Best ink refill printers in UK in 2024

Best ink refill printers - Canon MAXIFY GX6050 on desk
(Image credit: Canon)

Refillable ink tanks beat cartridges for running costs and convenience. Conventional cartridge-based inkjet printers are generally sold with ‘setup cartridges’ that last next to no time, and a full set of regular replacement cartridges often costs as much or even more than the printer itself, so it’s easy to see where manufacturers make their money. And as for the lack of convenience, you can almost count on cartridges running out just when you need them most, which can be a big problem if you don’t have spares to hand. All in all, cartridges can be a pain and a financial drain. There has to be a better way.

As their names suggest, Canon MegaTank, Epson EcoTank and HP Smart Tank printers are fitted with relatively high-capacity ink tanks which last very much longer before they need refilling. Ink levels are clearly visible through transparent panels in the front of the printers, avoiding any nasty surprises. Refilling the tanks is based on large bottles of ink which work out massively cheaper. There’s also an upside in that ink bottles are more environmentally friendly with less raw materials and a much more straightforward manufacturing process, especially if you’re in the habit of binning used cartridges rather than sending them for recycling.

The net result is that if you print in fairly large volumes that run into hundreds of pages per month, you can reduce the ‘total cost of ownership’ of a printer by as much as 85 to 90 per cent, over its whole lifetime. Naturally, the initial purchase price is typically higher but there’s the prospect of huge savings further down the line. The flipside is that if you only print around 60 pages per month or less, it can make more financial sense to stick with a conventional cartridge-based printer.

You might worry that refilling ink tanks with bottles might be a messy business. That often used to be the case but times have changed. Nowadays, ink bottles generally have individually keyed tops, so each one only fits in the correct tank. What’s more, they’re gravity fed so there’s no squeezing involved, and ink is only released via an internal valve once the bottle is safely positioned in the receptacle at the top of the tank. The valve will also shut off automatically once the tank is full.

Let’s take a look at which refillable printers are the best buys on the market right now, to suit a wide range of requirements.

The best ink refill printers in 2024

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.