The flooded electronics market with inexpensive goods that don’t necessarily work as expected is enough to drive you mad. You can now get a relatively inexpensive plasma cutter under $500, but do cheap plasma cutters work?
Yes, cheap plasma cutters can offer great value for the money you will spend. While there are several plasma cutters you will want to steer clear of; there are several inexpensive plasma cutters on the market that can provide just what you need for small-scale projects.
If you’re trying to find out what is the best plasma cutter for the money, you will need to consider your project needs carefully.
In this article, we will review what to look for in a cheap plasma cutter and the best cutters currently on the market. All of the benefits from the manufacturer listed here to help you make the best decision on your plasma cutter research and purchase.
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Dual-Voltage Plasma Cutters Table
Please click the GREEN +PLUS symbol to open further information (smaller screens only).
|Rating (out of 5)
|12” tall, 6” wide, 15” long
|16.8” tall, 6” wide, 12.8” long
|18.5” tall, 11” wide, 13.5” long
|18.5" tall, 11" wide, 13.5" long
|16.9" tall, 9.7" wide, 16.8" long
|9” tall, 6” wide, 14.3” long
|13.9” tall, 7.9” wide, 17.9” long
Single-Voltage Plasma Cutters Table
Please click the GREEN +PLUS symbol to open further information (smaller screens only).
|15.1” tall, 8.1” wide, 11.6” long
|16.8” tall, 6” wide, 12.8” long
|16.9” tall, 2” wide, 12.6” long
|12.5" tall, 6" wide, 10.5" long
Dual-Voltage Plasma Cutters Under $500
If you’re asking yourself, “What is the best plasma cutter under $500?” the answer is most likely to be a dual-voltage plasma cutter like the Lotus LTP5000D.
You can plug one of these up to a single household outlet, with an adapter plug, or a 220-volt shop outlet to cut ¼-inch to ½-inch plate.
Lotos Brown LTP5000D Dual-Voltage Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
Dimensions: 12” tall, 6” wide, and 15” long.
Overall Weight: 26 lbs
Lotus Technology, based in Hubei Province, China, and they have branches in the U.S. at Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, California.
Their Lotus LTP5000D is consistently rated as the best plasma cutter under $500 by virtually every online review.
This dual-voltage plasma cutter is also a bestseller on Amazon while including a 30-day return policy and a 1-year warranty (source). The Lotus LT5000D costs even less, but it does not have the pilot arc feature.
The higher price range on the LTP5000D model compared to others on this list is based primarily on its pilot arc feature, which does not require you to touch the torch to the metal to start the arc.
While it doesn’t have the best standoff available, this feature means that you will not go through consumables as quickly as other models.
These consumables come in larger 22-piece, 33-piece, and 77-piece sets, but a large set should last you the lifetime of the machine.
Lotus Technology claims that you cannot use any third-party consumable sets for their machines.
One word of caution, though, the Lotus comes in a brown-color model and a red-color model, and their consumables are not interchangeable.
The Brown Lotus uses the PCS22, PCS33, and PCS77 consumable sets with the number indicating how many pieces come with the set.
For example, the PCS22 set includes ten tips, ten electrodes, one standoff guide, and one shield cup.
The Red Lotus LTP5000D will use the PCON20, PCON40, or PCON150 consumable sets.
Further Specifications Of The LTP5000D
The LTP5000D can make clean cuts up to ½-inch steel and sever metal up to ¾-inch while doing well on painted or rusted surfaces.
The machine has a high duty cycle of 60 percent at max amperage of 50. Its inverter power supply combines the use of MOSFET transistors with Pulse-Width-Modulation (PWM) technology to produce powerful D.C. currents for cutting.
While it has a decent-sized torch lead of 13-feet, one of the chief complaints against the Lotus is that the ground lead is only 6-feet long.
The manual is decent compared to most of the machines on this list, and it is online for easy access.
The LTP5000D is technically dual-voltage, but it comes with a 220/240 plug on it. If you want to run it on a 110/120 volt outlet, you will need to purchase a pigtail adapter.
The machine comes with an air filter and regulator combination already installed so that you can use either a compressor or gas cylinder, and it also comes with a 6-foot air hose.
To run the machine properly, you will need a flow rate of 3.6 to 4.0 SCFM at 65 to 70 psi (source).
PrimeWeld CUT-50DP Dual-Voltage Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
Dimensions: 16.8” tall, 6” wide, and 12.8” long.
Overall Weight: 35.7 lbs
While based in China, PrimeWeld has a branch in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The PrimeWeld CUT-50 model has the pilot arc feature instead of a scratch start, which contributes to the higher price tag. They can cut up to ½-inch steel cleanly while severing ¾-inch steel (source).
While it’s advertised as dual-voltage, you will have to purchase a 110/120-volt or 220/240-volt plug separately and wire it yourself.
You may also need to purchase a better hose adapter due to the one that comes with it is known to leak. One particularly positive feature is that, unlike several Chinese plasma cutters, the pressure gauge is listed in psi and bar.
The PrimeWeld machines come with good-sized leads, a 13-foot torch lead, and an 11-foot ground lead, but these are known to be of inferior quality. Also, like many Chinese-made machines, the manual is not the best.
The best part of getting a PrimeWeld machine is that they come with a 3-year warranty, and the company has a reputation for honoring it.
SUPER DEAL CUT-50 DC Dual-Voltage Inverter Plasma Cutter
Dimensions: 18.5” tall, 11” wide, and 13.5” long.
Overall Weight: 24.4 lbs
If you’re wondering what the best plasma cutter for the money is, the Super Deal CUT-50 is undoubtedly a top competitor and is listed as Amazon’s choice for the price.
The price is very impressive for a dual-voltage plasma cutter that can cut up to ½-inch thick steel.
Granted, it makes a cleaner cut at ¼ inch and under, especially if you’re running it off of a 110/120-volt outlet.
On the other hand, it uses a drag torch, is not pilot arch capable, and it comes with torch lead lengths varying from 6, 8, and 11-feet.
As you might expect for the low price, the quality of these is known to be somewhat inconsistent, but it does come with a 1-year warranty. The consumables are affordable with a cheap 30-piece set of consumables, including ten electrodes, ten tips, and ten shield cups.
The front panel has an LCD digital display current meter, but the pressure gauge is in KG/CM2 (Kilograms per Square Centimeter) and megapascals (MPa).
You may need to purchase a hose fitting for your compressor, and the hose clamps that come with the machine are very cheap.
At their meager price, these machines are mostly disposable since it would usually cost more to get them repaired than to buy a new one. Finding replacement parts could be a challenge if you were to try.
Many of the CUT-50 models are the same internally with different housing and branding.
Some very similar options would include the Goplus, Zeny, SunGold Power, and Suncoo CUT-50, and all of these models come with a cheap facemask and wire brush.
Goplus CUT-50 DC Dual-Voltage Inverter Plasma Cutter
Goplus Electronics Company is located in Guangdong (Canton) Province, China, and has been producing inexpensive, decent-quality welders and plasma cutters as of late.
Their Goplus MIG 130, for example, is one of the smallest MIG welders of all and is only $119.99 at time of writing.
The Goplus CUT-50 uses a high-frequency oscillating torch, which means that you will burn through consumables rather quickly. They advertise that it can cut up to 12mm, which is just under ½ inches.
They appear to be slightly sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity since the company recommends that you only operate them in temperatures no less than negative 30°C (-22°F) degrees and no more than 40°C (104°F), with a “dampness level” of 80 percent.
These are very inexpensive and can be found on Amazon or eBay. There have been some complaints about their return service through the online retailer Costway, which now has branches in California and New Jersey (source).
ZENY CUT-50 DC Dual-Voltage Inverter Plasma Cutter
Zeny Corp is based in Shenzhen Province, China, and they produce the very inexpensive Zeny CUT-50, which is very similar to the Super Deal CUT-50 (source).
The Zeny CUT-50 is dual-voltage, but you have to wire it yourself. It has a 60 percent duty cycle at 50 amps and an LG-40 cutting torch that cuts ¼-inch steel rather slowly.
Like the Super Deal CUT-50 and the Goplus CUT-50, the Zeny CUT-50 comes with a cheap facemask and a wire brush (source).
SunGold Power CUT-50 Dual-Voltage Inverter Plasma Cutter
SunGold Power is another Chinese company, and they claim to have branches in America. At one point, they listed their address as “25801 Rockaway Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11434.”
The Better Business Bureau reports that mail sent to this address was returned and that the company has failed to respond to their requests to substantiate their company’s claims (source).
SunGold Power advertises their IGBT inverter technology to be superior over cutters that use MOSFETs, but their cutters are known to have failures. Overall, their quality is relatively low, while costing more than brands like the Super Deal (source).
While it can cut ¾-inch steel, it is far better at ½-inch steel. The torch is scratch or touch start, but you can get cheap consumables for it on Amazon like the Jack & Dave 100-piece set.
The SunGold Power CUT-50 is dual-voltage, and the plug adapter comes with it. It also comes with a rather short 11-foot torch lead and the 6-foot ground lead.
It does have a 1-year warranty, which is honored by the company, but the buyer pays the return postage.
Ramsond CUT-50DX Dual-Voltage Digital Inverter Plasma Cutter
Dimensions: 9” tall, 6” wide, and 14.25” long.
Overall Weight: 19 lbs
The Ramsond Corporation is yet another Chinese company, but they have a public relations department in West Bloomfield, Michigan (source).
The Ramsond CUT-50DX is on the higher end of the price spectrum and can be found on Amazon for without pilot arc capability. For over $500, you can get the CUT-50DY with pilot arc capability. Both come with a 1-year warranty (source).
The Ramsond CUT-50DX has a digital inverter and makes use of Toshiba MOSFET transistors with Pulse Width Modulation.
With a stable duty cycle of 60 percent at 50 max amps, it can cut up to ¾-inch steel and can sever steel at 1 inch.
Adjustments are comfortable with an integrated digital display current meter and analog pressure gauge on the front panel. It is dual voltage, but you will have to purchase a plug and wire it for either 110/120 or 220/240.
Both the Ramsond CUT-50DX and D.Y. come with a built-in air regulator and filter, and it requires 50 to 75 psi at 3.5 CFM to run. It also comes with a 10-foot hose.
The consumables included with the machine include ten electrodes, ten nozzles, 5 cups, and you can purchase the same sized set on their website.
Amico Power CUT-50 Plasma Cutter
Dimensions: 13.86” tall, 7.87” wide, and 17.91” long.
Overall Weight: 21.56 lbs
The Amico Power CUT-50 is manufactured in Zhejiang Province, China, and is frequently sold by companies like Home Depot (source).
They’re relatively robust with a 15 to 50 amp rating, operating at a 60 percent duty cycle at 50 max amps and 100 percent at 38.7 amps. It can cut ½-inch steel with 1-inch maximum severance (source).
The air filter and pressure gauge are installed internally with the pressure gauge at the front like the Ramsond. The gas pressure range is 45 to 70 psi, with a recommended inlet flow of 4.5 SCFM at 70 psi.
It is dual-voltage and comes with a power adapter. The torch is an SG55/AG60 with a 13-foot lead, while the ground lead is 11-foot.
You can purchase consumables in 50-piece and 100-piece sets, which tend to be comparatively high-priced.
Single-Voltage Plasma Cutters under $500
While some of the highest-rated plasma cutters on this list are dual-voltage plasma cutters, some single-voltage plasma cutters provide excellent value and might suit your needs just fine.
Forney Easy Weld 20P Plasma Cutter #251 (110/120V)
Dimensions: 15.125” tall, 8.125” wide, and 11.57” long.
Overall Weight: 21.5 lbs
The Forney Easy Weld 20P is particularly exceptional on this list for being the only American-made plasma cutter since Forney Industries based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The Forney Easy Weld 20P Plasma Cutter is a quality machine even if low-powered at only 110/120 volt, a max output of only 20 amps, and a duty cycle of only 35 percent.
You can adjust the output current with a knob, which is the only adjustment you can make on the machine. It comes with a 15 to 20 amp plug adapter and runs well off of a generator (source).
The cutting torch relies on drag torch technology, which shields the consumables and allows them to last longer.
The torch has a good-sized 13-foot lead as well as an 8-foot ground lead, and there is even a 25-foot torch extension available.
This cutter can produce clean cuts on sheet metal and thin plate steel at ¼ inch while severing it at 3/8 inch.
It can also cut aluminum up to 3/16 inches. Unfortunately, the drag torch doesn’t cut through painted or rusted metal very well.
This cutter would fit well with applications like autobody repair or the kind of thin sheet found on farm and ranch equipment. It could also be used for simple arts and crafts.
Forney Easy Weld And Consumables
As far as consumables are concerned, it comes with a spare electrode and an extra nozzle, and you can purchase smaller sets of consumables.
You can purchase a pack of 2 electrodes and two tips, or you can buy them separately. You can also get a 13-piece consumable kit that contains ten tips and three electrodes.
Despite being only 110/120-volt, the Forney Easy Weld 20P is still about the same price as the dual-voltage Lotus LTP5000D with pilot arc function.
It does come with a 1-year warranty on internal parts and a 30-day warranty on material and quality defects (source).
PrimeWeld CT-520D Multi-Process Welder (220/240V)
Dimensions: 16.8” tall, 6” wide, and 12.8” long.
Overall Weight: 35.7 lbs
PrimeWeld’s CT-520D is a multi-process welder that can DC TIG weld, D.C. stick weld, and plasma cut. It uses a drag torch and can cut up to ½-inch steel but not as cleanly as other models (source).
The PrimeWeld CT-520D comes at a reasonable price and, if you’re willing to spend more, you can get the CT-520DP with the pilot arc feature and the ability to weld aluminum.
The CT-520D comes with an L630P 250-volt plug, which you will want to rewire with your own 220/240 plug.
It comes with many of the benefits of the PrimeWeld CUT-50, such as the 3-year warranty. The pressure gauge is also in psi and bar, unlike many of the CUT-50 models.
HITBOX CUT-40 Plasma Cutter (220/240V)
Dimensions: 16.9” tall, 2” wide, and 12.6” long.
Overall Weight: 22.1 lbs
If you only intend to use a 220 outlet, this might be the plasma cutter for you since you can still find them on eBay for a meager price. Unfortunately, there is no warranty on these Chinese-made machines.
Using IGBT inverters, it has a max amp rating of only 40 and cuts ¼-inch steel and under, but it can be prolonged and doesn’t produce a clean cut.
It uses a P31 torch with a scratch start, and the leads are very short with a 10-foot torch lead and a 5-foot ground lead.
It does come with some spare consumables, but it goes through them very quickly. The manual is particularly weak, but the air pressure gauge is listed in psi and bar (source).
HITBOX also sells the CT4500, which was initially sold as a single-voltage 110-volt machine. Although it could go up to 45 amps, it would regularly trip the breaker on the 14-gauge wire. Neither this single-voltage version nor the CT3500 are available on Amazon anymore (source).
Instead, the HITBOX CT4500 is now available in a 220/240 only model with an amperage range of 20 to 40 (source).
What to Look for in a Cheap Plasma Cutter
When referring to a “cheap” or, instead, inexpensive plasma cutter, we’re usually talking about something under $500 and Chinese-made.
Under $500, you’re not going to get the same level of quality as a Miller or a Hypotherm, but you should expect a clean-cut up to about ½ inch on a good machine.
Plasma cutters cut conductive metal by supercharging gas into the fourth state of matter, plasma.
This process requires a power supply and compressed air, either by way of a compressor or a regulator and gas cylinder.
You can find inexpensive plasma cutters that operate on 110/120-volt outlets, on 220/240-volt outlets, and some that are dual-voltage that can run on either.
Typically, a 110-volt outlet will allow you to cut up to ¼-inch steel on the right machine. For anything thicker than that, you will need a 220-volt powered unit.
Some of these can cut up to ½-inch or ¾-inch steel cleanly while severing metal up to 1-inch thick. For a clean-cut, make sure to get one rated a little over what you intend to cut.
If you’re wondering what the best plasma cutter for home use is, one of the most critical factors will be if it can connect to a 110/120-volt household outlet.
Households also contain 220/240-volt outlets, but these are not as readily accessible since heavy appliances usually occupy them.
If you have a 220/240-volt outlet set up in your shop, you may only need a single-voltage 220/240 model. However, having a dual-voltage model gives you an added degree of flexibility.
MOSFET or IGBT Inverter
These plasma cutters usually rely on either a MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors) or IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor) inverter. Either of these amplifies the power going into the machine.
IGBT inverters tend to be more tolerant of voltage spikes and overloads, while MOSFETs tend to be vulnerable to electrostatic discharge (source).
One benefit of MOSFETs is that they do help to keep the cost low on plasma cutting machines, and they are favored when the main priority is amplification and switching.
They prevent too much power going through and are better at higher frequency (Hertz) but not t higher current (amps).
IGBT, on the other hand, controls higher currents, while more MOSFETs deliver the same amount of current.
IGBT inverters are also more efficient at switching. However, while some companies boast that their plasma cutting machines are superior because they have IGBT inverters instead of MOSFETs, this is not necessarily the case.
While IGBT inverters made by German companies, like the Siemens Infinions, are of high quality, some Chinese IGBT inverters are not.
Also, some of the cheap Chinese machines use recycled MOSFETS or IGBT inverters in addition to relays, fans, and capacitors.
The duty cycle of a machine is how long it can remain on before having to shut off to cool down. Expressed as the percentage of time that the device is on, it is usually over 10 minutes.
If a machine has a duty cycle of 60 percent at a certain amperage, that means it will remain on for 6 minutes before overheating, and it will have to switch off for 4 minutes.
The type of torch that comes with the machine can affect how clean and precise your cuts will be and how often you will have to replace your consumables.
Pilot Arc Torch
A pilot arc torch with a standoff guide will give you a consistent distance from the workpiece and produce a cleaner cut. The arc begins inside the torch head without the need to touch the tip to the metal.
Drag Shield Torch
Drag technology allows you to contact the torch to the workpiece using a drag shield that protects the tip. It holds the tip at the necessary distance to extend the life of your consumables but is not as ideal as pilot arch torches (source).
The touch start variety of torch is the cheapest to make, and it produces a poor quality cut.
You have to touch the tip of the nozzle to the workpiece, which can drastically reduce the life of your consumables.
These also include high-frequency cutting torches that can be hazardous. Since you have to touch the nozzle to the workpiece, they are not very good for cutting rusted or painted metal.
You will also need to consider the price and availability of consumables for your machine, such as nozzles, electrodes, swirl rings, and retaining cups.
You might get a deal on the machine only to find that it burns through consumables quickly, and you can’t find them anymore.
These machines are not intended for professional use but infrequent use as an alternative to other options like abrasive discs. For professional use, you will want to invest the money in a higher-end machine.
However, for limited shop use, these machines provide an inexpensive option that could last for years with proper care.
The Lotus LTP5000D has a solid reputation as does the PrimeWeld CT-520 with its 3-year warranty.
If you decide to purchase one of the cheaper CUT-50 models, just bear in mind that they’re more likely to break down on you.
However, they can still be a tremendous value for the ability to plasma cut without breaking the bank.
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