What does 5% page coverage mean?
‘My ink or toner cartridge prints 1000 pages at 5% page coverage.’ – What does that mean?! You’ve probably been frustrated by the fact that your cartridge hasn’t lasted as long as the manufacturer said it should….
Nearly every single ink and toner cartridge says it prints at 5% page coverage, yet so many people don’t know what page coverage means, how it’s calculated or what it looks like on an actual page, and it’s understandable why people feel frustrated when their cartridge doesn’t print the amount of pages it says that it should!
Read on if you’d like to know why that is and get the answer to what does 5% page coverage mean?
What is page yield or duty cycle?
The first thing that we need to define is page yield / duty cycle. Page yield is listed against toner or ink cartridges and duty cycle is listed against maintenance items that don’t contain any ink or toner but will last for a specific number of print cycles.
Each were designed to give you a rough idea of how many pages you should be able to print before your cartridge runs out of ink or toner or your maintenance product needs to be replaced.
What is 5% page coverage / why was it introduced?
The number of pages that you do get from a cartridge can be affected by lots of different things and is difficult to calculate without parameters.
For example, you might own a HP printer that uses a cartridge with a page yield of 195 pages. If you generally just print black and white Word documents and emails, then it’s more likely that you’ll get closer to 195 pages than someone else using the same cartridge but who prints lots of documents in colour every day including images or blocks of shading. So, the amount of ink or toner being used by those two-different people isn’t the same, and the total number of pages printed by their cartridges won’t be the same either.
Page coverage is only meant to give you a guide to the maximum number of pages an ink or toner cartridge can print not the exact number that it will print.
So how can manufacturers like HP say that their cartridges can have duty cycles of 195 pages?
They calculate the numbers based on ‘page coverage.’ It means the amount of an A4 piece of paper that would be completely covered in ink if what you were printing was compacted into a block.
As you might expect, a print out with 5% page coverage will probably have a lot less colours, or shaded areas. Also, remember that printing photographs will use a heck of a lot more ink and toner. Something more like 80% page coverage.
If we use the previous example again, you will be able to print out 195 pages before you run out…if your average page coverage is 5%.
This is an industry standard measurement that was introduced and enforced by the Office of Fair Trading and ISO (the International Organisation for Standardisation) because there needed to be a way to help customers to understand what they were paying for.
So what does 5% page coverage look like?
Again, going back to the HP cartridge example, if you printed out something like this every single time, or averaged this amount, you should expect to get around 195 pages from your cartridge based on HP ‘s calculations.
Some people don’t realise just how little 5% is. But if you take this into consideration when reading what your cartridges’ duty cycle/page yield is, you’ll appreciate that it is only a rough estimate.