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Are cheap inkjet cartridges a good deal?

Question: Do original equipment ink cartridges, meaning those shipped with new printer, contain the same amount of ink as replacement ink cartridges? Or why does a $30.00 printer need $40.00 worth of ink?

There are a couple of questions here: how much ink did your printer come with, and are cheap replacement inkjet cartridges a viable alternative to those sold by the original equipment manufacturer?

The answers are “probably not much”, and “maybe”.

Let me explain why, and what you need to look for…

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To answer the first question: it really depends on the manufacturer. When I purchased my HP printer, they definitely shipped it with smaller ink cartridges than the commonly available replacement cartridges. I did have the option of getting the same, smaller cartridges as replacements myself, but why would I want to do that?

As you’ve alluded to, inkjet cartridges are expensive. Especially when compared to the cost of the printer. Why? I believe it’s a case of the old adage “give away razors, sell razor blades”. The printer manufacturer’s can sell printers at or below their cost, knowing that they’ll make it up in eventual ink sales.

I keep wanting to using refurbished or refilled cartridges. I’ve tried a couple of sources over the years, and each time I come away disappointed. In every case I’ve tried, the print quality has suffered.

It could just be me, and the services I’ve tried. I know of others who’ve had great success with aftermarket, third party refilled cartridges, or even the do-it-yourself refill kits.

But for now, I avoid the trouble by purchasing cartridges from the manufacturer of my printer.

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18 comments on “Are cheap inkjet cartridges a good deal?”

  1. You might be right, Leo; I had always been leary of “Compatible” replacement ink cartridges. But my girlfriend had been using them for quite some time in her Epson printer without any apparent problems. So after doing a little research I decided to purchase a Canon Pixma IP1500 for $50, because the compatible replacement cartridges could be purchased for $1.50 a piece for the color/b&w, respectively, when purchsed in groups of 10. That translates to $30.00 for TEN PAIRS of color/b&w, or THREE BUCKS to replace the entire set, compared to around $22.00 for the Canon OEMs. I figured the worst I could be set back if the whole thing went south was $80.00. So far, I’ve replaced the color and b&w cartridges once each, without any degradation whatsoever in print quality. If anything changes, I’ll repost. But so far, so good.

  2. Just remember the following:

    Companies like HP and others put billions of dollars and effort in their printing technologies including the inks and how they drop.
    This voids your warranty, and can damage the internals of the printer, so if you buy a 300 dollar photo printer, yea it is a little more expensive but just think of how you would feel if you had to replace the printer because a bad non oem ink cartridge didnt work as intended. Maybe it only makes sense to me

  3. I have an HP 940c Deskjet good Printer Expensive
    OEM ink, tried a few companies
    but now I get
    Remanufactured Cartridges from “Ink Cycle ” of Lincoln, they`re cheap & ((send a prepaid bag)) with an order, to post your old cart`s back to them, I`ve had no bad stuff from them ( yet) —they will replace any faulty cart`s tho
    been using them for 2 years , cheers from ezz

  4. I have been using Inkjet cartridges from China and taiwan for some time now and all of them are not original, anyway I use them because I always assure every Inkjet I use if not original at least can offer some level of quality specially ISO-9001 and other International standards.

    This is a very nice blog and very active also I like to visit and read thru this frequently, I also read this ink website, this has helped me to save some big bucks!

    click here NOW


  5. I seem to have trouble using compatible ink cartridges with the Canon BJC 2100 inkjet printer.
    Always complains when I put one of the “compatible” cartridges in. Like it “knows” it isn’t really a Canon. Anyone else have this same problem?


  6. At my blog sight,, I describe how to refill any 3 color bubble jet type of printer cartridge for less than 5 cents per refill. To make a long story short, you use food coloring. Buy it in the economy 1 quart size at restaurant supply houses for about $2.75 per quart bottle. Get one each of the colors blue, red, and yellow totaling about $8.50. This provides an equal or better replacement for the normally available ink refill kits and provides hundreds of refills. My blog sight’s purpose is to expose many discoveries , inventions, inovations, tec that I am responsible for creating.
    Stirling Bunnell

  7. Well, it’s been a while since my original post. Since that time, the venerable, inexpensive Canon Pixma IP 1500 has gone through approximately 6 or 7 pairs of color/b&w compatible cartridges purchased at, for $3/pair. I’ve had to periodically use the cleaning and deep cleaning utilities, and it’s probably time to replace the print head now. However, since the cheapest OEM print head I could find was $57.50 (at precision, I decided to purchase a brand new Canon MP130 for $90 on ebay, because it uses the same ink as the 1500. All I can say is that for the $21 it cost me for ink with the 1500, I saved over $200-$250 compared to what my previous Epson would have cost. So the $90 I just spent for the MP130 seems like a steal. Plus, the MP130 is a scanner and photocopier as well as a printer.

  8. Thanks to finding out here that Precision Roller ( had the least expensive print head around, I did get a new Canon print head (Multipass F30) from them and that was indeed my problem and am totally satisfied. I have since been ordering Canon compatible inkjet cartridges from them – $3.50 apiece as compared to $10-11 in stores – so it’s almost cheaper to get them than to refill them myself – and no mess. Their delivery and customer service is awesome, and I’m hard to please. I order half a dozen of each color at a time so get free shipping. Thanks for mentioning this company. I’d have never found it on my own.

  9. I have an HP3745 inkjet…the simple FREE home made solution to clean the cartridge head is…. just dip an old used tooth-brush in….. warm water / car shampoo / soap solution / Brut after shave and just clean the cartridge head 2-3 times….
    why old used tooth-brush ???… wont hurt the head but at the same time clean it by removing the dry ink and other paper materials clogging the holes of the cartridge head.
    I have been using a soap solution / after shave combination….and have refilled the cartridges(black and color) 5 times in the past 2 yrs…..the cost of refill is just 1/25 of the price of new cartridge…..i prefer cleaning them once in 3 months…….
    NO ISSUES TILL DATE…..going fine

  10. Stirling at, Thank-You for Your insightfull advice. I have been using the Food-Coloring idea and it works fantastically…Great Man!

  11. ps: i use an HP Deskjet D2330 – Yes with Food-Coloring in the original tri-color cartridges. I have not had a problem of any nature, (fingers Crossed) go to Stirling’s blog at for info.
    Great Man Stirling!

  12. Note To “Wave” or “stirling bunnell”… I am looking for Stirling’s blog site with ink replacement info. When I go to “” address, the only choices are both back here. Did Stirling shut down? If so, did he start up elsewhere? Just bought an HP6310. Uses HP 95/Tri Color & HP 98/Blk. Sure would like to obtain Sterlings instructions.

  13. I purchased replacement Epson Picturemate ink cartridges (not original Epson product) on e-bay last year for a very good price. They were made in China, but worked just as good as the Epson (actually lasted longer than the original Epson product) If you own a Epson Picture Mate, you know that it is rare to use all of the ink in the cartridge before the sponges get saturated and it will not print. When the print quality becomes inferior you are asked to do a nozzle check, if it shows a broken ink pattern on any of the colors
    you are directed to do a print head cleaning. This works great, until the sponges in the ink cartridge become saturated and it will no longer allow you to clean the print heads. It will say “sponges are saturated, please install a new ink cartridge to complete the ink head cleaning”
    It’s frustrating when the ink cartridge shows more than 25-30% of the ink remaining, but you can no longer use it. As mentioned, the replacement cartridges made in china worked great,
    and the price was remarkable, although when you first installed it, the printer didn’t recognize the ink cartridge, so it took a couple of attempts to get it printing (really not a big deal) I recently tried to purchase the same product from the seller on e-bay, but he / she is no longer listed there. Just to let you know that I have tried replacement ink cartridges (not original Epson products) and was very pleased with the products performance. Can’t speak for all
    manufacturers, I’m sure that there are sub-standard replacements out there, but my experience was a good one. Hope this helps if you are considering purchasing ink cartridges for this printer.

  14. Some of the problems with inks relate directly to the chemicals used in the inks. OEM type inks are specifically designed for the particular type and size nozzle used by a mafr. some inks have very different expansion and drying rates. what this means is that if there is still trace inks from diffrent makers mixing together, you may have problems with inks that dont mix…some inks will just dry too quick and clog nozzles they werent designed to operate with. no, i’m not trying to make excuses for the mfr’s, but these are just plain facts. During the 1990’s epson printers had huge problems with clogged (and thus stuffed) heads and nozzles, whereas cheaper printers had no problems with replacement inks.
    What it boils down to, if you are going to use replacement inks, that is fine. But you may not get the quality or consistency of color you expect. And, if your heads or nozzles do clog, no printer mfr will cover you under warranty. So saying, most replacement inks now are being made to a higher standard than the dodgy stuff we used to get in the 90’s, and the print color quality is more than good enough for most stuff, except for maybe high quality photos.
    The behaviour of some like HP’s antics, are a little off the scale. They are protecting their own product, but should not be shutting the printers down if aftermarket cartridges are used. I’d suggest swapping brands…


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