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The Ultimate Guide to Epson® Ink Cartridges

The Ultimate Guide to Epson® Ink Cartridges

Epson ink cartridges are known for producing high quality text and vibrant photos, but with so many cartridges to choose from, how do you know which cartridge is the right fit? In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about Epson® ink!  We’ll review the types of cartridges Epson sells, the pros and cons of  printing with their popular EcoTank printer series, and show you some easy troubleshooting tips too so you can get the most out of your Epson printer.

Meet the ink cartridges

Individual ink cartridges

Epson printers use individual ink cartridges, which means each cartridge is filled with a specific ink color. This is unlike HP’s tricolor cartridges that contain three ink colors in one cartridge. Most printers require a set of black, cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges but if you own a photo printer, your might need a couple of additional cartridges like light cyan or light magenta.  Essentially each cartridge is a plastic tank that’s filled with ink.  On the end of the cartridge you will find a gold chip that communicates with the printer to track ink levels so you know when it’s time for a replacement.  When the cartridge is installed into the printer, it works with a fixed printhead inside the machine to create a print.

What sizes are Epson cartridges available in?

Epson ink cartridges are offered in either a standard yield or high yield / XL cartridge size.  Frequent printer users are better off printing with a high yield cartridge.  Because they are filled with more ink, they offer more prints and provide a better a long term value.  Standard cartridges are less expensive but will run out of ink faster.  No matter which size you go with, the cartridge will install the exact same way in your printer.  In fact, the physical cartridge size is the same regardless of the yield – the only difference is the amount of ink inside the cartridge.

To illustrate the cost savings of standard and high yield ink, we’ll compare the page yield and price of the Epson 702 ink cartridge series.  Epson printers that work with this series can use either Epson 702 standard yield or 702XL high yield ink cartridges.  Even though the Epson 702 standard yield is cheaper, it has a higher cost per page due to the limited volume of ink that’s inside.  The high yield on the other hand, is a more expensive but you get more value from it because it prints more pages at a lower operating cost.

Cartridge SeriesOEM Price*Page YieldCost Per Page
Epson 702 Standard Yield Black$19.99 350 Pages5.7 cents
Epson 702XL High Yield Black$39.99 1,100 Pages3.6 cents

What is Epson ink made of?

Epson has a few sub-brands that they use to identify their different ink formulations.  If you look at the front of your Epson cartridge box you might notice the name “DURABrite” or “Claria” in the corner.  These names indicate what ink formula is inside the cartridge.  Knowing the ink formulations that work best for certain print jobs will help you choose which one to shop for. 

Epson DURABrite cartridges contain a pigment-based ink formulation that’s made for printing fade- and water-resistant text and images. Though not as vibrant as dye-based ink, DURABrite cartridges ink is still capable of printing good quality photos, making it a suitable cartridge for a wide range of print jobs.  If you own a standard Epson home inkjet printer, it likely uses DURABrite cartridges.

Popular Epson DURABrite ink cartridges: Epson 702 series, Epson 802 series, Epson 252 series, Epson 288 series

Epson Claria Photo HD cartridges contain mostly dye-based ink and are designed for amateur photo printing.  All of these cartridges are dye-based except for the pigment-based black cartridge that comes with some printer models.  If you own a lower end Epson photo printer, it likely uses Claria Photo HD ink.

Popular Epson Claria ink cartridges: Epson 302 series, Epson 312 series, Epson 202 series, Epson 212 series

Epson UltraChrome HD cartridges contain pigment-based ink engineered so they also produce accurate vibrant colors with a higher optical density DMAX for deeper blacks and wider range of tones. This formulation of ink allows users to enjoy the benefits of both pigment-based and dye-based ink and is used in high end photo printers like the Epson SureColor P600, printer models made for professional photographers . The cartridges are expensive but if you need gallery grade or archival prints, they are worth the investment.  With print permanence ratings of up to 200 years, your great great grandchildren will even be able to admire your work! 

Popular Epson UltraChrome HD ink cartridges: Epson 760 series, Epson 324 series, Epson 850 series

Epson Ink Cartridge Alternatives

It’s no secret that Epson ink cartridges are expensive to replace.  Here, we’ll show you a couple of cartridge alternatives that can help lower your printing costs so you can get the most value from your ink and your printer.

Epson EcoTank Ink Bottles

Epson was the first major printer manufacturer to release a cartridge-free ink tank printer back in 2015. Now five years later, Canon, Brother and HP have all come out with their own version of an ink tank, but Epson’s EcoTank line is still the most popular inkjet printer alternative on the market.

Instead of using ink cartridges to print, EcoTank printers rely on ink bottles and a refillable ink tank system to power your printer.  Similar to filling up your car with gas, when a particular color is empty in the tank, all you have to do is fill it up and you can continue printing!

EcoTank owners love ink bottles because they print A LOT more than a standard Epson ink cartridge, offering thousands of prints per bottle compared to an average of a few hundred with most cartridges.  On top of that, ink bottles are cheaper too, priced from $12-$22 (depending on your printer model).  With such low operating costs, EcoTanks are undeniably enticing, but they aren’t for everyone.  If you don’t print a lot and your printer sits idle for a long period, the tubes inside the tank may clog and cause print quality problems.  If that is a concern, you are better off buying an inexpensive laser printer.

You can learn more about ink tank printers and our favorite EcoTanks in our InkTank Buying Guide.

Low cost compatible ink cartridges

Another great way to save is with compatible Epson ink cartridges from LD Products.  LD Products has been selling affordable compatible alternatives to the Epson brand for over twenty years and we offer a huge selection of compatible ink cartridges and ink bottles all priced with your budget in mind.  Check out our ink and toner finder to search for your preferred cartridge series and snag a great deal on the ink you need.


Does Epson have a subscription ink program?

Epson does not have a subscription ink program at this time.  Subscription ink services let you print a predetermined amount of pages each month for a set fee.  For some users, this a convenient way to manage their monthly printing costs, but there are some drawbacks too – for a complete analysis of the pros and cons, check out our HP Instant Ink Program guide.

If you are looking to save on Epson ink costs, the best way to spend less is by buying low cost compatible cartridges or switching to an EcoTank printer, which is much more cost effective.  When choosing a printer, it’s important to map out what your goals are.  If you print occasionally, we recommend buying an inexpensive Epson inkjet printer and printing with compatible cartridges to lower your costs.  If you print a lot every month and need to print photos, an EcoTank is the best way to save.  If you print a lot but are printing mostly text-based documents, buy a Brother or HP laser printer instead of an Epson.  Compatible cartridges are available for laser printers too and since they use toner powder instead of ink to create a print, they won’t dry out over time, which can be a huge long term cost savings.

What is the best Epson ink cartridge?

All Epson printers offer standard yield and high yield cartridge sizes, but certain cartridge series are more economical than others.  To get the most value, choose an Epson printer that works with cost-efficient high yield cartridges.  When you are shopping around, pay attention to what cartridges the printer uses.  Not all cartridges print efficiently! Let’s compare the Epson 410XL ink series and the 802XL ink series as an example.  The Epson 410XL high yield black ink cartridge prints up to 500 pages for $24.99.  The Epson 802XL high yield black, on the other hand, costs twice as much but prints 2,600 pages.  When you compare the cost per page between these two cartridges you are actually getting a better value with the more expensive cartridge.  You can lower your printing costs even further when you switch to an affordable compatible version from LD Products.

Cartridge SeriesOEM Price*Page YieldCost Per Page
Epson 410XL High Yield Black$24.99 500 Pages4.9 cents
Epson 802XL High Yield Black$49.99 2,600 Pages1.9 cents

How long does Epson ink last?

Epson ink cartridges can last for up to two years in their sealed packaging.  Even after two years you may still get some use out of the cartridge, so don’t immediately throw in the towel when the “low ink” message appears.  To try and extend the life of the cartridge, run the built-in cleaning function on your printer.  This process cleans the printhead nozzles, dislodging any dried ink that may have built up over time.  After the cleaning is finished, print a test page to see if the print quality has improved.  If there is no improvement, try running the cleaning function 1-2 more times – sometimes an extra cleaning or two will do the trick.  We don’t recommend running the cleaning function more than that since every time it is run it depletes some of the ink inside.  Still having trouble?  It may time to get a new cartridge.

Do Epson inkjet printers come with ink?

 Yes, most Epson printers come with a set of starter cartridges.  Starter cartridges are filled with less ink than a standard yield cartridge, so you can expect to print a limited number of pages before they need to be replaced.  You can tell that a starter cartridge is installed by looking at the part number on the side of the cartridge.  If there is a “-I” after the part number, it is a starter cartridge.  For example, the starter cartridge version of the Epson 702 series will read “Epson 702-I” on the side while the standard yield version will read “Epson 702” and the high yield version will read “Epson 702XL”.

Does Epson sell laser printers?

Currently Epson does not offer any laser printers or toner cartridges.  However, they do sell a handful of business oriented ink tank printers that are designed to deliver similar output and cost efficiency as a comparably classed laser printer.  The Epson EcoTank ET-M1170 monochrome ink tank printer is a solid entry level option and includes enough ink to print up to 6,000 pages at an incredibly low cost per page.

How to install an Epson ink cartridge 

When you open a new Epson ink cartridge, you first need to remove the small yellow piece of tape that is on the end of the cartridge.  This piece of tape is covering the vent hole on the cartridge and if it is not removed, the cartridge will no function properly in your printer.  After it is removed, the cartridge is ready to be installed in the printer!

In the steps below we will break down the installation process for an Epson WorkForce WF-4720 printer, but the steps are similar with almost every Epson printer.  For specific installation steps for your machine, you can consult your Epson printer manual, which can be found on Epson’ website.

How to Install Epson 802XL Ink Cartridges in an Epson WorkForce WF-4720

  1. When a cartridge is low, a message will pop up on the display screen that tells you which cartridge needs to be replaced. To start the replacement process, select the “Replace Ink Cartridges” button
  2. Then select “Next” and “Start”
  3. Open up the top cover of the printer to access the cartridges
  4. Squeeze the depleted cartridge gently by the two ends and pull up to remove it from the printer
  5. Insert your new cartridge into the same slot and press down to secure. Then close the top cover
  6. The printer will take a few moments to initialize and then you can start printing with your new cartridge!

How to troubleshoot Epson ink cartridges

How to fix streaky or light prints

You can fix streaky or light prints by running the cleaning option on your printer.  If you haven’t printed for a while, the printhead can dry out and  cleaning will prime the printhead so it’s ready to print again.  We’ve included the cleaning instructions for an Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 printer below, but the process is similar with other Epson printers:

  1. Scroll to “Maintenance” on the printer LCD display screen then select “Printhead Nozzle Check” to print out a nozzle  check pattern page.
  2. Touch “Print” to print out the nozzle pattern.  Examine the pattern to see which colors are running low.
  3. If one of the colors is not up to par you can run a printhead cleaning to try and improve the print cleaning.  Select the “X’ on the printer display screen then select “Start” to begin the cleaning process.
  4.  After the cleaning is complete, select “Check” to print out another nozzle check page to see if your prints have improved.   If the test page pattern is solid, you have fixed the print quality and can continue printing.  If the test page is still light or broken, run the cleaning a second time.

We suggest only running the cleaning function 2-3 times when there is an unresolved print quality issue.  If you run it any more than that, you are just further depleting the ink that is inside the cartridge and at that point will likely need to buy replacement cartridges.

How to troubleshoot an Epson ink cartridge error message

Sometimes an error message will appear on your display screen that prevents your cartridges from working.  This message usually comes up because the gold contact chip that is on the side of the cartridge is not able to communicate with the printer.  A quick cleaning of the chip typically clears up the error message right away.  To clean the chip, wipe it down with a dry-lint free cloth and reinstall the cartridge in the printer.

If you clean the chip and you are still getting an error message, you can also try doing a hard reset on the printer.  With the cartridges still installed, power down the printer and unplug it from the wall for about a minute, then plug it back in, power it back on and try printing again.

How to clean an Epson printhead

The printhead is a component of the printing process that helps transfer the printer ink onto the page.  Printheads clog because nozzles get blocked by either air or ink.  If you are getting poor print results, cleaning the printhead usually gets your printer going again.  Epson printheads are built into the printer and there are a couple of ways they can be cleaned.  The first is an automatic cleaning, or running the built-in printhead cleaning cycle, which we explained earlier in this article.  A second, more thorough (and complicated) option is cleaning the printhead manually.  We explain how to do both in our  How to Clean an Epson Printhead article.

Can Epson ink cartridges be refilled?

Epson ink cartridges cannot be refilled as easily as other cartridge brands like HP and Epson refill kits are not widely available.  You may be able to find some Epson refill kits online but the refill process and print quality of the kits may vary.  We suggest switching to an Epson EcoTank printer if you want to go the refill route.  Refilling ink an EcoTank printer is easy, mess-free and you’ll likely save more money in the long run with it than with a refill kit that works with a standard Epson ink cartridge.

How can I recycle my Epson ink cartridges?

We recommend recycling your used Epson ink cartridges locally if you can.  Office supply stores like Office Depot, Best Buy, Target, Staples or Walmart are all equipped to accept recycled cartridges.  Visit to find the closest office supply store or recycling facility in your area, just search by material type (ink or toner) and your zipcode! If you purchased an original Epson printer cartridges, you can ship your cartridges back to Epson directly through the Epson Recycle Program but you will need to pay for postage.

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Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. 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 June 17, 2021.  OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.



  • I just put two new L D cartridges in my printer and have only printed maybe 10 sheets of paper. Now my printer won’t print It says it doesn’t recognize these two cartridges. I must replace them to make it work properly. What’s up ???


    • Hi John, I am sorry you are having trouble with those cartridges! They should be printing the full page yield upon installation. Which cartridge series are you printing with? If you are getting an error message, you can try cleaning the gold contact points on the end of the cartridge with a lint-free cloth and reinstalling. This should resolve this issue, if not, please let me know and we can provide additional assistance.

    • Epson wrote a firmware upgrade to identify and refuse non-Epson cartridges. There’s probably nothing wrong with the cartridges. You might be able to undo the firmware “upgrade”. For Epson to have done this is poor customer relations.


    • Hi Daniel, the 4740 uses four pigment-based ink cartridges.

  • Our ecotank $445 printer had the inkjets clog after only 2.5 years. We had not used up our first set of ink bottles. We had never turned off the printer so it could do its weekly head flushes and stay clean. This printer is a total rip off!! Be careful with Eco tank printers they can be a total rip off they just give you enough ink that your printheads get ruined before you can use up all the ink! You think you are getting a good deal but you are getting ripped off!!!

  • Epson Expression Premium ET-7750 – what type and quality of ink does it use. Claria Photo HD?

    • Hi Robert, the ET-7750 uses the Epson 512 ink bottles. The main black ink bottle is pigment-based and the color ink bottles (cyan, magenta, yellow and photo black) are dye-based.

  • i have an Epson XP6100. i ordered a set of replacement ink cartridges and the person sent me set of initial cartridges. The printer does not recognize the ink. Is there any way that i can make the printer accept this ink or have i just thrown away my money?

    • Hi Veronica, if the cartridges are not recognizing, you can try cleaning the gold contact chip with a lint-free cloth and reinstalling. Sometimes finger print oil or residue can get on the chip and cause an error. Where did you purchase the cartridges? You might also try contacting them to see if they will send out replacement cartridges to you.

  • where do i find the Users Guide for my epson XP_640?

  • I notice when I go to buy cartridges for my Epson WF-3720 Workforce Pro some of them say 702 or 702xl or 702 -I
    I just installed a 702-I and the printer definitely recognizes it as a different cartridge from the 702 because the “Supply Status Sheet” I printed out shows the old ones as 702 and the new one as 702-I.
    Is the 702 and 702-I the same? Do they hold the same amount of ink? Do they produce the same number of copies? If not, how many copies does the 702-I produce?

    • The I version is the starter (minimal ink) and gives you about 150 sheets, maybe. The XL has the most ink

  • What is the difference between EPSON 822 and T822 cartridges?
    Are they the same?
    Can I use a T822 cartridge in my WorkForce Pro WF-4833 printer?

    • Yes, they are the exact same cartridge. T822 is just an alternative naming convention that Epson uses. You’ve got the right ink for your printer!

  • Are the 802 and 822 different? Can 802 substitute for 822?

    • Yes, these cartridges are different. You cannot print with an 822 cartridge in a printer that uses 802 ink. The main difference between them is the gold contact chip on the side of the cartridge. Chips are designed to work with a particular set of printers and if you install a cartridge that is not intended for your printer series, you will get an error message and won’t be able to print.

  • I need archival quality ink for my Epson WF-2540. Is the EPSON 200XL ink cartridge of archival quality?

  • I have a Workforce Pro WF-4820, is there a cheaper alternative set of cartridges I could use instead of the 405XL’s which are rather expensive.

    • Hi Gareth,

      The least expensive option for that printer would be the standard yield version of the 405 cartridge series. The 405XLs are more expensive because they are filled with more ink, but are generally a better long term value compared to the standard yields if you print frequently. If you look at the cartridge price alone, the standard yield is cheaper, but if you look at cost per page, its more efficient to print with the high yields. Remanufactured printer cartridges are another great way to reduce your printing costs and are considerably less expensive than paying for original Epson ink. This is what we specialize in at LD Products but unfortunately we only sell our cartridges in the U.S. I would recommend looking up a reputable supplier in the UK and see if they have a remanufactured version available for your cartridge series. Hope this helps!

  • I just bought new 676 XL ink cartridges but then my printer broke. I need to buy a new one. What Epson printer would be compatible with the 676 XL cartridges? It seems that the WP-4530 is no longer being made. Thanks!

    • Hi Rachel, the 676XL series works with any of these printers below. Keep in mind these printers are old…the WP-4020, for example came out in 2011. You might be able to find a refurbished one on Amazon or Ebay but you are probably better off getting something new, like the Epson WF-4830, which uses 822 series ink cartridges.

      WorkForce Pro WP-4020
      Workforce Pro WP-4520
      WorkForce Pro WP-4530
      Workforce Pro WP-4533
      WorkForce Pro WP-4540
      Workforce Pro WP-4590
      Workforce Pro WP-4010
      Workforce Pro WP-4023
      Workforce Pro WP-4090

  • HI
    My Workforce 845 has been faultless but recently will not fully complete the start up routine. Eventually says it needs to (prematurely/ unnecessarily) replace an ink cartridge, (138 or 140 is used) and when that is done. It continues with the same fault and requests the next colour replacement and the next ..- all unneeded. ( is there a problem with 138 or 140 ?
    It will not allow me to activate the service functions of cleaning nozzles etc. even after replacement of cartridges.
    I have not found a solution to this in the instructions or elsewhere. Is it a problem with new cartridges, the printer, software or the cartridge holder assembly? any advice?

  • can I use eco tank ink 522 to refill my epson 127/126 cartridges, is it the same kind of ink ? and does it make a diffrence if its a durabrite cartridge? or should I just get new refillable cartridges so that the ink formulas are not mixed?

    • No, we don’t recommend mixing ink from a different cartridge or ink bottle series. The formula is slightly different and you don’t want to risk damaging your printer.

  • Hi I have a WF-5621 from the AP market and I have moved to Australia and apparently they do not sell the T7921-4 ink cartridges here. Are there alternatives for me or do I have to buy a new printer.

    • Hi Joe, unfortunately you will have to buy a new printer. Specific printer models are designed to work in specific regions of the world. If you try installing a cartridge purchased in Australia in an Asian Pacific region printer, you will get an error message.

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