Report: Project CISS with Photo Gallery and Videos! Continuous Ink-Supply System Inkjet Printers – How do They Stack Up?

Wirth Consulting is pleased to announce a comprehensive new test report – likely the first of its kind – that summarizes the results of exhaustive testing of inkjet printers equipped with CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System). CISS is an inking system that consists of a large external refillable ink supply that may or may not be attached to the printer, and which is advertised as saving users up to 95 percent in ink costs when compared to OEM ink cartridges. But do the claims live up to the hype?

This 64-page test report – which can be downloaded below – summarizes several months of testing of:

  • Nine printers/All-in-Ones (AiOs) from Epson, Canon, and Hewlett-Packard.
  • Two-types of add-on (non-OEM) CISS kits installed on four printers/AiOs.
  • Two OEM-equipped CISS inkjet printers, the Epson L101 CISS Ink System and Epson L210 CISS Ink System All-in-One.
  • A detailed comparison of the overall performance of CISS-equipped printers and AiOs versus that of standard cartridge-based printers and AiOs.

In the report, you’ll find:

  • How easy – or difficult – it is to install CISS kits, as well as how easy it is to refill CISS ink tanks.
  • Safety precautions and any mess associated with the maintenance of CISS kits and printers.
  • Ink and time wastage involved with CISS printers.
  • Affects on image quality.
  • Affects on printer reliability – do CISS kits cause damage to printers and/or printer failure?
  • Cost per page and total cost of ownership – are you really saving money?
  • Also tested is HP’s new Deskjet Ink Advantage 2520hc AiO, which features a high-yield black ink cartridge ($10.76 MSRP) that yields up 1,500 pages and high-yield color ink cartridge ($10.76 MSRP) that yields up to 750 pages. It has a very low cost per page and total cost of ownership for a non CISS-equipped AiO, but unfortunately it is only currently available in the SEA marketplace.

Learn everything that you need to know before you invest in CISS.


Additional Resources


14 Responses

  1. Max says:

    CISS is really cheap and save money from the expensive original inks. But from experience not all CISS ink also good…some are badly smudge when contact with water, while others smudges all over the paper right during the printing itself. Only EPSONS ink has the better quality thus far that i know off although it maybe a little more expensive than the normal CISS ink

    • Terry Wirth says:

      Thanks for your comments.

      The Epson ink may be more expensive than other bulk CISS inks but cost per page is still a fraction of the cost of any cartridge-based inking system.

  2. Lucas says:

    This review/post by Kathleen Wirth on the CISS systems showed a great opinion but the brands used are generic complex ones. There are other companies, including in USA, where there is no need for drilling as the cartridges are supplied with the pipes pre installed. Some companies even have videos for many specific printers of how to install it. Do a Google search of “ciss and your model number.” There will be many great resources other than this one that seems to have a ‘scary’ vibe hating CISS. I researched my printer for the ‘large plastic cartridge’ as stated in the video and I saw none what so ever for Epson WF-3620. Please consider CISS, you will be happy with it.

    • Terry Wirth says:

      Thanks Lucas,

      Yes, you may be happy with it if you are the adventurous type and succeed in the installation. In our opinion, you are still better off purchasing an Epson L series printer with factory installed CISS that is guaranteed to work without modifying an existing printer. That said, these printers are not technically available for the US market but Epson did recently introduce the WorkForce Pro WF-R series CISS printers with ink packs that are easy and clean to maintain.

  3. don says:

    I have bee researching this for a while now. Not sure when your test were done but there is no drilling or printer mods necessary anymore for ciss systems and all have several ink options including pigment ink. My choice is should I go with the ciss or just refillable cartridges. both offer substantial savings and a great deal more pages per print etc. I do have several ebooks i would like to print and just not sure which way I want to go. the price has come down considerably so i am still torn. any idea on how to make the decision…


    • Terry Wirth says:


      With CISS you still have to run the hoses and even after you successfully adapted a cartridge with a hose fitting, providing secure mounting and proper fit and clearances was a considerable issue with the kits that we evaluated. It will definitely be easier to go with refillable cartridges but the generic ink will more likely than not provide the same level of reliability as the OEM ink. We still say that you would be better off going with an Epson OEM CISS printer or a printer that provides XL cartridges with low ink cost per page.

  4. Mana Capo says:

    Very interesting,i bought a month ago a Canon MX922 (al in one printer,fax,scanner copier) and I bought a Ciss from a company call hotzone360 well let me tell you I am very disapointed with this ciss system,i only could print 3 or four copies and then the fifth poor quality copies (missing colors etc) when I opened to check it the cartridges were empty and many air gaps in the hose, so to avoid this I checked the cartridges and I did not find any of those plastic plugs to substract ink from the cartridge with a syringe,there was only one hole and when I substract the ink it made a mess (at least I was at the bathroom,thanks God) because all the ink goes out and does not stop at the tank,i was trying to lift the tubes and all the ink went into the machine,so in few words this company (hotzone360) it has a very poor design in there ciss please recommend me a good quality ciss for canon Mx922 thank you

    • Terry Wirth says:


      Based on our experience with several CISS kits for several different printers, we are loathe to recommend any kits at all at this point. No doubt that some may work but their design must closely match the design of the printer that will host it. In other words items such as hose length, hose width, hose flexibility, type and quantity of routing brackets, tank dimensions, ink output location must work together with the physical layout of the for optimum operation. Our opinion is that if you insist on CISS, buy an Epson with factory installed CISS. Yes, we know that they are more expensive than other printers but the cost will be recouped via the minimal cost of ink as opposed to most cartridge-based systems. Another alternative is to take a look at something like an HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 2020hc. It also has very low ink costs in spite of its very cheap and high-yield ink cartridges ($7.50 each, 1,500/700 black/color pages).

  5. christine kheng says:

    Hi, Terry, I’m still confused. No doubt CISS give lowest printing cost. For those printing consumption less than 1000 pages within a year, would you recommend CISS or otherwise? Thanks.

    • Terry Wirth says:

      Brother, Epson and now Canon are now selling printers with refillable ink tanks (CISS). We recommend that you purchase one of these printers rather than trying to adapt a CISS kit. They cost more to buy but you will save plenty on ink costs. However, if you are printing low volumes you may never make up the price difference. For low volumes, we recommend that you take a look at the HP Deskjet Ink Advantage line of printers. They cost less that CISS printers and cost somewhat more than their Officejet counterparts. Nevertheless, black ISO pages cost as little as 1.1¢ and ISO color pages cost as little 1.6¢. The ink cartridges can cost as little as $7.50 each and can yield up to 1,500/700 black/color pages. Plus, the ink cartridges are far cleaner to deal with than bottles of ink.

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