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Best Ink Tank Printer 2024: EcoTank, Smart Tank Picks for Home

These types of printers are the ideal, cost-saving solution for those printing from home
Last Updated on April 10, 2024
Best Ink Tank Printer 2024: EcoTank, Smart Tank Picks for Home

Large ink capacity tanks produce greater yields and lower costs-per-page than even the most efficient inkjet printers. Whether you need an ink tank printer for home use or for a more efficient office environment, these are some of the best printers on the market. But as a first-time buyer, it can be hard to know what to look for!

We’ve put together this buyer’s guide breaking down the best tank printers, along with tips on what to check before you buy any of these devices. We’ve tried to account for all kinds of price and quality brackets, so regardless of the particulars of your printing needs you should find the right product!

Products at a Glance

How We Choose

There are some core factors to determining the best ink tank printer, or any printer for that matter: cost per page, print quality, ink economy and connectivity are all vital considerations for your printer. Our choices today also have good print speeds, high paper tray capacities and other quality-of-life features that add value to your purchase. Of course, overall affordability also contributed to our choices too.

What is an Ink Tank Printer?

Ink tank (sometimes called EcoTank, Smart Tank, or Supertank) printers draw ink from, well, a tank! These contain large quantities of ink that can print high-volume quantities of paper at high speeds, and last a long time before needing to be refilled. It’s an old trick that printer companies undercharge for the printer, and compensate with the cost of ink.

The ink may be more expensive with these types of printers, but it comes in larger quantities and lasts longer. This high-volume printing can be beneficial to small businesses or for home use.

Our Recommended

Product Reviews

1
PROS
  • Fast print speed so economical
  • Highly versatile in terms of media usage
  • Large paper capacity so you can set and forget
CONS
  • Bulky, so not ideal for tight or smaller spaces

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is easily one of the best printers on the market: offering all-in-one functionality, fast print speeds, and high yields. It checks all the right boxes, and is sure to add value to any home or office!

Alongside standard documents, the ET-5850 can print borderless photos with a maximum print size of 8.5” x 14”. It also features a flatbed scanner that lets you scan and copy easily. Thanks to the automatic document feeder, you don’t have to feed every single piece of paper manually into the scanner, allowing you to save time and effort. What’s more, the ET-5850 supports auto duplexing, enabling you to save drastically on paper costs. The dual paper tray setup can hold up to 500 sheets, making this printer well-suited for volume printing with great efficiency. There’s also a rear feed for specialty media. With an array of media options and great functionality, it’s no surprise we also crowned this model the best printer for graphic design.

The only potential downside of the ET-5850 is its large footprint: you’d do well to clear some space for this bulky printer model. Other than that, the ET-5850 is a top-tier option for an array of home and office applications!

2
PROS
  • Can print on super tabloid paper
  • Prints borderless 11” x 17” images
  • Very low cost per page
  • High page yield
CONS
  • Poor ink efficiency, so may cost more in cartridges

Due to their highly economic ink system, these printers are often the best printers for crafting projects as well as standard documents. The Epson EcoTank ET-15000 is further proof of this, a sterling printer from Epson that prints wide-format images on a variety of media.

If you need to print large print jobs like ads, posters, and other graphics, the ET-15000 won’t disappoint. This all-in-one super tank printer can print on paper up to 13” x 19” in size, enabling you to print whatever you like. You can also print borderless 11” x 17” prints. The ET-15000s can yield up to 7,500 black text documents and up to 4,600 color pages. The cost per print is extremely low – As low as 0.3 cents for mono pages and 0.9 cents for color pages. Print quality is good, despite not being the most color-accurate. We’ve also noticed some grain in photo printing.  The paper tray can take up to 250 sheets. You also get a rear tray for envelopes and other types of special media. It’s also worth noting that the ET-15000 can print double-sided documents automatically.

One thing to note about the ET-15000 is that whilst it is still likely more efficient than inkjet printers, this printer’s ink economy isn’t as high as fellow ink-tank printers – in part due to the wide format printing. This can mean that you end up buying ink more frequently and at a high price point. This “razor and blade” model of business isn’t new to the printer industry, but it is a detracting factor. If you can overcome this hurdle, the ET-15000 is still a worthwhile investment for large printing projects and a sterling offering from Epson!

3
PROS
  • Low runninng costs in terms of ink usage
  • Highly functional smartphone app
  • Can scan, copy, and fax documents
  • High-yield tank (up to 8,000 color pages)
CONS
  • High price point compared to other options
  • No USB port or control panel

The HP Smart Tank 7301 isn’t exactly HP’s most affordable printer model, but it’ll definitely be much less of a burden on your pocket in the long run.

Featuring a refillable system with 5 bottles of ink and a yield of up to 8,000 color pages, the Smart Tank’s cost per page gets as low as 0.3 cents per page for mono text documents and 0.9 cents for color pages. The 7301 is an all-in-one model, so along with printing it can scan, copy, and fax your pages. The best part is that it comes with fully loaded ink bottles right out of the box, so you won’t likely need to buy replacement ink anytime soon after getting the printer. The HP Smart App is one of our favorite printer apps. We particularly love having the ability to create custom workflow templates, which serve as a real time-saver. Of course, you can also use the app to control the printer or connect via WiFi Direct or Ethernet.

In spite of all these great features, there are some notable ones lacking from the 7301: the lack of a USB input limits connection options, and no control panel makes some printing tasks hard to set up – especially if you don’t want to rely on the HP app. In many cases, these will be non-issues, which is why we’re happy to crown this as one of the best.

The input tray can take up to 250 sheets, which should be enough for most users.

On the other side of the coin, the Smart Tank lacks a touchscreen control panel, so it’s not that smart after all, apparently. Still, we believe that this printer is worth every penny if you need it for home use, thanks to its ink economy and great connectivity.

4
PROS
  • Fast print speed
  • Exceptionally high page yield
  • Supports auto duplexing and document feeding
  • High sheet capacity
  • Has a touchscreen panel
CONS
  • High price point considering other models available
  • No FAX compatibility

The Canon MAXIFY GX6020 is an all-in-one mega tank printer that has many tricks up its sleeve. Featuring a fast print speed of 25 pages per minute and auto duplex printing and scanning, this all-in-one printer and scanner from Canon is the productivity powerhouse of our ranking.

The large ink reservoir can yield up to a whopping 14,000 color pages. On top of that, the GX6020 all-in-one printer flaunts a paper capacity of 250 sheets for the main tray and 100 sheets for the rear tray, ensuring that you can uninterruptedly print volumes of documents. Connectivity-wise, the GX6020 supports Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Ethernet, and USB. You can also print via cloud printing solutions like Apple AirPrint and Mopria. The printer is also equipped with a front-facing touchscreen control panel, along with physical buttons for quick actions.

It’s important to mention isn’t the most affordable printer on this list. And for those who frequently FAX documents, look elsewhere as this printer has no capacity for Faxing documents.

5
PROS
  • Affordably positioned in the market
  • Low cost-per-page and fast print speed
  • Supports Wi-Fi Direct for routerless wireless printing
  • Sleek and compact design
CONS
  • Mono documents only, so color isn't an option
  • No touchscreen display, so lacking easy control

The Epson EcoTank ET-M1170 offers the benefits of other tank printers at an attractive price tag. It’s a fast and economical mono document printer with a form factor that’s at least 2x smaller than similar laser printers.

The paper tray can hold up to 250 sheets of paper at once, so you don’t have to feed it frequently. We also like the dedicated rear tray that you can use for specialty media like envelopes and cardstock. Similar to other EcoTank printers, the ET-M1170 comes with up to two years’ worth of ink. The total yield for a single tank refill is 6,000 pages, and the cost per page is 0.3 cents, which is very economical in our book.  What’s more, the ET-M1170 can print double-sided documents automatically. In terms of connectivity, the ET-M1170 supports printing via USB, Ethernet, and  Wi-Fi. You can also use Wi-Fi Direct to print wireless even if there’s no Wi-Fi router around. The print speed is 20 pages per minute, which is surprisingly good for a printer in this price range and rivals some of the best black and white laser printers.

Speaking of black-and-white, however, the ET-M1170 is only capable of printing in monochrome colors, with no options for color photos or other media. For standard home document printing needs, this shouldn’t cause an issue, and this Epson printer is a great budget option for all standard applications!

Best Budget Choice: Epson EcoTank ET-2850

If you are looking for a hard-working, money-saving printe that costs a little less, the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 is a standout choice. This little printer performs exceptionally well as a home office model, with USB and Wi-Fi connectivity and support for AirPrint and Mopria Print. The color accuracy and resolution may not be as good as others but if you need something that can print documents efficiently, the low cost and high yields on the ET-2850 make it ideal. For more information please check out our full Epson ET-2850 review here.

You could go even cheaper for the Epson ET-2400, a more than capable home office printer, only with less connectivity and features.

Features and Considerations

These are some of the factors that you need to consider before making any printer purchase:

Cost per Page

Ink tank printers are intended to save you money, though you may not think it considering the higher-than-average upfront cost. The good news is most tank printers are quite economical. That said, you can still spot significant differences in ink costs across different manufacturers and models. Most ink tanks fall within the 0.3 – 2 cents per page range. Generally speaking, printers with a higher page yield (print per minute or ppm) tend to be more economical.

Print Quality

Ideally, your ink tank printer’s ink-saving potential shouldn’t come at the cost of high-quality printing. However, when comparing the photo quality of a tank printer with a premium inkjet with a nine-cartridge ink system, you’ll easily notice how the inkjet’s color accuracy and sharpness are better. In other words, tank printers don’t really promise the best-ever print quality. But when you compare them to cheap or medium-priced inkjets, they’re the clear winners. Again, this all depends on the printer’s model.

Ink Replacement

Replacing the ink bottles in earlier models used to be a real pain. However, many manufacturers have made the process easier by putting the ink bottles on the outside of the printer, and encouraging ink subscription services or online ordering. Research these thoroughly, as the “razor and blades” business practice can make these services very expensive very quickly!

Media Compatibility

Though most people only need a printer for standard documents, the best tank printers add value by allowing you to print a variety of different media, also supported by their auto document feeder. Cardstock, photo paper… even edible ink! If you have any designs on, well, designing, check the compatibility options of your printer before buying!

Connectivity

Most printers support Wi-Fi for wireless printing, with some models even expanding on this with Wi-Fi Direct, which makes it easier to print wirelessly in places with no internet connection. Wired connectivity greatly varies between different models, with some printers offering USB, Ethernet, or Both. Bluetooth and NFC are rare, but for many users, they’re not essential.

Usability

Usability is affected by two features: smartphone app and on-printer controls. Most manufacturers have a companion app for their printers these days. However, not all printers come with a built-in touchscreen. Ideally, the app should be easy to set up and use. A touchscreen panel can also come in handy if your printer isn’t too close to your computer.

Are ink tank printers more economical than laser printers?

Both ink tank and laser printers can be economical. The exact cost per page will vary depending on the models of the printers and what you’ll be printing. Laser printers are ideal for volume document printing and are very competent in this use case. On the flip side, a tank printer is better for multi-purpose printing needs, including documents, photos, envelopes, and more.

What is an EcoTank printer?

EcoTank or ET models are regarded as some of the best Epson printers that use a unique tank system. The series is a more cost-effective, environmentally safe printing solution when compared to traditional inkjet printers. This type of printer ditches the older cartridges in favor of refillable tanks. The tanks are often high capacity, reducing the need for replacement ink or refills as often  -again saving on waste.

Saving money is the main selling point behind this type of printer and over long periods, you find the cost per page is very affordable. The tanks are really easy to refill and you can monitor the ink levels fairly easily with Epson ET printers thanks to a transparent window at the front of the tank. The Epson ET range has great variety from the large format ET-15000, all the way to the budget-friendly Epson ET-2850 printer.

What is a Smart Tank printer?

Smart Tank printers by HP work almost exactly like the ET series. These types of printers also use the tank system, with specialized bottles of ink that are again very easy to use. These printers have high ink capacity and while upfront costs may be high, the savings are passed onto users over time with low per-page costs. Just like Epson’s ET printers, the Smart Tank models come with desirable features such as wireless connectivity and mobile printing.

Best EcoTank printer vs Smart Tank

At their core, Epson EcoTank and HP Smart Tank printers are all part of the tank family. Differences are negligible but if we have to talk generally about each range, we would say that EcoTank printers offer the best value, high page yields, and excellent print quality. HP on the other hand tends to be faster and offers great value.

The tank design is fairly similar between the two, so either will save you some money in the long run. Canon’s Supertank range is often the one considered for affordability, with several budget-friendly options. The ink yields on Canon Supertanks are moderate in comparison though.

How do I refill an ink tank printer?

To refill an ink tank printer, you need to replace the ink bottles in the printer with new full ones. Manufacturers should include detailed steps in the user’s manual for refilling the printer’s tank.

How often do I need to refill the ink reservoir in an ink tank printer?

This depends on the amount of documents or photos you print each month and the printer’s nominal page yield. 

You can get a rough estimation of how often you’ll need to refill the tank by dividing the printer’s page yield by the average number of pages you print every month. 

Our Verdict

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is a great all-rounder ink tank printer. It’s fast, easy to use, and has a flatbed scanner. Its cost per page isn’t the best in the ink tank category, though it makes up for that with a gamut of great features! That said, all five of our choices today should serve you well as tank printers, so consider whichever best meets your expectations!

For an effective print solution condensed into a small form factor, check out our guide on the best compact printers on the market today!