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Home > OEM vs Refilled Cartridge

OEM Cartridge vs Refilled Cartridge

In Jan 2009, HP hired an independent lab (QualityLogic) to conduct a research on ink cartridge refill.  The result is not surprising, it shows that Original HP inkjet cartridge outperforms an ink cartridge refill.

These are the findings reported by HP:

1.   More than 33% of tested refilled ink cartridges failed during use or right out of the box.

2.   More than 41% of the tested cartridges refilled by a refill service failed during use or right out of the box.

3.   Only the tested Original HP ink cartridges worked every time with no failures.

Looking at the detailed report, the results also show that Original HP inkjet cartridges produced 65.8% more pages than the refilled cartridges.

The research was conducted on HP 92A, 93A, 98A, 95A, 21A and 22A inkjet cartridges, page yield and cartridge reliability were compared with a range of branded refilled cartridges (Elite Image, Innovera, Nukote, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Rhinotek) and refill service providers (Cartridge World, OfficeMax, Walgreens). 

The results show that Original HP inkjet cartridges produced 46.6% more pages than the branded refilled cartridges and 85.0% more pages than the cartridges refilled by refill service providers.  On cartridge reliability, 27.1% branded refilled cartridges and 41.1% cartridges refilled by refill service providers were dead-on-arrival a or had early end of life b  while none of the Original HP inkjet cartridges failed.

The cartridges were tested following ISO/IEC 24711 standard.  However, HP made a modification to include defective cartridges in the page yield calculation (ISO/IEC 24711 excludes the defective cartridges from page yield calculation).  Out of all the cartridges refilled by the refill service providers, 60% were refilled once, approximately 20% were refilled twice and approximately 20% were refilled three times.  The research only tested the average performance of all branded refilled cartridges but not individual brand performance.

While the research shows that original HP inkjet cartridges are more reliable and can print more pages, the experimental design could be challenged by the others. 

1) First of all, ISO standard excludes defective cartridges in page yield calculation while HP includes them and the inclusion of defective cartridges undoubtedly lowers the average page yield of refilled cartridges. 

2) Secondly, some of the cartridges refilled by refill service providers have been refilled two or three times.  Including them in the study may increase the failure rates and further  decreases the average page yield. 

3) HP considers all cartridges with visible ink in the bag or on the cartridge as dead-on-arrival.  However, some of them may perform properly when installed. 

4) HP tests a range of branded refilled cartridges and refill service providers but instead of comparing brands, they put all refilled cartridges in the same pool.  If one and two brands are poorer in quality, it can significantly increase the overall failure rate and decrease the average page yield of all refilled cartridges.

We can understand that the purpose of this research is to demonstrate that Original HP inkjet cartridges are superior to refilled cartridges.  However, the experiment design may have exaggerated the difference.  No one would expect that refilled cartridges can outperform the new Original HP cartridges.  Refilled cartridges may have a higher failure rate but defective cartridges can usually be returned for exchange or refund.  Even if the page yield of refilled cartridges (excluding defective ones) is 20-30% less, since they are so much cheaper than Original HP cartridges, it is still a bargain to use these refilled cartridges.  Refilling a cartridge is also more environmental friendly than purchasing a new cartridge. 

To sum up, HP research on refilled cartridges show that Original HP cartridges are more reliable and produce more pages.  However, due to the experimental design, it is hard to tell the actual difference in page yield and the true performance of different brands of refilled cartridges.  Given the huge price difference between Original HP cartridge and refilled cartridge, it is unknown whether this type of study can deter consumers from using cheap refilled cartridges.


a Dead-on-arrival (DOA): cartridges with substantial visible ink spilled in the bag or on cartridge, cartridge produces less than 10 pages and cartridge fails to print

b Early end of life: a cartridge with page yield of less than 75% of the HP mean page yield for that cartridge model)



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