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Best Ink Tank Printers of 2019

Best Ink Tank Printers of 2019

Get to know some of the top-rated refillable ink tank printers from Epson, Canon and Brother.

For years, consumers have griped about the high price of printer cartridges — specifically inkjet cartridges. To address this consumer pain point, OEM companies like Epson, HP, and Canon, have introduced printers that make use of ink tanks which hold much more ink than standard ink cartridges.

How Ink Tanks Work

Ink tank printers have quickly become another affordable printing option, combining low operating costs with the same multi-function printer features you expect from the average inkjet machine. Instead of relying on printer cartridges to produce a print, ink tank printers use a refillable tank system and ink bottles to handle printing duties. Similar to filling up your gas tank, when your printer’s ink levels are running low, you need to fill the tank with the appropriate amount of ink from the bottle.

The printer’s continuous ink system delivers the ink via an airtight tube to the printhead, so ink won’t dry out over time. Ink bottles are a far more economical printing solution than many original brand printer cartridges due to their high ink capacity, offering thousands of prints at an incredibly low cost per page. 

The First Tank Printers

Epson’s EcoTank series was first to market back in 2015. Canon brought us the Megatank in 2017 and now Brother has entered the game with an ink tank version of their popular Inkvestment printer line.

With this article, we compare a couple of popular models from each brand so you can determine which ink tank printer is right for you.


Cons of Ink Tank Printers

Since ink tank printers are still at its core an inkjet printer, they are just as susceptible to the pitfalls of the technology, particularly when the nozzles or printhead get clogged up with dried ink. To keep your inkjet printer in shape, run the cleaning cycle once in awhile (though perhaps not too often as this is said to be a big waste of ink), or print a page to prevent ink from drying up and getting stuck in the nozzles — just as you would with a regular inkjet printer.

For ink tank printers, it is advisable that you use up the bottled ink within 6 months after opening. Since you’re dealing with a larger volume of ink, the possibility of ink coagulation is higher than with ink cartridges so it’s not good if you leave that amount of ink untouched for long periods of time.

A specific problem you might run into with ink tank printers are bubbles getting stuck in the tubing. When an ink bubble gets stuck in the tub, it can prevent the ink from flowing making printing impossible.

How to Get Rid of an Air Bubble

A hack to get rid of air bubbles in the tube is to use a syringe. Here are the steps:

Scenario. Let’s say you have an air bubble in the tube connecting the yellow ink tank to the yellow cartridge that’s connected to the printhead.

  1. First, you take out the cartridges from the printhead. This might mean the entire container which holds all cartridges, but yes you take the whole thing out.
  2. Remove the cap of the yellow ink tank.
  3. Fit the tip of the syringe snugly into the nozzle of the yellow cartridge.
  4. Pull the plunger of the syringe up so that the air is sucked out from the yellow tube.
  5. Continue pulling up the plunger until all air bubbles are gone from the tube. You’ll usually see the ink travel from the tank to the tube to the cartridge and some of it into the syringe.
  6. When some of the ink gets inside the syringe, you can be sure the bubbles are gone.

You can return some of the excess ink back by emptying the syringe into the ink tank.


Who Should Use Ink Tank Printers?

Ink tank printers are ideal for those who print a lot on a daily basis. If you’re the type of user who only prints once a week, this might not be for you. But if you’re frustrated with having to replace ink cartridges weekly, ink tanks are the way to go.


How to Save on Ink Refills

Inkjet printers, ink tank or not, use a lot of ink. Just when you think it’ll be awhile before you have to refill a color, the empty light flashes. To cut down costs on ink refills, check out aftermarket alternatives. They provide the same print results at a lower price. Here’s a table that shows the price comparison of the two. The disparity is glaringly obvious when you look at the cost per page of each cartridge. The cost per page is the more efficient way to measure how cost-effective an ink cartridge is.

The lower the CPP (cost per page), the better.

How to get the Cost per Page

Calculating the cost per page (CPP) differs for black ink cartridges and color cartridges.

For black cartridges, simply take the price of the cartridge and divide by the expected page yield.

For color cartridges, you divide the price per cartridge by the page yield and multiply it by the number of color cartridges used by your printer and add the CPP of the black. You can learn more about this calculation here.

Since aftermarket cartridges are typically cheaper in price, the CPP will almost always be lower.

We compare the cost per page of original brand ink with aftermarket alternatives on a table under each printer below.


Epson® EcoTank® Printers

Now on its third generation, the Ecotank series has come a long way since it was first introduced in 2015. The latest iteration of the series features six brand new printer models and a newly developed auto-stop ink bottle system that immediately stops filling when the tank reaches capacity. Older versions of the EcoTank series had the tank system attached to the side of printer. Epson took a page from the Canon Megatank playbook and built the tank into the front of the machine with these newer models, making for a more compact, user-friendly design. Other worthy additions to the series include improved print speeds, larger paper capacities, and borderless photo printing. Their greatest selling point are of course the ink bottles, each printer includes enough ink to print thousands of color pages for pennies on the dollar.

Epson® Expression ET-2700

Wireless and cloud printing services make it easy to print from your smartphone and a 100-sheet paper capacity accommodates pages up to 8.5”x14” in size.  Black text prints fast, clocking in at 10 ppm and color print speeds are decent at 5 ppm.  One downside at this price point is the lack of LCD touchscreen, which is standard for all of the higher-tier models. 

The printer uses four Epson 502 series ink bottles that are available in black, cyan, magenta and yellow.  The black ink bottle holds enough ink to print 7,500 pages and the color bottles print up to 6,000 pages each.

You can save money when you use third-party Epson 502 ink refills from LD Products. Find the price comparison below.

Price Comparison of Original Epson 502 Black vs LD Compatible

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$19.99
$8.99
Cost per page
.26 cents / $0.0026
.12 cents / $0.0012

Each cyan, magenta, or yellow Epson 502 prints 6,000 pages each. See the price comparison for each original Epson 502 color bottle and a compatible Epson 502 color refill bottle. The price and cost per page indicated are for each color cartridge.

Price Comparison of Original Epson 502 C/M/Y vs LD Compatible

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$13.99
$7.99
Cost per page
.95 cents / $0.0095
.51 cents / $0.0051

Epson® WorkForce EcoTank ET-3750

At a slightly higher price point, the Workforce EcoTank ET-3750 offers many of the same functions as the ET-2700, (same ink bottles and wireless options) mixed with a few nice-to-have upgrades like a 2.4” color LCD and 150-sheet paper tray.  Print speeds are upgraded too, with the black text coming in at 15 ppm and color prints offering 8 ppm.  Automatic dual-sided printing is another convenient plus; letting you easily print on both sides of the page in just one click.

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The Epson 502 black prints up to 5,000 pages.

Ink Savings

Price comparison of Original Epson 502 Black and LD Compatible Epson 502

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$19.99
$8.99
Cost per page
.26 cents / $0.0026
.12 cents / $0.0012

Each cyan, magenta, or yellow Epson 502 prints 6,000 pages each. See the price comparison for each original Epson 502 color bottle and a compatible Epson 502 color refill bottle. The price and cost per page indicated are for each color cartridge.

Price Comparison of Original Epson 502 C/M/Y and LD Compatible Epson 502

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$13.99
$7.99
Cost per page
.95 cents / $0.0095
.51 cents / $0.0051

Epson® Expression Premium ET-7750 Wide Format All-in-One

The Epson Expression Premium ET-7750 is one of the more expensive printers on our list, but its quick print speeds and five-color ink system make it a smart choice for quality photo printing.  Featuring speeds of 13 ppm for text and 8 ppm for color prints, this machine is one of the fastest ink tanks available. 

The printer accommodates 11″ x 17″ wide format pages via a rear paper feed. A built-in USB /memory card slots lets you upload pictures directly to the printer and a dedicated photo tray allows for easy photo printing. 

A pigment-based black ink bottle and four dye-based color ink bottles, including photo black, can handle a range of printing needs. 

The Epson 512 black ink bottle prints 8,000 pages and four color bottles print 5,000 pages apiece.

Ink Savings

Price Comparison of Original Epson 512 Black vs LD Compatible Ink Bottles

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$19.99
$8.99
Cost per page
.25 cents / $0.0025
.09 cents / $0.0009

Price Comparison of Each Original Epson 512 Color vs LD Compatible

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$13.99
$7.99
Cost per page 1.2 cents / $0.012
.48 cents / $0.0048

Price Comparison of Original Epson 512 Photo Black vs LD Compatible

Epson
LD Brand
Price
$13.99
$8.99
Cost per page
1.2 cents / $0.012
.09 cents / $0.0009

Canon® Megatank Printers

The Megatank series is Canon’s answer to the Ecotank and touts many of the same cost-saving features.  A refillable ink tank system is built into the front of the printer, providing incredibly low operating costs by way of four color ink bottles.   A window in front of the tank offers a convenient visual on your ink levels and best of all, the ink won’t dry out once it’s installed inside the tank. 

Canon sells seven different printer models for this series.   Canon designed their ink bottles so the refill process is relatively spill proof.  Ink only comes out if you squeeze the bottle; if you accidentally tip it over, there is no mess!

Canon® PIXMA G1200

Canon’s G1200 is a single-function, print-only machine and the most basic model in the Megatank line.  Print speeds of up to 8.8 ppm for text and 5 ppm for color are a bit slow for everyday printing needs, but despite that, the printer still cranks out great looking prints and photos. 

Unfortunately, you cannot print wirelessly with this machine, which is a missed opportunity and a bit surprising considering Wi-fi is pretty much a given with most printers these days.  However, if you are okay printing directly via USB cable (like all printers did just a few years ago!) this printer is a solid investment.

The G1200 uses the GI-290 ink cartridges, the same cartridges as the higher end G4210 model, giving you an identical print volume at a much cheaper printer price.  It’s also cheaper than the least expensive EcoTank, making it a great value for an entry-level ink tank machine.

Below is a comparison of Canon ink price vs LD brand compatible ink.

Price Comparison of Canon GI-290 Black vs LD Compatibles

Canon
LD Brand
Price
$17.99
$6.99
Cost per page .29 cents / $0.0029
.11 cents / $0.0011

Price Comparison of Each Color Canon GI-290 vs LD Compatibles

Canon
LD Brand
Price
$11.99
$5.99
Cost per page
.17 cents / $0.0017
.08 cents / $0.0008

Canon® PIXMA G4210

The G4210 is the Megatank with all the extra bells and whistles.  Print, scan, copy, fax and wireless capabilities are all included and the perfect multifunction machine for the home office.

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A 20-page automatic document feeder makes it easy to scan multiple documents with the push of a button.  Print speeds are on par with the G1200, coming in at 8.8 ppm for black and 5 ppm for color prints. Additionally, the printer is compatible with Airprint®, Google Cloud Print® and Canon Print app, allowing for a variety of instant printing options from any device.

The Canon G4210 uses GI-290 ink bottles to refill ink. You can get lower prices on ink refills with LD Products. Below, we compare the cost per page of OEM Canon refill bottles with LD’s compatible Canon ink bottles.

For the purposes of computing cost per page, A GI-290 black can print up to 6,000 pages and each color (C/M/Y) ink refill bottle can print up to 7,000 pages.

Ink Savings

Price Comparison of Canon GI-290 Black vs LD Compatibles

Canon
LD Brand
Price
$17.99
$6.99
Cost per page .29 cents / $0.0029
.11 cents / $0.0011

Price Comparison of Each Color Canon GI-290 vs LD Compatibles

Canon
LD Brand
Price
$11.99
$5.99
Cost per page
.17 cents / $0.0017
.08 cents / $0.0008

Brother® Inkvestment Printers

Brother’s Inkvestment printer line appeared a few years ago and has been widely accepted by consumers thanks to low operating costs and all-in-one printing capabilities.  The Inkvestment Ink Tank model is their latest addition to the series, combining the cost-saving features of an ink tank machine with the familiar functionality and cartridge handling of an everyday inkjet printer.  Rather than fill the tank with an ink bottle, the Brother Inkvestment Ink Tank uses cartridges to transfer ink to the tank. 

Some consumers have understandably been apprehensive about the idea of filling up their printer with an ink bottle, and with the Inkvestment they no longer have to be.  Installing an ink tank cartridge is just like installing a regular Brother cartridge and clicks directly into the ink tank system.  Cartridges are clear so you can easily monitor ink levels and a page gauge monitor on the front of the printer automatically tracks those levels by estimating your remaining page use.

Brother® MFC-J995DW

Brother announced the InkVestment Ink Tank series last year and they now sell a few printers under this name.  The MFC-J995DW is a worthwhile addition to the expanding printer line, offering the usual print, copy, fax and scan options, all accessible via an easy to use 2.7” color touchscreen.

Although the page yield of the Brother LC3033 cartridges used by the J995DW printer model is slightly lower compared to some of the other ink tank printers we mentioned, the printer has other advantages going for it, like automatic two-sided printing and near field technology capabilities.

The Brother LC3033 ink tank cartridges are super economical, but the LC3035 even more so! A ultra-high yield LC3035 black cartridge prints approximately 6,000 pages and each ultra high yield Brother LC3035 color cartridge prints 5,000 pages. 

Both LC3033 and LC3035 are compatible for use with the Brother MFC-J995DW.

We use the ultra high yield page yields when computing the CPP (cost per page) of OEM Epsons vs LD compatible cartridges.

Price Comparison of Original Brother LC3035 Black vs Compatible LD Cartridges

Brother
LD Brand
Price
$55.99
$22.99
Cost per page
.93 cents / $0.0093
.38 cents / $0.0038

Price Comparison of Original Brother LC3035 Color vs Compatible LD Cartridges

Brother
LD Brand
Price
$62.49
$24.99
Cost per page
4.5 cents / $0.045
1.7 cents / $0.017

Closing

We hope you found our quick compilation of ink tanks from different brands. If you have any questions or need any help selecting the right ink tank for your printing needs, simply leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you!

*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon, Staples, Brother, Canon, HP and Epson.  All products are reviewed independently. As an Amazon associate, LD Products earns from qualifying purchases through links on this page.  All prices effective as of August 9, 2019.  OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.

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33 Comments

  • How long will it be for LD compatible cartridges to replace original LC3033?

    • Hi Gerard,

      Unfortunately we do not have an estimated date just yet for an LD compatible version of the LC3033 since it still such a new printer. Keep an eye on this article, I will update it once they are available.

  • Why is the Brother® MFC-J995DW in this test? With it’s price/per/page it’s way more expensive than the Epson ans Canon. Seems like Brother wants to step in, butt still wants to rip us off?

    • I have an older MFC-J5620DW. It’s really a great printer except the cartridges are small and every time I would put in ink, the printer wouldn’t print correctly until it went through one or two cleaning cycles which used up half the ink! The last time I did this it literally used all the just-opened ink cartridges in one cleaning cycle. $80 worth of ink out the window, or wherever Brother hides it when the printer does the cleaning thing.

      I’m looking at this model but something tells me Brother is up to no good here.

    • hello

      does canon pixma 4210 do auto duplex printing?

    • A downside to Canon’s megatank is sometimes it doesn’t come with seemingly basic printer features. In the case of the Canon PIXMA 4210, unfortunately it only does single sided printing.

  • Do these three printers have scanners built in?

    • All of these printers have a scanner except for the Canon PIXMA G1200.

  • Awesome write up. Good stuff. I think I’m going to grab the Brothers. More band for my buck. Hopefully you guys will offer a very affordable ink soon… But seeing how I print maybe a 1000 pages a year… It will be a few years. Lol… Again… Good write up… Kudos.

  • Never mind anything else, freedom from empty-cartridge anxiety is IT.

  • I have been looking for a tank system printer that has the ability to print on CDs. Anyone know where I can find such one?

    • Epson ET-7700 and Epson ET-7750 both print on CD/DVD.

  • Thank you!!! I’ve been trying to figure out which one to purchase, and I think I’m going to go with the Brothers. It is economical, within my per year, maybe about 1500, and has auto duplexing. My kids print a LOT of school stuff and 2 sided is the way to go. Great write up! 🙂

  • GOOD PRODUCT BUT WHAT ABOUT DURABILITY FOR BUISSINESS

  • which of the three lines produces the higher-quality text print?

  • What is the best of the three for photo printing (just for personal use, but would like good quality)? I am looking for a photo grade ink tank printer which sheet fed scanning (copier) features and both network and wireless. Any suggestions would be appreciated. IF there are other models not in this review, that would be great too!

  • I’d like to know if anyone has been able to test the photo quality (text quality would be nice too) of these printers in a side-by-side comparison using the same photo. I am looking for the best refillable ink tank system that prints the best photos. This article has the best up-to-date, current info in comparing refillable ink printers. I still don’t have my answer as the quality of output is on the top of my list in requirements.

  • I Own the Epson ecotank ET-2750 & ET-3750 they are amazing I print all my photos on the 2750 and my documents on the 3750 and will get thousands of pages at least 3000 to 5000 and you canbuy all 4 inks at Sams now for $55 even less on eBay. That’s why I wondered why you claimed with ink bottles of $13 for 5 Thousand pages is 1.2 cents when it’s really more like .2 cents even with paper cost of 5000 sheets for $28 at Sams paper is .56 of a cent then paper and ink is still less than a penny per page . I just love this the biggest grip with printer were the cartridges and ink cost and not anymore now no more going to the photo lab I just print at home and never worry about ink cost.

  • I purchased the Epson ET 3750. Loved my older Epson. But th is one is a huge disappointment. It only holds one size paper at a time so you have to stop & reload every time you switch from a document to a photo. It refuses to pick up the 4×6 photo paper giving me a message that it is out of paper. It’s not. It even has an error message that if this window appears repeatedly you might need to have the machine serviced. It’s brand new! When we did finally get it to take the 4×6 paper (once!) the print quality is so poor it looks like a poorly scanned reprint. Color is off. Focus is blurry. Did I get a defective printer or is this typical?

  • I bought Epson L565 printer in 2017. It does everything well except that it is extremely slow when it comes to making copies and scanning.

    • Which ones have the best scanners?

  • I have epson L4160. and I don’t know which ink could fit with it?
    can you help

    • For that ink tank, refill with Epson 001 ink bottles: black (T03Y100), cyan (T03Y200), magenta (T03Y300), yellow (T03Y400).

  • Is the Brother model compatible with an Apple I-pad for wireless printing?

    • Yes, the Brother printer is compatible with AirPrint on your iPad.

  • Can any of these tank printers handle envelopes?

    • Yes, most of them do.

  • My printer broke, I’m trying to decide wish way to go cannon or brothers. I hve read that the tank ink is better an more economical but so many choices. The kids like to print phots an school stuff we print stuff for our business. An fax .
    Please help me choice ty

  • I have an Epson XP-830. It’s been the most reliable printer I’ve owned. I used Epson LD compatible cartridges to manage the high cost of printing. For about a year, I was able to use LD replacement ink.Thinking it’d be more convenient and cost effective to stock up on LD ink, I bought a bunch. Shortly thereafter I got a message from Epson that I had a firmware update. Not knowing the update’s effect, I installed it. To my chagrin, the update required that I use ONLY Epson ink. The LD ink cartridges I had in stock up on were no longer useable. Could Canon, Epson and Brothers pull the same trick and require their respective printers to use only their brand of ink?

    • Yes those brands can pull the same trick but there’s a way to bypass this. Simply disable your printer firmware updates, its set to “automatic” by default. Turning this off should enable you uninterrupted use of aftermarket cartridges. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act protects your right to use aftermarket products in your machine without penalty by the original manufacturer. Manufacturers cannot force you to buy their cartridges. You have a right to choose what you put in your printer.

  • the review is nice but is missing the next bottle neck in inkjet tank printer ownership: build/ durability.
    how many pages will that printer print before it stops feeding papers, jams papers or other print quality issues appear.
    those kind of repairs usually will finish the printer life for ordinary consumer.
    this is what true review should supply since all other technical specs I can go to amazon and find myself.

    • Thank you for the feedback! It is greatly appreciated. I have updated the article to cover the points you mentioned. If there are more things you’d like us to include, just leave us a comment!

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