Best Ink Saving Printers 2015
June 18, 2015
(bookmark)

Ink costs the most of any of your printer supplies. Those supplies are actually the bulk of the cost of ownership, even more than the initial price tag on the printer. Saving on ink is crucial to making your printer cost-effective. This article covers the information you'll need to buy a printer that fits your needs and saves you money.


How to Save on Ink and Cartridge Costs

Most people opt for inkjet printers; these are the standard for people who need to print occasionally in small batches. (A laser printer is the opposite; if you need to print a book, then it's the obvious choice.)Among inkjets, some printers consistently use less ink, and some others have low-cost cartridge replacements. Some printers both use less ink and have low-cost replacement cartridges.


Printer Model Price Printer + Copier Fax Photo Quality + Pros
- Cons
Cost / 100 Pgs. (3rd Party)
Brother
DCP-J152W
$228.76 Yes - Low + Ink Saver $1.22
Brother
MFC-J470DW
$71.30 Yes Low +Ink Saver
- Noisy
- No Camera Printing
$1.00
Canon
MX922
$99.99 Yes Medium
+ Prints Quickly
- Uses Up Ink Quickly
$1.05
Canon Pixma
MG7120
$89.90 Yes - High + 6-Color Process
for Superior Photos
- Higher Cost to Replace
$1.05
Epson
XP-800
$104.99 Yes Medium + Good Compromise Of
Cost and Quality
$0.72
Epson
WF-2630
$79.99 Yes Medium + Space-saving Design
- Slower Print Speed
-No 3rd Party Cartridges
(OEM)
$10.30
HP Envy
4500
$63.79 Yes - Medium + Fewer Cartridges to Replace $3.99
HP Officejet
Pro 251DW
$195.00 Printer Only - High + Large Cartridges $0.69

Pages per cartridge, like cents per ounce in groceries, is the measurement you'll want to compare among printers. This gives you an apples-to-apples comparison of what to expect for your typical print job. But that's only half the equation, as Consumer Reports writes, ink is routinely wasted when printers run maintenance cycles to clean the print heads. These maintenance cycles occur after the print is powered up, so keeping your printer on is one of the best ways to avoid ink waste. Brother's printers, despite not being great for photos, save you most; however, those cartridges also hold less ink overall.

Likewise, it's important to remember that smaller cartridges, like the HP Envy 4500's no. 61 black cartridge, will need to be replaced more frequently. In contrast, HP's cartridge no. 951XL (used in the Officejet Pro 251DW), prints many more times of pages.

One way to avoid expensive OEM cartridges is to buy 3rd party cartridges, often every bit as good as the original for a fraction of the cost.

The HP OfficeJet Pro 251DW is the best printer we found, both in terms of efficient use of ink and low cost of replacements. If you look at the table above, you can see the cost-effectiveness of this printer compares favorably to all others. In addition, it prints slightly faster than the competition. However, it lacks a scanner and the convenience of printing directly from devices (cameras, et cetera), so this device is a good fit for users who will be printing primarily documents.

A close second is the Epson Xpression Home 800, which has a comparable cost per hundred pages, and also includes a built-in memory card reader, scanner/copier/fax, dedicated photo output tray, and a smaller profile than most printers which have the same capabilities. Consider it when those features matter more than speed and savings in printing.


And the winner is...


The HP OfficeJet Pro 251DW. It sports:

And the runner-up:


The Epson Xpression 800, for a full range of features and good savings.

Glossary

Background Removal: Removes the graphical or color background of pages, so that the printer will not waste ink on them.
Draft quality: Prints lighter, less crisp images and text, by using less ink.
Duplex: means double-sided prints. While not technically ink-saving, manual or automatic duplex can just about half your paper costs.
Halftoning: The technique used in newspapers to print dense areas of photos or graphics with dots to simulate texture or gradient.
High volume (or XL): These cartridges allow you to buy more ink more cheaply if you're okay with a higher cost per cartridge. The discount for buying more at once is worth it.

  3 Comments

Don Fischer    7.03.15

Cost per 100 pages. Is that for black only? And what size page is it?

rkm     7.08.15

Here's background on how cartridges are rated, and why each metric is only ever approximate.

* Sometimes cartridges carry measurements in ml, and while that is an absolute measure, it is incomplete because it fails to inform you about the efficiency of the printer in a given task.

* At other times you'll find listings for yield in pages. It's a way of rating we didn't invent, but it may allow you to make an apples-to-apples comparison. That yield assumes the following conditions: the page is a standard letter size and inked to about 5% density. 5% density equates to about a paragraph, depending again on factors like software quality settings and typeface.

* Some printers also print black by combining the ink from the separate black and color cartridges, which would make it difficult to say that any of these metrics apply to black ink only, unless the printers themselves are monochrome.

* We chose to rate the printer in terms of cost-per-100-pages because that allowed us to express the range of variation. If we had used simple cost per page, most of the results from that calculation have to be rounded into real currency instead of something like $.01256 / pg. And when you do round that, almost all printers appear to be within the $.01-.03 range, which totally conceals where the savings are.

--the author


Molly    5.12.16

I have a rihac Inklink system on my Epson printer, its WAY WAY cheaper than $1 for 100 pages! http://www.rihac.com.au/index.php/expression-series-c-26_27_250 and I print photos all the time too

Cdavi    5.12.17

Great read, always looking for ways to save. I just wanted to share something I've been doing recently. I run an office and have noticed that unused toner was piling up in storage. Looked into returning but that was no good. Tried out the site http://www.tonerconnect.net/ and was impressed. They had quick service and that payout was nice.

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