Can I Use My Epson Printer With Only Black Ink

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When inkjet printer manufacturers chose a marketing strategy known as offering razors to sell blades, they did not expect consumers to complain that ink costs more per ounce than the finest 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 performance, but much less ink. Here’s what you need to know about costs when choosing between the two, and how to decide which would be the better buy.

Can I Use My Epson Printer With Only Black Ink

Can I Use My Epson Printer With Only Black Ink

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Printer blockbuster of the early 1980s), pouring ink from bottles proved so difficult 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 is poured into tanks or reservoirs on printers. Canon did the same with its MegaTank printers in 2016, and HP introduced its SuperTank printers in 2019.

These bulk ink printers are similar in concept and share the same advantages in keeping running costs low. And today’s bottles are designed to minimize or eliminate ink spillage. Brother, meanwhile, has taken a slightly different tack with its INKvestment line, printers that use larger-than-usual cartridges to offer costs per page competitive with tankers.

INKvestment cartridges effectively work like tanks that you buy already filled with ink and plug into your 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, which uses conventional cartridges, are 3.6 cents per monochrome page and 11.7 cents per color page.

For the purposes of this discussion, we will refer to these four printer designs, including Brother, as tank-based and we will refer to traditional inkjet printers as cartridge-based. Just keep in mind that INKvestment printers actually use cartridges; It’s just that they have more in common with tank printers than conventional printers when it comes to running costs.

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The first Epson EcoTank printers set a pattern that still applies today, regardless of manufacturer: bulk ink printers are more expensive than comparable cartridge models, but offer lower running costs.

That leads to a general rule of thumb that for virtually all tank printers, you can find a cartridge printer with the same functionality and features for much less, or a cartridge printer with better performance and additional features for the same price.

With any pair of these, the running costs will be higher with the cartridges. Therefore, 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 cartridges. However, budget cartridge printers vs. For an expensive tank printer, the winning long-term TCO will depend on how many pages you print. (We will return to this in more detail shortly.)

Can I Use My Epson Printer With Only Black Ink

We’ve already mentioned two all-in-one (AIO) or multifunction printers: 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 MSRP of $149.99, but the Workforce Pro delivered faster speeds in our tests and offers additional features, including an Ethernet port and larger paper capacity for printing and scanning. However, calling it the best 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 also calculate them yourself if you need to. Briefly, for black and white pages, divide the cost of black ink by the rated yield of the ink cartridge or bottle. For color pages, divide the cost of each individual ink color by its yield, and since color prints also use some black ink, add the cost per page of each color plus black ink. If there is more than one option to choose from when it comes to ink cost, use the most cost-effective option, which is usually the largest and most expensive (such as XL vs. full-size ink cartridges).

Each monochrome page you print with the MFC-J4335DW will cost 0.9 cents, compared to 3.6 cents for the Epson, a savings of 2.7 cents per page. Relative cost per color page 4.7 vs. is 11.7 cents, a savings of 7 cents per page.

Once you use the starter cartridges that come with the WF-3820, its higher operating costs translate to an extra $27 out of pocket per 1,000 black pages and an extra $70 per 1,000 color pages. And that doesn’t take into account that when you need to replace the first set of cartridges from Epson, Brother will still have plenty of ink left that shipped with the printer. Looking at your costs over the life of the printer, it’s clear that the TCO of the cartridge model will be much higher, meaning these similarly priced printers aren’t really direct competitors.

The most 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, there is a cartridge-based printer with comparable performance and features that costs much less.

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Before you get too hung up on cost comparisons, keep in mind 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 number of industry standard test pages. So don’t take the small differences in comparison too seriously. These calculations are only to give you a rough estimate.

Please also note that our calculations only cover printing documents on plain paper. Photo printing involves other factors that we’re ignoring here, especially media costs, which vary widely from printer to printer for photo paper. For standard documents, we assume that you will use the same plain paper regardless of printer, so the cost of paper will be the same in all cases.

Let’s look at two printers you can choose from: the cartridge-based Epson Workforce WF-2860, which retails for $139.99 on Amazon at the time of this writing, and the $499.99 Epson EcoTank ET-4850. These two AIOs offer comparable performance and features and similar size and weight. Epson rates its monochrome and color print speeds just 1 page per minute apart, and they were statistically tied in our stopwatch test.

Can I Use My Epson Printer With Only Black Ink

The only notable difference between them is the ET-4850’s higher 100-page paper capacity. Bottom line, if you print enough to benefit from the EcoTank model’s lower ink costs, you’ll appreciate the increased capacity and won’t need to refill trays as often.

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Tank printers usually come with enough ink to print thousands of pages; Cartridge printers rarely come with enough for more than a few hundred. What you need to know is how much you have to pay for extra ink for the cartridge model to reach the number of pages you can print with the ink supplied with the tank printer. This can easily be more than the initial price difference. Next, you need to decide if you will actually print that number of pages over the life of the printer.

The first step is a bit difficult. You need to find the nominal page yield for the ink that the printers ship with. If you can’t find an explanation of what’s in the box on the manufacturer’s website, look up ink costs and yields for replacement ink in cartridges or bottles. For cartridge printers, there is often more than one cartridge size available, but printers usually ship with low-yield starter cartridges. Most tank printers only offer one option, but some come with a free second bottle of black ink, so you might want to check that out as well.

Finding the right yield for tank printers can take a bit of detective work and will definitely require some guesswork. Most people use a significant amount of ink for initial setup, mainly to fill the print head, so the included replacement ink will produce fewer pages than the same amount of ink. For most tank printers, you can find an estimated statement of duration in months or years on the website or on the spec sheet, with a footnote that the claim is based on a certain number of pages per page.

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