For today's frugality post, I ask that you consider how you purchase ink for your printer. My brothers buy a cartridge, then don't print anything else for months, and so when they need to, they go buy another cartridge since the first has dried up. On the other hand, with both of us in grad school and me printing Bible class materials, sermons, etc., at home, we go through an above average amount of ink. Below I'll consider a few different ways of meeting your printer ink demand, and consider which is most cost effective. We'll consider this for four different printer models: an Epson R200 (my current printer, about $100), a Canon iP4300 (about $100), and an HP C5180 all in one printer ($180 after rebate) and for the budget purchaser, a Lexmark X1270 all in one printer (less than $40 after shipping from Wal-Mart's website).
Ink Options Available
- OEM Cartridges - Cartridges made by the Printer Manufacturer
- Remanufactured or Compatible Cartridges - Remanufactured cartridges are OEM cartridges which have been professionally cleaned and refilled; Compatible cartridges are made by other manufacturers to fit these printers.
- Refill Kits - Refill your own cartridges - very messy, I don't recommend this.
- Continuous Ink Systems (images below)- These systems are made to feed ink from large containers on the desk into your printer through tubes. The large containers can be refilled, thus ink is purchased in bulk.
Epson r200 Stylus Photo - Uses 6 ink cartridges
- OEM Cartridges - $69.98 from Wal-Mart - 13 ml per cartridge
- Compatible Cartridges - $14.49 from eBay merchant - 18 ml per cartridge
- Refill Kits - $55.20 from eBay merchant for refillable cartridges, 118 ml black and each color, effectively yielding 9 cartridges each for $1.02 per cartridge, $6.12 per set. Additional ink $27.50 for 6x85 ml, or $4.23 per set.
- Continuous Ink Systems - $42.84 from eBay merchant with 100 ml each color pre-installed, effectively $5.71 per set. Additional ink $27.50 for 6x85 ml, or $4.23 per set.
- OEM Cartridges - $50 from Canon (Wal-mart is more) - 13 ml per cartridge
- Remanufactured Cartridges - $50.95 from 4inkjets.com (most cheaper sets do not have the chips on the cartridge, causing more problems)
- Refill Kits - $10 from eBay merchant but doesn't include the photo black single use
- Continuous Ink Systems - $70.34 from eBay merchant with 110 ml each color pre-installed, effectively $8.79 per set. Additional ink $41 for 5x118 ml, or $4.56 per set.
- OEM Cartridges - $57.98 from Wal-Mart - only about 5 ml per cartridge
- Compatible Cartridges - $26.98 from eBay merchant - 12.5 ml black; 7.5 ml colors
- Refill Kits - $65.44 from eBay merchant for refillable cartridges prefilled, plus 100 ml of all six colors to use in refilling, thus $3.30 per set. Additional ink $29.20 for 6x100 ml, or $1.46 per set.
- Continuous Ink Systems - $74.19 from eBay merchant with 100 ml each color pre-installed, effectively $3.71 per set. Additional ink $29.20 for 6x100, or $1.46 per set.
- OEM Cartridges - #16 and #26 OEM - $61.62 from Wal-Mart - 10 ml black; 12 ml color
- Remanufactured Cartridges - $27.80 from eBay merchant
- Refill Kits - $11.34 from eBay merchant for 120 ml black, 60 ml three colors - effectively yielding 12 black cartridges and 15 color, for $0.667 per cartridge, $1.34 per set
- Continuous Ink Systems - $122 from eBay merchant with 85 ml each color pre-installed, effectively $8.20 per set. Additional ink $32 for 4x100 ml, or $1.83 per set.
Hope this information helps you to be more frugal in purchasing a printer and printer ink!