridges (3-pack) | Works with HP OfficeJet 8600, HP OfficeJet Pro 251dw, 276dw, 8100, 8610, 8620, 8630 Series | Eligible for Instant Ink | CR314FN

  • Original HP Ink is engineered to work with HP printers to provide consistent quality, reliability and value
  • This cartridge works with: HP OfficeJet 8600; HP OfficeJet Pro 251dw, 276dw, 8100, 8610, 8615, 8620, 8625, 8630

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one black cartridge, isn’t cheap, and can be roughly the same price of an entire low- to middle-end inkjet printer.

Laser Printers

Laser printers do not use ink. Instead, they use toner and a laser, which creates static electricity to melt toner powder into liquid form onto paper. Laser printers cost more upfront than inkjet printers. The printer itself is more expensive, as is its toner cartridge. However, toner cartridges last quite a bit longer than ink cartridges do, even with heavy printing. Therefore, laser printers save you money in the long run.
One disadvantage, however, is that your most affordable option is going to be a monochrome laser printer. Color laser printers are far more expensive, but they do exist.

Brother MFC-L3750CDW Digital Color All-in-One Printer, Laser Printer Quality, Wireless Printing, Duplex Printing, Amazon Dash Replenishment Ready

  • Your purchase includes One Brother MFC-L3750CDW Digital Color All-in-One Printer
  • Carton Contents One Set of Starter Toner Cartridges (BK/C/M/Y) (1,000 pages each), One DR223CL Drum Unit Set (18,000 pages), One CD-ROM with Printer Drivers and Quick Setup Guide

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Inkjet vs. Laser Printers: Pros and Cons for Home Office Use

Consider a home office as compared to a typical office in a commercial office building. A home office has very different needs and requirements than a commercial office does.

  • Where a commercial office has lots of floor space, a home office might not have much room to spare.
  • Where a commercial office might require hundreds of high-quality color prints a day, a home office might not see frequent printing.
  • Where a home office might have a very large budget for a large office printer and printer maintenance, a home office printer likely needs to be affordable and reliable.

Your home office printer is going to be yours and yours alone. It isn’t going to be shared amongst 10 different people in a shared office space. Therefore, you likely do not have many demands your home office printer will need to address.

Still, that does not mean you should choose the cheapest printer you can find. Otherwise, you will likely throw it out the window within a week of bringing it home. So, between laser printers and inkjet printers, which will provide you the functionality you need without the bells and whistles you don’t? Consider the pros and cons of each.

Printer Upfront Cost Yield (Pages) Size Print Speed Print Quality
Inkjet Less expensive 135-1,000 Smaller Slower Depends
Laser More expensive 2,000-10,000 Larger Faster Depends

Pros of buying an inkjet printer for home office use include a lower upfront cost, a smaller overall printer size, and vivid colorful prints.

Cons of buying an inkjet printer include lower yield per ink cartridge, high ink cartridge prices, slower average print speed, and unreliable print quality on smaller, fine text prints.

Pros of buying a laser printer for home office use include very high yield per each long-lasting toner cartridge, faster average print speed, and more reliable print quality on smaller, fine text prints.

Cons of buying a laser printer for home office use include expensive a high price up front, a larger, bulkier size, and less vivid colors, even when buying a color laser printer.

Inkjet vs. Laser: Which Printer Is Faster?

As mentioned above, most laser printers are going to print documents more quickly than inkjet printers. However, that doesn’t mean that inkjet printers are inherently slow.

If you are a frequent printer, you know that there are all kinds of things a printer is used for: text-based documents, spreadsheets, graphs, simple graphics, full-color pictures, and more. Sometimes you need one page; sometimes you need 200, all on different types of paper.

All of these printing jobs require your printer to put in different levels of work. So, let’s break down printing speed beyond the oversimplified “laser printers are faster.”

Laser printing technology is what makes laser printers faster, in general, than inkjet printers. melting powdered toner via laser is a quicker method of printing than spewing ink from a printhead back and forth across a page. However, as you can see above, some high-end inkjet printers can be configured to work quickly and efficiently at comparable speeds to laser printers.

It is also important to keep in mind that if you only print occasionally, or if your printing consists of one page at a time, print speed usually does not make a major difference in your overall satisfaction.

Inkjet vs. Laser: Which Printer Has Better Print Quality?

Again, this question is not as simple as it seems at first glance. Both inkjet and laser printers can have excellent print quality depending on several factors:

  • How the printer is configured
  • What is bring printed
  • What colors are required

Laser printers have always had the upper hand when it comes to crisp, sharp black-and-white text documents. Inkjets, on the other hand, have been superior print quality in the realm of color illustrations, photos, and anything that requires a depth of color.

Printer technology hasn’t changed much over the last couple of decades. Fortunately, it has changed some. This is good news for inkjet printers because they have gotten more precise. Older inkjet printers struggled with fine detail, but today’s inkjet printers have ultrafine print heads that spray tiny droplets of ink, so there is less likely to be smudging.

Inkjet printers can also mix colors with such precision that they are capable of printer colors that laser printers simply aren’t. For photos, art prints, and other images that require a depth of color, inkjet printers have better print quality. That is why photo printers use inkjet technology.

You must consider if printing photos on photo paper is a key function your home office printer needs to have, though. Will your home office printer be used primarily for text or photos?

Inkjet vs. Laser Printer: Which Do People Prefer to Use?

After comparing specifications and gaining a full understanding of how each printer technology works, you might still be on the fence. Both inkjet and laser printers are in homes and offices across the world. So, how can you really be sure which one is going to give you everything you need without making you want to pull your hair out?

If you choose a home office printer simply based on customer reviews alone, you are going to end up with a laser printer. People hate printers in general, but people hate inkjet printers more.

This is not meant to deter you away from buying inkjet printers. There are plenty of satisfied inkjet printer users. The unfortunate matter of fact is that the average inkjet printer user is going to be less satisfied than the average laser printer user.

The reason for this discrepancy is in the printer technologies themselves. With an inkjet’s moving print head and print head nozzles, there is more opportunity for something to go wrong. Whether the nozzles stop firing as they should, or the print head stops moving, or the ink dries up (all common complaints), moving parts typically equate to more hassle.

Laser printers, on the other hand, have fewer moving parts. Therefore, it stands to reason that less is apt to break down or go wrong. Pair that with the speed, precision, and overall economical value of laser printers, and you have yourself a pretty convincing argument in favor of laser printers.

Choose a Home Office Printer Based on What You Will Be Printing

No one knows better than you what kind of work you do in your home office. There are all kinds of reasons you might need a printer to help you complete your daily tasks. Think about the main reason you will use your printer and base your printer choice on that.

In today’s world, all-in-one printers are incredibly popular. An all-in-one printer is a multifunction printer that includes printing, scanning, and sometimes copying capabilities. Some models can also send faxes, but who does that? Both types of printers come in all-in-one styles. it is a good idea to go ahead and get an all-in-one printer for the ever-useful scan-to-PDF functionality.

Beyond that, though, consider how much you will actually be printing with your printer. Are you a writer who will need to print manuscripts? If that’s the case, printing speed and crisp, sharp text are probably more important than vivid color printing.

However, if you are printing occasional blueprints or graphs, you might need color printing capabilities. If you only print a page or two once or twice a month, the high cost of inkjet ink cartridges might not have such a huge impact on your decision.

Why Laser Printers Are Typically Best for Home Office Use

As you can see, both inkjet and laser printers have their own sets of pros and cons. However, laser printers are usually the safest bet when it comes to choosing a printer for home office use.

While you can find blazing-fast inkjet printers, the average inkjet printer is going to print more slowly than the average laser printer. If you print frequently enough to need a printer of your own, chances are that the speed of your printer will affect your productivity levels.

Additionally, frequent printing on an inkjet printer means lots and lots of ink usage. There is simply no way around that fact. When ink costs as much as a printer, replacing it can get painful quickly. While you can always print black-and-white text-based documents instead of full-color pages, at that point you might as well stick with a monochrome printer, which brings you back to laser.

Because toner cartridges have such high yields, the large upfront costs of laser printers quickly pay for themselves. Even a color laser printer is going to cost less than a high-end inkjet printer over time, depending on how often you print in color.

If You Really Want an Inkjet

There are caveats to every rule, though. That’s especially true with something like printers, which nobody actually likes to use. Depending on what you do for a living, a laser printer might not be your best choice.

For very occasional printing, cheap inkjet printers can get the job done with no sweat. If color printing is essential but you cannot shell out the money upfront for a color laser printer, there are plenty of great inkjet options. HP, Brother, Epson, and Canon all have ink programs that you can use to try and alleviate the high cost of ink.

Best Printers for Home Office Use

The best printers for home office use are going to be small enough that they fit comfortably on a desk or table without being too cumbersome. Laser printers are typically larger and bulkier than inkjet printers, but they are getting smaller all the time.

Home office printers will ideally be wireless. You do not want to have to worry about connecting a USB cable to your computer to initiate print jobs. Additionally, extra cables can create tripping hazards, especially if your home office is already a bit cramped.Great home office printers feature all-in-one functionality that allows you to scan, copy, and email documents as well as print. However, lower-end laser printers do not always include these functions. Still, as technology advances, laser printers will likely begin to have these capabilities by default.

Best Laser Printers for Home Office Use

Best Inkjet Printers for Home Office Use

Next Steps

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Rob Orr

Rob is a graduate of Florida State University and the founder and Senior Editor of HomeOfficeHacks.com, a website dedicated to helping people navigate the unique challenges of working from home. As a remote working veteran with over 10 years of experience, Rob has developed a deep understanding of the strategies and solutions that can help people thrive in this environment. He is a respected expert in the field, renowned for his clear, engaging, and informative content. An award-winning web designer, developer, and digital marketer, Rob is also the owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties. His dedication, resourcefulness, and creativity have earned him a reputation as a respected leader in the remote work and digital media communities, inspiring others through his work and passion for lifelong learning.

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