If you find yourself like I did – in need of a way to print labels quicker for eBay, Amazon, or any other e-commerce business your are running, investing in a thermal printer is a must. Time is money, and while using a standard inket printer and some clear packing tape may work for smaller sellers, a thermal printer takes literally one second to print a label. Off with the backing, and straight on the package.
There are dozens of models out there, but instead of dropping $300-$400 dollars on an expensive label printer, buying preowned is a great idea when growing a small business. I’ll be reviewing a few models both new and used for under $200, and the pros and cons of each.
1. Zebra Lp 2844
This one I actually own myself and picked up for less than $100 total on eBay. You can find them preowned on Amazon as well. I actually purchased the accessories separately (USB cable, and power adapter) and saved some money on the bundle deal. The printer performs well, is really easy to load, and overall made well. Zebra is a great brand, and despite this printer being over 10 years old, it still does what I need it to do.
The only complaint I have about this printer is the setup. It was pretty difficult to find the correct drivers that I needed, but found a package by Seagull Scientific that work well. Click here for my complete review and setup guide for the Zebra LP 2844.
2. Dymo LabelWriter 4XL
This label printer is another good choice for anyone needing to print 4” by 6” labels. Dymo’s are a great brand, with a very modern looking design. the Dymo website has great support as well, to ensure that the printer works with your machine. This model is currently the #1 Best Selling Desktop Label Printer on Amazon currently. Click here to check the current prices of this model new on Amazon. It also has good compatibility with shipping programs like Endicia/ShipStation and others. Some have complained of compatibility with Mac OS X, but it seems that this issue has been largely resolved by many.
3. Zebra ZP-450
This printer is slightly larger than the other printers reviewed, but is a quality model by Zebra. Many used or refurbished models are going for right around $100 on Amazon and eBay. This printer allows labels to be fed in from the back, and allows for much larger rolls than the Zebra LP 2944. This model also allows has a peeler/dispenser, which allows you to peel the labels as they print. Overall a solid choice, since it is a printer that can grow with you.
4. Rollo Shipping Label Printer
This thermal printer claims to be the fastest, most reliable, and most affordable way to print your labels. They claim this printer is “commercial-grade” and intended for high-volume shippers. The reviews are great on Amazon, but is a bit pricier than some of the other models. I found it for $169.99 with free shipping on Amazon.
5. Brother QL-1050
This Brother label printer prints 69 labels-per-minute, and is another solid choice by a well-established printing manufacturer. This connects via USB or serial cable, is compatible with PC & Mac, and also has a built-in automatic heavy duty cutter. The auto-cut function on this one is a great option for low-volume sellers. I found this one for around $160 on eBay, and a few for around $100. Click here to view the current market price.
I hope you have what you need to purchase the thermal printer that best suits your small business. I love mine, and can’t image not having it, even with as few as 2-3 orders per day. As you may notice, many of these thermal printers are a bit outdated, which in my opinion is not necessarily a bad thing. For under $200, there are some really solid options out there. The cost you will save over time in ink or toner will easily pay for it over time.
Making sure you have the correct drivers installed is key. Be sure to check YouTube videos for setup tutorials, and the manufacturer’s website for driver installation if needed.