Best Tank Printers of 2022

Any tank printer might save you tons of money on ink, but only some models are recommended by Consumer Reports

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Epson EcoTank Printer Photo: Epson

Ever since their introduction a decade ago, tank printers (aka reservoir-style printers) have presented a bit of a conundrum for consumers: Should they spend lots of money up front for a machine that’s really cheap to maintain with ink, or spend relatively little on a printer, then drop beaucoup bucks on replacement cartridges?

Unlike traditional inkjet printers, which can be found for less than $100, tank printers generally cost a few hundred dollars, though a couple of models are available for less. But the story doesn’t end with the price tag: Our research shows that even expensive tank printers can be cheaper to own in the long run.

That’s because traditional color inkjets use multiple ink cartridges that tend to run out fairly quickly and cost a lot—often $30 a pop or more. That cost can really add up over time, easily topping $100 a year. In Consumer Reports’ surveys on printers, the frequency of ink replacement is among the most frequently cited problems.

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Instead of small, individually purchased cartridges, tank printers have big reservoirs of ink that you fill up from bottles that generally cost between $13 and $20, depending on the model of printer. Consumer Reports calculates that for a typical tank printer, ink replacements should cost only about $5 a year.

Also, the performance of new tank printers has improved significantly. Early on, the tank printers we tested fell short of many inkjets when it came to producing sharp text and images, but that’s no longer true.

Finally, today’s tanks are much easier to refill than in the past.

“Replacing the ink on the first few generations of tank models used to be a messy affair because the filler nozzles were just simple openings,” says Rich Sulin, who leads CR’s printer testing program. “Better design that locks the bottle in place during refills has solved the problem.”

Our printer ratings currently include 17 tank models, mostly from two brands: Canon MegaTank and Epson EcoTank. Both brands earn favorable owner satisfaction scores in Consumer Reports’ surveys.

However, we’re currently not recommending any Canon MegaTank printers because they received only a Fair predicted reliability rating. This represents a change from previous ratings.

“As we collect more survey data on Canon MegaTank printers over successive years, we see that they don’t hold up as well as other printers over time,” says Simon Slater, associate director of Consumer Reports’ survey research department. “CR members who own these printers are more likely than most others to report having to deal with long startup times after clicking the power button, long warm-up times after clicking Print, and lost WiFi connections.”

In response to CR’s findings, Canon said in a statement that it’s committed to providing products that meet or exceed the expectations of its customers.

“We are continuously assessing our products and listening to our customers in order to manufacture digital imaging solutions that provide ease and convenience,” the company said. “We appreciate the support, feedback, and loyalty from our customers over the years.”

Currently, the only tank printers recommended by Consumer Reports are Epson EcoTank models. They earned a Good rating for reliability. Our printer reliability and owner satisfaction ratings were based on a survey of 138,600 CR members reporting on their experiences with 171,441 printers bought new between 2013 and 2020.

Here are three Epson tank printer models, with a range of features and at a variety of prices, that perform well in out laboratory ratings. Like a majority of the printers in CR’s ratings, they include WiFi networking for wireless printing.

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We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.