Ink cartridges have been around for a surprisingly long time. One would think that they’d be a relic of history by now and we’d all have moved to laser printing, but here we are, still trying to replace our cartridges and trying to get our printers to recognize them.
Yes, that’s one of the most common printer problems today. While you might expect it to break down internally in short order, even a cheap Epson printer will probably do its job well aside from refusing to interact with some cartridges.
The main fuss around ink cartridges is whether they’re genuine or not, but first, let’s talk about the nooks and crannies of replacing these necessary evils regardless of the model you own.
How do you exchange Epson cartridges?
True to their status as consumer-grade hardware, printers aren’t all that difficult to operate, and changing ink cartridges on Epson printers is among the easiest forms of maintenance.
Unless it gives you trouble over non-genuine ink cartridges, that is, but we’ll get to that part in a bit. While you might be tempted to grab a wrench and replace the cartridge the same way you would a busted pipe, try to hold back your handyman urges as this might end up damaging the printer.
Instead, you’ll have to interact with the software part of the device before getting your hands dirty. Through Windows search, access an option called “View Devices and Printers” – it might be worded differently, so just type “printer” and look for something similar.
Once there, find your Epson printer, go into its Properties, then Maintenance, and choose the Refill or Replace Ink Cartridge. This will physically prepare the ink cartridge for replacement, and you’ll finally be allowed to grab it.
Before you do, though, take note of the current cartridge’s position and be sure to place the new one in the exact same angle once you’ve removed the protective tape from it. From there, close the cover, press the blinking button, and you’ll be all set to start printing again.
Except… it’s not recognizing the cartridge? Relax – as we said, this is a very common print cartridge problem that’s becoming even more that with new updates to Epson’s firmware.
What is the difference between genuine and non-genuine Epson Ink Cartridges?
If your printer doesn’t want to detect your new cartridge, you’re almost guaranteed to have inserted one that is non-genuine. What does that mean?
Well, think about the really expensive Dolce & Gabbana clothes. You know how some will be a lot cheaper, miss a “b” and won’t exactly be commissioned by the brand? Fake Epson Ink Cartridges aren’t exactly counterfeit – they are simply made by another manufacturer.
In order to boost profits, it’s in Epson’s interest to have every user of their printers also use their printer cartridges. The company tries to enforce this with constant updates to the printer’s firmware in order to improve its detection of generic cartridges.
Although some will claim that non-genuine ink holders are of a lesser quality and more prone to leaking, the truth is that many of them would work perfectly fine if Epson allowed them to. Non-genuine ink cartridges for Epson printers also tend to be cheaper and are a lot more available than their official counterpart.
Which non-genuine Epson Ink Cartridges should you buy?
If you aren’t willing to go through the hassle of obtaining a genuine Epson Ink Cartridge, there’s plenty of non-genuine ones that will do the same job if the printer accepts them.
The kind of cartridge you’ll get is specific to the model of the printer you have, as there’s no such thing as an all-purpose cartridge. Regardless of what you own, there are some good non-genuine ink cartridges to look at.
In general, the top brands to consider are E-Z Ink, Valuetoner and Uniwork, although it’s not a necessity to get one of the top three. We’ve mentioned the price difference, and it really shows: for example, the official Epson T069120-BCS DURABrite Ultra Black & Color Combo Standard Capacity Cartridge Ink costs around $50 (you can check the current price on Amazon here) for an amount of printing the company labels as “occasional”.
Compare this to a Valuetoner Remanufactured Ink Cartridges Replacement for Epson 200XL – it not only costs $25 (check the current price on Amazon here), but also gives you twice the amount of ink. How about this version from Valuetoner which holds a similar amount of ink as Epson’s pack and costs $18?
Generic ink for Epson also covers a wide variety of printers: this E-Z Ink Remanufactured Ink Cartridge covers close to twenty printer models, making the readily-available remanufactured cartridges an attractive option. The reviews are speaking for themselves, it needs a bit of tinkering around, but they work.
“It isn’t working” – the most common Epson Printer problems and how to solve them
By now you’re probably well-aware that undetected non-genuine cartridges are among the most widespread problems. Epson doesn’t want you using their competitors’ stuff, so is there something you can do to force the printer to play along?
If you’re getting an “Epson ink cartridges cannot be recognized” error, make sure you aren’t combining genuine and non-genuine cartridges, as this is one of the easiest ways to make them go haywire. If the error persists, navigate to the Epson Print Utility, go to the Maintenance tab and then Speed and Progress, and choose the option to “Disable EPSON Status Monitor”. The exact directions could vary based on your printer model, but this is a method users have turned to in order to disable detection on a wide variety of new and old models.
Paper-related issues are common as well. These include messages such as “The paper used in your machine has become jammed“, and can mean you either placed the paper incorrectly, brought multiple pages together or are out of paper.
There’s also the “Insert a memory card” or “The inserted memory card isn’t installed correctly” group of errors. If you’re getting these, you might be able to get away with simply removing and reinserting the memory card. If this does nothing, there’s a chance your Epson printer isn’t compatible with the memory card you’re using and you’ll have to get a new one or use the USB cable to transfer images.
We wrote several other guides on how to fix common Epson printer errors, in case this one is not particularly useful, take a look:
- How to reset Epson Ink Cartridges?
- What is printer memory?
- How to extend your Ink Cartridge?
- How to print without black ink?
What about low print quality?
While not exactly an error, some users noticed a significant reduction in their print quality when using generic ink for Epson. Although the blame is quick to go to the manufacturer of the ink, it’s most often a case of the print head needing to be cleaned through the built-in cleaning tool.
Then there’s the fearsome “Parts inside your Epson printer are near or at the end of their service life“, which tends to mean you’ll have to do some repairs on the printer. Unless you’re using an expensive model, the best way to deal with this is to get a new printer to avoid waiting what could be weeks for the repair service to do their thing.
If nothing helps, here are some cost-efficient Epson Printers to replace your old one
If you’re forced to consider this option, fret not – buying a new printer doesn’t have to mean you’re going to empty your pockets. With all the models available, you’ll have an easy time finding some best-buy options that could splatter all the ink you want. After careful consideration, we’ve come up with the top 5 Epson printers to choose from:
#1: Epson Expression Home XP-430: Relative to its features, this is one of the smallest printers you’ll find on the market. Being fully wireless, it lets you connect any device, including mobile ones, through Wi-Fi for hassle-free interaction. The size doesn’t take away from the reasonably large display, and while the individual inks are limited to 4, the XP-430 is an outstanding compact option for this price. Usually they are around $80, but Amazon sometimes lists it for as low as $60. check the current price here: Epson Expression Home XP-430 on Amazon
#2: Epson PictureMate Snap: Unlike the previous model, the PictureMate Snap isn’t going to end up being an aesthetically pleasing addition to your desk – it very much looks like the office printers from a few decades ago with its bulky build and gray-dominant coloring. But if you’re not big on printer looks, the PictureMate Snap is going to do everything you ask of it. The fast printing speed is combined with an impressive image editor, one that Epson refers to as a photo lab. Although the color prints could look better, the $180 price tag will continue to make this printer a desirable option for heavy image editors. Check the current deals and updated prices here: Epson PictureMate Snap on Amazon
#3: Epson WorkForce WF-3540: We’ve covered cheap, effective, fast and crystal-clear. What more can you ask from a printer? Epson tried to answer this question with the WF-3540, a printer that’s clearly geared towards large offices and similar professional users. Out of the many WorkForce models, the WF-3540 is among those that stand out the most, with its immense production ability, the option to hold much more ink than standard models and the choice to simultaneously print on multiple trays. Its price of $200 isn’t what standard users would consider best-buy, but Epson didn’t really make this model with them in mind. Usually you could find deals of around $160, also on Amazon, so it would be a good idea to check all the deals here: Epson WorkForce WF-3540 on Amazon
#4: Epson Stylus Photo R320: While most printers rely heavily on PC connectivity, the Stylus Photo R320 can do without a computer and deliver some great prints on its own. For $300, this is a pricier option for the home user who wants an attractive printer that’s going to handle colorful photos like they’re a walk in the park – if you’re mostly doing text printing, you aren’t going to make full use of what the R320 offers. The LCD could be better, but we’ll take the end-product quality over a printer’s display any day. Check the current price here: Epson Stylus Photo R320 on Amazon
The conclusion is, printers can sometimes be a real pain to manage
But the industry has changed a lot in the past 10 years and nowadays we’re having devices which are more reliable then their older brothers and sisters from a decade ago. Overall the point of this article is simple, if you’re having a fully functional printer which can be fixed then try to fix it. If you can’t do it or if its lifespan has ended, but you’re an occasional user, just find a suitable printer below $100 and continue with your tasks.