The Benefits of an Ink Tank Printer

February 2, 2024  MIN READ

Are you tired of frequently replacing ink cartridges that always seem to be running out? If yes, it's time to explore the option of refillable ink tank printers.

This article compares the pros and cons of tank printers, (sometimes referred to as continuous ink tank printers), with conventional ink cartridge printers.

Key Takeaways

  • Inkjet printers with refillable tanks have higher upfront costs but lower running costs, making them a better choice for those who print a lot.
  • Conventional cartridge inkjet printers are cheaper upfront but have higher running costs, which can add up over time.
  • Refillable tank printers are more cost-effective for those who print a higher volume of pages, while cartridge-based printers might be better for occasional users.

What are Ink Tank Printers?

Ink tank printers, as the name suggests, are printers with an integrated ink tank system. Instead of using conventional cartridges, these printers use refillable tanks filled with liquid ink. This new technology is revolutionising the printing industry, providing a cost-effective and efficient solution for heavy print users.

inktank printers

Ink Tank Printer Brands

Epson, Canon, and HP provide printers with large ink tanks filled from bottles. Epson's models are known as EcoTank printers, HP offers Smart Tank printers, and Canon uses the name MegaTank for their lineup.  

Refilling ink used to be a messy business. I remember the inevitable mess that used to result from refilling ink cartridges when refill kits became available in the early 2000s. A fiddly time consuming job that required lots of paper towels! Fortunately that's changed and refilling ink tank printers is a breeze. Refill ink bottles are specially designed to eliminate ink spills, making it a quick and easy process.

epson ecotank refill

Brother has taken a slightly different approach with its "INKvestment" printers which, instead of refillable tanks, use larger-than-usual cartridges which effectively function as pre-filled tanks you plug into your printer. Depending on printer model, these contain up to 1 or 2 years worth of ink. 

brother inkvestment tank

All these brands offer a range of models to suit different needs and budgets. Whether you need a basic printer for occasional use or a high-end model with all the bells and whistles, there's an ink tank printer for you. For instance, Epson's EcoTank printer and Canon's PIXMA G-Series MegaTank printers are excellent options that offer high-yield bottles and exceptional print quality

Ink Tank Advantages

1 - Low Cost

The key advantage of ink tank printers provide over traditional ink cartridge printers is significantly lower on-going printing costs. While the initial purchase cost of an ink tank printer can be substantially higher than a comparable ink cartridge printer, the cost per page is much lower. This is because the ink bottles used to fill the tanks are cheaper than cartridges and last much longer, resulting in lower running costs.

The tanks of ink tank printers hold more ink than a typical ink cartridge, meaning they don't need to be replaced as often. This saves money and also reduces waste, making ink tank printers a more environmentally friendly option than conventional ink cartridges.

To illustrate these cost differences, let's look at a two HP inkjet printers suitable for office use and which offer similar functionality. 

hp smarttank 7305

The HP SmartTank 7305 MFC is an inkjet printer with refillable tanks. At the time of writing, its recommended retail price is NZ $739. This printer can print an impressive 8,000 colour and 6,000 black pages between tank refills (note, print yields are estimates and will vary by user). And when it comes to buying refill ink bottles the HP31 Cyan, Magenta & Yellow colour bottles which each contain 70ml of ink have an RRP of just $23 each.  A replacement HP32XL Black bottle containing 125 ml of ink costs $28. 

hp officejet pro hp+8012e

By comparison, the HP OfficeJet Pro HP+8012E All-In-One inkjet printer uses conventional ink cartridges. This printer's RRP at time of writing is NZ $160, and so it's substantially cheaper to buy than the SmartTank 7305. However, there's a huge difference in print yields. Even using XL cartridges, the estimate page yield is just 825 pages per cartridge. The RRP cost of replacing these cartridges is NZ $69 for an HP915 XL black cartridge and $38 for each of the HP 917 XL Cyan, Magenta and Yellow cartridges. That's a total cost of around $183 to print about 825 pages and more than the purchase price of the printer.

So as you can see from this example, ink tank printers can cost a lot more to buy, but their ongoing costs can be much lower than traditional inkjet printers. Refillable tank printers are a more cost-effective choice in the longer run if you print a lot of pages, while cartridge-based printers may better suit people who don't do a lot of printing.

2 - High-Quality

Another advantage of ink tank printers is their high-quality output. They produce crisp, sharp, and vibrant prints, which is especially important for businesses that need professional-looking documents. Whether you're printing text, graphics, or photos, you can expect excellent results.

3 - High Volume

If your office or home has high print volumes, an ink tank printer is a smart choice. Tank printers typically come with enough ink to print thousands of pages, while cartridge printers rarely have enough for more than a few hundred. Brands like Epson and Canon offer models like the EcoTank printer and MegaTank printers, respectively, which are designed for high-volume printing while maintaining exceptional print quality.

high volume printing

4 - Infrequent Printing

Ink tank printers are also perfect for environments where printing is infrequent. Unlike traditional ink cartridges that can dry out when not used regularly, ink tank printers are designed to handle long periods of inactivity without any decline in print quality.

Ink Tank & Traditional Ink Cartridge Printer Comparison


Ink Tank Printers

Cartridge Inkjet Printers

Ink Delivery System

Built in ink tanks

Removable ink cartridges

Printer Cost

Higher upfront cost

Lower upfront cost

Ink Costs

Lower cost per page

Higher cost per page


Bottled ink for easy refilling

Replace cartridges

Ink Monitoring

Visible ink levels

Chip-based ink level indication

Print Quality

Generally comparable

Can vary by model and brand

Print Speed

Similar to cartridge printers

Similar to ink tank printers


Long time between refills

Frequent cartridge replacements

Environmental Impact

Less plastic waste

More plastic waste

Printhead Maintenance

Typically require less maintenance than cartridge inkjet printers. This is because the printhead is separate from the ink tanks, reducing the chances of ink drying out or clogging the printhead.

Printhead in cartridges, higher potential for clogging and drying out

Long-Term Costs

Lower cost of ownership over time

Higher ink costs can add up over time

Colour Accuracy

Generally good accuracy

Dependent on printer and ink quality

High Volume Printing

Well-suited due to lower ink costs

Costs can add up for high volumes

Ease of Installation

Initial setup might be involved

Quick cartridge replacement

Ink Availability

May be limited in some regions

Widely available cartridges


Ink tank inkjet printers offer cost-effective, convenient, and environmentally friendly printing with their integrated ink tanks and economical ink costs. They are particularly well-suited for high-volume printing tasks. However, they come with a higher upfront cost.

On the other hand, traditional cartridge inkjet printers have a lower initial cost but higher ink expenses over time. Their ease of installation and quick cartridge replacement are advantages, but they can generate more plastic waste and might require more frequent maintenance due to printhead clogging in some cases.

The choice between the two depends on factors such as printing volume, budget, and personal preferences. If you're tired of constantly replacing ink cartridges and looking for a more efficient and economical printing solution, it may be time to consider switching to an ink tank printer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an ink tank printer good for home use? 

Ink tank printers are a great choice for home use. Although they have a higher initial purchase cost compared to traditional cartridge printers, they offer significantly lower ongoing printing costs. This makes ink tank printers a more economical choice in the long run, especially for families or individuals who print frequently. Their ability to produce crisp, vibrant prints suits a variety of home printing needs. Additionally, they are ideal for both high-volume and infrequent printing, as they can handle long periods without use without a decline in print quality.

What are some recommended ink tank printer models? 

Some popular models include the Epson EcoTank series, Canon's MegaTank printers, and HP's Smart Tank range. Each of these model ranges offers excellent print quality, cost-effectiveness, and advanced connectivity options.

Is it difficult to refill the ink tanks? 

Not at all. The design of most ink tank printers makes the refill process straightforward. The transparent tanks allow you to monitor ink levels and refill them when necessary using the provided ink bottles.

Can I print directly from my mobile device with an ink tank printer? 

Yes, most ink tank printers offer advanced connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, allowing you to print directly from your mobile phone or computer. Some models are also compatible with Apple AirPrint.

Are ink tank printers environmentally friendly? 

Yes, by reducing the need for frequent cartridge replacements, ink tank printers generate less plastic waste compared to traditional inkjet printers, making them a more eco-friendly option.

Does the print quality of ink tank printers compare well with that of conventional printers?

Absolutely! Ink tank printers are known for their high-quality print output. They deliver crisp, vibrant prints, making them suitable for a wide range of printing tasks.

About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is co-owner of Good Egg - New Zealand's go-to for discounted printers and printer consumables.

Since his first computer in the early '90s, Mark has been scratching his head at one peculiar paradox: Why are we still so print-happy in the promised age of the 'paperless office'?

But instead of merely pondering this conundrum, Mark decided to channel his passion for technology and love for a good bargain into a solution. Enter Good Egg, where Mark and team work tirelessly to make sure that your printer doesn't eat up your wallet.

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