In this Guide
We’ve pooled our technical know-how and on-the-job experience to research the best plasma cutters on the market right now! We’ve thought about all the key factors: power, reliability, efficiency, and price.
As we compared models, we also took the time to read as many reviews, both professional and buyer, as we could. We wanted to get a sense of the user-friendliness and long term durability of these machines in the real world.
In the end, we picked 6 great tools to recommend for this guide. We chose them to suit a variety of needs, as well as budgets. We’ve written our own in-depth reviews for each tool in this guide, and we’ve also put together a quick checklist to help you find your perfect fit.
To get started, let’s take a look at three of our favorite models!
Best on a Budget
- Rating: 3.8
- Reviews: 280
- Free Shipping
- 1 Year Warranty
- Rating: 4.9
- Reviews: 5
- 3 Year Warranty
- Rating: 4.6
- Reviews: 13
- Free Shipping
If you work in a shop, as a mechanic, or just do lots of repairs and projects around your house, a plasma cutter will make your life infinitely easier. Plasma cutters work much more smoothly than grinding.
They’re more precise, leave cleaner edges, and don’t waste as much metal. However, plasma cutters are both more expensive and more technically involved than a metal grinder.
Since these tools can be a major investment, it’s very important to make sure you’re getting a quality product. For those of us who aren’t engineers, it can be hard to navigate the plasma cutter market.
These tools are very technical, and have lots of specs and intricate features which need to be compared before you make a purchase. Plus, each plasma cutter is optimized for certain types of metal and projects.
The reviews below will help you figure out exactly what you need in your new machine and which models can help you achieve your goals!
Best Plasma Cutter Reviews
-AHP Alpha Cut
-Miller Spectrum 375
-Hypertherm PowerMax 45
1. Lotos LT5000D
This Lotos model is our most budget-friendly recommendation. It’s a compact, lightweight cutter which packs a surprising amount of power for a unit of its size. We like the dual voltage versatility, as well as the ample room for modification. Previous buyers report great results on 1/2″ steel, and say they’re amazed at how good this machine is for its size and price.
This is a good choice for the casual DIY enthusiast, or the budget-minded shop worker responsible for light metalworking tasks.
It’s extremely affordable. For people who need to cut only occasionally, the Lotos is a good way to get the benefits of a plasma cutter without the exorbitant price tag. It’s available for well under $500, hundreds of dollars less than other cutters.
It works on two voltages, 110 or 220. 110 is more commonly wired in smaller shops, as well as general household systems. It’s suitable for lighter work, and cutting thinner materials. 220 is what you’ll want for heavy duty use, or in a busy shop.
The versatility is a big plus on a budget cutter, since many plasma units only work on one voltage. If you buy a machine designed only for 220, you’ll have to spend money to have your power company install a special hookup. That’s not a problem with this one.
It has a special PAPST cooling system, engineered in Germany. Most other Asian-made machines at this price have pretty poor cooling system, so the PAPST unit in this really makes it stand out.
According to the manufacturer’s rating, it cuts up to ½”. You can sever metals up to ¾”. While previous buyers said it’s not quite as smooth at those greater depths, they did say that they were surprised by how well it worked. Many said they were cutting perfectly at 1/2″ steel, which is all you’ll really need for most DIY projects.
It works even better on thinner metals, leaving surprisingly smooth edges. Previous buyers said it can take a few test cuts to figure out the right distance to use, but once they had figured it out, the job went smoothly.
That’s a lot of value for money in terms of sheer cutting capacity, which is why we think this one is a great bargain!
Lotos have recently redesigned the trigger head torch attachment for this model. The updated torch trigger is removable so you can customize the grip. We like that it also works in both finger or thumb positions. The torch head is low profile to fit in tight spaces, so it’s easy to use in smaller, home shops where there’s not lots of room to maneuver.
It’s compact. At just 15”x6”x12”, it’s easy to pack away when you don’t need it. Previous buyers found that it was also a great choice for portable applications. They said the small package made it ideal for throwing in the truck to bring to the jobsite. At 22.5 pounds, it’s also light and manageable.
The inverter supply cranks out steady DC power with rapid modulation so you get a consistent cut. The switch power inverter system allows for a much smaller and lighter transformer, with around a 30% boost in efficiency. It uses pulse-width modulation to make sure you’re getting a constant feed, which means a smoother edge in your metalwork.
It comes with all the basic accessories you need to get cutting. This set includes the torch, with a nozzle, electrode, and cup installed, a ground clamp and cable, an air pressure regulator, and an air hose with two couplers and two clamps.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
It goes through consumables very quickly. Like other cheaper plasma cutters, the no-frills design is relatively inefficient. Be prepared to have lots of tips on hand. One other downside is that the recommended consumables are quite expensive. You can modify the tool to work with other consumables, as some buyers reported, but that would void the warranty.
Quality control is fairly shoddy on this one. Thankfully, we found that in most cases, if something went wrong, it went wrong quickly. It was a bummer, but much easier to deal with in the return window.
We’ve found that shoddy reliability is par for the course at this price, but assuming you’re in the majority of purchasers who get a well-made machine, you’re getting a bargain. So, for budget buyers, we think this one is worth a shot.
The manual isn’t included in the box. It’s available online, but that’s less convenient for some people.
It doesn’t cut quite as thickly as rated. This one is rated up to 1/2”, but we wouldn’t really recommend it for cuts over 1/3”. This is on the lighter end of the market for plasma cutters.
Buyers had very mixed experiences with Lotos customer service. While some said they reached out with questions and received very prompt responses, others said they had problems getting in touch with someone at the company.
2. AHP Alpha Cut
Our next recommendation provides a big boost in build quality and power while maintaining a relatively low price point. This AHP cutter powers up to 60 amps (1/6 more than the Lotos), with a continuous arc that helps you cut tricky surfaces like rusted or coated metals. Previous buyers said they had no difficulty cutting through painted surfaces.
We recommend it for more dedicated DIY enthusiasts, as well as people who want a more dependable tool for lighter shop work.
It’s 1/6 more powerful than the Lotos. That allows it to cut up to 3/8” at 110 volts, and up to a full inch at 220! That’s a big boost over the Lotos, which at optimal conditions can only do 1/2”. While you’ll have to work a bit more slowly at those thicker gauges, previous buyers said you can still get a very clean cut. They said that on 220 volts, it was like an exacto-knife.
It’s still compact. This one’s only a few inches larger than the Lotos, and packs a lot more power in its case.
The continuous pilot arc produces very smooth cuts. This unit also has a commercial-grade cycle which keeps the power feed incredibly constant. The smoothness means better efficiency as well, so you won’t burn through as many combustibles as you would with the Lotos.
It works on rougher metal surfaces. While a lot of other cutters are designed to work at ideal conditions (which are rarely the case when you’re doing DIY or working in a busy shop), this one’s continuous arc is rated to work on rusted, corroded, painted, and coated metals as well as those brand new pieces.
That’s ideal for people who are doing salvage work, restorations, or other re-use projects. Previous buyers agreed overwhelmingly that this one is a great all-around workhorse. They used it for auto restoration parts fabrication, gun modifications, and metal sculptures-among other projects. Plus, the fact that this works on rough surfaces saves you money and effort when you’re sourcing scrap metals!
It has better quality control than the Lotos. We found far fewer reports of issues, and the buyers who did have problems said they were resolved easily. It’s also covered by a 3-year warranty, which is much better than the 1-year coverage on the Lotos.
AHP customer service has a better reputation than Lotos. Most buyers didn’t have any problems, but the few who did said that the company responded promptly, and that repairs were quick and smooth.
Even though this is twice the price of the Lotos, this one’s still half the price of some top-shelf models. For the quality of the power cycle inside, combined with the reliability of the tool, we think it’s a real bargain.
In includes a power adaptor, which allows you to use the machine at either 110 or 220 volts. While the Lotos works at dual voltages as well, it doesn’t come with an adaptor. You also get the hose, nozzle, and clamps you’ll need to get cutting.
Previous buyers report that while the tool does function at 110 volts, it really needs 220 volts to do a good job. They recommended making sure you’ve got a 220 feed in your shop, if at all possible.
3. Hobart Airforce
This one’s our least expensive American-made cutter. It’s a much more reliable, convenient choice for light cutting work than the AHP or Lotos. We love the built-in air compressor, as well as the ergonomic design.
It’s also extremely convenient to use, since it works on standard electrical feeds. This is one of the best tools on the market for home DIY enthusiasts, or small shops looking for a superior, portable tool.
Unlike the AHP or Lotos, this one has a built-in air compressor. It’s piston-driven, so it packs surprising power in a small package. That makes it a lot more convenient to use, especially on the go.
You don’t need to set it up next to the compressor in your shop, and you don’t need to lug a compressor around to other worksites. The other big benefit of having a compressor built in is that the pressure is preset. You’ll have optimum cutting conditions for each task without you having to make any adjustments yourself. It’s actually one of the only models out there with this feature.
Even though it’s a more complete system than the Lotos or AHP, it’s very nearly the same weight. This one’s only 27 pounds, less than 5 pounds more than the Lotos! There’s a handle built into the casing, too. Previous buyers found the design extremely convenient. They said it’s easy to carry,and appreciated not needing to carry an air compressor in addition to the cutter.
It’s built right here in the USA.
It’s made by a commercial-class tools company. As such, it has a number of smart design features which make it easier to use, as well as more reliable than the cheaper options for regular and long term use. It has special cooling features on the torch tip and electrodes, which help dissipate heat after you’re done with a cut.
The cutting arc also starts with a smaller pilot arc, which doesn’t require surface contact. That helps you get more use out of your tips and combustibles. It also makes for easier starts on rough, corroded, or coated surfaces.
It works–and works well–on standard electrical feeds. That’s one of the biggest advantages over our two cheaper recommendations. While both those cutters can technically work at dual voltages, they really need 220 to work well.
That means installing a special hookup, which can cost you a fair bit of money. Separate hookups also limit you by tying you down to wherever your 220 socket is. The Hobart works absolutely anywhere.
The most impressive feature for us is that it doesn’t compromise power or cutting ability at the lower voltage. Unlike the other two tools, this one doesn’t see a drop in power when you use standard plugs.
It’s rated for cutting 1/8” steel, ¼” mild steel, and 1/16” copper, aluminum, brass copper, and galvanized surfaces. That’s not quite as thick as the other two can handle, but the Hobard cuts more cleanly.
There are LED alerts built in. They give you a quick reading on power, temperature, and torch readiness, so you’re never playing guessing games with your cutter.
It’s rated up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to the special thermal overload protection. The system automatically slows its duty cycle down as temperature increases. That prevents excessive buildup and damage to the internal components. If airflow is impeded, or the unit is overheating, the system will automatically shut off to protect itself.
It’s not much more expensive than the AHP. Previous buyers said they were very pleased with the value for money, since this one doesn’t cost nearly as much as most other American cutters.
It’s covered by Hobart’s 5/3/1 warranty system, which provides between 1 and 5 years of coverage depending on the specific component.
It’s not for thicker metals. Due in part to the use of household electricity, this one can only cut up to 1/8” or so. That’s about half the depth of what the Lotos or AHP can handle, although most DIY metalwork generally stays around or under the 1/8” range anyway.
It’s more expensive than either the AHP or the Lotos. While it’s unquestionably a higher-quality machine, the fact that it won’t cut thicker metals might be a deal-breaker for some buyers.
4. Lotos LTP8000
If you’re looking for the biggest power for money factor, this Lotos model should be right up your alley. At 80 amps, it packs some serious punch, and can make clean cuts up to 1”. While it doesn’t have as many amenities and conveniences as some other models, it’s one of the most powerful cutters under $1,000.
Like the other Lotos, it has a built-in PAPST cooling system.
It has two built-in handles to help you carry it around.
It’s very powerful. At 80 amps, this tool is rated to make clean cuts at up to 1” thick steel. It can sever up to 1.5” steel or other softer metals. Previous buyers said that what this machine might lack in fancy features, it certainly makes up for with the power factor.
Like the AHP and Hobart, this one uses a pilot arc to cut cleanly through rusted, painted, or otherwise uneven surfaces. It’s a good workhorse unit for people who cut lots of different materials, and the extra power means you can blast through even the roughest metals.
The MOSFET transistor system keeps the power feed even. That gives you the oomph to cut through inch-thick steel, as well as the precision to make smooth cuts on thinner materials.
It comes with the torch, ground clamps and cables, as well as an air hose, couplings, and pressure regulator.
Unlike with some other Lotos products, buyers of this model said they had good experiences with customer service. A couple buyers received units that didn’t work out of the box, but they said Lotos were prompt and helpful in shipping out replacements.
It offers lots of potential upgrades and modifications. This isn’t the most sophisticated model out there (the emphasis is more on power). However, it provides a solid framework to build off of. You could upgrade parts as you go, if you find you need something slightly different.
Some suggestions from previous buyers: a standard US plug, and a longer ground cable. You can also replace the torch, for instance, if you find another, more ergonomic design that works better for you.
It doesn’t have an air compressor built in. You’ll need to use this with an external unit. That makes this machine a bit less convenient than the Hobart.
It’s pretty heavy. This one’s almost 50 pounds. You’ll probably want to find a permanent home for it in your shop.
Some buyers weren’t impressed with the torch design. They found it awkward and a bit unwieldy. Remember that you can always replace the torch later, or switch it for a torch from your old cutter.
You have to run it on 220 volts. That does require a special hookup, so if you don’t have one, you’ll want to factor in some extra cost there.
It’s not the most reliable tool on the market. Some previous buyers had DOA units that needed to be replaced. However, problems seem to be very isolated (more so than the other Lotos).
5. Miller Spectrum 375
If you’re looking at top-shelf options, you should definitely think about this Miller cutter. It’s extremely versatile and maneuverable, and packs a lot of power into a highly portable package. While it’s not a heavyweight in terms of sheer amperage, it’s rated up to nearly ½” steel, and it’s of impeccable quality. We love all the automatic adjustments and other smart features which make this tool simple and very convenient to use.
It’s loaded with smart features which you won’t find on the cheaper Chinese models.
This unit has an automatic re-fire system in the plasma arc. It’s designed to help you out with expanded or layered metals, which can require alternating frequencies. This unit controls the cycle switch times based on the metal you’re cutting, so you can keep working without making modifications.
Since you don’t have to manually re-trigger the arc, you’re saving yourself a lot of time, as well as finger strain over long cuts.
The triggerhead has an ergonomic, balanced design to ease fatigue and help you cut in a steady line. It also has a modified safety trigger, and the hose has been redesigned for better flexibility.
The unit automatically adjusts both air and power input to maintain optimum cutting conditions in patchy situations. It’ll compensate for air pressure fluctuations, and make up for voltage drops or spikes up to 15%. Those automatic adjustments really help for getting smooth starts and ends on your cuts. They’re also handy for working off-site, on a generator or other less stable power supply.
It has auto-line circuitry on board. That means this one will adapt automatically to your power source, so you don’t need to make any adjustments yourself. You can rest assured knowing that this machine will work at any jobsite. That makes it a good choice for metalworkers or maintenance teams who travel frequently, or often work offsite. It’s compatible with 115/230V receptacles, single-phase power, and 50/60HZ setups.
We also love that this one comes with plugs for each power source.
There are LED indicator lights built into the body. They give you readings on pressure, power, cup, and temperature, so there’s no guesswork involved in your cut. It’ll also shut itself off automatically if it needs a cooling break.
It’s one of the most portable units on the market. It’s lightweight, compact, and one of the only plasma cutters to come with a shoulder strap. Previous buyers said that the sheer ergonomics of this unit made it their all-time favorite to use. they couldn’t believe the power that came from the small package.
Previous buyers were very pleased to find that this one ships with spare consumables. It also ships in a sturdy carrying case for taking it to your job site.
Just like the other Miller, it’s made in the USA and covered by the company’s 5/3/1 warranty.
It’s not the most powerful tool out there. At 30 amps, this tool isn’t going to compete with the big Lotos for brute force. However, thanks to smart design, it can cut just as well as many full-size plasma units. You simply shouldn’t expect to cut over ½” steel.
It’s very expensive. This unit will probably cost you around $1,500, so it’s not a casual purchase. We’d recommend it to professionals who want a portable, flexible cutting tool.
6. Hypertherm PowerMax 45
If you’re looking for the absolute best of the best in your new plasma cutter, the buck stops here! While it’s not a casual purchase for the average buyer, Hypertherm model is actually one of the most popular plasma cutters out there.
It’s a favorite among metalworking shops and with people who have farms or auto repair businesses. Fun fact: this one’s actually used at the Kennedy Space Center! It’s compact, maneuverable, and has a 20-foot range. For the best all-around performance and convenience on the market right now, look no further!
It comes with twice the range of the Miller. This one has a 20’ lead, and a 20’ nozzle reach.
At just 35 pounds, it’s extremely maneuverable. It’s even smaller than the Miller, too!
It’s powerful. Given the size, previous buyers were extremely impressed at how strong of an arc this machine cranked out. This one can cut and gouge with the best machines, even though it’s smaller and lighter than the competition.
It’s rated to cut clean up to 1/2”. Plus, Hypertherm is conservative about their ratings, unlike other companies. While some makers will rate a tool for 1”, when realistically it’ll do 3/4”, several previous buyers found that the Powermax would actually cut up to 1” in their applications. Of course, your results will always depend on your power supply, air feed, and metal conditions.
The Hypertherm’s versatility is thanks to the tool’s ability to switch amperages to suit each material. It can choose from a range between 20 and 45 amps, and makes adjustments based on the thickness and density of the metals. Basically, once you pull the trigger, your job is done. The Hypertherm does the rest.
The consumables are actually less expensive to buy than those sold for other cutters. That’s a surprising advantage for a premium tool. Plus, the Hypertherm is much more efficient than cheaper tools, so it doesn’t burn through tips nearly as fast.
To help with its efficiency, and to protect internal components, this unit includes a special cooling system. It also has an automatic shutoff, like the Miller and Hobart.
Like the Miller, it has a system for compensating for air and power irregularities. The Boost Conditioner feature moderates electricity, and conditions power before it passes through the arc. There’s an internal air pressure regulator as well.
The torch is very smartly designed. It uses a conical flow shape to increase the energy density of your arc. That results in a cleaner, sharper cut, with much less dross than other cutters produce. It’s also built around a dual-angle design, which burns consumables much more efficiently and preserves the life of the torch head. It comes with both a gouging tip and a cutting tip.
Like the Hobart and Miller models, it’s made in the USA. We couldn’t find a single complaint about quality control, as you expect at this price. Hypertherm also provide excellent customer support. They also go out of their way to provide manuals, information, and helpful specs.
These machines are highly durable, reliable and have excellent resale value. The system is completely covered by warranty. You get between 1 and 3 years depending on the specific component.
The outstanding versatility, convenience, and reliability made many previous buyers feel like it was more than worth the cost in the end. Many said it paid for itself after a job or two, because they could use recycled and resourced metals. Plus, they weren’t purchasing nearly as many consumables.
It doesn’t come with an air filter, which you’ll need if you’re using it with your own air compressor. Hypertherm’s is about $180, so that’s a serious additional cost to be aware of. Between the cutter and the filter, you can plan on spending around $2000 for the full setup.
As with the Miller, it won’t work with household electric feeds.
Which is the Best Plasma Cutter for the Money?
If you’re on a tight budget, the Lotos is the obvious choice. It’s the least expensive cutter here by a long shot. While it’s not the most reliable or powerful of our recommendations, it offers all the essential features you need to get cutting without making a major investment.
If you can afford a little more, but still don’t need a $1,000+ professional-grade tool, we highly recommend the AHC. It’s more reliable than the Lotos, and has some smarter features which help it work with rougher, rusted metals.
For buyers who want the most convenient option out there, if not the most powerful, the Miller is a fantastic choice. It’s not quite as strong as the AHC in terms of amperage, but it makes up for its lack of brawn with lots of smart, convenient features.
We love the built-in air compressor for portability, and the ability to use household feeds. Because you don’t have to have an air tank with you, and can operate without 220v power, this is our most convenient recommendation.
If you want sheer power, and have lots of thick metal to cut, we strongly recommend the larger Lotos unit. It has the highest power ratings of any of our recommendations, and can cut the thickest materials. While it’s not the most reliable or convenient tool here, it’s the best choice for people who need the most brute force for their dollar.
If you’re looking for a professional-grade tool for light cutting jobs, the Miller is the cutter for you. It’s extremely light and maneuverable, and it’s much more reliable than our cheaper recommendations for light cuts.
Plus, the plethora of automatic features and smart components make it a pleasure to use. Just be aware that it’s not as powerful as our other recommendations. This one is strictly for lighter jobs.
Finally, with the best compromise between the convenience and smart design of the Miller, and the power of the Lotos unit, as well as the best overall performance, we highly recommend the Hypertherm to professionals looking for the absolute best plasma cutter out there.
This unit is as maneuverable and versatile as the Miller, and can cut up and over 1/2” steel with ease. We’re hard-pressed to find anything to complain about with this model, aside from the price tag. It’s probably overkill for the casual DIYer, but it’s an excellent choice for professionals who will use it enough to get their money’s worth.
How to Choose the Best Plasma Cutter
Decide on your budget:
Plasma cutters are available from about $300 to $2,000+. The cheapest options are no-frills cutters with basic plasma arcs, simple triggers, and limited adjustments. The most expensive options are high-end models with ergonomic designs, superior maneuverability, and automatic air and amperage adjustments.
If you need to get the job done on a budget, you can get away with spending less than $500 for a basic cutter. However, you’ll want to be aware that cheaper models aren’t particularly reliable, and they’re not very ergonomic to use.
We recommend that serious DIY enthusiasts, farm workers, or home mechanics spend at least $750 to get a more dependable plasma cutter.
If you do professional metalworking, you’ll probably want to look at one of the $1,250+ options.
Generally, you’ll be choosing between ergonomics and power. For example, at the $1,000 point, you’ll find models that are either very maneuverable but have limited cutting capacity (1/8” steel), or models that are no-frills and a bit awkward, but have the power to cut over 1” steel. So, you’ll want to decide which is more important to you: user-friendliness, or brute force.
At the top of the range, you’ll find a mix of both, but you’ll be paying premium ($2,000) prices. These machines have fully-automatic features and adjustments, with ergonomic designs and great maneuverability. They also offer a wide range of power, and can cut up close to 1” steel.
Think about your projects:
Be sure to think about the thicknesses, the densities, and also the conditions of the metals you’ll be working on. Most metalworkers cut pieces under 1/2” for most projects. However, if you’re working with larger pieces, you’ll definitely want to make sure your machine is rated for thicker pieces.
Consider the specific types of metals you cut. For most cutting on mild steel, any cutter will do the trick (up to its rated depth). If you’re working on coated steels, galvanized surfaces, aluminum, or other types of metal, you’ll want a higher-end cutter with more power and adjustable arc settings.
You’ll also want to think about the end goal. If you’re looking for a very smooth edge, make sure you round down from the cutter’s stated capacity. Most low-to-mid range cutters are rather optimistic in their stated capacities. That’s because they’re tested at optimum conditions which aren’t always possible in the real world.
To help you, most manufacturers list a “cut cleanly” depth, as well as a rougher “severance” depth. For example, if you need to cut 3/8” smoothly, look for something rated to over 1/2”.
If you do salvage or restoration work, chances are you’ll be working with rusted, rough, or otherwise imperfect surfaces. Not all plasma cutters are designed to handle these conditions, so you’ll want to look for machines that are clearly marked to cut well on rough metals. Look especially for constant arcs, automatic refire, and other cycle improvements to help you get better starts and cleaner cuts on rough pieces.
While it can be tempting to simply buy the cutter with the biggest amperage, it’s worth considering that most of us don’t actually cut 1” steel, especially not on a regular basis. You’ll want to think about your average cutting width, and judge accordingly.
Always remember that even if a cutter can’t work completely cleanly at 1”, most can still sever pieces of steel. So, for those of us who occasionally run into a 1” piece, but not on a regular basis, a 1/2” standard cutter will probably work just fine.
Consider your space:
Before you buy any new tool, you should always have a look around your shop or workspace, to make sure you have the right hookups, equipment, and space to make the tool work.
Most plasma cutters are designed to work on industrial 220V electricity. It’s not common for DIY shops, so if you’re buying a 220V cutter, make sure you know whether you’ve already got one. If you’re in a professional shop or on a worksite, chances are you’ll be able to find a 220V hookup.
If you don’t have one in your shop, and you’re looking at a 220V cutter, you’ll need to install a hookup. That usually involves having your utility company come by and set it up (~$500). When you’re considering that investment, do take into account the fact that lots of other professional-grade equipment runs at 220V.
If you don’t have a 220V hookup, and aren’t planning on getting one, you’ll want to find a dual-voltage or universal voltage cutter. Some cutters work at both 110 and 220V, and some even work universally on any power supply you happen to be around.
What’s the difference? Mainly power. 220V simply gives your cutter a lot more juice to work with. These cutters can handle thicker metals, and in much less time. However, for the average DIY enthusiast, 110 should work just fine.
If you work on site a lot, or have less stable power, look for a cutter with a built-in buffer system. We’re big fans of these for getting more perfect cuts, even if you don’t have any serious power fluctuations. These units compensate for any dips or spikes with an internal transformer. The result is a much more steady arc. On a worksite, the compensator can make a big difference, depending on who else is working around you, and what type of generator you’re using.
If you need lots of reach, whether for cutting underneath vehicles, or because of a cramped workspace, you should look for a cutter with at least a 10-foot hose. Generally speaking, the best range you can buy is around 20-foot. 10 is probably more than enough for most people, but your distance depends on where your power supply is, where your air tank is, and where your actual cutting space is.
Think about durability:
Plasma cutters can either be extremely reliable, or extremely temperamental. That’s why it’s so important to get a good one! We’ve found that under $500, you’re looking at some pretty chancy models. While they have basic warranty coverage, these models are prone to overheating, blowouts, and circuitry issues.
That’s because of poor quality control and a lack of built-in protection features. More expensive models are more reliable, because they have better cooling systems and heat protections built in. They also will have better quality control, and an overall higher build sturdiness.
To make sure your investment is protected over the long term, look for a few key things. First, you want to be sure your new tool is covered under a warranty. Look for at least 1 year of coverage, with 3 to 5 years on high-end models.
You’ll also want to look for superior cooling systems, automatic shutoff features to prevent heat damage inside the cutter, and efficient torches which burn more fluidly and keep wear and tear to a minimum.
If you haven’t found just the right plasma cutter for you and your projects, take a look at Amazon’s best-selling models here! You can compare prices for all of our recommendations, and check out other competing models that didn’t make our final cut.