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How Much Power Does a Laser Printer Draw?
Old 01-25-2009, 02:36 AM   #1
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How Much Power Does a Laser Printer Draw?

When my new printer revs up to print a page it dims the lights in my apartment. Hasn't tripped a breaker, but I didn't expect this.

My TV isn't on, my heat is supplied from a boiler, I'm not using a hairdryer or space heater, there really is very little draw beyond the printer. Isn't this a little extreme?

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Old 01-25-2009, 04:45 AM   #2
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The power of 10-100 Watt Light Bulbs? Or 1,000 Watts in start up and printing mode. A lot less in "stand by" mode. Should be printed some place on the printer or the manual. Laser Printers do take a LOT of power. I am going by the antics of my really old HP 4 Laser Jet, so yours may differ. Try to find another circuit that is at least 15 AMPS and not on the light circuit (sometimes difficult to find).
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:15 AM   #3
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The printer's documentation probably has specifications listed. If you search for your printer model and "power draw", might find some discussion about that. Does seem that some laser printers go over 1000 watts initially, and that will cause dimming for any lights plugged into the same circuit.
I also found a discussion where power draw would actually shut off other important equipment, like a network router. If you can find another circuit, try that.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:17 AM   #4
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Same thing happens with my old HP printer. I wonder if the same will happen if I buy a new HP printer.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:35 AM   #5
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Have had a laser printer at home since 2000 (in two different houses and one apartment). I had a B&W HP laser printer until last fall, when I got a Brother color laser printer.

Neither laser printer has ever dimmed the lights. But, maybe that is related to the wiring? My present house is 37 years old, and none of these dwellings were over 50 years old. My electric bill remains low, but then I don't really print great quantities of stuff.

My present color laser printer goes into standby mode when not actively printing. My main beef with the color laser printer is that it is unbelievably heavy. I mean REALLY heavy. Really. Who would think an innocent looking medium sized printer could weigh that much unless it was solid lead? (edited to add: I looked it up and supposedlly it is only 64.2 pounds. Hard to believe it is that light.). The B&W one was only a little smaller, and wasn't at all heavy. It still works, BTW, but I have always wanted a color laser printer and felt I could afford one finally.
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Old 01-25-2009, 08:09 AM   #6
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Peak draw of laser printer at start up could go to a 1000 watts for a few hundred milliseconds.

Which shuld not dim lights, unless.....

Many electrical codes permitted ac wall socket wiring where the wires are pushed into the back of the socket to make contact via small leaf spring type contacts. Then by this same method string other sockets onto the same circuit.

Given time, moisture, corrosion these become high resistance connections with predictable crappy current conduction abilities. So the light that is plugged in to the next socket will dim when a fairly high current is drawn by a device on the previous socket, creating a voltage drop to the next device (light bulb) on the same circuit.

This type of wiring is also capable of generating a fair amount of heat at the outlet, sometime resulting in fire.

Solution: pull socket out of junction box, check to see if wires are in push connector mode, move them to the screw head connection on the side, tighten and all will be well.

Old sockets frequently have bad connections even if screw connections are used. Tighten connection, or get a new socket.

My current house was wired in this manner. Go%$*&amn cheap a$$ electricians . I replaced 4 burned sockets, then went and re wired all outlets to use the screw connections. No more weird electrical problems. And eliminated 4 fire hazards.

Reason for electricians using the the push connector method; faster install , more money made per job.
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Old 01-25-2009, 08:25 AM   #7
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HP 3600n drew between 100 and 858 watts of power, an average of 379 watts

from

HP Color LaserJet 3600n Laser Printer Review - HP Color Laser Printer Reviews
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:02 AM   #8
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My small laser printer is hooked up to a kill-a-watt. When it's warming up or printing, draws about 600 watts. Standby, about 10 watts.
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:30 AM   #9
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If you think about it, a laser printer works by heating up a roller that then melts the toner onto the paper. I am not sure how hot the roller has to get, but in an effort to start printing fast I would guess it takes a pretty good shot of power for the initial heat up.
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:41 AM   #10
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Ha lives in an old part of Seattle. They still have water mains made of wood over there. God only knows what the wiring is like.
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
Ha lives in an old part of Seattle. They still have water mains made of wood over there. God only knows what the wiring is like.
That is helpful, those old exposed wires on porcelain knob insulators were a real pain.
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:24 AM   #12
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First, let me say that I know so little about electricity that it is embarrasing. However, I do have all of my computer equiptment hooked up to a couple of battery backup systems:

APC BACK-UPS XS 1300VA LCD 120V RETAIL

I try to keep my voltage use above 119 volts (even though I know that above 108v is the recommended limit). The digital readout keeps me informed. I rarely (if ever) see a dimming of the lights even though I have a room (window) air conditioner on the same circuit to reduce the heat from all the equipment.

On our RV -- because of the dependency on someone else's wiring and the risk of thousands of dollars in potential damage -- I run all electrical connections through a "Electrical Management System":

Electrical Management System, Portable 30AMP

Finally, I get to the point. I monitor electricity with a this device:

Amazon.com: TRC AECM20020-3-012 Electra Check Digital Monitor for all AC Power Sources, Black with White Face: Home Improvement

Yeah, $65 is a lot (and there are cheaper versions) but the damage done by poor electricity can be real budget buster. It can't, for instance, be doing your printer any favors by supplying it too little energy -- that alone is the biggest cause of short lived appliances.

Again, I know very little about electricity, so take this as "direction" rather than gospel.
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy View Post
Ha lives in an old part of Seattle. They still have water mains made of wood over there. God only knows what the wiring is like.
So that is where the splinters are coming from!

Thanks for all the comments. I am not sure what I have in terms of circuits. My guess is that everything in this room is on the same circuit. I'll see what I can map out.

As many of you mentioned , it is the start-up not the continuous draw that seems to be the problem.

Ha
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:40 AM   #14
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My main beef with the color laser printer is that it is unbelievably heavy.

The B&W one was only a little smaller, and wasn't at all heavy.
The weight and size of those things is all that keeps me from getting one - I want to put it on the shelf near my computer, it's a bit large for the spot and I don't trust it with that much weight.

A color laser is basically three B&W lasers, just a different primary color in each toner cartridge (maybe plus black - so four?). So yes, it needs to be quite a bit larger/heavier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ls99 View Post

Many electrical codes permitted ac wall socket wiring where the wires are pushed into the back of the socket to make contact via small leaf spring type contacts.

...

This type of wiring is also capable of generating a fair amount of heat at the outlet, sometime resulting in fire.
ls99, other than your own personal experience, do you have any data showing these to be a problem? I'm a little surprised they would still be selling them if there was any real evidence against them. Insurance companies would have them shut down, I would think.

I know people don't feel it is a good connection, but sometimes that feeling isn't backed by fact.

At any rate, it is the heater (fuser) in laser printers that use the surge of current. The laser and toner and electro-static charge just gets the carbon toner powder deposited on the page. It is the high heat roller that then melts the plastic in the powder, 'fusing' it to the paper. Heaters take a lot of power.

Ever get a page out of a copy machine or laser printer (essentially the same technology), and the powder just wipes and smears right off? That's what happens when the heat roller isn't functioning. Ever notice that they are warm when they come out (if working properly)? That is the heater.


BTW, using my Kill-a-watt meter, I found that it is better for me to leave my ink-jet printer on 24/7. It draws barely one watt while in standby. I don't think that is worth the added wear/tear of having it go through extra on/off cycles several times a week. This inkjet takes the cheap 3rd party carts, and I want it to last a long time.

-ERD50
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:49 AM   #15
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Thinking out loud here: could there be some electrical fault in the printer that causes it to draw way too much current during start-up? If you want to distinguish that possibility from some fault in the wiring, can you move it to a different part of the house and see if the lights dim there also?
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
...
ls99, other than your own personal experience, do you have any data showing these to be a problem? I'm a little surprised they would still be selling them if there was any real evidence against them. Insurance companies would have them shut down, I would think.

I know people don't feel it is a good connection, but sometimes that feeling isn't backed by fact. ...
-ERD50
More anecdotal, but I've replaced a number of the push-in wire connection receptacles - that spring that bites into the wire doesn't give much surface area for current flow & once it gets hot and overloaded the spring tension goes down and the connection gets worse. I believe push-in no longer meets Oregon code - I know i use screw connection only, even if it takes me longer.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:16 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
The weight and size of those things is all that keeps me from getting one - I want to put it on the shelf near my computer, it's a bit large for the spot and I don't trust it with that much weight.

A color laser is basically three B&W lasers, just a different primary color in each toner cartridge (maybe plus black - so four?). So yes, it needs to be quite a bit larger/heavier.



ls99, other than your own personal experience, do you have any data showing these to be a problem? I'm a little surprised they would still be selling them if there was any real evidence against them. Insurance companies would have them shut down, I would think.

I know people don't feel it is a good connection, but sometimes that feeling isn't backed by fact.


-ERD50
Given around 25 years of "helping" my neighbors/friends etc. gives me sufficient amount of data points.

Finding dimming lights, and strange electrical happenings, and outlet overheating issues (as evidenced by hardened/burned wires usually 1/4 to 1/2" back from the socket, plus pulling the wires out without inserting an extraction tool) in 5 of 7 places where I lived is sufficient evidence for me.

Including 3 of my own houses. Finding lots of loose and cooked "push in" connections gives me sufficient data points.

I don't care what insurance companies, contractors or IEEE or NEC does or does not do. My experience is that they are less then optimal crap and will not tolerate them anywhere I live.

While I do not know who, to my previous discovery did what these outlets, I never found cooked wires on screw connections of outlets. As a habit when I move into a new place, I always check the kitchen outlets first, for connection type, then do the rest of the house. Have not found cooked screw connected wires even when I was swapping out well worn two pronged units with grounded ones.


As usual your mileage may vary

Sorry for the off topic (laser printer/dimming light) dissertation.
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:07 PM   #18
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Also see this document from Cutler-Hammer:

http://www.mikeholt.com/documents/mi...terrupters.pdf

"4. Back-wired, push-in receptacle connections3 are wired to the available push-in connections at
the rears [rather than the screw connections at the sides] of receptacles. The push-in
connections tend to loosen over time, creating a high resistance contact and an arcing or
ground fault".

My searching hasn't brought up current code on push-in receptacles yet, but this, and my experience w/ rentals & remodeling, is sufficient for me to spend the extra time. I did do push in connectors in the distant past, i am lazy, i don't do them now. I'm with ls99 on this one.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:28 PM   #19
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I know i use screw connection only, even if it takes me longer.
Me too.

Then, of course, there is the subject of aluminum wires. I rewired my house in Houston.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:30 AM   #20
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I measured my 4-5 year old HP Laserjet, which has the instant-on feature (the fuser heater is instant rather than requiring warmup). It drew about 400 watts for a few seconds when I powered it on, then only 3-5 watts in standby. While actually printing a page it used 500-600 watts. I used my Kill-a-watt meter for these measurements.

On the subject of outlet terminals, I also take the time to use the screw terminals rather than the push in connections. Although I've never experienced light dimming, I had found several cooked outlets with the push in connections, and I've never found any with screw terminals.

My main reasons for using the screw terminals are:

1. I can replace/upgrade/service outlets later without shortening the wires. With the push on terminals you have to cut the wires shorter each time the outlet is serviced, which over time can leave you with wires too short to work with.

2. It provides a lower resistance ground, which improves safety and reliability of many devices. This is especially important to prevent audio hums and static. It also can solve issues where GFCIs falsely trip.

For lights to dim, your wiring must be dissipating a lot of power (hundreds of watts perhaps). A single push on connection can't do that without getting hot to the touch or perhaps even bursting into flames, but if there are lots of bad connections between your outlet and the utilities (as with daisy chained outlets), it's possible they could be responsible for the light dimming.
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