Low power printer/scanner

vcallawayvcallaway Solar Expert Posts: 157 ✭✭✭✭✭
I don't know if this is important to many of you but I thought I would share.

I've been looking at placing some type of all-in-one printer/scanner device in our semi-trucks. Right now our guys pay $2 for the first page and $1 page after to fax paperwork to the office. They also have a need to print bills-of-lading while on the road.

I did some research on printing and scanning with smart phones. The cost to install even netbooks in trucks was more than the budget allows. The printer line that stood out was the Brother MFC J series inkjets.

I bought an MFC-J410W. It was on sale at Office Depot for $70. Plugging it into the kill-o-watt showed less than 20 watts on startup. During printing and scanning it would occasionally hit 10 watts. Idle was 4 watts!

I took it out to the garage and connected it to a cheap black&decker 100watt inverter with a DC amp meter. With the printer connected and DC load did not change. I left it running for a couple of days and did some scanning and printing. There were no hot spots felt on the printer so it does not seem to mind the inverter. I suspect nothing in the printer runs on A/C.

I've sent the printer off to a friend to crack it open. He is going to examine it to see if we can run this off 12v. If so this is going to be a nice unit for use in the trucks and for off-grid use.

Brother supplies a free program for scanning and photo printing on Android and iPhones. Unfortunately it is only photo printing. I had to get another program called PrinterShare to print PDF's. Only the paid version ($5) supports printing directly to the printer. The free version uses a convoluted routing through their server back to a desktop computer to print.

I'll post an update when I find out if we can run this on 12v.

In case you are wonder whey I went this route. Mobile printers and scanners usually start around $300 EACH and still require a laptop. Not cost effective for my needs.


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,070 admin
    Re: Low power printer/scanner

    That is neat. Brother printers and scanners seemed to work well for me.

    For android phones, you can get programs for $25 or so that allow you to give internet access to a usb connected laptop without the $30 per month extracharges that cell companies like to charge for use as a modem (you still need the smart phone data plan).

    It will new great if they do an android application for scanners.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • vcallawayvcallaway Solar Expert Posts: 157 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Low power printer/scanner

    I'm using Barnacle wifi tether to talk to the printer. It requires rooting the phone but that is a simple task using z4root.

    The tests are carried out with a virgin mobile pre-pay plan @ $25 a month. Unlimited data but 300min airtime. Phone is a Samsung Intercept.

    A program called tikl is used for two-way walkie talkie function. Much like Nextel, it uses the data channel instead of airtime.

    Trucking right now is in the toilet. Anything to keep costs down is being looked at.
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Low power printer/scanner

    We run a fleet of service trucks. I am all so looking some type of printer/scanner. Like vcallaway stated, they start at $200-300. Our problem, we use 1/2 ton pickup trucks, so space is a premium.
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