Printer on or off? Debunking printer myths

Article last updated March 8, 2023

Yes we are about to debunk a popular printer myth in this blog post. So read on…

Printer On or Off?

You know those topics that are guaranteed to make people argue until the end of time? Like: Did the chicken come first, or did the egg come first? Do trees make sounds when they fall in the forest? Should you always leave your printer on?

These three questions have kept many aspiring philosophers up at night. And no matter how hard you argue about them, no one can come close to getting a correct answer. Nearly everyone is a strong believer in what they think is right, that they never listen and accept facts. And while we are in no position at all to tell you anything about eggs and chickens or what trees sound like when they fall in forests (or if they ever do make a sound), we CAN provide facts about printers.

So what is it about always leaving a printer on? There is not much more of a discordant topic than this among printing “experts”. Some do swear by it and say that leaving your printer on can save you money on printer ink. Others in the community do not use their printers as much and just turn the device on when they need it.

But what is the correct answer? What exactly do you need to know when it comes to keeping your printer healthy and efficient?

Why they say you should leave your printer on

Despite the rational reasoning behind leaving a device on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a bad idea, there is a number of evidence that supports the idea of always leaving your printer on (yes, we were surprised too). While some of these reasons do have their drawbacks, it can be a compelling enough argument - so much so - that many people DO leave their printers on at all times of the day (and night).

You consume less ink

printer with ink cartridges

You may not believe it because it sounds like a myth, but every time you turn a printer on to use it, it does consume ink before you start printing anything. This is because when a printer is offline and powers back on, it does a routine maintenance cycle. This routine maintenance is what makes those whirring sounds that you hear everytime you turn your printer on.

What happens is the printer shoots ink from the cartridge at high speeds so it can clean out dried ink or debris that may be clogging the printhead.

Now - the maintenance routine is done on ink cartridges inside your printer and naturally - must use small amounts of ink from every one of the cartridges. So when you do not turn off your printer, you are essentially bypassing the routine maintenance cycle and not using up any of the printer ink.

Makes sense, yes? The downside though is - bypassing the routine maintenance cycle means the printhead can get clogged up with dried ink and gunk over time. Which means repairs or worse - replacement.

Printer is always ready to use

As we stated above, every time you turn a printer on from offline mode, it initiates a maintenance cycle. How long the cleaning process takes varies from printer to printer. Certain HP printers for example, like the HP OfficeJet Pro series usually take a few seconds to finish the maintenance cycle so you do not have long to wait. However, other HP printers, particularly those that have more than one color ink cartridge to test, take longer before the device is ready to print.

So what does this mean for say, businesses? Well - turning your printer on and off when it is not in use can be a huge time sink for your day to day operations.

Another example is government offices. Time is important for busy government and state-owned offices. Fact is, staff just do not have time for even the smallest inconveniences. When you are likely to lose productivity and money when wasting time, then it might be a good idea to just leave your printer on all day. After all, most businesses and government offices do a ton of printouts.

But what about us Printer Off people?

Just as there are valid reasons for always leaving a printer on, there are also a number of simpler, and easier to rationalize arguments as to why you should leave your printer off when you are not using it.

In fact, it is almost common sense right? That you turn off your printer when you are not using it? So, what are the drawbacks of doing so?

You save on ink

We have gone over the printer’s routine maintenance cycle, and how said cycle consumes ink every time that you turn your printer on, so leaving it on all the time stops you from consuming extra ink.

But did you know that turning your printer off when you are not using it actually helps you from losing ink over time? Allow us to explain. Printer ink is a liquid. This means - like any other liquid - it evaporates when it is exposed to air immediately. That is why the text on your printouts comes out dry and crisp.

This is also why when you are printing a photo or an image, it feels a little wet to the touch when it comes out of the printer. Simply put - you would not want to expose your ink cartridges to air of any kind. Ever.

If you do not already know, there is a lot going on inside your printer that you just do not see. When you turn a printer on, it has an uncapping mechanism that starts automatically, the printer goes from its home position and gets ready to print. While it does that, the printer opens the small holes on the ink cartridges, which leave the ink exposed to air.

Now when the ink is exposed to air over long periods of time - let’s say - ALL day, this could result in either the ink drying up or evaporating. This means that when you leave a printer on and never turn it off, the cartridges are left to the air-exposed position. When you turn a printer off properly, the ink cartridges return to their sealed position, and it is no longer exposed to air.

You save on energy

electric bill

This is a no brainer, You would not leave your sink running when you are not using it right? The same thing applies to using a printer. It just does not seem to make sense to leave a printer on even when you are not printing anything. Especially since it consumes electricity just to keep the control panel functioning.

While it is true that energy consumption has become more effective on new printer models, if you are using an older printer, you could be wasting a lot of energy.

Let’s meet halfway - Sleep Mode

While leaving a printer on and shutting it down both have drawbacks, there is a way to meet halfway that you can do. Sleep mode is a low power mode that can be used after a certain amount of time passes that the printer is not used. It is also known as standby mode, sleep mode can keep power consumption low, and put the ink cartridges back into the sealed position.

But do remember that some older printer models may not have a sleep mode function. This is because it is a fairly new feature that has become a mainstay in newer printer models, so it is not available in older printers.

Summing it up

black printer on a desk

We have presented you with both sides of the argument, but it is really up to you to make up your mind. Overall, the win-win solution here is sleep mode, which provides some impressive features that will appease both sides of this printer myth spectrum.

If you want to choose convenience over cost, then keeping your printer on may be the best option for you. Those who do not need everything done in a matter of seconds may just like saving money when it comes to their electric bill.

If you are interested in cutting the cost of your printing and compounding your savings, here at we can help you dramatically reduce your printing costs. We provide a wide range of remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges for all the top brands like Epson, HP, Canon, Lexmark, Dell, and more. There is no need to decide between original brand quality and affordable prices because you can have both with InkJets.