Want to save money on ink? Switch to this kind of printer
As liquids go, printer ink is one of the most expensive ones we buy, with a cost by the millilitre comparable to fine champagne.
It’s why some people are frustrated when their printer at home or in the office flashes a warning that it’s running low on ink.
There are steps you can take to reduce your ink usage, and if you buy a more efficient printer you'll save money over time.
According to Consumer Reports, the best thing to do before buying a printer is to assess what you need it for and how much printing you actually plan to do.
“You want to choose a printer that doesn't waste a lot of ink on maintenance cycles and one that doesn't have high costs to replace that ink,” Chris Raymond with Consumer Reports said.
When it comes time to buy ink, a name-brand cartridge is going to do the best job, but it's also going to cost the most. A compatible or knock-off cartridge will be cheaper and may or may not perform as well.
Sometimes, knock-off cartridges won’t work at all. That’s because printers and ink cartridges communicate using electronic chips and some third-party chips might not be recognized by some printers.
There are services that will refill used ink cartridges at a fraction of the price, but it depends on the brand. Stores that perform the service say some manufacturers are making it more difficult to refill and reuse cartridges.
You can also buy refill kits and try to do it yourself.
In tests, Consumer Reports calculated how much a printer will cost you if you printed 30 pages of text and 10 pages of graphics each month.
Inkjet printers that use cartridges typically have high ink costs and aren't known for being very reliable, but testers gave the Brother MFC-J1010DW top marks. It sells for $130 and has an annual ink cost of $90 a year.
If you do a lot of printing in color, there's a better option that will actually save you money over time even though the upfront cost is higher.
“Tank printers don’t use ink cartridges. They have reservoirs that you refill with bottles of ink,” Raymond said.
Compared to cartridges, those ink bottles are a bargain. Testers gave top marks to the Epson EcoTank ET-2400 which sells for $265 but has annual ink costs of only about $8 a year. It's one of the cheapest printing options available.
If you don’t need to print in color, a black and white laser printer is your best bet. The all-in-one Canon imageCLASS MF264dw laser printer sells for $200 and has annual ink cost of about $18 annually for toner and gets top marks for text quality and speed.
You can also save ink by changing your font as testers got 27 per cent more use from ink in the Times New Roman font than the commonly used Arial.
Also, leaving your printer on all the time will avoid the cleaning cycle that happens every time you turn the printer off and on.
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