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  • Writer's pictureNoah O. Thompson

I Tested And Ranked The Best Plasma Cutters In 2024

Get ready to slice through steel, brass and copper. I tested the best plasma cutters of the year, and can officially say that whether you're a seasoned professional or all about DIY, these machines hit the spot.

best plasma cutters

FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.


1. Lotos - Non-Touch Pilot Arc 50Amp 110/220V

Top-rated: 2,389 ratings


best plasma cutters

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: 30-day money back guarantee and 1-year new replacement warranty.

Helpful review: "I've been a welder/fabricator for over a decade now. I've used high-dollar HUGE ESAB's and Mid-range HyperTherm and everything in between. This is my story...
I was left without a Plasma Cutter recently, so I started looking at the sub-700$ range as I don't really need to cut over 1/2" (and even if I do, I'm gonna use a torch as I can cut cleaner than a plasma at that thickness). I started researching everything under $700. Several brands and models caught my eye, but this little guy kept popping up in my search and no one had anything really bad to say. It was either the LOTOS or the Plasma Cutter Harbor Freight sells. I figured I might as well give LOTOS a shot as it seemed to have the most bang for the buck.
I open the box and tear into it like a kid at christmas, inspecting everything, looking at how it all connects. Yes, I threw the book to the side (against the protests of my wife). What does she know? I'm a professional after all! I then looked at the power cord and...It's a NEMA 6p-30A. Off to the hardware store! I get back with more than just the female 6p, but that's another story. I hook up the Air regulator, wire up a plug (220), and I'm ready to cut whatever I can find (remember: kid at christmas).
After hooking up the air compressor, it occurs to me...what PSI do I need to set the regulator at? I break down and look in the book: 60-65PSI. I go to set the regulator and it's MPa or kgl/m. What?! I look at the book for the regulator, all Chinese. So I google 62psi in MPa... it's 0.427MPa. Ok, no worries, I set that and...now the fun begins.
I found an assortment of metals to cut. First up is some sheet metal from a computer case. What do I set the Plasma at? I don't know! I set it on the lowest setting and it doesn't go through. OK...crank it to 20 and it's like butter. Alright!
I have a 12"x12" piece of rusty 1/2" plate that's been sitting outside for about 5 years in the dirt...I'm thinking this is the real test, no way this little thing is gonna cut it nicely let alone start an arc easily, I don't care what LOTOS says it will do. I was WRONG. Seriously wrong. I cranked that thing up to max (50) and started cutting, didn't even knock off the dirt or scale or rust..."cut what ya brung". I was going slow and it cut it! HOLY CRAP! This little thing?! I look at the cut and the cut lines are lagged...but clean. OK...This time I watch both sides and slow waaay down. brrrrrpt...right on through and pretty as could be. Lots of slag on the back side, but that's to be expected with this kind of machine and it knocks off easily with a hammer on the cut-face.
At this point I'm ready to cut anything metal that's not moving. I was looking for something thin and a soda can caught my eye. I pushed it to the maximum, let's see how it fares on thin-thin-thin. I crank it all the way down to the lowest setting and start cutting the can. It spits a bit and I see that the stand-off that comes with it doesn't like anything but flat. Not a big deal, I take the stand-off off and just rest the nozzle right on the can. I swear the machine laughed cause it was like cutting paper with a razor blade. Now, it did leave a good 1/8" cut line, but that's OK...this stuff is super-thin.
I continue to play around cutting whatever I can get my hands on to get a serious feel for this thing. After I'm done, I took apart the gun to see how much it ate at the consumables: The cup was fine. The nozzle showed the plasma swirl. The electrode had a small pit. Basically, it doesn't look like it's gonna eat consumables any faster than any other plasma cutter. Which is a good thing, but the consumables for the LTP5000D aren't expensive anyways...which is a good thing as well!
Overall I'm very happy and pleasantly surprised at the LTP5000D.
PROS:
- Dual Voltage 110/220. Granted, I'll probably never use the 110 feature, but I can think of a hundred times it would have been nice to grab a plasma and go out on the job-site with it.
- Small. It'll fit on a small welding cart (like the Lincoln Buzzboxes fit on). It's literally the size of my (fat) cat standing OR my Boxer laying down. I still can't get over the size vs power of this thing.
- Pilot Arc. They say it helps with rusty/uneven metal, it's got a serious start to it and it didn't seem to have an issue starting an arc on that nasty/scaly/pitted 1/2" plate.
- Comes with 2 spare electrodes and nozzles. Consumables are also inexpensive.
- A stand-off that actually clamps! Instead of just a slip-fit like the ESAB had...that always fell off. I free-hand 90% of the time, but sometimes ya just get lazy.
CONS:
- The "ground" clamp (It's a positive-ground system) is short. Like barely half the length of the whip. I'm going to have to make a longer ground if I can find the connector. I'll have to call LOTOS about that. Ground clamps should always be as long as the whips IMHO.
- The gauge on the air regulator doesn't have PSI markings. Confusing at first, trying to read the little writing on the face thinking I'm blind when it turns out it just isn't there. Either source gauges with PSI or annotate the Manual with MPa as well as PSI. I suspect that maybe this was the fault of the company providing the regulators, perhaps someone at that factory put the wrong regulator in the box it was in. The book that came with it was all in Chinese...
- The stand-off. Yes I love how it clamps, but it could be better designed, maybe with just 2 legs instead of a circle that you're dragging. It's a love-hate.
OTHER THOUGHTS:
- The trigger is on top of the gun. I like them on the bottom. Maybe I can rotate it around though, it's held on by small zip-ties, I'll investigate this further. I really would have preferred an actual trigger, but it's just ascetics. Minor nuisance, nothing more.
- Missing an air-test button. These are nice, in that you don't have to pull the trigger to set the regulator. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the high-end cutters I've had over the years. At any rate, I'd like to see this feature if they ever revise this machine.
TL;DR:
If you are going to be cutting 1/2" or less, BUY THIS. This little guy exceeded my expectations, cause I'm gonna be honest, I didn't expect this thing to do as well as it did. The few faults I found with it are easily rectified and not worth worrying about." — Josh Carson

Get it from Amazon now: $448.00 & FREE Returns

 

2. BestArc - 7th Generation 50Amp 110/220V

Top-rated: 999 ratings


best plasma cutters

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Digital screen displays parameters such as air pressure, voltage and current.

Helpful review: "First, let me say that I have been using this plasma cutter on average 1-2 times per week. I still believe it is by FAR the Best Bang for the Buck. You will not find anything better. But one thing I really like on the newest version is that they went BACK to the 220-240vac plug/cord with the 110-120vac adapter instead of the current 120v norm and 240v adapter. That's why I like the version I currently have. It has a 240vac plug/cord. The other change seems to be an All Digital Display and controls.
But the one change I'm not too sure of is the air pressure gauge. Until now, it was always an analog gauge. Now it's digital. Not sure if I would like that. WHY? Because air pressure, on all tools, including a plasma cutter has what is called STATIC air pressure and ACTIVE air pressure. Meaning, if you set it for 70 psi, that does NOT MEAN you're going to get 70 psi out. With a gauge, you will see the pressure drop when you pull the trigger. E.g. you set it for 70 psi, but it drops to 60 psi when you pull the trigger. So, you simply turn it up some more to get to the 70 psi you wanted. This is very common with air compressor tools. You don't set the output of the regulator to 90 psi because your impact wrench says 90 psi. You have to set it, then LOOK AT THE GAUGE when you turn on the tool and turn up the air so you have the 90 psi when you're actually using the tool. A plasma cutter is no different. I really wish that they would have kept an actual analog gauge. It would be so much easier to adjust air.
Anyway, in my opinion, there is still NO OTHER product that can compete with the QUALITY of the Bestar.
I am Re-Writing my review. My review used to be the very first review on this item. I updated it 3 or 4 times over a 6+ month period. It was well received. Well, for reasons unknown, my review is totally gone. So, this will be an abridged version. Short and to the point.
CONS:
- I did buy this item last year. As such, it did not have the 2T/4T capability; but that's not something that really interests me anyway.
- The generation I bought, unlike this new version, came WITH a 240v 6-50 plug on it. It was wired for 240vac. It had an adapter for 120v. Unfortunately, this new generation comes standard with a 120v 5-15p plug on it and it comes with a 6-50p 240v adapter. That's not very safe, pushing more wattage than the 15 amp 120v plug/wire can normally handle. But I haven't read of any major problems using this adapter on 240v, so be it. if I was to buy this item again today, and it came wired for 120v, being a licensed electrician I would have no problem confidently replacing the power cord with some 6 gauge wire and a 6-50p plug; and I'd build a 6-50r to 120v 5-15/20p adapter.
PROS:
outside of those two MINOR things, this plasma cutter is AWESOME. For the price, there is no better bang for the buck. You will not find anything as good. This has been reviewed by numerous experts on the internet and YouTube, people like Mike Festiva and Pete from Pete's Tools. Pete buys a different plasma cutter every month down under to test and try out. He says the Bestarc BCT500DP is definitely one of his top 2 favorites of ALL the one's he's tested.
USE:
I have used plasma cutters of all sizes; including CNC computer controlled plasma tables. This is definitely a personal use plasma cutter, but again, for the price you can't beat it. It can cut up to 5/8" steel (more if you know what you're doing). On normal size stuff it cuts like a hot knife through butter. I've gotten to the point now where I leave my air pressure at around 70 psi on the gauge (drops to about 60-65 psi when you pull the trigger) and I leave the current maxed out at 50 amps. (I run mine almost always on 240vac). This thing will cut anything metal. I've used it to cut flat steel, steel tubing, copper, aluminum, galvanized, chromed bumpers, stainless, etc. If it can conduct electricity, it WILL CUT IT.
At 120v, I've run it on my 20 amp Generac generator for portable use. Of course it can then only do about 35 amps, but that's still enough to cut through 3/8" to ALMOST a half inch. I have beat the hell out of this machine and it keeps on ticking. Of course, to maintain decent and smooth cuts, you need to know HOW to use a plasma cutter; proper air/amps settings; travel speed; etc. I've been cutting for so long on different machines I can keep the settings maxed out and adjust my travel speed to match the thickness of the metal. But even the novice can cut with this. Watch a couple of videos on YouTube for plasma cutters and you'll be fine.
OVERALL:
This is a great product. Great customer support. You may find some on Amazon that are $20-$30-$40 cheaper, but they are not the same quality. This company has been there for every question I've had. I've not had one problem with this cutter in over a year of owning and using it.
Definitely buy this. My only suggestion is: If you are going to use it a LOT, and are going to use it on 240v most of the time; use the provided 6-50p adapter as a temporary stop gap. IF YOU ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE (OR IF YOU CAN HIRE AN ELECTRICIAN) spend $10-$15 on a 6-50p plug and about $20 on some 6 gauge power cord/wire. You can usually find some prefab 50 amp dryer or stove power cords. Just cut off their plug and put the 6-50p or whatever 240v plug you want to use. Make it 240v normal with good wire. You can always adapt it down to lower current 120vac. Anyway; it's a great plasma cutter. I Highly recommend it and the company." — Mike Crowley

Get it from Amazon now: $249.99 & FREE Returns

 

3. YesWelder - Blowback Digital 65Amp 110/220V

Top-rated: 158 ratings


best plasma cutters

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: IPT40 torch with upgraded cutting performance.

Helpful review: "I bought this plasma cutter based in large part on positive YouTube reviews. I am pleased with it overall - it seems a little anemic at 110V, took a long time cutting 1/4", but with 220V it seems just fine. My problem is more about the tips and torch - my torch came with only 1 set of consumables and Yeswelder is out of replacements on their website and on Amazon. Some conflicting information out there led me to believe the pilot arc torch it came with is an IPT40 - however, when looking at the consumables for the IPT-40 torch, they do NOT look like the ones that came with my torch.
On Yeswelder's site, it SAYS they sell a consumable kit for an IPT40 Cutting Torch for the CUT65-DS, and the pictures LOOK like the consumables in my torch - but when I buy replacements online (the ones that ARE available) they do NOT fit in my torch. All the IPT40 consumables I find available are vastly different from Yeswelder's supposed "IPT40" consumables - the electrode will not thread in properly and it has a different shape, with a shoulder on the electrode, instead of the straight, narrow and relatively short electrodes Yeswelder sells. These actually look more like the Lotos CUT60 electrodes, but that is for a drag tip.
So I'm looking for a replacement torch - probably a pilot arc one and also ideally a drag tip one. Suggestions? Or somewhere I can get consumables for my pilot arc Yeswelder torch which DOESN'T appear to be an IPT40, or at least doesn't utilize most of the IPT40 consumables out there?? Can you even USE a drag tip torch with this machine? It's a decent machine, yes - but definitely some stars off due to unavailability of replacement consumables and (possible?) proprietary design.
UPDATE:
I did figure out how to make the 'other' IPT-40 torch consumables fit. The Yeswelder cup, standoff, electrode and tip are all seemingly proprietary - you have to change out everything (except maybe the swirl ring?) to get the more standard consumables to fit. I did get the electrode to thread, it just feels different, and didn't seem on the first couple of attempts to be the same threads - but when bringing it inside out of the shop and the cold weather and getting a decent night's sleep (lots of factors were distracting me), it does fit.
So... that removes my biggest gripe about this unit. Yes, the 110V performance is pretty weak, struggling to cut 1/4", but if you're doing sheet metal or light gauge, probably up to 1/8" (3mm) I think it may be ok. At 220V, I've used it to cut up to 3/8" with pretty good results. But I think I'd still like to have a drag tip torch with it, though.
A FEW WORDS FROM A FRIEND:
I bought it for cutting braided cable. Made around seven hundred cuts the first day without a problem. I have also cut up to 3/4 inch which is about its max sever. 1/4 and 3/8 inch it runs through very well with very little Slag to clean up. I ran it side by side with a hypertherm 35 on some 1/4 inch and the yeswelder was as good or cleaner cut. I can’t say anything about longevity but I am happy with it so far. I plan to run it on a Cnc table as well. It being non high frequency it shouldn’t be a problem. Water separator isn’t very durable but wouldn’t be hard to swap out. Very happy with it so far. " — Rick Kindred

Get it from Amazon now: $449.99 & FREE Returns

 

4. ToolIom - Non-Touch Pilot Arc 50Amp 110/220V

Top-rated: 768 ratings


best plasma cutters

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Ideal for portability (weighs only 13lb).

Helpful review: "The item was packaged well, and upon inspection, there was no external visible damage from shipping or otherwise rough handling. Quality Control does need to be seriously looked at by the manufacturer.
I opened the case, rather than send it back when I heard the noise from the screw rolling around, and tried to re-insert it. The screw was either too short or the aluminum heat sink bar was stripped, which made it initially fall out. I had a longer/larger machine screw and used that to replace it. One QC inspector and two other stations evidently missed this.
I did have an air leak, as mentioned by others in reviews, from the cheap supplied hose. I had some much better rubber air hose, approximately 12 in. long with a 300 psi bursting strength that stopped the leak easily on the machine side connection using the clamps provided. The hose replacement is not expensive but should be unnecessary.
The pressure gauge adjustment knob still leaked air slightly once the pressure was turned up for operation, but did not leak when pressure was set down to zero. I assume a slight loss of air here may be for the moisture trap to work. Never had a Plasma Cutter before so I am only speculating on this. I do have a much better moisture trap setup exiting from the compressor before the air is delivered to the Plasma Cutter.
For the air-inlet side, from the compressor to the cutter, I screwed in a 1/4" quick connect as a replacement for the barbed connector supplied, available anywhere they sell air tools. I can now easily plug my air compressor line into the machine without using any additional hose that would require unclamping when finished. I also replaced the pressure gauge with one that shows PSI instead of whatever it is that came with it. Harbor Freight stocks the gauges, and I am sure they can be found here on Amazon, but I already had one from another setup that was not being used.
Once all the fiddling around setting it up for operation was done, it ran fine and cut through a 1st test 18ga. pipe with ease. Note, It will easily pop a low amp breaker. The plug for 220v did not fit my existing outlet. My 220v requires a twist lock plug. I will resolve the 220v plug adapter on my own and/or upgrade my 110v breaker as appropriate. So for those on the fence, it does work without too much work on your part. Hopefully, these notes and photos will give you a little help. I always anticipate that a new tool requires going over before its first use, whether imported or domestic.
A FEW WORDS FROM A FRIEND:
I just took mine out of the box. Here are my thoughts: I read reviews that talked about air leaking. While the air hose provided is flimsy and does not seem like it will hold very long, mine worked out of the box. I made sure the clamps were good and tight and used plenty of teflon tape on the threads for the regulator. I'm sure I'll replace the hose soon. I do agree that the regulator is not the best. I will likely replace it. But mine has not leaked and seems to be accurate. It rates in MPa, not psi, which is not very helpful. I'm sure my first purchase will be a new gauge.
With my machine, I bought a set of extra consumables (although a few come with the machine). In that separate purchase, a few small snap-on guides were included. Not the best, but better than freehand, which is what you'd need without a separate purchase.
I cut through an 18ga piece of steel. It ran a clean cut in about three seconds right next to a cut of the same size that took me a few minutes with a grinder. I cut a piece of 3/8" steel and it went straight through when I was at the top 50 amp setting. Quite a bit of slag, but nothing I was worried about.
I had been wanting a plasma cutter for a while, but didn't want to spend $1,000 for the one I had been eyeing. I finally pulled the trigger a couple of days ago when I was grinding a locked down piece of 18ga steel. The wheel of my grinder got caught up. The grinder flipped out of my hands and landed on my leg. Cut through thick canvas pants and into my thigh. No stitches, but I'll have a scar there forever. BUT - the bottom line is that this plasma cutter is well worth the money. And... if you haven't used one of these before, you'll love it." — Rachel Krause

Get it from Amazon now: $199.99 & FREE Returns

 

5. S7 - Intelligent Digital Display 50Amp 120/240V

Top-rated: 3,332 ratings


best plasma cutters

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Package includes: power supply, plasma cutting torch, ground clamp, pre-Installed NPT 1/4” industry type-D plug, air filter regulator, consumables, and other accessories.

Helpful review: "For a sub $300 plasma cutter with pilot arc, it does pretty well. I'll start off with the quirks of my machine.
- First, the screws that mount the air pressure regulator screw into double nuts on the inside. This means that you'll never mount the regulator without either opening up the box (as I did, see photos) or having loose nuts inside the case (super dangerous). Luckily, opening up the box required only a phillips #2 screwdriver. While inside, I did snap a few photos, in case any of you know what a plasma cutter should look like inside. I installed the regulator mount, double nutted, and put a dab of super glue on the backside. A couple of sheet metal screws would have been a better solution for the manufacturer. For what it's worth, I did not feel like I had done any damage removing the cover to install the regulator, everything inside was tidy and well secured.
- Second is the hilariously short "ground". Really, it's about 46.5 inches (120 cm) long. This will need to be addressed immediately for most of us.
- Third is the plug. It's a 50 amp dryer plug, which I suppose is adequate but expect to install one (NEMA 6-50) or convert. I adapted an extension cord, as I did not want to cut anything before verifying that it worked.
- Fourth is the cord itself, which is 12 gauge. Theoretically, I think it can just handle the amperage (25 amps on 2 legs is 50 amps), but it seems pretty weak compared to the outlet that it requires. I'm pretty sure that means that the unit is over-rated so you could probably get by on a 30 amp 230v plug. YMMV, but I don't see any way that 2-12 is going to carry 50 amps at 80% duty cycle without a fire hazard. I knocked off 1 star for these.
USE:
The air connectors are weak, but probably adequate for 60 psi, which is going to be your max. Set your air supply (at the compressor or in-line) at that so you never exceed 60 psi. I do not trust the pressure gauge supplied, but if my line pressure is only 60, then I am unlikely to rupture anything. For the quarter inch that I cut (poorly, more on that later), 40 psi is about right. A 1/4 npt male threaded air nipple will thread right into the regulator for quick connection. I used thread sealant and had no leaks. Make sure all electrical fittings are clean and tight.
As an aside, dual voltage units are known to be weak in their switching (from 115 to 230v and back). It's always a good idea to not utilize this feature and just run 230v, if you can. This is true even with well known high end welding equipment. Also, make sure you clean the ground area. The torch can cut through slag and paint, but the ground cannot. So, I marked up and attempted to cut a piece of 1/4" angle. Nothing. After checking over everything, I found that the small tip under the cone was not tight (there are 2 metal tips under the ceramic cone).
After that, I could cut. Almost immediately, I broke the standoff, and the result was a pretty crappy freehand cut. They'll get better as I dial in amperage and pressure, but I'll get a better standoff. The pilot arc worked flawlessly and the cut started off fairly neat.
So, initial impressions... The plasma cutter performs basically as advertised. It is around 1/5th the cost of a comparable Esab unit, and prices equivalent to a set of torches. It's smaller and lighter than torches and won't get blow-uppy. My generator should be able to power it for most cuts. I tried to get the least expensive pilot arc unit on Amazon just to see how it would perform. Aside from the stuff above, all of which is correctable, it's a decent unit. In the future, I may upgrade the cord and correct the crimp on fittings as preventative maintenance, but I do want to see how well it does as built. I'll update if I have anything worth noting.
UPDATE:
I added a photo of a better cut with amperage at 38, air at 45 psi and a skate on the torch. Pilot arc does work well, so I added a shot of the torch. The dial labeled "A" is amperage, the one labeled "S" sets the delay time for shutting off the air after the trigger is released. I've only cut a couple feet so far, but it impresses for the cost. I tested the pressure gauge against a known good one, and they read close to identical up to 60 psi. I thought that I would find the torch sad and low quality and it is not. I am even finding that I like the trigger guard as it prevents activation when I lay the torch down on the table. This is a feature that I thought was decidedly "homeowner" level but I like it. Also, Amazon wants me to mention the sheerness of this product, it has none. No sheerness whatsoever. It's completely opaque. Thickness, as always, is in the eye of the beholder." — J. Theren

Get it from Amazon now: $169.99 & FREE Returns

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