Are Cheap Printer Ink Cartridges Worth The Risk?: The Pros and Cons of Using Cheap Ink Refills In A Printer

Make no mistake, printer ink cartridges are often the most expensive part of a printer. More often than not printer manufacturers sell consumer model printers at cut rate prices in the hope of making up for it on the back end when the ink cartridge runs dry. The only alternative for many buyers to avoid the high cost of inkjet ink is to gamble on cheap printer ink in the form of refilled ink cartridges sold by third party vendors. The problem? Sometimes cheap printer ink is just exactly that- cheap!

Do It Yourself Ink Refills vs. Ink Cartridge Refill Services

Today there are essentially two ways to get cheap printer ink. The first is to purchase a refilled cartridge from any of hundreds of online and brick and mortar vendors. These stores accept donations of used ink cartridges, refill them, repackage them, and sell them to the public at a sharply discounted price when compared to new, branded inkjet cartridges.

The benefit of this method is that it is fairly easy to check on a refill companies background and reputation simply by doing some searching on the Internet. The other benefit (aside from cost) is that this is by far the easiest way to buy cheap printer ink for use at home or at work. The downside to this method is that it will almost always be more expensive than the other alternative which is for the user to refill the cartridge himself.

Inkjet refill kits are by far the cheapest way to refill an old cartridge, but they are also the most problematic for an end user. Most current inkjet refill kits include bottles of ink, a syringe, a hole drilling tool of some kind, and a tool used to reset the embedded security chip that is found in most consumer inkjet cartridges. Remember that these kits must be specifically intended for the exact model of printer they are to be used on. If a user is committed to refilling their own ink cartridges be sure to take a look at this excellent guide to refilling printer ink cartridges.

Things To Be Concerned With When Buying Cheap Ink Cartridge Refills

When dealing with commercially refilled inkjet cartridges or with home refilled cartridges there are a few things that can spell disaster for a cheap ink cartridge user. As mentioned before, most ink cartridges now come with electronic chips embedded inside them. They communicate with the printer when installed and let it know how much ink is probably left in the tank. This embedded chip must be reset at the same time the cartridge is refilled or the printer will think that the cartridge is still empty. The problem with this method is that the tool must be exactly meant for the brand of cartridge, and some of these resetting tools are quite expensive.

Other potential consequences of using cheap ink cartridges include issues such as ink leaking into the inside of the printer from an improperly refilled cartridge. More often than not leaking ink causes the printer to fail permanently, resulting in the added cost of replacing the entire printer.

Aside from these things, using cheap ink cartridges from a refilling station probably void the warranty of the printer so it is recommended that buyers stick with new, name brand cartridges at least until after the warranty on the printer has expired. Once the warranty has expired users should consider the wise suggestions of other inkjet refill users including the recommendations of Consumer Reports in regard to selecting the best printer inks and the most effective ways to refill them.