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What is the Best Plasma Cutter for the Money [2019]

plasma cutter

Plasma cutting technology has now reached a stage where affordable, portable style cutters are within the budget of home users and small professional workshops.

However, with the wide choice now available it does raise the question what is the best value plasma cutter on the market today?

To answer that very question you can turn to our side-by-side comparison table below. For full reviews of each of our top 5 picks, plus an in depth plasma cutter buyer’s guide, keep on reading.


Best Plasma Cutters – Top 5 Picks

PRODUCTNAMEDETAILSOUR RATING
TOP PICK:
Lotos LTP5000D
Plasma Cutter
50Amp, Non-Touch
Pilot Arc, Dual
110V/220V
1/2 Clean Cut
Hypertherm 088079
Powermax30 XP
Building America
Edition, Plasma
Cutter
Dual 120/240V
Portable (9.8 kg)
Cutting up to
16 mm (5/8")
Super Deal
Plasma Cutter
50Amp, CUT-50
Digital Inverter,
Dual 110-220V
w/ Free Mask
2016 Everlast
SuperUltra 205
Multi Process
Plasma Cutter
50 Amp, 200a
Tig Stick
Dual 110/220v
Ramsond CUT 50DX
Portable Air
Plasma Cutter
50 Amp, Digital
Inverter, 110-220V
Dual Voltage

Plasma Cutter Buyer’s Guide

What exactly is plasma cutting?

Plasma cutting is a very efficient process that uses an accelerated jet of hot plasma to cut through electrically conductive materials.

This enables the user to work on a long list of materials including steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass and copper.

The plasma can be described as an electrically heated gas stream. The stream of electricity flows through the gas and is directed into the cutting torch.

When the torch is operated and pointed at the material to be cut, the resulting plasma stream is able to melt and blow through most metal with ultra fine precision.

Choosing the right plasma cutter for your needs

When buying a plasma cutter it is important to do your research to ensure that you buy a tool suitable for your needs.

To this end, there are a number of factors to consider when purchasing the best rated plasma cutter for you.

How important is portability to you?

One of the first questions to ask yourself is whether the cutter has to be portable? If you are a professional and are likely to be taking your tool from job to job, you will want to buy the best portable plasma cutter you can afford.

This would include features such as a carry strap, be more light weight in design and be suited for easy transportation.

If however, you are looking for something to remain fixed in your workshop, these features are less relevant and will not be deal breakers if not included.

Electrical Requirements

Image Credit: Youtube.com/user: russtuff

The second variable to consider once you have established the portability issue is that of electrical requirements.

Does your work shop have 110v or 220v? It stands to reason that you need to have a cutter that is compatible with your work area. You will need to check the specifications of your chosen plasma cutter before you buy.

In a situation where you will be working from place to place, you may need to opt for a cutter that covers both voltages.

A little advice on Duty Cycle

The duty cycle of a plasma cutter is important, as this describes how long the cutter can be operated within a hour period before it overheats and shuts down.

The manufacturer should express these details within the specifications of the unit.

The duty cycle is detailed as a percentage and is calculated by the amount of amperage the tool draws while in use.

Professionals using a plasma cutters in the work shop may require a duty cycle above 50%.

However, hobbyists may get away with something closer to 35%, (many of the best plasma cutters for home use will balance affordability with a lower duty cycle).

More often than not, higher duty cycle cutters will come with more power and a higher price tag – essentially making them more suited to the working pro.

What about budget?

Image Credit: Hypertherm.com

The previous point on duty cycle does lead nicely to the question of budget. Exactly how much money do you have to spend? If you are looking to pay no more than $500 you will find a wide range of suitable plasma cutters.

Professionals looking for the best portable plasma cutter with high power output and duty cycle, may well have to spend a bit more.

Try to balance your needs with your budget and you should find a suitable cutter than will deliver.

What will you be cutting (and how thick will it be)?

Image Credit: Hypertherm.com

While it is hard to answer this question specifically, it is good to have an idea what you will predominantly be using the cutter for.

Will you be working with thick steel, or thin aluminium? Maybe you are hoping to cut a lot of copper tubing?

You will find that many plasma cutters will have specifications that make them better for certain applications. For instance, Some lower amp units can only cut up to 1/4″ materials. On the other end of the spectrum, a higher amp tool may provide a cutting capacity of 1″ or more.

Considering your main uses for the tool before you buy, will help you narrow down your choice to the best plasma cutter for you.

Overall Performance

Image Credit: Pirate4x4.com

Cutting performance is clearly important if you want efficient, frustration free use.

To this end, you should look for a product that offers a precise and smooth cutting action, with no signs of slag or dross cutting.

This will ensure that you make the cuts cleanly on the first pass, with minimum clean up of dross and/or top spatter required. This is especially important for the working professional where time is money. 

A word about consumables?

Some of the components used when operating a plasma cutter will wear down with usage and time. These components (the shield, retaining cap, nozzle and electrode to name but a few) are called consumables.

The amount and cost of these should be considered before you buy a particular unit. The fact, the consumables for some plasma cutters will cost more than they do for others.

It can sometimes come as a shock to spend over $1000 on a machine, only then to realise that the cost of consumables can be several hundred dollars a year (depending on your usage patterns).


Best Plasma Cutter Reviews

Image Credit: HobartWelders.com

Plasma cutters are designed to create sharp and clean cuts at the shortest time possible. As explained above, they use a pressurized stream of super-heated ionized gas to cut through materials.

There are different types and qualities of plasma cutters, and they are rated based on performance, power consumption, quality of cut, quality of consumables, and duty cycle.

The following reviews take an in depth look at the 5 plasma cutters we feel make the grade.

1. TOP PICK: Lotos LTP5000D 50Amp Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter

The Lotos LTP5000D is a portable precision plasma cutter renown for its reliability and cost-efficiency. It is manufactured by Lotos Technology. The LTP5000D features a compact design and a solid build with its handle conveniently fitted at the top so as to make it easy for users to carry this plasma cutter around with them.

The key specifications of the LTP5000D model are described hereafter. To begin with, it features a red casing that covers the sides and the top section of the device. It is 15 inches long and 6 inches wide, while its height is about 12 inches. It weighs about 19.4 pounds.

The LTP5000D uses the Inverter Technology innovated by Lotos Technology in 2000. This inverter technology uses high-frequency IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor) voltage controllers to deliver a consistent, precise, and concentrated current to the surface of the material being cut.

This allows the plasma current to concentrate on specific lines on the cutting surface, hence producing smooth, clean and sharp cuts. The precision of the cut that can be achieved also allows the LTP5000D to be used to cut the material into intricate shapes, as well as impress precise patterns on materials.

The inverter technology has also eliminated the need of incorporating bulky and heavy electronic components in the machine, hence reducing both its weight and size, without compromising on performance.

Furthermore, the inverter technology supports the use of dual voltage, and the LTP5000D can therefore use dual voltage and dual frequency. This means that it can run on either 110V 50/60Hz power or 220V 50/60Hz power.

Also, unlike other cutters such as the portable Eastwood Versa-Cut 60, which needs to be assembled before use, the Lotos LTP5000D does not require any form of assembly as it is shipped as a ready-to-use product.

This conveniences the user as the cutter can be used in different projects without taking time off to disassemble and then reassemble the machine.

Another important feature is the non-touch pilot arc technology. This technology eliminates the need for the tip of the nozzle to touch the surface of the material that is being cut.

This not only reduces wear and tear in the consumables, but it also allows the LTP5000D to cut through rusty, painted, or uneven surfaces without producing slag.

Other important features of the LTP5000D model are its ability to cut through steel, copper, stainless steel, aluminum, alloy steel, and mild steel using non-hazardous compressed air.

It can make a clean cut through a 0.5 inches thick metal sheet, and its maximum severance thickness is rated as 0.75 inches.

Its power consumption is relatively low as compared to the work it does. It requires a current input of only 50A but it can produce very high power outputs.  This is due to its incorporation of powerful MOSFET transistors, IGBT, and Infineon Power-drive Matrix in its circuitry; which function to amplify the power output.

It has a duty cycle of 60 percent at a current of 50A. The duty cycle is the number of minutes in one hour that a plasma cutter can operate properly without overheating.

It is expressed as a percentage, and a higher percentage implies that the cutter can be used to cut more materials without overheating.

Because power input determines how long it takes before the cutter overheats, the duty cycle must be expressed in relations to the amount of current (measured in amperes[A]) being fed into the machine. Generally, the higher the current, the lower the duty cycle.

This means that the LTP5000D can have a duty cycle of over 60 percent at currents lower than 50A. With this duty cycle, this model can be used for tig welding by welders.

Pros of the Lotos LTP5000D Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
  • Uses pilot-arc technology.
  • Delivers clean cuts.
  • Automatic dual voltage.
  • Good duty cycle of 60 percent at 50A.
  • Energy efficient, with simple, easy to use controls.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Supports tig welding.
  • Superb price-quality ratio
The Cons
  • Expensive consumables

Bottom-Line

The Lotos LTP5000D is a precision plasma cutter that uses non-touch pilot arc technology to produce smooth, clean, and sharp cuts; while still maintaining a high degree of energy efficiency due to its incorporation of inverter technology and optimized placement of quality transistors in its circuitry.

Also, its consumables do not wear out rapidly, and this improves the lifespan of the machine. Consequently, based on its features, power consumption, and performance in our opinion the Lotos LTP5000D is the best plasma cutter to buy.


2. Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 Plasma Cutter

Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 is a US-made plasma cutter built by Hypertherm. It features the XP Building model, and is designed to be used for plasma cutting and metal gouging.

This plasma cutter measures 14 inches in length and its width is 5.5 inches. It is 11.5 inches high. The machine weighs about 42.3 pounds, which allows it to be carried around, but it is evidently heavier than the Lotos LTP5000D.

Even so, it is designed to be portable with its handle conveniently located at the top part of the device. A 15-feet lead can be fitted into the device.

The control buttons are well-placed on the front panel of the device, and they are well-labeled using self-explanatory labels. This makes it easy for welders and metals cutters to use this machine.

It features a sleek compact design that is complemented by its two-in-one system. The 2-in-1 system is designed to provide either high power capacity for use in thick-metal cutting, or fine power capacity for detailed and delicate thin-metal cutting.

Nevertheless, the machine uses fine consumables, but its lack of pilot arc technology means that these consumables do wear out faster than those found in the Lotos LTP5000D. The high power capacity supports cutting of metal sheets whose thickness does not exceed 16 inches.

Like the Lotos LTP5000D, the Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 features dual voltage capability, and it can use either 110V or 240 V power input.

Its auto-voltage features allows it to detect the voltage level in the input power, and then automatically switch the machine to the right voltage mode. This eliminates cases of circuitry failure as 240V cannot be allowed to flow into the circuitry that has been set to use 110V.

This machine is shipped alongside its carry case and consumables (both fine-cut and standard consumables). Its essential consumable kit contains nozzles, electrodes, nozzle shield, swirl ring, and a retaining cap. Also provided is a pair of gloves, shaded eye shields, and a shoulder strap.

Since the machine does not require any major assembly, it is shipped as ready-to-use, and one only needs to put on the protective clothing and then start operating the machine. Adapter plugs are also provided.

This plasma cutter also features a Duramax LT torch which is built from impact-resistant and fire-proof materials, and then designed to offer a firm comfortable grip.

Additionally, a dust cover is provided so that the machine can be properly covered when it is not in operation. This prevents dusts and other particulate matter from going into the machine and interfering with its circuitry.

Pros of the Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 Plasma Cutter
  • Delivers clean cuts on plain surfaces.
  • Automatic dual voltage.
  • Cheap consumables.
  • Simple, easy to use controls.
  • Extremely Portable.
The Cons
  • Lacks pilot arc technology.
  • Relatively heavy as compared to the Lotos LTP5000D.

Bottom Line

The Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30 is a specially designed plasma cutter that can be used to cut through plain surfaces, or gouge metals; and its cuts are clean and sharp. Its two-in-one system also allows it to be used for either delicate fine-metal cutting or thick metal cutting.

A highly recommended portable cutting option.


3. Super Deal Plasma Cutter (50AMP CUT-50)

The Super Deal Plasma Cutter is a high efficienct machine measuring 18.5 inches in length with a width of 11 inches. Its height is 13.5 inches. This makes it larger than both the Lotos LTP5000D and the Hypertherm 088079.

However, its average weight is 30 pounds, thus making it lighter than Hypertherm. It is portable in design with a conveniently placed handle located on the top of the unit.

This plasma cutter has an orange CUT-50 insulation cover. Its insulation cover is rated as insulation class F, and this is important as it means that the operator cannot be hit by electric shock if hands are placed on the machine when it is running.

The control buttons are well-placed on the front panel of the device, and they are well-labeled using self-explanatory labels. This makes it easy for welders and metals cutters to operate it. Likewise, the machine features a compact design.

The Super Deal plasma cutter features dual voltage capability, and it can use either 110V or 220 V power input.

However, it requires either 3.5 KVA or 4.8KVA to operate, and this necessitates the incorporation of heavy-duty main fuses. In the machine, a 16A main fuse is provided for 3.5KVA, and a 22A main fuse is dedicated for 4.8KVA.

Even so, this plasma cutter has a relatively high duty cycle which is rated as 60 percent at 50A. This is equivalent to the duty cycle of Lotos LTP5000D.

However, unlike the Lotos the Super Deal has a limited current range with its instruction manual stating that it can operate at current levels of between 20A and 50A. Its idling no-load voltage is rated as 230V, and its efficiency is rated at 80 percent.

This machine has an LG-40 cutting torch. It incorporates a DC inverter, which functions to improve its energy efficiency and quality of cuts. However, it lacks the non-touch pilot arc technology.

This machine is shipped alongside an earth clamp, an air regulator, a plasma tip, a gas pipe clasper, a hoop, chipping hammer, goggles, and a pressure reducing valve, as well as a free mask that can be worn by welders.

Pros of the Super Deal Plasma Cutter
  • Delivers clean cuts on plain surfaces.
  • Automatic dual voltage.
  • Very portable.
  • Affordable price
  • Good duty cycle of 60 percent at 50A.
The Cons
  • Lacks pilot arc technology.
  • Cuts poorly on rusty metals.

Bottom Line

The Super Deal Plasma Cutter is a portable, well-designed machine that features a DC inverter for improved energy efficiency. A great option considering the budget friendly price.


4. Everlast SuperUltra 205 200a Tig Stick 50a Plasma Cutter

The Everlast SuperUltra-205 2016 edition is a versatile plasma cutter built by Everlast. It features a MOSFET inverter design, and this serves to improve its energy efficiency.

This design allows the machine to amplify its power output, and it can therefore use low power input to perform activities that consume a lot of power. In fact, it can be used for tig welding, and is presently rated as one of the most-affordable entry-level plasma cutting assembly.

This device uses a multi-process unit to handle different chores, and this allows the user to effectively use it for both welding and material cutting.

The MOSFET technology used allows the machine to pack many components without significantly increasingly its weight or size.

Everlast SuperUltra 205 is enclosed in a green casing, and it measures 20 inches in length while its width is 12.5 inches. Its standard height is 13.5 inches. Its average weight is 40 pounds. It is designed to be portable and its handle is located on its top.

The control buttons are well-placed on the front panel of the device, and they are well-labeled using self-explanatory labels. This makes it easy for welders and metals cutters to operate it. Likewise, the machine features a compact design.

It features a unique DC TIG which allows welders to perform fine repairs on chrome moly and stainless steel surfaces. This capability is partly due to the unique combination of its plasma cutter assembly which incorporates a standard nozzle, a 160A stick, and a 200A TIG components into a unified cutting assembly.

Another advantage of this plasma cutter is that it features the non-touch pilot arc technology. Furthermore, its power rating allow it to be used in either home or enterprise settings. This attests to its versatility as a welding and cutting equipment.

It also incorporates dual voltage technology, which is used to achieve a cut depth of either 0.5 inches on DC TIG or 0.75 inches on plasma. Therefore, like the Hypertherm Powermax 30, the SuperUltra 205 can use either 110V or 220V for either thin-metal cutting or thick-metal cutting.

Pros of the Everlast SuperUltra 205 200a Tig Stick 50a Plasma Cutter
  • Uses pilot-arc technology.
  • Delivers clean cuts.
  • Automatic dual voltage.
  • Simple controls.
  • Easy to use.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Supports tig welding.
The Cons
  • Expensive consumables.
  • Cannot cut metal sheets whose thickness exceed an inch.

Bottom Line

The SuperUltra-205 is a 2016 edition of the popular SuperUltra plasma cutter manufactured by Everlast.

This precision plasma cutter uses non-touch pilot arc technology to produce smooth, clean, and sharp cuts; while still maintaining a high degree of energy efficiency. Furthermore, its consumables do not wear out rapidly, and this improves the lifespan of the machine.


5. Ramsond CUT 50DX 50 Amp Digital Inverter Portable Air Plasma Cutter

Ramsond CUT 50DX is an affordable high efficiency machine manufactured by Ramsond. It measures 14.2 inches in length and its width is 6 inches. Its height is 9 inches.

This makes it smaller than both the Lotos LTP5000D and Hypertherm 088079 Powermax30. Moreover, its average weight is 19 pounds makes it lighter than all the four preceding plasma cutters. It is no surprise then that this machine is purposely designed to be portable.

This plasma cutter has a black CUT-50 DX insulation cover. The cover protects the operator from being hit by an electric shock.

The control buttons are well-placed on the front panel of the device, and they are well-labeled using self-explanatory labels. This makes it easy for welders and metals cutters to operate it. Likewise, the machine features a compact design.

Like the Lotos and the Hypertherm, the Ramsond features dual voltage capability. It can use either 110V or 220 V power input. Its duty cycle is rated as 60 percent at 50A. This is equivalent to the duty cycle of the Lotos LTP5000D.

An electric cord is attached to an power plug which is subsequently fitted into the socket. For this reason the Ramsond CUT 50DX needs to have a long hose which can allow the operator to move around with to various stations inside the workplace. It usually comes with a standard hose whose length is 10 feet.

The Ramsond CUT 50DX incorporates inverter technology that supports amplification of current and wattage. It can therefore use a low power input to perform a heavy-duty task.

Also, this machine is rated as a forth-generation plasma cutter because it builds on the previous improvements made on the past three Rasmond CUT series of plasma cutters.

Moreover, it features a digital display which allows the user to monitor key parameters as well as assess the state of the machine. It also incorporates a pressure gauge which measures the gas pressure. This is important as low gas pressure leads to production of a poor plasma stream by the machine.

Pros of the Ramsond CUT 50DX Portable Air Plasma Cutter
  • Delivers clean cuts on plain surfaces.
  • Automatic dual voltage.
  • Portable.
  • Good duty cycle of 60 percent at 50A.
The Cons
  • Lacks pilot arc technology.
  • Cuts poorly on rusty metals.

Bottom Line

Ramsond CUT 50DX is an affordable, portable, and compact machine that features a digital display for easy monitoring, and assessment of the progress of work. Well worth the look at this price point.


Image Credits: TheFabricator.com, Youtube.com/user: russtuff, Hypertherm.com, Pirate4x4.com, HobartWelders.com

What is the Best Plasma Cutter for the Money [2019]
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