Recommend a printer for occasional use

I need a printer that will only be used occasionally, typically once or twice a month, printing maybe 3 or 4 pages. Most print jobs will be black and white, but some will be color.

Can be USB or wireless.

Cannot have ink cartridges that expire after a certain time as that will end up being a huge waste of ink.

Must be able to go a month or two between printing.

I can live without color printing if that makes the rest of the requirements easier.

Any recommendations?

I have an HP Deskjet 6940 sitting right by me now. I print out a recipe maybe once every three weeks. After >3 years I still haven’t replaced anything other than paper. It was in use for >5 years before I took it from an employee who upgraded and was going to throw it in the dumpster.

Get a laser printer. Inkjets require regular use or they clog and you have to replace the print head, so if you hardly print you’ll end up spending $$ every year to keep the printer in working order, a huge waste of money and frustrating when you go to print and the damned thing refuses.

Buying toner is expensive so I’m not sure you’re really going to save money going laser vs buying a $60 Wal-mart special once in a while.

But if you really don’t want to use ink you can get refurbished/renewed HP laser printers fairly cheap on Amazon: wide range of quality and prices there.

Definitely get a laser.

If you’re using it only occasionally, the “expense” of toner won’t matter, because you might not have to buy a replacement cartridge for years. I put “expense” in quotes because, even buying the manufacturer’s toner carts instead of the cheaper generic ones, the per page price is much cheaper with a laser. With an ink jet, especially in the case of light use, you waste lots and lots of ink to periodically keep the nozzles clear. Ink jet printers have just become a scam to sell unreasonbably expensive ink.

I’ve owned Brother laser printers for years, and have been quite happy with them.

I also own a Brother laser printer and use it rarely. It took us years to use the original toner.
I don’t know if this is still the case since I bought mine ten years ago, but I found a trick on the internet for Brother Toner (at least for my printer model). Put electrical tape on the toner level sensor. For some reason (wink) the printer complains about low toner way too early. Black electrical tape will keep the printer running. At some point the print quality declines and that’s when you really know you need new toner. In the 10+ years I’ve replaced the toner once, but that’s more reflective of my ‘rare’ use rather than ‘occasional.’ But every time I fire it up, it works great.
I’m so happy to have a laser printer, and they aren’t all that expensive. I got B/W so that helps on the price too.

Do not buy an inkjet. For occasional use, that’s the worst solution.

You can buy a basic monochrome laser printer for about a hundred dollars, so not too much more. And with the limited printing the OP needs, the toner cartridge that comes with the printer will last for a long time.

I concur with the idea of a laser printer. Based on my experience, I’d suggest a low-end HP Laserjet. I’ve had an HP Laserjet 1020 for many years (that particular model is probably not made any more) that has been absolutely reliable all that time. It’s true that toner cartridges are expensive, but if you don’t use the printer much they last forever.

My understanding is that the toner cartridge they come with is only a partial one and will run out sooner than a regular one, but mine still lasted for something like five or six years! The regular one I replaced it with will probably go forever at the rate I use it. I had the spare cartridge sitting around for years before I needed it – those things do not age. You might want to give it a little shake when installing it, that’s about it.

Conversely I also had a Canon color inkjet printer, and while it did a good job with photos and other color content, especially with glossy photo paper, it was always gumming up, especially after sitting unused for too long.

If you can live without color printing I’d definitely go with laser, hands down, and HP has always been a strong brand in that space.

When I lived with my parents, we went through inkjet printer after inkjet printer, always frustrated by the cost of ink and clogging issues. When I got married and moved out we didn’t own a printer for years because we only needed occasional printing and I didn’t want to deal with it (I was generally able to print things at work). When COVID came around last year we finally needed to be able to print at home, and I was 100% adamant that we get a laser printer. We got a Brother color laser, and we’ve been happily printing for nearly a year now. It works every time, and has been almost entirely hassle-free.

The only downside is that they tend to be larger. If you have the space, there is no question: you want a laser printer.

Saying inkjets require regular use is an understatement. I used to have an Epson for which buried in the fine print online was a reference to needing to run a full color page at least once every three days.

No indication of this on the box, so we didn’t discover this until the thing clogged so badly that replacing the print head was the only fix. OfficeMax gave me $50 as a trade in on a Canon color laser. Other than the occasional confusion with Bonjour printing, it’s been excellent. Should be, considering Canon pretty much invented the toner cartridge.

Laser all the way.

And from the “didn’t know I needed it until I had it” department…
Don’t dismiss the awesomeness of having a wi-fi-capable printer that supports AirPrint (for the iPad/iPhone crowd). Most modern printers fall in this category.

It’s very cool to be able to plop the printer wherever you want it without any need to wire it.
It’s even nicer to be able to print to it from any computer in the house.
Better still to be able to print from iPhones/iPads without any setup at all.

I’m certain that the same printers support Android devices, though you may need an app.

I bought this one, HP LaserJet Pro M29w Wireless All-in-One Laser Printer, from Amazon just about 2 yrs ago. It’s laser and I paid $107 at that time. I just checked and it is now $138. I can go a month or 2 without printing anything. When I first got it, I had reason to print a lot of documents and used up the initial cartridge quickly. The initial ones are never full. I put in a new one (around $50) and that has been there for more and 1.5 yrs. It includes a scanner which scans one page at a time.
I have a 20+ page scanner, so I don’t use the built in one at all. The price flucuates on Amazon. Definitely stay away from and Inkjet.

For folks who don’t have heavy scanning needs, it’s worth noting that modern smart phones and tablets are more than capable enough to scan documents and produce PDFs.

There are several good scanner apps out there that will straighten, remove distortion, and enhance contrast on documents that you photograph, turning them into PDFs that get stored in your favorite cloud storage.
I have converted hundreds of pages of sheet music to pdf using my fav, “Scanner Pro” by Readdle.

I have a cheap old Canon Pixma inkjet that gets used maybe a couple of times a year, and it still doesn’t clog the way I gather Epsons are notorious for (and the only one I had certainly did).

Another vote for a Brother laser printer. I got a fairly cheap black and white WiFi one that is also a copier, scanner and fax maybe five years ago and it works great. The first cartridge lasted four years. I was able to get a cheap aftermarket replacement on Amazon.

Thanks all.

I ended up buying a Brother laser printer. It will be here Friday.

FWIW yet another vote for a Brother laser printer. Mine’s B/W.

They have a color version too, and I thought about getting one of those also. But I hear they really can’t print photos well. So instead I go to an online photo printing service and that’s given nice results.

I don’t have any personal experience with the brand, but they’ve been around a long time. At any rate, a laser printer was the right choice! My inexpensive HP laser printer has been downright miraculous for its longevity.

One other nice thing about a laser printer – and one of the reasons that replacement cartridges are relatively expensive – is that the cartridges actually contain much of the mechanical guts of the printer.

I would suggest avoiding any temptation to save money by trying to refill the toner cartridge yourself, rather than buying a new one. Besides the fact that a new one renews many mechanical components, toner is believed to be quite carcinogenic, and you want to avoid any direct contact with it in its unfused powder form.