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HP Color LaserJet 8500 and 8550 Printers - Explanation of "Drum Life Low" and "Drum Life Out" Control Panel Messages


This document will explain what the control panel messages "Drum Life Low" and Drum Life Out" mean and what action needs to be taken by the user. The estimated consumable life for the Imaging Drum and how it is calculated are also detailed. The Imaging Drum and air filters (both are part of the Drum Kit) are consumables that can be easily replaced by a user in just a few minutes.

Drum life “LOW” versus “Drum life “OUT”:

The “Drum Life Low” warning message on the control panel indicates approximately 20 percent of life remaining. This is intentional to allow the user enough time to order a replacement kit. It is perfectly acceptable to continue to print while the “Low” message is displayed. However, when the “Drum Life Out” message occurs, end of life has been reached and the printer will not operate until the drum has been replaced.


How Drum life is calculated

The following section explains several terms that are important to understand when trying to determine how the life of the Imaging Drum is calculated and the factors that affect it.

Explanation of Images, pages, and sheets

  • A sheet is one piece of paper.

  • A page is one side of a sheet of paper.

  • A duplexed sheet (printed on both sides) counts as two pages.

  • To keep the explanation of consumable life as simple as possible, all consumable yields are quoted in pages. The conversion to pages is more direct for some consumables than for others.

  • An “image” is a layer of toner. Color (CMYK) printing uses four images per letter-sized page, regardless of whether the page uses all four colors.

  • The page count numbers on the Configuration Page give a count of the number of pages printed, regardless of size.

For example, an 11 x 17 color, duplexed page takes 16 images to print, adds two pages to the page count, and is only one sheet.

11 x 17 (tabloid size) printing

11 x 17 color printing is a key feature of the HP Color LaserJet 8500 and 8550 printers. Consistent with other HP and competing printers, consumable life is quoted as letter-sized pages, rather than 11 x 17 pages. However, the actual operation of the printer is always in 11 x 17 mode. All conversions to letter-sized pages assume that a pair of letter-sized sheets or a single 11 x 17 sheet is put through the machine.

An 11 x 17 page uses twice as much toner as a letter-sized page. This general rule holds for all consumables.


Factors that affect Imaging Drum life

  • Drum life is stated in terms of Letter/A-4-size images. The number of images printed for each sheet of media varies, depending on the mix of color, duplexing, and large-format printing. An image is a layer of toner. A Letter-size, color (CMYK) sheet printed on one side contains four Letter/A4 images. A duplexed sheet (printed on both sides) counts as two images. In color duplex mode, there are eight Letter-size images per Letter/A4 sheet. An 11 x 17 (or A3) page sheet contains twice as many Letter-size images as a Letter-size sheet.

  • Drum Life is affected by the Powersave value. Every time the printer comes out of Powersave it goes through a calibration cycle. The rotations of the Imaging Drum during calibration count towards drum life. Set the Powersave to its maximum value (8 hours). This value can be set from the control panel of the printer. It is located in the Configuration Menu.

  • The type and length of print jobs will greatly affect drum life. A series of short print jobs will use more drum life than the equivalent number of pages printed in a single large job. Try to print multiple copies of the same job in a single print job as opposed to dividing it up into several separate jobs. This is due to the pre-cleaning and post-cleaning cycles that take place before and after every print job.

  • The drum life specification assumes two-page jobs, one-sided printing on letter/A4-sized pages.

  • When printing in color (always four images per page, even if only one color is used), the page life of the drum is one-fourth that of monochrome life (12,500 pages vs. 50,000 pages).

  • The Imaging Drum is a relatively small contributor (approximately 1.1 cents/page for color, and 0.3 cents/page for monochrome) to the overall printing cost.

Recommendations to maximize drum life

For the most efficient use of the printer and to get the most life out of the Imaging Drum, the following are recommended:

  • Set the POWERSAVE setting to the maximum, this will reduce drum usage due to additional calibrations.

  • Wait for the “Drum Life Out” message to appear on the control panel before replacing it. This will maximize drum life.

    NOTE: Have another drum on hand as the printer will hard stop when the drum reaches the end of life. There is no way to reset this value except to install a new Imaging Drum.
  • Add a hard disk (if not equipped) and collate (select collate in the driver, not the application) if printing multiple copies frequently. This will result in copies printing faster, and more pages printing in two-page mode.


Estimated values for Imaging Drum Life

These are only estimates, depending on usage; actual drum life can vary greatly from these estimates. If printing heavy coverage drum life will be lower.

Drum kit
Prints 50,000 black only pages or 12,500 color pages; based on two-page, one-sided, A4 or Letter sized print jobs. The actual number of pages will vary depending on individual usage. Factors that affect page yield include color versus black-only printing mix, paper size, job length and complexity, and automatic duplexing.
11 x 17
Prints 25,000 black pages
Prints 6,250 color pages
“Low” message
20% of the drum life is remaining
Print quality is not affected
There is sufficient time to order a replacement drum kit.
Note that when the drum life gets to "out" the printer will hard stop until the drum is replaced with a new one.
“Out “ message
The printer will hard stop and not operate until the drum kit is replaced with a new drum kit. There is no way to reset this value except to replace the drum with a new one.

Contents of the Drum Kit

The Drum Kit contains the following items:

  • Two air filters

  • Hand wipe

  • Imaging Drum cartridge

Figure 1: Contents of Imaging Drum Kit


Imaging Drum replacement instructions

Replace the Imaging Drum when the control panel displays the message: DRUM LIFE OUT/REPLACE DRUM KIT or DRUM ERROR/REPLACE DRUM KIT.

Figure 2: The printer control panel will display the REPLACE DRUM KIT message

  1. Turn the printer off.

    Figure 3: Power button

  2. Open the printer’s front door.

    Figure 4: Printer front door

  3. Swing the upper (blue) lever to the right. Then, press the white button on the lower (green) lever and swing the lever to the right.

    Figure 5: Positioning the levers

  4. Pull the old drum partway out. Grasp the blue handle on the top of the drum and remove the drum.

    Figure 6: Removing the old drum

  5. Now turn the printer ON withoutthe new Imaging Drum installed.

  6. When the printer prompts to install the Imaging Drum do so according to the following instructions.

  7. Remove the new drum from its packaging.

    CAUTION: A gray cover protects the drum’s cylinder. Do not remove this cover; it will come off during the next step.

    Figure 7: New Imaging Drum

  8. Line up the arrows and push firmly to slide the new drum into the printer. The cylinder’s cover will slide off as the drum enters the printer. Set the cover aside. Whenever the Imaging Drum is removed from the printer put this cover back on to cover the light sensitive drum. Failure to cover the drum when it is out of the printer can result in permanent damage to it.

    Figure 8: Sliding the new drum into the printer

  9. Swing the upper (blue) lever to the left. Then swing the lower (green) lever to the left, making sure it clicks into place.

    NOTE: If the lever does not return to its original position, make sure that the imaging drum is all the way in the printer.

    Figure 9: Locking the levers

  10. Close the front door.

    Figure 10: Front printer door

  11. The control panel will display the message "New Imaging Drum" select YES, the printer will finish booting up and READY will appear on the control panel display.


How to replace the two air filters

  1. Turn the printer off. On the back of the printer, lift the filter door handle to release the two latches on the filter door. Lower the door.

    Figure 11: Opening the back door and releasing the filter door latches

  2. Remove both of the air filters from the filter door.

    Figure 12: Removing the old air filters

  3. Remove the new air filters from their packaging.

    Figure 13: New air filters

  4. Insert the new air filters into their respective locations on the filter door.

    Figure 14: Inserting the new air filters

  5. Close the filter door. If the filter door does not close, make sure the filters are in place. Use the hand wipe to remove toner from your hands.

    Figure 15: Closing the filter door

  6. Turn the printer back on, within a few minutes, the printer will bring itself online

    Figure 16: Control panel display

  7. Place the used parts in the packaging from the new ones. See the included Recycling Guide for recycling information. If you are setting up the printer for the first time, retain the packaging to recycle the imaging cartridge when it needs to be replaced.

    Figure 17: Repacking the used cartridge for recycling


Contact HP?

If the issue is unresolved, click here to contact HP support for further assistance. Document number bpl12529 used for troubleshooting and a brief description to assist HP support in resolving the issue.

  • After replacing the Imaging Drum with a new Genuine HP Imaging Drum and power cycling the printer is there a control panel message other that Ready ? If so what is it?


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