Tired of buying replacement ink cartridges for your printer? Epson has a new line of inkjet printers that doesn’t use cartridges. Instead, Epson EcoTank printers have refillable tanks, so instead of buying replacement cartridges, you buy bottles of ink to fill up the tank.

How is that better? Because bottles will sell for $13 each and last for up to 2 years.

epson ecotank


That means if you need to refill all four colors (black, cyan, yellow, and magenta), you’ll end up spending $52 every two years.

That’s a lot less money than you’d probably spend on ink cartridges for most printers during the same time period.

Wondering why Epson is trying to save you money? Don’t printer companies practically give away their hardware and make their money on ink?

Historically, yes. This time Epson is flipping things around: the ink is cheap, but the printer’s are not.

The cheapest model in the EcoTank family sells for $380. That means you could save a lot of money over the life span of your printer, but you’ll have to pay a pretty penny up front.

An entry-level model has a tank that can store enough ink to let you print up to 4,000 black pages or up to 6,500 color pages. Higher-priced models have additional capabilities including LCD screens, larger tanks and other features.

All of the EcoTank printers include wireless connectivity and flatbed scanners, and some also have document feeders and fax capabilities.

via Epson and Consumer Reports

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12 replies on “Epson EcoTank printers ditch ink cartridges for cheaper ink bottles”

  1. i prefer replaceable ink cartridges with built in print heads, my last epson printer died cause the print head melted, the repair shop couldn’t do anything.

  2. I’ve been using the continuous ink systems for nearly 10 years now. My current printer is Brother MFC6490CW, It must be nearly 5 years old now. I never installed the initial supplied cartridges and fitted a CIS straight away. It has worked perfectly ever since. With one exception, the head dried up while I was away on holiday for a fortnight, I made the mistake of turning the power off, so the printer couldn’t perform its self cleaning routine. But I was easily able to flush the head out to sort it.
    With the continuously supplied ink the heads tend not to dry out, although I still need to clean the heads from time to time, to maintain print quality.
    Which is another thing, as the ink is so cheap, you really don’t flushing the heads, I seem to recall on an old printer I emtied a cartridge in an effort to get the printer working again.
    I recommend the these ink systems to anyone that’ll listen, and I’ll most certainly will buy another when I need to upgrade my printer. In fact, I now look at the ink systems first, to give me an idea what printers are available.

  3. For years third party kits have existed that come with large ink silos that feed the ink to “chipped” cartridges via flexible tubes. Those kits work – for a while. The problem is that while the ink cartridges are user replaceable, the print heads are not – and the print heads eventually fail, a and are troublesome and quite costly to get repaired. So I say, buy a regular Canon or Epson printer at a lower price and modify it yourself. Just save up for a brand new printer every couple-few years. HP printers are a different story, HP ink cartridges have built in print nozzles (at least the used to, I don’t use HP now). You can refill some HP cartridges, but only from three to six times before the nozzles wear out and you have to start with a new cartridge. HP ink is water based while Epson and Canon ink is not. So sometimes you can resurrect a dead HP cartridge by soaking the nozzles to clean them (an ultrasonic cleaner helps). Keep in mind, printers and/or cartridges vary, and these days the manufacturers are building in all sorts of hardware and software mechanisms designed to stop you from refilling with your own ink. These mechanisms will have be defeated (hacked) to be able to refill with your own ink. Last but not least, the quality of third-party ink and cartridge solutions varies enormously, from good to very bad, and you don’t necessarily get what you pay for. Like life in-general; YMMV…

  4. Well it is getting a little ridiculous when it’s more cost effective to buy a new printer than it is to buy new toner/ink cartridges.

    1. Brother is notorious for that. They sell laser printers in $79 (on sale) to $110 range. Need to replace the drum? That will be $140. It’s wasteful, but more cost effective to throw out the whole printer and buy a new one when the drum needs replacing. And yes, there are generic drums, but I’ve never found one of decent quality.

  5. i find myself worrying that infrequent usage will result in the ink drying up in the tanks.

    1. I use my printer infrequently, and the tanks are still not dry after 5 years.

    2. I’d be more worried about the heads with infrequent use. I wonder what it costs if you do have to replace one of those?

  6. The first thing I did when I got a Canon MP980 was to rig it up with a CIS. The 6 tanks of ink have lasted me 5 years

  7. My epson 810 eats up ink like crazy… I’ve just been buying generic, it was $25 for 2 sets of cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black and regular black.
    That would of been around $100 with epson ink
    Didn’t they have this already? My grandpa has an epson continuous ink printer.
    I’m thinking of getting a laser printer, isn’t toner cheaper than ink?

    1. Not necessarily. You have to take the price of the toner/ink and divide it by the estimate page yield to get an approximate cost per page.

      The two printers I’m using now are the HP Officejet 8610 and the Brother Laser HL-L2360DW.
      If you buy the bigger ink/toner cartridges, the cost per page comes out as follows:

      HP 8610 – HP 950XL Black Ink Cartridge $36.99 / 2300 Pages = $0.0160 per black & white page
      Brother HL-L2360DW – TN-660 Toner – $50.99 / 2600 Pages = $0.0196 per black & white page
      (prices are from Staples, where I get my stuff from)

      The HP inkjet is a tiny bit cheaper on day to day use. The Brother will also need a $80 drum replacement every 12,000 pages. The HP is actually a good printer for regular paper. The only reason I got the Brother was for printing labels, envelopes, and card stock, which the HP has a hard time with.

  8. Great idea. But I hope they fixed the printing head, that was the most frequent failing on many of their printers.

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