Finding an affordable printer that doesn’t cost too much to operate long-term can be tricky. When shopping for a new printer, the upfront cost seems low, but replacement ink cartridges can be shockingly expensive. However, some printer models are more economical over time thanks to large ink tanks or inexpensive refill options.
Understanding Printer Ink Costs
Several key factors impact the ongoing costs associated with keeping your printer stocked with ink:
- Ink cartridges vs ink tanks – Cartridge-based printers have disposable cartridges that must be frequently replaced, often at high cost. Ink tank printers have large, refillable ink reservoirs that allow more prints per ink volume.
- Brand name vs off-brand inks – Using brand name OEM (original equipment manufacturer) inks usually provides the best print quality but at a premium price. Compatible off-brand ink alternatives cost less per page.
- Ink volume – Larger ink cartridges or tanks need replacing less often, reducing long-term costs. Page yield indicates how many pages an ink cartridge can print.
- Print frequency – The more often you print, the quicker you’ll need new ink. Infrequent printing reduces operating costs.
With the right printer choice and smart printing habits, you can keep replacement ink costs affordably low while still enjoying high print quality.
Printers With the Lowest Ink Costs
After careful analysis, these printers consistently offer the lowest ink costs for both home and office:
Epson Eco Tank ET-4760
- Ink tank printer with refillable reservoirs
- Equivalent to 88 individual cartridges
- Ultra low operating costs
- Crisp, quality printing
With high-volume ink tanks instead of pricey cartridges, Epson Eco Tank printers like the ET-4760 have the cheapest ink costs for most users. The ET-4760 produces an amazing 11,000 pages of black text or 8,500 color prints per ink refill.
The upfront investment is higher than a standard cartridge-based printer, but with each refill equal to 88 individual cartridges at only $13 per color, the long-term savings add up fast. Even moderate monthly print volumes keep per page costs at a fraction of a penny.
Canon PIXMA G6020
- Mega Tank refillable ink reservoir system
- Prints up to 6,000 black or 7,700 color pages
- Individual inks replace only what’s empty
- Low per page operating costs
Like Epson’s Eco Tank design, the PIXMA G6020 relies on a Mega Tank refillable ink reservoir for dramatically lower replacement ink costs. With each black refill yielding around 6,000 pages and color refills lasting for approximately 7,700 prints, it keeps ink prices very affordable even with regular use.
The Mega Tank setup also allows replacing individual color inks rather than the entire set, saving money if only one specific ink is running low. For both home and office use, it’s one of the most cost-effective printers to operate over time.
Brother INK vestment MFC-J995DW
- Ink cartridge printer with high page yield
- Black cartridges print 6,000 pages
- Color cartridges print 5,000 pages
- Cartridge prices are relatively low
Most ink cartridge printers can’t match the efficiency of ink tank designs, but the Brother INK vestment MFC-J995DW keeps cartridge replacement affordable with extra high page yield. Each high-capacity black ink cartridge lasts for a generous 6,000 pages, while replacement color cartridges print around 5,000 pages.
Since the INK vestment line focuses on value, the reasonably-priced cartridges make the cost per print very competitive. For printers relying on the typical disposable cartridges, these page yields deliver maximum efficiency and savings.
Key Takeaways: Which Printer Has the Cheapest Ink?
- Epson Eco Tank and Canon Mega Tank refillable reservoir printers offer the lowest ink costs overall, with thousands of prints per ink refill at a fraction of a cent per page.
- The Brother INK vestment has the highest yield disposable cartridges, lasting approximately 6,000 black and 5,000 color prints each.
- Paying more upfront for high-capacity ink saves money over time compared to replacing small cartridges frequently.
- Off-brand compatible ink cartridges significantly reduce prices compared to brand name OEM inks.
- Printing less and choosing affordable replacement options keep ink costs at rock bottom.
Optimizing Operating Costs Further
If an ultra low ink cost printer still doesn’t quite fit your budget, a few modifications and smart printing practices can further minimize how much you spend:
- Install high-yield XL cartridges for nearly double the print capacity in compatible printers.
- Use affordable compatible cartridges instead of pricey OEM options with significant per page savings.
- Print in high quality draft mode rather than best quality final prints except when critically necessary.
- Convert documents to grayscale to use only black ink for nonspecific color needs.
- Change printer settings to double-sided printing as the default to cut paper and ink costs.
- Reduce photo printing frequency since color photo printing drips ink fastest. Send digital copies instead when practical.
- Unsubscribe from junk mailing lists to slash unnecessary printing that wastes ink. Print only essential documents.
Getting the most value from your printer ink starts with choosing an already affordable model, but applying additional efficiencies drives costs down even more. Be purposeful about what, why, and how often you print to fully unlock the savings possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Which home printer is cheapest to run long-term?
For home use, Epson Eco Tank and Canon Mega Tank printers have the lowest lifetime ownership costs thanks to ultra high-efficiency refillable ink reservoirs.
- What printers use the cheapest replacement ink?
Printers with refillable ink tanks instead of cartridges have the cheapest ink since one reservoir refill equals up to 88 individual cartridges.
- Which ink is cheaper for printers: OEM or off-brand cartridges?
Compatible off-brand ink cartridges offer significant savings over brand name OEM cartridge prices for most printer models.
- How many pages can the cheapest ink cartridges print?
The Brother INK vestment printer line has some of the highest yield disposable ink cartridges, printing around 6,000 pages with black and 5,000 pages with color.
- Which printer brand typically has the lowest cost ink?
Epson Eco Tank printers are renowned for ultra low ink costs thanks to high-volume refillable ink tanks instead of expensive replacement cartridges.
- What impacts the lifetime ink costs for a printer?
Factors like print speed, ink efficiency, cartridge page yield, replacement ink pricing, and usage volume affect total lifetime spending on keeping a printer supplied with ink.
- Should I buy a laser printer instead to save money on ink?
Laser printers have toner instead of liquid ink, but the savings often takes years to offset since laser printers have a high initial purchase cost.
- What percentage of a printer’s long term cost is ink?
Ink can account for up to 80% of a printer’s total lifetime costs, so replacement ink expenses have an outsized impact on affordability.
- How many pages can the Epson Eco Tank ET-4760 print before needing new ink?
The ET-4760 produces an exceptional 11,000 black text pages or 8,500 color prints after filling the refillable ink reservoirs just one time.
- Why are brand name OEM ink cartridges so expensive?
OEM printers are designed for exclusive use with the matching brand name ink cartridges, allowing companies to charge inflated prices since alternatives don’t exist.
- Is it worth buying off-brand ink cartridges?
For most users, off-brand cartridges provide excellent print quality at a fraction of the OEM prices, making them a smart purchase despite occasional minor imperfections.
- How long does ink last in a printer without printing?
Most ink cartridges and reservoirs will last 6-24 months before drying out from lack of use. Keeping printers plugged in helps maintain ink viability longer.
- Should I replace all cartridges if one color runs out?
With models supporting individual color replacement, swap only the empty ink to avoid wasting still viable inks unnecessarily.
- Why does color printing use so much more ink than black only?
Layering cyan, magenta and yellow inks to create a full color spectrum consumes ink faster than black text documents only needing a single pigment.
- Is ink drying out bad for my printer?
Letting ink cartridges dry out can lead to permanent printhead damage and costly repairs. Avoid by printing periodically or replacing dried cartridges.
- How do I stop ink wasting when cleaning printheads?
Instead of full cleanings, try printhead examinations first or rapid cleans using minimal ink. Print regularly to avoid repeated deep cleaning cycles.
- Should I replace the printhead when installing new ink?
Printheads gradually wear from use over years, not due to ink cartridge replacement cycles. Replace only if print quality declines.
- What printer setting adjustments can reduce ink consumption?
Enabling grayscale mode, two-sided printing, draft quality output instead of best mode, and lower dpi settings cuts ink usage.
- What habits reduce unnecessary ink waste?
Print only essential documents, move to digital distribution and storage instead of printing files, subscribe to fewer junk mailers that drive volume.
- Which is better for infrequent use: inkjet vs laser printer?
For minimal printing needs, a laser is ideal since toner won’t dry out like inkjet ink that must stay fluid.
Finding the most affordable printer that doesn’t nickel and dime you on replacement ink gives you the freedom to print freely. Models like the Epson Eco Tank, Canon Mega Tank and Brother INK vestment minimize the typical massive cartridge costs making most home printers so expensive to operate long-term.
With extra high page yield cartridges or refillable reservoir tanks, the savings add up fast compared to constantly buying costly proprietary ink cartridges that crush your budget and limit print accessibility for many users. Plus a few smart printing modifications and reduced usage of nonessential documents offer even more ways to save.
Stop letting worries about ink availability or expenses prevent you from enjoying the speed and convenience of desktop printing. An ultra low ink cost printer gives you the benefits without all the drawbacks – just be sure to choose your next printer wisely.