PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's the warning you hate to see: your printer is low on ink. And replacing that ink can be expensive.
Consumer Reports explains how saving money on ink starts by choosing the right printer.
"You want to choose a printer that doesn't waste a lot of ink on maintenance cycles and one that doesn't have high costs to replace that ink," said Chris Raymond of Consumer Reports.
In its testing, Consumer Reports calculates both factors to see just how much a printer will cost you over time.
Inkjet printers that use cartridges typically have very high ink costs and aren't known for being very reliable, but one model that does well in CR's tests has a low price tag, and moderate ink costs. It's the all-in-one printer from Brother. It uses about $68 worth of ink each year.
Ink costs are based on typical printer use, which is roughly 30 pages of text and ten pages of graphics each month. If you need to print in color, there's a better option that will save you money over time but the upfront cost is higher.
"Tank printers don't use ink cartridges. They have reservoirs that you refill with bottles of ink," said Raymond.
And compared to cartridges, those bottles are a bargain. Ink for the Epson EcoTank is only $5 a year. And if you own it for a few years, it becomes one of the cheapest printers in CR's ratings.
If you don't need to print in color, a black and white laser printer is your best bet. The all-in-one from Canon gets top marks and will only cost you about $13 a year for toner.
No matter what kind of printer you have, CR says there are ways to save ink or toner such as using draft mode, using printer-friendly all text versions of stories, or changing your font to Times New Roman which CR says gets you 27% more mileage on ink compared to Arial.
Brother MFC-J1010DW / $100
Epson EcoTank ET-2400 / $250
Canon imageCLASS MF264dw /$150
Digital Extra: Save money on printer ink
For more information on printers and ink from Consumer Reports: