Damn! This plasma cutter thing is killing you, na? Sure thing when you have those typical salesmen reviews even on the internet. I know, the so-called best plasma cutter reviews are frustrating. So sit tight and let me walk you through a win-win purchase.
I prefer real-life experience than the product pamphlet. Because you do not want a random one that dumps your money like shit. Or do you?
Thank me in advance! Because, I’ve already crawled through the research to make this article work for you, with my technical know-how and workshop experience.
With no unnecessary talks, let’s dive into the Plasma Cutter Comparison Chart. Discover the perfect one that gets your job done, and fits your specific needs. Cheers!
- 1 5 Best Plasma Cutter Reviews Comparison Chart
- 2 5 Top Plasma Cutter Reviews
- 3 Best Rated Plasma Cutter Buying Guide | Things You Need to Consider
- 3.1 How Much Will You Use the Plasma Cutter?
- 3.2 Cutting speed and Quality
- 3.3 Plasma Cutting Speed Chart
- 3.4 Air Supply Arrangements
- 3.5 How Clean Is Your Environment?
- 3.6 Control Panel
- 3.7 Your Electrical Outlets
- 3.8 Does it feature portability?
- 3.9 Type of Starts
- 4 Basic Things To Know First
- 5 FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions
- 5.1 Can You Use Plasma Cutter on Aluminum?
- 5.2 How Thick Can You Cut?
- 5.3 What Kind of Gas Do You Use?
- 5.4 What Is Air Pressure Required?
- 5.5 What Is a Pilot Arc?
- 5.6 What Are the Consumables for a Plasma Cutter?
- 5.7 What is the best plasma cutter under 500?
- 5.8 What kind of gas does a plasma cutter use?
5 Best Plasma Cutter Reviews Comparison Chart
I insist you reading the detailed reviews and buying guide before you make a buying decision. Look, it is a good load of money and you have to spend smart, okay? And for your information, I’ve assembled other relevant topics too.
5 Top Plasma Cutter Reviews
#01. PRIMEWELD Premium & Rugged 50A Air Inverter
My #1 pick is this Premium & Rugged 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter from PrimeWeld. A well-known company for their customer support, but who cares? What really matters is the product’s performance. So let’s focus on that instead.
This unit works perfectly fine, flawless what I can say. But if you plan to cut anything thicker than 3/8 inches, this is not the thing for you. However, the machine performs great for precision cuts and this does matter for metalwork. You can have this for three years of use without a hassle. It is an affordable, manufactured in China, however, it seemingly is the best plasma cutter under 500 bucks. The 50 Amp air inverter can effortlessly cut up to 1/2 inch thick metal plates.
You face no trouble cutting stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum and any other metals. It boasts the reliability for both industrial construction works and it can be also considered as the best plasma cutter for home uses. Having limited outlets won’t give you headaches, those days are long gone. If you are thinking of buying a new one, then this one will go beyond your expectation.
PrimeWeld Premium & Rugged will be holding you back with its 110V and 220V diverse coverage. Also, the unit is compact enough for your mobility services. Moving places for fixing your chores is a breeze with its portability. For what you pay, this beast is amazing!
- Automatic Dual Voltage Compatibility
- Better than standard
- DC plasma cutters
- Less Maintenance & Hassle free
- Best Bang for the Buck
- Regulator fitting could be better(not a con actually)
#02. ZENY DC Inverter Plasma Cutter 50AMP CUT-50
An inexpensive plasma cutter from Zeny, but you can’t underestimate the power it boasts. Seriously, it is more like my previous pick (the #1) in cases of performance and features. This dual voltage cutting machine is armed with a built-in DC inverter. This makes the unit best for mobile services. If you are looking for a small plasma cutter, this is one of those to pick from.
The Zeny DC Inverter is super-efficient with more than 80% of efficiency. You can cut through metal plates as fast as you move the torch. 1/8 inches and ¼ inches hunks of metal are not even a big deal for the piece. It also provides a great duty cycle, so you can use it for everyday use. No problem at all!
You have your choice running the machine either on 220 volts or 110-volt option. Cranking the amperage up will give you distorted cuts. But if you dial in the correct amperage, this can amaze you with precise looking cuts. However, the unit does not come with a torch that integrates pilot arc. Yet, rather than spending around 500 on a cutter machine, you can be fairly satisfied with this one. No kidding.
In that case, you just slowly drag the tip of the torch on your job surface. I loved it for the easiness to use. It was very easy to operate for first handlers. Yes, a unit with a pilot is definitely the better. However, I never experienced any problem getting it to cut without recruiting the pilot arc. For me, I won’t regret having this for my chores & recommending you to buy as well.
- Unbeatable for the Price
- Cuts Surprisingly
- Good Voltage Compatibility
- Super Easy to Use
- No Gas Line Included(to run from the regulator)
#03. Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc
This mumbo-jumbo has already snatched you glance, right? It’s a bit heavier than the previous two but brings strong cutting performance in a compact package. The Lotos LTP5000D is equipped with the Pilot arc technology that makes the torch proficiently cut through sheets of metal. Pilot arc does not care whether the surface is rough, painted or rusty. It is trained to pierce through materials with the minimal slag produced.
You do not have to touch the tip to your workpiece because the technology agrees to cut without touching the steel. With a maximum severance thickness of the ¾ inch, the Lotos Non-touch Pilot Arc can give you ½ inch rated clean cuts(the best and cleanest quality cut). Additionally, it is exclusively convenient for cutting on rough or dirty metal at a stretch.
The LOTOS LTP5000D Pilot Arc Compact shares a handle on top of the case for portability. It uses compressed air to cut stainless steel, mild steel, alloy steel, copper and aluminum which is non-hazardous. So you experience better cutting quality as well as longer life for the consumables. Nonetheless, the LTP5000D is can be best plasma cutter for home DIY jobs or light-duty small business projects. Some say, it’s a hot knife through butter, but I say it’s way better than that.
With the automatic dual frequency, you can run the machine directly on 22V or 110V, just using a pigtail. Well, you will have to buy it separately since it is not included in the package. The cutting machine brings forward advanced German cooling system, which exhausts the excessive heat of continuous use. This also assists in keeping dust and dirt away from entering the inside components. If you want a fantastic little machine under 500, get a hold of this one. Chances are high, you will be obsessed with torching metals with this. Lol.
Check out some lotos plasma cutter review
- Plasma ARC Technology
- PAPST Cooling System
- Automatic Dual Frequency
- Compact for portability
- None to quote
#04. Goplus Plasma Cutter CUT-50
Hell yeah, one more cheap one on my list! Probably the cheapest one on the list to be exact, I don’t mind the price because of only user experience matters. The Goplus digital CUT-50 comes with built-in inverter along with the standard voltage compatibility. Its dimensions and weight of the main transformer is the minimum you can get for the price. It is reliable, lightweight, it creates no disturbing noise and is energy saving.
The overall efficiency of the machine seems fine while the basic portable handle feature avails user mobility. Also, it is designed to supply gas ahead and turn off gas delayed. The only interesting thing about this plasma cutter is its function ability in extreme humidity. And, as per the manufacturer’s claim, you can use it in any temperature between -10 degrees to +40 degrees.
However, the product can be used for cutting stainless steel, alloy steel, copper, aluminum and other materials up to 12 mm thick. The unit does not come with pilot arc recruiting start system. As a result you must contact the tip of your job, otherwise, the arc won’t start. For the price it takes, you can’t expect miracles. But yet again, the Goplus Cut-50 Electric Plasma Cutter holds great capabilities and worth every penny.
The setup is easy and the torch starts smooth scrabbling surface. Metal plates of 3/16 inch & 1/8 inch cuts are no problem. But ½ inch thick sheets do entail negligible issues. You can definitely cut up steel structures to reclaim the raw materials. Its high-frequency start works all the way to get the main plasma jet started. A cheap and average plasma cutter indeed but for many out there, it even fits for a fabrication shop.
If you are low on cash and don’t need pilot ARC technology to get the project done, go blind and buy this home. It won’t let you down.
- Compact and Portable Size
- Cheapest Deal better value
- Easy to Setup and Use
- Voltage Compatible
- None to quote(what else do you expect?)
#05. 2016 AHP AlphaCut 60 60 Amp – Best Plasma Cutter Under 1000
Enough with the entry-level and intermediates! The sturdy looking cutting machine is from AHP, one of the renowned brands. It brags 60 amps of effective cutting strength. 2016 AHP AlphaCut is more of a commercial and professional class plasma cutter with 60% duty cycles. Its pilot ARC technology facilitates cutting through rusted, well painted and expanded metals at ease constantly.
Needless to say, the unit is a dual voltage machine which is equipped with an adapter that converts 220v to 110v within the snap of a plug. Its decent duty cycle and max cutting ability altogether elevates it for frequent use at a stretch. AlphaCut 60 weighs more and takes more of the space from you. This is why portability is a concern here and the big machine fails big time.
This model is a beast from the AHP. It is miller 875 killer! You will love the pilot arc and the precise and sharp cuts will turn you a fanatic. Although it takes a lot of money from your wallet, you still can’t complain about the price. It is really that good in terms of quality and performance benchmarks. You can use as low as 20 amps on 115 volts and the higher you go the crazier it cuts. Cutting metals sheets are effortless on 110 volts. For anything thicker, it requires 220 volts to cut through.
Cutting quality is beyond question – rated cuts, quality cuts and severe cuts – all of the three depending on the metal type and thickness. The cooling system is good, and no problem with electric outlets as well. Might seem like the priciest on the list, but makes every dollar count for you.
- Efficient Duty Cycle
- Pilot ARC Technology
- Heavy-duty Performance
- Voltage Compatible
- Consumables are hardly available
Best Rated Plasma Cutter Buying Guide | Things You Need to Consider
There are certain things to look for while spending your hard-earned cash. Yes, things of your preference are always the first thing to consider. But at the same time, there are other standards to tell if a plasma cutter is worth buying or not.
For most people, when it comes to buying a metalworking tool, the million dollar question is, what to search for. No worries, I am keeping things simple for you.
How Much Will You Use the Plasma Cutter?
Ask yourself! If you are going to use the plasma cutter on a regular basis or just sporadically. You will have to consider the duty cycle(it is right there in the product’s manual, most probably) and cutting ability(the maximum thickness it can cut through) of the machine.
So, when you are looking for a cutter for frequent use but not at longer stretches, focus on the maximum cutting ability. Otherwise, I recommend picking one with the average thickness what you usually expect to cut, if you are planning to use it periodically.
Talking of duty cycle, here is the general rule of thumb –
- Higher Amperage Output = Greater Duty Cycle
- Lower Amperage Output = Lesser Duty Cycle
Keep that in mind if you don’t see the duty cycle listed by the manufacturer.
Cutting speed and Quality
A must to check fact is the cutting speed and quality. The thickness of the metal and cutting speed go hand in hand. So you have to determine your expected cutting speed and the quality of cuts. However, some of these offer three poles apart cutting qualities.
- Rated Cut: This bids the best and high-quality cut for mild steels and less thick steels of the like. It operates at the maximum cutting speed. The quality of the cut is much smoother and clean since the metal is not that thick.
- Quality Cut: Provides a decent cutting quality of thicker metals, but they require a little longer span of time.
- Severe Cut: Severe cut proposes a much slower cutting but nails up to the maximum metal thickness. However, the cutting quality is not good and it entails post-cutting cleaning up. The speed is slow at the beginning and as the thickness decreases, the speedy cut it submits.
To meet your unique perquisites, be mindful of the thickness you will usually deal with.
Plasma Cutting Speed Chart
Air Supply Arrangements
Mostly, these cutters depend on shop air for cutting processes. But units with no built-in air compressor are hard to use and proven to be expensive too. You can go with bottled nitrogen for hand-held plasma cutters since this comes less costly than bottled air. Plus, nitrogen crops less oxidation and is comparatively drier for the steel cutting chores. So nitrogen is seemingly better than compressed air.
But, at times it might be boring and time-killing to move along with the gas bottle and the cutter. So if you plan to cut thinner metals and want easy portability, then those with a built-in air compressor can be the best for you. With the added portability and lightweight, you have savings as well.
How Clean Is Your Environment?
Environment plays an important role in cutting accuracy. This is why it is one of the key factors to keep in mind while purchasing. A dirty and dusty environment will sure as heck arrange for unclean air supply. This affects not only your cutting accuracy but also the durability of your machine.
Fear not, there are some cutters that are equipped with built-in wind tunnel technology. These are exclusively programmed for reliably better cutting accuracy for locations with dense dust or metal slivers. Air flows throughout the unit and makes sure, the dust and dirt can’t get to the electrical components. It introduces an on-demand cooling fan that blows away dirt particles from entering the device.
If your work environment is not clean, better to go for a plasma cutter with the integrated fan or wind tunnel technology.
This is more important for the inexperienced people. Control panel is the main part of every device that allows you to run the device according to your will. So if you get a too complex-to-understand control panel, you’ll get frustrated.
So it is advised to look for easy-to-understand controls. Go through the details and check if the controls are specific and easy for you. If yes, go with the flow.
Your Electrical Outlets
This could be the most annoying issue after buying. These machines run on a great load of power and are intended for 110 volt or the 220-volt outlets (some plasma cutters can work on both). Plus, they all come with specific amperage ratings. So your electrical outlet should be able to provide the least possible number of amps required.
If you overlook this fact while picking for your chunks, you’ll cringe over the purchase. Additionally, if you have a circuit capable of only operating the plasma cutter, don’t plug other tools into the same circuit. It will suck extra power from the source and your plasma cutter will be power-deprived!
So the best thing is to keep a separate outlet for this machine.
Does it feature portability?
The size and weight of your device are considerable facts. However, portability is only essential when you have to take the machine to the job or outside. In other cases, this feature is not crucial. If you run a workshop and the jobs come to your tool house, then portability doesn’t matter even if your cutter is hard to maneuver.
Yet again, you have plenty of plasma cutters on the market that are compact enough to be carried by a handle. So yeah, you can go for the portables even if you don’t need portability.
Type of Starts
Contact start and high frequency start – these are the two varieties of starts for plasma cutters that recruits the pilot arc. Always opt for plasma cutters that are not designed to use the high-frequency start, especially when you opt for an automated process, and you have electronic appliances nearby. High-frequency starting technology in actual fact works like a spark plug for the machine.
It yields a much higher voltage that can even destroy your computer systems, resulting in an electrical interference. On the other hand, the contact start system offers a visible pilot allowing you to see the arc. This helps you position the torch with better accuracy. Therefore, the lower voltage pilot arc should be the ideal choice for safer operations. But again, you can choose a type that matches your need.
Is it inverter based?
Built-in inverter-based cutters are exclusively made for mobile-friendly services. Because standard plasma cutters fail for users working on remote sites where power outlets are unavailable. Although these come a bit pricey, they add more portability. Plasma cutters with inverters are capable of feeding through 10 kHz to around 200 kHz DC power. And casing dimensions comes more compact due to high its frequency switching production.
Accessories you need
Accessories make your metal-works easier and convenient. You can effectively cut through large metal objects if you go along with a few accessories with your plasma cutter. Also, there are consumables that you need to replace after a certain period of use. For example electrodes, nozzles, shield cup etc.
Other than the consumables you might need safety gears, plasma cutting tables and guide, plasma torch, circle cutting attachment and so on.
Basic Things To Know First
What Is a Plasma Cutter?
It’s basically a tool that creates high-temperature torch to cut through different sort of metals. It blows out any of the inert gases through a super constricted nozzle. While the high pressure chases out the gas, the system applies an electrical arc to the gas. This transforms the gas into the fourth stage of matter, and that is plasma. (Solid > Liquid > Gas > Plasma)
How Does It Work?
It’s a machine that uses an electric arc and high-velocity gas or air to cut metal. The gas or air gets highly heated, so it ionizes and becomes electrically charged plasma that can conduct electrical current.
The torch grasps a consumable electrode in a settled space where gas is then heated to plasma. The tip of the torch clutches an astringent nozzle with a slit for the arc and plasma to pass through. And, as the arc and gas pass through the vent, they are constructed into a focused column. This helps increase the velocity and heat of the arc.
Plasma Cutter Amperage Chart
Image Source: Amperage Chart
How to Use a Plasma Cutter?
First and foremost, read your manual carefully and set up the power cables and plugs accordingly. Connect the air hose to the back of the unit. Make sure to dry it off after every time you use the plasma cutter. Because if you are running wet air, it is just going to shred your consumable life and your machine is not gonna cut as well as it could. Whatever, you are pretty much ready to go now.
After that, You will have to get a little bit out of your way to set air pressure on. Some units you will have a regulator (like what you would see sticking out the side of an air compressor tank that you kinda have to dial into the exact air pressure you want) and on other units there could be an LED regulator which is really cool and you have got the knob on the top of the machine. Just turn that knob until the middle LED lights up, it is ready to rock and roll. In cases of an automatic internal regulator, you don’t have to worry about any that. Just hook up the air hose and stir.
Then, take your ground clamp and fix it to your work-piece. If there’s a super crappy coat of paint, wiggle the clamp back and forth. This will help the jaws dig through the roster for a better ground. But if something is really well painted or super rusty, then you have no other option except getting in there with a grinder and cleaning up a little spot for your ground clamp to attach.
Now, holding the correct standoff distance, flip up your safety and pull the trigger! Do not drag the tip, it will reduce the life of the tip. Simply and slowly begin to move your torch across the job. Synchronize your speed so that spark can go through the metal and out bottom of the cut.
Next thing is, if you don’t have a good ground or set the ground plane on the floor, you don’t get a cutting arc. So whenever you notice something like that, either there’s something wrong with your system and you are not getting a good ground. Or, if you have an old-school manual regulator, there’s a chance that your air pressure is way off. But, usually, this is the symptom of not having a good ground connection.
Finally, When you release the trigger, the machine automatically begins to blow air for twenty to thirty seconds. This cools off the torch after every plasma flow. If you press the trigger in midst of the post-flow air blow, the arc will restart anyway.
Luckily, there’s not a whole lot to worry about when it comes to maintaining your plasma cutter. The only thing you have to do under normal circumstances is swapping out what’s collectively referred to as the consumables. These are really just a tiny nozzle and a little electrode inside of the front part of your torch.
Unscrew the end of your torch and then just set the torch aside. The manuals that come with these machines have very good instructions on how to do this. Believe me, they are pretty simple. You can keep your eyes closed while dealing with it.
Once you unscrew, go ahead and remove the front nozzle or cone and set that aside too. At this point, everything inside will just pop out the back. You get your nozzle up front and electrode. You’ll have the swirl ring which doesn’t really wear out, I mean it is possible to break for some specific reasons.
Now, how do you know when you have to change the consumables? Well, you will know. The old nozzle will look gouged away entire chunks off the front of a new nozzle. On the other hand, the electrode will look the same as well and there will be a deep indentation.
Some people might tell you to replace these in pairs, like two at a time – that hyperthermia is the official recommendation. Other homies might tell you that you can use two nozzles for one electrode or vice-versa, but let me tell you how you know when these consumables need to be changed.
Well, your plasma cutter will not cut very well and it will struggle to cut through things that it used to cut through effortlessly and cutting speeds are slower with lower cutting quality. So you’ll realize as soon as this happens.
Reassemble things with the new ones. Done!
Check out our awesome guide on Power Tool Maintenance
Tips to Avoid Dangers
Plasma cutters emit intense flare and make an irritatingly loud sound, so wear proper eye and ear protection. Furthermore, a protective clothing is also suggested as invisible and visible rays in any workshop job has exposure to skin injuries. Use gloves that are shock resistant, you won’t enjoy a high voltage shock after accidentally touching your job metal too.
To avoid shocks, wear proper safety shoes and try to stand on a dry mat. This effectively decreases the earth and ground physics. Beware of wet or moist environment since exposure to wet surfaces while working under such high voltage. Accidents can be fatal which can even cause deaths. So always keep your workshop dry and never work in wet situations.
Make sure your work area has enough ventilation. Cutting metals produce toxic gases that can give you health hazards. So either work in a well-ventilated space or wear protective respiratory gears. Avoid breathing in too much toxic air.
FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Plasma Cutter on Aluminum?
Sure as heck! Why not? You can cut any type of metal that conducts electricity, which is the rule of thumb with plasma cutters. Stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum and the list goes long. However, mild steel is the easiest and fastest to cut through while aluminum cuts are pretty slow.
How Thick Can You Cut?
It depends. The material strength plays here. For example, you can cut up to a 1.5-inch thick steel plate, but if you are on mild steel then you’ll be cutting more thick plates. On the contrary, aluminum sheets hold much strength and as a result, you will fail to cut the same thickness you used to cut on steel plates.
What Kind of Gas Do You Use?
It could be oxygen, nitrogen, argon, high purity air, and a hydrogen/argon/nitrogen combination. These are the common gases used for optimum results.
What Is Air Pressure Required?
A very important question indeed. Air pressure should be balanced and moderate. Because you have no cutting with inadequate air pressure, in fact, it will leave a mess on the metal. Contrarily, you get blown out plasma with too much air. Therefore, always stick to the guidelines for your plasma torch. This will help you keep a balanced pressure for quality cuts.
What Is a Pilot Arc?
The pilot arc is a more stable cutting arc. It is a continuous arch when you push the button, you actually initiate in a flame. It is good for cutting through painted or highly rusted materials. The pilot arc is really helpful when you are building span in metal going across slats. You don’t have to start and stop at each one petunia. Keep the flame lit and it will allow you to blow through.
What Are the Consumables for a Plasma Cutter?
For almost all the manual and handheld plasma cutting units, you will have five small components in torch as consumables. Opening up from the outside, the first is the shield. Then comes the retaining cap and nozzle, and then finally the swirl ring and electrode. However, you won’t have to replace the swirl ring more often, it barely gets wasted than other components. The nozzle and electrode are the ones that require swapping repeatedly.
What is the best plasma cutter under 500?
Well, first of all, it’s quite cheap. For the first time buyer who has used a plasma cutting tool, The PrimeWeld Premium will be the best value plasma cutter for your buck. The 50 Amp air inverter can effortlessly cut up to 1/2 inch thick metal plates.
What kind of gas does a plasma cutter use?
Multiple gases such as oxygen, high purity air, nitrogen, and a hydrogen/argon/nitrogen mixture are used as the plasma gas for optimum results.
Whoa! I know the buying guide was kinda huge, but trust me. If you considered the facts while picking up the best plasma cutter for you, drumrolls please, you’ve absolutely nothing to regret. I didn’t, so why would you?