How To Replace Ink On Epson Printer – Editors independently select and review products. If you make a purchase through affiliate links, we may earn a commission, which helps support our testing.
When inkjet printer manufacturers chose a marketing strategy known as offering a razor to sell a blade, consumers probably didn’t expect to complain that an ounce of ink cost more than the price of fine champagne. In response to those complaints, today you can buy an inexpensive printer that uses expensive ink cartridges, or pay more for a printer with the same features and functionality, but less ink. Here’s what you need to know about costs when choosing between the two and how to decide which is the better buy.
How To Replace Ink On Epson Printer
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Best Replacement Ink Cartridges For Epson Printers In 2022
Printer blockbuster of the early 1980s!), pouring ink from bottles was so messy that the convenience of cartridges made them more popular. That began to change in 2015 with Epson’s EcoTank line, which essentially reintroduced bottled ink that was poured into the printers’ tanks, or reservoirs. Canon followed with its MegaTank printer in 2016 and HP introduced its SuperTank printer in 2019.
All of these bulk inkjet printers are similar in concept and share the same advantages of reducing running costs. Today’s bottles are designed to reduce or eliminate ink spillage. Meanwhile, Brother has changed slightly with its INKvestment line, printers that use larger-than-average cartridges to deliver costs per page competitive with tankers.
INKvestment cartridges effectively work like tanks that you fill with the ink you buy and plug into the printer. As a point of comparison, the cost per page for Brother’s MFC-J4335DW is 0.9 cents for black and 4.7 cents for color. Operating costs for the similarly priced Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 using conventional cartridges are 3.6 cents per monochrome and 11.7 cents per color page.
For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll refer to all four of these printer styles, including Brother, as tank-based and traditional ink jets as cartridge-based. Remember that INKvestment printers actually use cartridges; It’s just that they are more similar to tank presses than conventional presses in terms of running costs.
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The first Epson EcoTank printers established a pattern that still applies today, regardless of manufacturer: bulk ink printers are more expensive to buy than comparable cartridge models, but offer lower running costs.
This makes it a general rule that for virtually every tank printer, you can find a cartridge printer with the same performance and features for much less, or better performance and additional features for the same price.
With any of these pairs, running costs will be high, including cartridges. So for two printers with the same purchase price, your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) will be higher for the cartridge model from the day you buy your first replacement cartridge. However, for cheap cartridge printers compared to expensive tank printers, the long-term TCO winner depends on how many pages you print. (We’ll return to this in more detail soon.)
Let’s consider the two All-in-one (AIO) or multifunction printers we mentioned earlier – the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 and the Brother MFC-J4335DW INKVestment AIO. At first glance, the Epson model looks like a bargain. Both AIOs have the same $149.99 MSRP, but the WorkForce Pro was faster in our tests and offers additional features, including an Ethernet port and higher paper capacity for both printing and scanning. However, to call it a better deal ignores the difference in running costs.
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You can find the cost per page for the printers we discussed in the review, but you can calculate them if necessary. In short, for black-and-white pages, divide the cost of black ink by the rated yield of the cartridge or ink bottle. For color pages, divide the cost of each ink color by its yield, and since color printing sheets also use some black ink, add the cost per page for each color ink and black. If there is more than one option to choose from for ink prices, usually use the cheapest option that is the largest and most expensive (such as XL vs. regular size ink cartridges).
Each monochrome page you print with the MFC-J4335DW costs 0.9 cents, a savings of 2.7 cents per page, compared to 3.6 cents for the Epson. The corresponding cost per color page is 4.7 and 11.7 cents, a savings of 7 cents per page.
Once you use the starter cartridge that comes with the WF-3820, its higher operating costs translate to an additional $27 out-of-pocket for every 1,000 black pages and $70 for every 1,000 color pages. It doesn’t take into account that when you need to replace Epson’s first set of cartridges, Brother will have some of the ink that shipped with the printer. When you look at your costs over the life of the printer, it’s clear that the TCO of the cartridge model will be much higher, meaning that these similarly priced printers aren’t really competitive.
A more appropriate comparison is between printers with similar features, not similar prices. All of this brings us back to the observation that for every tank-based inkjet printer, there is a cartridge-based printer with comparable performance and features at a much lower price point.
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Before you focus too much on cost comparisons, remember that any number you calculate in advance will be an estimate. Actual running costs depend on a number of variables, including the amount of ink you use per page, which may or may not match the size of an industry-standard test page. So don’t take small differences seriously when comparing. This calculation is only to give you a rough estimate.
Note that our calculations only include print documents on plain paper. Photo printing involves other factors that we won’t ignore here, especially the cost of media, which varies greatly from printer to printer for photo paper. For standard documents, we assume you’ll use the same plain paper regardless of printer, so the cost of paper is the same every time.
Let’s look at two printers you can choose from: the cartridge-based Epson WorkForce WF-2860, which sells for $139.99 on Amazon at this writing, and the $499.99 Epson EcoTank ET-4850. These two AIOs offer comparable performance and features and very similar size and weight. Epson rates their monochrome and color print speeds at 1 page per minute, which is statistically tied in our stopwatch tests.
The ET-4850’s 100-page higher paper capacity is the only notable feature difference between them. Simply put, if you print enough to take advantage of the EcoTank model’s lower ink costs, you’ll appreciate the high capacity and not needing to load trays as often.
Are Epson® Ecotank® Printers Worth The Money?
Tank printers usually come with enough ink to print thousands of pages; Cartridge printers rarely come in more than a few hundred. To know how many pages you can print with the ink supplied with the tank printer, you need to know how much you will pay for the extra ink for the cartridge model. This can easily be more than the original price difference. Next, you need to decide whether you will print this many pages over the lifetime of the printer.
The first step is a bit difficult. You should find the rated page product for the ink that the printer ships with. If you can’t find specific information about what’s in the box on the manufacturer’s website, look up ink prices and yields for replacement inks in cartridges or bottles. For cartridge printers, there are often different sizes of cartridges available, but printers usually ship with low-yield starter cartridges. Most tank printers only offer one option, but some offer a second bottle of black ink for free, so you might want to check that out as well.
Finding the right product for a tank press can take a little detective work and definitely a bit of guesswork. Most people use large amounts of ink for the initial setup, primarily to fill the printhead, so bundled inks will yield fewer pages than replacement inks. For most tank printers, you’ll find a statement on the website or in a specification sheet estimating the duration in months or years, with a footnote basing the claim on the number of pages delivered per month.
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