What’s the ONE homeschool tool you can’t live without?
Over the years I may have said different things: A library card, a laminator, the Internet (haha! Who couldn’t!?) but consistently the number ONE tool we use all the time is our printer.
Or should I say PRINTERS.
Many years ago I bought a refurbished monochrome Brother laser printer. It had auto-duplexing, ran wirelessly, and saved me TONS on ink when I was printing public-domain books for our curriculum. That thing is such a workhorse. It has been a great printer, except….
It doesn’t print in color.
And it doesn’t make copies.
Thus, we have also always had an all-in-one inkjet printer, the current edition of which is an Epson. This one does print in color and has auto-duplexing too. Two printers. They took up a tremendous amount of space and eventually, they both grew to hate our rapidly evolving computers. As Windows changes and updates, all good printers eventually stop talking to their computer cohorts. This is what had recently begun to happen with ours.
First, my laptop and my precious laser printer had a falling out.
I could still use it if I plugged in the printer cable from it to the laptop. There’s no where to PUT the laptop while I do this though, so I have to stand there, laptop in hand, while the printer does it’s business. Then my laptop decided that the Epson wasn’t worthy of communication either. Well, not regularly. Sometimes it could find it and other times it couldn’t.
This weekend the printer/computer communication issues came to an end!
I have been working overtime on my work weekends. Once a pay period I stay an extra 4 hours (which means I leave work at 3:30am) and I get overtime for the extra 4 plus my whole shift the next day.
My overtime paid off because I finally bought my dream homeschool tool: A color, laser all-in-one printer, from Brother of course. Now I can print anything I want, as much as I want, in any colors that I want. Come to Momma! 🙂
I ended up buying a Brother MFC-9130CW. It prints in color, does automatic 2-sided printing (a MUST for ebooks!), makes copies (don’t waste your teacher’s editions by letting kids write in them!) and has the benefit of printing thousands of pages before you need to replace a toner cartridge.
Ink vs. Toner
One thing I always heard prior to purchasing a laser printer was how expensive the toner cartridges are. Everyone made such a big deal about the price tag, but I did an eye-opening cost breakdown back then which definitely justified my laser printer purchase. Here is one I did today for the printers I’m talking about in this post.
Cost Breakdown for standard-yield (not high capacity) name brand cartridges:
Black Ink Jet cartridges $11/each with a yield of around 175 pages= $.06 per page
Black Toner cartridges $57 with a yield of 2500 pages= $.02 per page
Color Ink Jet cartridges (set of 3) $21 yield around 165 pg each= $.12 per page
Color Toner Cartridges (set of 3) $166 yields 1400 pg each= $.11 per page
Personally, I never purchase brand name toner.
I always buy the high yield, brand-compatible cartridges from Amazon at a MUCH greater savings than is even reflected here. To put this into another perspective, let’s say we are printing a public domain book as part of our curriculum, with no color illustrations. If the book has 200 pages, we will use more than one ink jet cartridge to print out your “free” book, at around $14, (plus binding and covers) but with the laser printer, we’ve barely made a dent in what the toner is capable of handling. We could purchase the hardcopy of the many of the same books for less than it costs to print them at home.
Do you need a good laser printer? Amazon and Best Buy have the same prices on these and with Amazon Prime they’ll deliver it so you won’t have to go through what we did trying to stuff that really big box into the back seat of my car. It wouldn’t even FIT in the trunk! Just be sure to do your research and read the reviews before buying.