Ecotank PrinterWe’ve been fit to be tied by printers forcing us to change ink cartridges when ink levels are low but not out. A new model Epson inkjet printer is getting rave reviews for its “two-year ink supply.”

The Epson Ecotank Printer, the ET2550, has a tank of ink you refill yourself every two years or so. This means fewer empty cartridges going into landfills and big savings on ink, unless you’re already buying from third party suppliers, which are much cheaper. The downside is the $400, and up, price tag. But compared to buying separate Epson ink cartridges for years, you come out way ahead. Four bottles in colors at $13 each should last at least two years, for around 8,500 pages. Top up when needed by pouring more in.

The Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports and numerous Internet columnists, went nuts over this new product announcement, but in fact this feature has been available for more than a decade and not just for Epson inkjets but Hewlett Packard and Canon printers as well.

You have to buy a small kit to add to your printer, but the add-on is easy to do. Prices run from $40 to about $120 and in situations like this, where we don’t know who to turn to, we usually select a middle price. Even at top prices it’s cheaper than buying a new $400 printer. Search on the phrase “continuous ink supply systems” and a whole world of endless ink will open for you. (Don’t forget to clean up.)

Out Of Ink

But what if your printer tells you you’re out of ink and you don’t have a continuous refill tank?”  And on top of that, the office store is closed and you have to print some pages now!

No problem. Chances are you can almost certainly print that page by going to your printer’s control panel, selecting options, and directing it to print in “draft mode.” Draft mode isn’t as dark and won’t look as pretty but it uses very little ink. Use draft more whenever the look of the page isn’t important.

But what if that still doesn’t work? Well, switch colors. In short, go back to the printer control page and options and choose to print in blue, or green or red. It may look a little odd but you’ll be able to read it. In practice, we’ve found that printing in blue is just as clear as black. So what if the office supply store is closed?

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