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The Best Printer for Home Use With Cheap Ink

Dan Price Updated 16-12-2019

No one likes to spend money on a printer. It’s one of the most mundane pieces of tech in any household.

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As such, it’s tempting to opt for a model at the cheaper end of the price spectrum. After all, regular printed text all looks the same to most people, right? No one would know whether your printer was top-of-the-range or plucked out of the bargain basement.

The Price of Printer Ink

Unfortunately, unlike most pieces of tech, choosing a new printer isn’t as simple as finding the right balance between price and features. You’ve also got to factor in the price of replacement ink cartridges. Cheap printers could end up costing you a lot more, in the long run, thanks to costly refills.

Worse still, it’s not just printing pages that use your ink. Cleaning printheads and other printer maintenance tasks use a significant amount, especially if your printer sits idle for long periods between sessions. Some reports claim maintenance tasks alone could cost you more than $100 per year.

This reality makes manufacturer guidelines for ink mileage inaccurate. They are based on bulk printing, i.e. when you print dozens of sheets in one go. If, like most home users, you print a couple of sheets here and there every month, your ink will not go as far as the claims suggest.

So which are the best printers for home use with cheap ink? Keep reading to find out.

1. Epson Expression ET-3700 EcoTank

Epson Expression ET-3700 EcoTank Epson Expression ET-3700 EcoTank Buy Now On Amazon $399.88

Our first pick doesn’t use traditional ink cartridges. Instead, it relies on refillable ink wells. The upfront price of the Epson Expression ET-3700 EcoTank isn’t cheap, but it ships with enough ink for two years of heavy usage—it’s good for 14,000 black pages or 11,200 color pages. According to the manufacturer, that’s roughly equivalent to 30 regular ink cartridges.

And even when the time comes to refill, you can expect to save around 80 percent when compared to regular cartridges for the same amount of output. Other important features include a 150-sheet paper tray, support for two-sided printing, borderless printing, a print speed of 15 black or eight color pages per minute, and a 2.4-inch color screen. Sadly, the printer does not have a fax feature, meaning it might not be suitable for people who work from home.

2. Canon Pixma TS8320

Canon Pixma TS8320 Canon Pixma TS8320 Buy Now On Amazon

If the high price of the Epson Expression ET-3700 EcoTank is off-putting, check out the Canon Pixma TS8320 instead. One of the most critical aspects of making sure you get the most value out of your ink is buying a unit with four separate cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow). In this regard, the Pixma TS8320 delivers.

It costs about six cents for a page of black text, 17 cents for a sheet of graphics, 40 cents for a 4 x 6 photo, and $1.25 for an 8 x 10 photo. Aside from ink cost, you can enjoy duplex printing, an LCD screen, and wireless connectivity. Like the Epson model, it does not support faxing. Unusually for a printer, it’s also available in three colors, making it ideal for anyone who wants their device to blend in with their room.

3. Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank

Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank Buy Now On Amazon $319.31

The Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank is a cheaper version of the previously discussed ET-3700 model. Like it’s big brother, the printer does not use ink cartridges. Aside from price, the most significant difference between the ET-2650 and the ET-3700 is the size of the ink wells.

It can produce 4,000 black pages or 6,500 color pages off a single refill. Replacement black ink will cost you no more than $10. The colors run a couple of dollars more expensive. Bottom line? The Epson Expression ET-2650 is possibly the best printer for home use with cheap ink.

4. Brother MFC-J6930DW

Brother MFC-J6930DW Brother MFC-J6930DW Buy Now On Amazon $299.99

If you want to print cheap photos, the Brother MFC-J6930DW is the way to go. Estimates suggest it costs about 35 cents per 4 x 6 photo, which is less than most other models. The printer is also suited to heavy use in a small office or home business thanks to its 500-sheet paper tray. Regular cartridges will produce 550 black and 550 color sheets before running out.

Brother also offers Super High Yield cartridges. They’ll produce 3,000 black sheets and 1,500 color sheets. The unit can print 22 pages per minute and includes a 3.7-inch touchscreen display. The printer is compatible with Apple AirPrint, which is a great way to print when you’re out of the house.

Interestingly, the Brother MFC-J6930DW is also Amazon Dash-enabled. If you live in a supported market, Amazon will monitor your remaining ink levels and automatically order replacements when you start to run dry.

5. Brother HL-L2350DW

Brother HL-L2350DW Brother HL-L2350DW Buy Now On Amazon $119.99

A sad truth of inkjet printers is that they are prone to printhead failures. Over time, the nozzles become blocked with dried ink—especially if you don’t print very frequently. At best, you’ll eat through a ton of ink just to get them operational again. At worst, you’ll need to buy an entirely new printer.

Laser printers don’t suffer from such issues. Better yet, they also tend to have a cheaper cost per printed page than their inkjet counterparts. Laser printers are also much faster. As it’s a laser printer, the Brother HL-L2350DW uses toner rather than regular ink. A single toner refill should last for two years based on normal home use. A printed page costs 3.5 cents.

The major downside of the Brother HL-L2350DW is that is can only print in black and white. However, depending on your use case, it might be adequate. Other features include duplex printing, a 250-sheet paper tray, wireless printing, and Amazon Dash toner replenishment.

Printer Ink: More Expensive Than Champagne?!

By the ounce, printer ink is more expensive than a high-end bottle of champagne. As such, the cost is not something you should take lightly. Before buying a new printer, you need to think about how much you’re going to use it and how much it could cost you over the course of a year.

If you print on your Mac, check out our tutorial on setting up and using printers on Mac How to Easily Set Up and Use Printers on a Mac Need to use a printer on your Mac and not sure where to start? Have a look at our guide to setting up and using printers on Mac. Read More . As a supplement, you might also look at the best label makers The 7 Best Label Makers to Get Organized Here are the best label makers and label printers for organizing your home, office, garage, refrigerator, and more. Read More .

Explore more about: Printing, Workstation Tips.

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  1. JonZone
    January 17, 2020 at 4:19 am

    Best printer, best computer, best 'phone, best monitor, best mouse, best keyboard, best ear-buds, best headphones, best cars, best dogs, best cats..........on and on about 'the best' load of codswallop relating to everything.
    Printer manufacturers do not make ink cartridges, they buy generic and put a chip in their label.
    Cheap printers will fail with cheap, generic chipless cartridges, my expensive Brother printer works extremely well with quality, generic cartridges, sourced by my local print shop at 50% cheaper than the labelled Brother products, both made by the same supplier.
    I never believe 'The Best' online articles and reviews, that is clickbait , all aspects are should never be trusted.

  2. dragonmouth
    December 17, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    "Over time, the nozzles become blocked with dried ink—especially if you don’t print very frequently."
    I have about a dozen HP Deskjet printers sitting around the house, some of them over 10 years old. Obviously, I can't use all of them regularly. However, when I do get to use any of them, I do not have any print head problems. I know this is anecdotal evidence but I am not trying to generalize. Just relating my experience.

    "A single toner refill should last for two years based on normal home use."
    Please define "normal home use". Is that something like the mythical "average PC user"?
    I have a Brother HL-2300 series laser printer and print about 10 pages a week. Using the extra capacity cartridges, I have to replace the toner cartridge every 6-9 months.

  3. Teala
    January 15, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Do not buy Brother Printers! As soon as the drum runs out, it will cost you more to replace the drum than to buy another printer!

    • Kit Kimes
      January 16, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      I have used Brother printers for years. My current one is a HL-3170CDW which I really like. There toner cartridges can be pretty expensive if you buy them from Brother or a name brand store, but I just bought a set of the four drums and I did not consider them overly expensive.

    • Kit Kimes
      January 16, 2020 at 5:39 pm

      We bought my wife an Epson ET-4750 EcoTank printer several months ago and I was surprised by how nice the prints come out and how long the ink is lasting. But the real bonus was the built in scanner. I have a nice Epson scanner which I use for digitizing our old pictures, but I'm really happy with the job that the printer/scanner does on most jobs I need to scan.

  4. Colin
    October 24, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Retail ink is a total ripoff, if you can check on ebay for your printer model and get your ink there. Can find ink cartridges for about 10% of what you pay retail. Ink is just as good unless you are doing professional photos. That or get a cheap printer and replaced the printer when the ink runs out.

  5. Mark Tristan R. Ocampo
    October 23, 2018 at 8:59 am

    I might never have to buy a printer for myself or for use at home since I can do it at work.

    However, thank you so much, MUO, for creating such an article other tech sites wouldn't even touch. Most would be reviewing about the latest and greatest tech - computers, mobiles, tablets, cameras, etc., ...and even printers. But considering the usage and costs in a typical household is just so useful.

    Who knows, I might just have myself a printer next time?

    #MyFaveTechSite #MakeUseOf

  6. pat
    October 23, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Thanks.
    Next time I'll buy an Epson Ecotank.
    I'll never buy a Canon Pixma again since cartriges prices are a total rip-off!
    Fortunately I can buy a chinese set of cartriges for way less than a single cartridge sourced locally. With a quite good printing quality.