01/16/2011 by Alex Paransky
First we’ll cover some basics. If you have a printer, most likely you can get cartridges for your printer in different capacities. While the cartridge appears the same it may have different volume of printing material (ink or toner) inside the cartridge. Most cartridges are rated as standard or high yield. Some vendors may even have 3 different cartridges with different yields for your printer. For example, some HP printers can accept HP 93, HP 95 or HP 97 color cartridges. Canons have PG-30, PG-40 and PG-50. Epson cartridges come in T088, T069 and T068 varieties.
When comparing cartridges for your printer, it is critical that you understand the type/yield of the cartridge you are buying and how the price varies based on yield. Typically, higher yield cartridges cost more per cartridge than standard yield cartridges. This is understandable as a high yield cartridge will contain more printing stuff than a standard cartridge. Many consumers shy away from high yield cartridges because they appear to be more expensive. On a page-by-page basis, however, a high yield cartridge will most likely cost less to run than the standard yield cartridge. At the end, the high yield cartridge will print more pages for fewer dollars. In terms of economy and savings, a high yield cartridge will give you better mileage than a standard yield cartridge.
Knowing that a high yield cartridge will work just as well as a standard yield cartridge at a much better overall price per print may make you wonder why buy a standard cartridge at all? The answer has to do with the expected “shelf life” or “use life” of a particular cartridge.
If you are using an inkjet printer, it is recommended that you use up your cartridge within 6 months after installing it into the printer. Because ink is liquid, once you take the cartridge out of it’s protective packaging air starts to get into the cartridge and in general, the cartridge starts to dry out. In the package, a properly remanufactured or OEM cartridge is good for up to 2 years.
If you are using a toner/laser printer it is recommended that you use up your cartridge within 2 years from the time it is purchased regardless if it is used or not. Because toner is already dry, it does not evaporate with age, however, the plastic components inside the toner cartridge are always under pressure and with time loose their resilience. So, if you have not finished using your cartridge after two years, you may notice that the print will start to get lighter even though there is plenty of toner in the cartridge.
Here is a quick rule-of-thumb when purchasing your printing supplies. If you are using more than 2 ink cartridges (of the same color) in a period of 6 months or more than 2 toners in a period of 2 years you will definitely save money by buying high yield cartridges for your printer.