Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Printer Ink Refill Kits Save Money

We have a Canon all-in-one printer.

The ink cartridges are $20. That's some of the cheapest ink out there. Some companies seem to make the ink more expensive than the printer.

Dan is in college and I put together a lot of our homeschooling material. We go through a decent amount of ink. Those cartridges were putting a dent in our budget.

So, I went on over to Amazon.com, typed in something like "printer ink refill kit canon" and I found my refill kit for roughly $20.

My kit came with two black ink bottles, one of each red, blue, and yellow, a syringe, and a set of instructions.

The biggest complaints others have about printer ink refills is that it is messy and time consuming. I find it to be neither. Here is how I do it:

Step 1: Peel back (or remove) the label on the cartridge. You will see a little pinhole.

Step 2: Get a screw and screwdriver to make that whole bigger.


Step 2: Fill syringe with the appropriate amount of ink. (It will come with a syringe and instructions on how much you need.)


Step 3: Insert syringe and slowly fill cartridge. I guess some people have different definitions of the word "slowly". I try to have it done in about a minute and have never had a problem. Some people go really slowly, drawing out this step ad nauseum.


Step 4: Reinstall cartridge and resume printing. The cartridge lasts for about six refills for me, then the ink heads don't perform as well.

The Downside: Picture quality is horrible, truly horrible. Whenever we want to print pictures, we have to buy a new cartridge. We designate the new cartridge for printing pictures and continue using the old cartridge for documents. Then when the new cartridge runs out, we use it as a regular refill. I also have to set the printing resolution to high whenever I print anything which takes more time.

The Upside: This saves us a ton of money, and will continue to do so. And, it's green, extending the life of the printer cartridges.

If you're interested, there are a lot of online stores that sell these kits besides Amazon, so I would shop around before purchasing. If anyone has had good experiences with other sources, tell about it in the comments.

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45 comments:

Strange Knit said...

Emily,

Have you looked on ebay for your printer ink? You can find knock off inks buy looking up your printer with the model number. I click them over to buy it now and lowest price. Before our epson gave out, we got 12 inks. 3 of each color and 4 black. It was about 30 or 40 with shipping. Our HP printer is half what the store charges. The quality is better than a refill kit but not quite up to the brand name. Sadly, you can't always find your brand but definately worth a look.

~Terri
strangeknit.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

We save money by taking our ink cartidges to be refilled at the local mall for our printer. Once every two years we need to buy a new ink cartidge (ugh major bucks), but otherwise refilling them for 20 bucks there is pretty good. We rarely use our printer as it is.

I don't know if they have anything like this in Canada, but I'll tell my hubby about it :)

Mom in Canada

Mrs. Money said...

I've heard that you can take them to Walgreens and they will refill them. Worth a try maybe once?

Simple in France said...

Sounds good! When DH and I were both teaching, we ran through TONS of ink cartridges and they are no good for the environment. Now, if I don't get back into teaching and making my own materials, printing is just for type (I use a lot more visuals than DH because he has access to great materials form national teacher supply centers), so we could probably make due. I will look into this in France.

Anonymous said...

If you do a lot of printing, look into getting a laser printer. They cost more at the outset, but the cost per page is far lower and the cartridge lasts over a year.

Patty said...

Our problem has been that the printer and cartridges have more 'brain' than they should and will say the ink is out when it is not. (I got a new printer after a class action lawsuit with Epson about this). Basically the cartridge 'expires' after so long so I don't think refilling will work. My husband and I both still have our college printers so we alternate usage depending on ink levels. We don't have to buy ink too often so I its not a huge setback but is frustrating and something to look into. We 'recycle' our cartridges at the office supply stores and get a credit back to use for buying more ink.

Anonymous said...

Our printer was always either out of ink, had no paper, or was not connected right. Very frustrating! We live down the street from the public library and our kids' schools all have printers. At the library we can print twenty free pages a day. Problem solved! Take a flash drive down to library and print there or email your work to yourself and print at school. My frustration has ended- we have no printer at home!
Jennifer

Carla said...

We used to refill but after having to bring the printer to the shop to get cleaned because the ink leaked out (we were very careful in refilling). It is truly sad but I can buy a new 3-in-1 printer with ink and colour cartridges for less than it costs for a black ink cartridge. I actually did that last time as the ink would of cost $60 for a black and colour but the printer was $35 (we kind of needed one anyway as one of the kids got dried flowers stuck in the rollers and we could not get it to work properly). Ink is expensive in rural Canadian towns. I used to buy cartridges off ebay but haven't thought of it since we got our new printer :). I think I got 12 cartridges for around $20, but the cartridges were cheaper for our old printer (and it was 5 or 6 years ago).

Emily said...

Terri, I'll keep my eye out for that for when we need to print pictures.

Mrs Money, I've heard of those refilling stations. They are definitely cheaper than buying a new cartridge.

Patty, we had a printer once that had cartridges with a brain. I became so frustrated. I thought that is completely dishonest of that company and we decided we didn't want to give them our money. We saved money by buying a new printer.

Jennifer, our library charges $0.10 per page, but that is an excellent solution.

Anonymous said...

I'll need to find one of these refill kits and try it sometime! I print out a decent amount of stuff for college and probably go through 4-5 b&w cartridges a year. My cartridges aren't as "smart" as yours used to be, but sometimes when I start to print something, a message will come up saying that I am low on ink and should change it now. I just click ignore and can normally get another few dozen pages (text) printed out.I only bother to actually change it once I start having obvious quality issues. I wonder how much money the ink cartridge companies are making from people changing the cartridge before it is actually out of ink?

Jenny

Tree Huggin Momma said...

We return our used catridges to Staples who recycles them and get a credit toward our purchase. I then purchase recycled cartridges for less than new ones and I have never had a problem with them.

Andria said...

I take mine to Walgreens. I tried doing the refill kit, and it made a huge mess. Anyway, Walgreens will fill them 10 times per cartridge.

BTW, I have a link for 90% off Nursing Cover Sets on my blog, if anyone is interested. The sets come to $5 plus s/h. I have one, and I love it!

Renee said...

I was going to say exactly the same thing your anon commenter said. If you're making a lot of black and whites for school, a laser printer is the way to go. You can find an old one at a resale store or garage sale for only a few dollars and buy the ink for about $100 on sale. I print a lot of stuff for my business on mine (400+ invoices/statements every month) and it is still going after nine months. The last cartridge I had lasted me all the way through 5 years of college!

Anonymous said...

I used to spend $23-25 from Walmart for a color cartridge that lasted only a month-this is Lexmark and recommended by the printer. I now buy from Carrot Ink online and get it for $12.60 ea. This is color and lasts at least 4 months (with moderate use with both brands).
Carmen

R. said...

Not sure how old your printer is, but if it is still under warranty, using these cartridges will nullify your warranty. Just something to think of...I used to work for a large printer company and was somewhat shocked to learn this.

Jen said...

We refill our cartridges at Walgreens too. Occasionally they run a coupon/deal in their ad that makes it very cheap. The box in which the catridge was returned to us from our most recent refill, has a 50% off coupon for the next refill. It's a hassle free, pretty good deal.

Ginnie said...

You know, a lot of office supply stores will recycle used ink cartridges. Whether you buy new everytime or refill, if you are recycling them, it is still more "green" than just tossing them in the trash.

Moxie said...

I saved a link off another blog about a Continuous Ink System...but I think it's on my other computer....if I can find it I'll send you the link. But anyway these systems are supposed to save the most as once installed you can just buy the ink bulk in jugs! I don't know much about them but you could google it.....they sound like a nice option!

frugalredneck said...

I refill mine with a refill kit, But I get mine at walmart. I do not print with color. I have had my printer for over a year and used up the color and never refilled it or bought a new one. I print everything in black and white only. I get the black refill kit at walmart for around $10, it lasts me about 10-15 refills, I print a lotttttttt of stuff, probably go through a ream of paper a week. Between homeschool and coupons and lists and stuff. I hate the look of printer printed pictures, So I use walgreens online when I want pics printed, I just wait for their coupons or specials, and pay hardly anything then just pick up in store. I have bought the walmart refill kit for about 7 years now and never had any probs. Michelle frugalredneck.blogspot.com

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

I also have a Canon all-in-one printer. My DH (most frugal man alive) then told me how they give the printers away with computers, yet the ink costs so much.

So first, I switched from Canon cartridges to Lexmark. It was cheaper.

Then, I got them refilled at Walgreen's for $6 each. They usually last 6 months.

We recycle our old ones at Staples. We get $3 credit per cartridge. If you recycle enough (collect from friends and family and the office), you can get $30/month in credit.

Why doesn't Dan print at school?

Now, we just use DH's printer. It only costs $6 or so for a cartridge. In the future, I will only buy a printer that has very cheap cartridges.

Photos printed on the computer cost more than just printing at Walmart. Real photo paper will last longer than photos printed at home.

HTH!

Marie said...

Emily: the way to choose a printer it ti find one with the cheapest refills. We have a Brother 3 in 1 printer/scanner/copier and we order ink for $2 a pack online from supermediastore.com. It is excellent quality and have been doing it for years. Cannon and other manufacturers put chips or other propritary technology into their in cartridges which prevent generics from being used, and making you have to resort to physcially refilling them yourselves.

Clisby said...

Patty, maybe that explains my fax machine problem. We have a laser printer for printing - I second or third or fourth the suggestion that a laser printer is the way to go if you print a lot. However, I also have a fax/copy machine that uses ink cartridges. We almost NEVER receive a fax or make a copy, and we ABSOLUTELY NEVER make a color copy with it - the only reason we have it is so I can fax documents out (which of course doesn't require ink). Currently, I can't use the copy feature because it thinks the color cartridges are empty - even though I'm trying to make a b&w copy. It's very annoying, but I'm not about to buy new color cartridges so I can maybe copy 10 pages a year.

hamgoddess said...

I've had good luck with gotink4u.com - they have a store based in the city i live in (nashua, nh) and they sell both new and refurbished cartridges in the store and online. I have tried the refill kits and hate the mess, i can't seem to do it without making a mess! I have a printer with a "brain" too and hate it! Constantly telling me my cartridges are empty. Ugh.

Esther said...

This works great for us too. We had a problem with the cartridge rod sticking recently but fixed that with a bit of oil. Our printer is now at least 8 years old, on its second set of cartridges (our black and color are separate), and has printed tens of thousands of pages for much less than if we'd replaced the whole cartridge each time it ran out of ink.

Anonymous said...

To save ink, I always printed everything possible at school ($20 or so was on a student card and it was part of tuition, so you were losing money if you didn't use it). I also found it much cheaper to print pictures at Wal-Mart or Rite Aid using their coupons and the quality was so much better (plus that saved buying photo paper too)!

debbieo said...

Wlagreens refills ink cartridges for less that 10.00 I use them

Patty said...

I know it seems cheaper to get a new printer with cartridges or to buy the cartridge pack that comes with 'free paper' but make sure you look at the cartridge sizes. Sometimes they aren't as much of a bargain when you realize cost per print.
Yes, Emily I agree. We are wanting to have 1 all in one printer rather than our two college ones (mine has scanner but his has better prints) but its not a 'need' at this time since we don't print much at home right now(both work in corporate offices). I am a couponer so I am having an internal debate with the 'print your own' coupons. If I use them then I'll likely save over the printing costs but if I don't its a waste.

Anonymous said...

I ruined my HP printer with refill ink :(

Patty said...

Ok, this reminds me of how mad I was the other day when I tried to do a B&W copy on the Epson and the printer 'brain' wouldn't function until I replaced the 'empty' pink (red/fushia?) cartridge. Irks me up a storm. Luckily I had a spare pink from when my parents got a new printer and gave me their partial cartridges that matched mine. Oh and I hate the coupons that print color even though I said B&W or the ones that look like they'll print 3 a sheet but actually print one and a big picture ad on the paper. WASTEFUL. Sigh, ok ok.
Anyway...everyone take notice of your printing usage too. For a while our printers required us to go upstairs and plug the laptop in (inconvenient) but then my hubby set it up wireless so we just click go and get the paper from upstairs later. The ease of 'just click' has the potential to make for wasteful/excessive printing. Be mindful! (Emily, are you going to talk about paper costs/usage/recycling?)

Susan said...

DH found a 'deal' on a Lexmark all in one. The ink is spendy and I can't find generic to use. The rule of the house is, think before printing.
I have thought about the refill, but have heard too many horror stories.
C'est le guerre.

PharmDMomma said...

If you check deal websites, you can get a laser printer for cheap. I got our current all in one laser for $35. a year ago, and I still haven't had to replace the toner, I think they're made to last 2000 pages or so.
The downside is that you can only print B+W, but thats mostly what I use so it works out anyway.
I rarely print pictures, but when I do I tend to find coupon codes and print to a pharmacy w/ photo center near my house. I find it is MUCH cheaper this way especially since photo paper and ink costs so much money.

Emily said...

This maybe a dumb question, but do laser printers come as all-in-ones? I need a scanner for mystery shopping...

Patty, I have a post brewing about recylcing, so yes. (:

Pittsburgh, I think it cost money for him to print at school, but I'm not actually sure.

Aiming4Simple said...

We refill our inkjet and laser cartridges at a chain called "Cartridge World." We've been pleased with the savings and the printing results.

Amber said...

I survived through almost all of my college without a printer lol! You could print 10 pages free at the computer lab and until my last semester, it let you print as many times as you wanted as long as each thing you sent to the printer was 10 pages or less!

We don't have a printer hooked up now but it's in the basement... I miss it!

Christena said...

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=all+in+one+laser+printer&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=9356422636712294818&ei=3AJqS9r3KdKV8Ab93PS0Bw&sa=X&oi=product_catalog_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCgQ8wIwAg#ps-sellers

here's an all in one laser printer. We have a brother and love it to death. The toner has lasted us 5 years (4 of which were in college, when we printed A LOT).

Happily Frugal Mama said...

We buy our cartridges through HouseofInks.com... a four pack of colors/black runs about $12, with free shipping.

Grace said...

try ink123.com - generic cartridges run about $10-$12 each - free shipping & a posrage paid envelope to return the empties - good deal

Kendra said...

I bought a laser printer last year for under $90 which came with toner that lasted about 6 months- and I print a lot! I just replaced the toner and it was $50. Incredibly cheap after comparing the cartridges I was replacing every couple weeks. I'll take the laser anyday.

But Emily, I did keep my old printer to use as a copier and for scanning.

lindsay said...

A continuous ink system could save you a lot of money. A colleague of mine wrote a blog post about it www.diyphotography.net/diy_continuous_ink_systems

Lauren H. said...

Emily, yes, you can get a printer with a scanner. I have an HP deskjet. We got it free when my husband bought his computer so I can't give you a price, but a lot of companies make them.

uncanny said...

The other great thing about a laser is that the ink can't dry out and wreck the cartridge, which always happened to me with ink jet. We just print photos at Walmart - it's cheaper overall this way, and it's easy to order the photos online and pick up whenever.

I have a Brother printer/scanner/copier. Love it. 2 years, still on the original cartridge.

The Pittsburgh Pair said...

Emily, even if you don't have a scanner, when I do mystery shops and promotions, I simply take a very good digital photo of the receipt/form and send it in. I have never had a problem with a company accepting that.

daphne16 said...

Thanks for the reminder. I was actually stalling on buying more ink this past week. I just went to ebay and bought a refill kit that will refill my inks twice for $9.57 shipped.
I will be using your tutorial to do it thanks again
Oh and I am doing a charity 40 hats in 40 days for premie babies starting next week if anyone is interested.
http://daphne-creativemom.blogspot.com/

nepamom said...

I'll have to keep the refills in mind when we get low again. I just bought new cartridges -$20 for color, $15 for b&w. Not the highest prices but still. Of course we get to use that kind of thing as a tax write-off because of hubby's business. You should look into that,if you haven't already, lots of odd things can be deductable when you claim a home business.

Cheap Printer Ink said...

The fact is, the cartridges available in the market at very high rates, that's why everyone is looking for cheap printer cartridges.

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