How to Find the Correct Printer Ink Refill

Experts estimate the global printer market size to reach $74.51 billion this 2022. Come 2028; they forecast that to jump to a staggering $82.69 billion.

Those figures prove print isn’t dead, and consumers still rely on printing technology.

Indeed, in the US alone, around 70% of online adults use printers regularly. Moreover, that’s a slight increase from the previous year, which has to do with many people working at home.

So if you’re now one of those folks, you can expect the need for a printer ink refill to arise one of these days. Sooner, if you use it to print loads of documents and if you have school-aged kids.

Don’t worry, though, as we’re here to teach you what you need to know about ink cartridge or toner refills. So, read on to discover how to refill printer ink with compatible products.

Understand the Risks of Incompatible Refills

It’s vital to get the correct printer ink cartridge refill, as it can be specific to a printer brand or model. For example, each manufacturer creates cartridges designed to fit only their products. So, if you buy an Epson printer ink refill for an HP machine, the machine will not work and will give you an error message.

Even same-brand printers use cartridges with varying ink and tank specifications. For instance, the Canon PIXMA G2260 uses an ink formula different from a Canon MAXIFY GX5020. The former is compatible with GI-21 pigment-based inks, while the latter uses GI-26 inks.

If you try to put a Canon printer ink refill for a PIXMA G2260 into a MAXIFY GX5020, it won’t work. Not only that, but the ink may also cause clogs in the printheads or even damage the cartridge slots. If either of that happens, your warranty is likely to become void.

If you end up voiding your warranty, you’d have to pay out of pocket to fix your now damaged printer. Either that or you have to shell out a few hundred dollars for a new machine.

You don’t want to replace your printer too soon as it’s costly and has a massive environmental impact. Note that in 2021 alone, consumers worldwide threw out an estimated 57.4 million tons of e-waste.

Discarded printers are electronic waste, many of which end in landfills. Some even get shipped to other countries! Either way, e-waste has chemicals that can be hazardous if not disposed of properly.

That’s enough reason to ensure you always use compatible ink refills.

Check Your Owner’s Manual

Your owner’s manual is the first place to check for details on your printer’s ink or toner cartridge. This booklet should have been inside the box when you purchased your printer.

Go through the manual and look for the section covering ink cartridges. If you can’t find that, it might be on a page discussing cartridge replacement or maintenance.

Next, look for specific information regarding ink refill compatibility. For example, you should find the info on a page discussing ink type on a Canon printer’s owner’s manual. An example is the GI-21 or GI-26 pigment-based inks mentioned above.

Another crucial detail you need to look for is the specific ink tank and fill volume. You can often find this listed as ml (milliliters); for instance, 170 ml for a Canon PIXMA G2260.

Some printers use separate tanks for colored inks, including cyan, magenta, and yellow. As a result, their ink tank and volume fill can differ from those used for black inks.

For example, a Canon MAXIFY GX5020 uses 167 ml black ink bottles. However, you can only top it up with 132 ml of cyan, magenta, and yellow at a time. Each color also has its tank in the printer, so you need to buy a separate refill bottle for each.

Visit Your Printer Manufacturer’s Website

If you can’t find your owner’s manual, you might get a copy online via the manufacturer’s website. You need to input the specific model name and number of your printer.

For instance, PIXMA and MAGNIFY are the model names. G2260 (PIXMA) and GX5020 (MAGNIFY) are the model numbers.

If you own a Brother printer, you likely have an MFC or an HL model, as these two are some of the most popular. The numbers that succeed them are their model numbers. So, for example, if you see MFC-J4540DW, then J4540DW is the model number.

Be sure to visit the manufacturer’s website specific to your country too. One reason is that some models and model numbers vary depending on the country.

For instance, the Brother MFC-J4535DW is a US model. However, the same product in the UK is under the MFC-J4540DW model name and number.

Once you have a copy of the online manual, you can use it the same way as you would your box-supplied owner’s manual.

Look for the Ink Cartridge Number

Another way to find the correct printer ink refill specs is to check an old cartridge or toner. You can find numbers on their printed labels and use that info when you buy the refill. You can also check the printer itself and write down the numbers listed on its label.

Call Your Manufacturer’s Support Line

If you have trouble finding your printer’s cartridge or toner specs, you can call tech support. Most printer manufacturers have a dedicated help team to handle such concerns. You can call, chat, or email them for assistance.

Be aware that your support options may vary based on your printer’s specific model. Likewise, your warranty may influence or limit the type of support you can get.

Some manufacturers also require customers to create an online account with them. An example is HP; depending on the product you own, you may need to sign in to your account first. That enables you to view your support eligibility and, from there, get access to support.

Online Ink and Toner Finders

Some online retailers have a tool for searching ink cartridges and toners on their sites. It lets buyers find original and compatible refills using only the model or model number.

Suppose you have a Brother HL-L8260CDW printer. You only have to enter that info on the site’s search tool, and it should give you a list of toners designed for that model. For reference, that printer specifically uses toners with the model number TN433.

Once you find the specs, you can then decide whether to get an original or a compatible refill.

An “original” refill is from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Canon, HP, Brother, and Samsung, are some examples. Because these are OEM brand-name products, you can expect them to cost a lot.

On the other hand, a compatible ink or toner refill is from a third-party manufacturer. However, third-party companies design them to work with specific brands and models. As they’re not OEMs, you can get them at lower prices, sometimes as much as 50% less, according to PremiumToners.

Factor in your printer’s warranty before purchasing a compatible cartridge or toner. If it’s still within warranty, it might be best to stick to an OEM product. Many manufacturers explicitly say that using non-OEM voids their warranty.

However, warranties usually run for only one year, especially for home printers. An exception is if you purchased an extended warranty service, which may have bumped that up by one to two years. So, hopefully, you still have your receipt to check your warranty status.  

If your printer is no longer under warranty, it can be more cost-effective to go with a compatible refill.

Ask a Refill Store for Help

If you don’t have time to do any of the above steps, you can take pictures of your printer. Make sure you snap photos from all sides, especially where the machine’s label is. You can then visit a printer ink refill store and show them the images.

Alternatively, you can remove the empty cartridges or toners if you have some time. Wrap them in paper to prevent them from bleeding onto your bag or purse.

You can then bring them to a printer refill shop and show them to the staff. They can help you determine the correct refill to purchase. Note that many shops only carry brand-name products, though, as they may be retailers.

If you want to save on costs with compatible printer ink refills, you can search for nearby stores online. Then, call them and ask if they carry compatible products for your printer’s brand. If they do, visit them and show them the photos you took or the cartridges or toners you brought.

Use the Correct Printer Ink Refill

And there you have it, your ultimate guide on finding the correct printer ink refill. Now you know you have many options, from checking your owner’s manual to using an online finder.

The most crucial thing is to ensure you purchase and use only the correct product. Otherwise, your printer will likely encounter problems or, worse, it might break.

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