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If you are planning to do some basic metal fabrication on the house, it can get quite difficult without the right tool. However, with the plasma cutter $, the task can become quite easy.
This handy little tool allows you to cut through thick sheets or pieces of metal with little to no effort. And with a minimal budget, you can find some decent units out there if you know where to look.
In this article, we will give you a quick rundown of what you need to know when you are on the market for a plasma cutter.
Top 5 Plasma Cutter under $500 Review in 2021
For people with a low-budget, finding the best bang for your buck unit can be difficult. Most affordable plasma cutters fail to deliver proper performance, which is understandable for the low price.
However, there are some units that give you great value for your investment.
In the following section of the article, we will give you our picks for five of the top plasma cutters under 500 dollars that will give you the performance you want.
Lotos LTPDC2000D Non-Touch Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
Starting off our list, we will be looking at a highly-rated brand in the industry, Lotos. The LTPDC200D by the brand is a non-touch plasma cutter, featuring a Pilot Arc that barely sits within our budget.
It is an excellent investment for people who want all the punch they can get from their investment.
The Pilot Arc torch in the unit can cut through any conductive surface efficiently while keeping the slag level at a minimum.
Thanks to the non-touch HFF torch control, you can cut through your material precisely and exactly the way you want to.
It also comes with TIG welding for working with stainless steel or thinner gauge materials without sacrificing precision.
The Stick MMA welder allows easy ARC start and gives you a stable welding experience whenever you are working.
You can create beautiful and complex designs, and the adjustable hot striking ARC current allows it to have an improved Arc-starting function.
Another great feature of the unit is its voltage. It uses 220V power to run; however, using a pigtail converter, you can also use it with a 110V outlet.
As you can see, it does not skimp out on the power section and gives you plenty of options, even if you are an expert welder or fabricator.
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PrimeWeld Pilot Arc 50A Plasma Cutter
Here, we are looking at another high-power unit by the brand PrimeWeld. This 50A plasma cutter offers a complete solution for any DIY enthusiast for its versatile list of features. If you require to do welding on a regular basis, then this unit is the best choice.
The machine comes with a Pilot Arc, TIG welder, and Stick welder combo allowing you to use it for a variety of cutting and welding applications.
When using the Pilot Arc, you get 50A of output while both the TIG and Stick welder uses 200A of power – allowing you to slice through thick materials with relative ease.
With this tool, you can cut through a wide range of metals such as stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, nickel, just to name a few.
It features a soft switching technology along with a full-bridge design ensuring greater levels of durability. Even at lower temperatures, the Arc functions are quite stable.
Another great thing about the tool is how lightweight it is. It features a carry handle on the top, allowing you to move it around easily. The unit operates at dual voltage, meaning you can run it both at 110V or 220V outlets.
Thanks to the IGBT inverter technology, the primary transformer is quite small, and the total unit weighs a measly 32 pounds.
Lotos CT520D 50 AMP Air Plasma Cutter
It looks like we have another unit by Lotos on our list aimed at those who want to save a bit more money.
If the previous option by the brand was a bit too much for you, you might find the more user-friendly design of the CT520D unit more appealing.
This unit is perfect for any home DIY enthusiast, thanks to its affordable price and ease of use.
It features a current output of 50A, so practically, you can cut through ½ inch metal with no sweat.
It also has a severance thickness of ¾ inches. The unit additionally features a high-quality TIG and Stick welder with 200A of output, improving the versatility of the unit by a long margin.
Both the additional welding option adds a lot to this machine. With the TIG welding, you can get precision and accuracy when you are working with thinner materials.
On the other hand, the Stick welder features some interesting aspects that make it a highly usable element, such as a stable welding arc and deep weld pool.
Setting up the unit and getting it up and running takes no time. It comes with pre-installed air filter regulators where you can attach your air compressor and start it up.
It weighs a total of 38.5 pounds and comes with carry handles on the top to ensure easy portability. The unit also features automatic dual voltage switching between 110V to 220V, depending on the wall socket.
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PrimeWeld 50A Air Inverter Plasma Cutter with Non-Touch Pilot Arc
Now, we will be looking at another fantastic unit by the brand PrimeWeld. For people looking to buy a compact and portable plasma cutter with inverter technology, this unit is the best choice.
Finding inverter units at this point is not that easy; however, this unit is a clear exception.
The unit features a 50A non-touch Pilot Arc torch.
You can cut through any material of up to ½ inch thickness without any issue with the unit. Thanks to its accurate performance, the amount of slag is kept at a minimum, giving you quality edges and finish in your cuts.
Here, the recommended compressor capacity for the unit is 2 gallons, and it comes at an air pressure rating of 65PSI.
This means that you can use almost any budget compressor with it and expect it to perform well. As a result, DIY hobbyists or budget spenders can benefit highly from this unit.
In addition, the unit features a dual-voltage design, meaning you can use it with either 110V sockets or 220V ones.
However, you need to use an adaptor to change the voltage type that comes included with your purchase.
The total weight of the unit is around 21 pounds, which is nothing considering you also get a carry handle on top for easier portability.
CTS-200, 50A Plasma Cutter
The last product that we will be reviewing is by a brand called Amico. When it comes to plasma cutters, this might not be the first brand that comes to your mind, especially after looking at the powerhouses like PowerWeld or Lotos.
However, the affordable price tag and excellent feature set make it one of the finest affordable plasma cutters that you can find on the market.
The unit features a three in one combo with its Pilot Arc, Stick welder, and TIG welder. With the Pilot Arc, you get 50A while the Stick and TIG welder gives you 200A of power.
As a result, this unit fits in perfectly when you are using it for basic home repairs or in an auto shop.
Also, the cutter boasts advanced IGBT inverter technology, keeping the weight of the unit to a minimum.
In addition, its wave-form control system ensures perfect volts and amps regulations – protecting the unit from short circuits or arc burning cycles. It also comes with overload protection and compensator for voltage fluctuation.
So, as you can see, it is one of the sturdiest units since the manufacturers focused so much of their attention on ensuring its safety.
It works in a dual voltage of 110V and 220V and has a 60% duty cycle at 200A. You also get a convenient carry handle at the top to make transport easier.
Things to Look for When Buying the Plasma Cutter
If you look at our list of products, you should already have a decent idea of which units are worth your time and money.
When making our selection, we considered several different aspects of each unit to ensure they will deliver a decent performance.
You need to know about these elements, too, if you want to get the best bang for your buck. Remember, five hundred dollars is not a big budget for a high-end plasma cutter.
Since you are shopping in the budget range, you need to make sure you get the most value out of your investment.
In the following section of the article, we will give you a quick rundown of the things you should consider when buying the plasma cutters under $500.
The amperage of a plasma cutter is the first thing you want to consider when buying it. It is related to both the cutting speed and the cutting capacity of the unit.
If you are a heavy-duty user, then you must invest in a plasma cutter that features a higher amperage.
However, most users who will cut thinner materials can make do with a low amps unit. Ideally, you will have no trouble cutting through metals of ¼ inches thickness if the plasma cutter comes with 25 amps of power. For ½ inches, on the other hand, you might require 50 amps.
A plasma cutter either operates on 110/120 volts or 230/240 volts. If you are a casual user and do not have a dedicated workshop, you are more likely to have only 110/120 volts outlets in your home.
However, with this voltage, you will have a difficult time cutting through anything thicker than ½ inches.
So, if you are a power user who needs the tool for heavy-duty cutting applications, you need to invest in a unit that operates at 230/240 volts.
Not only that, but you also need to convert a wall socket to deliver that amount of power. For basic hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts, typically, a 110/120 volts unit should be sufficient.
Type of Torches
One of the most critical components of a plasma cutter is the torch. The basic idea of the torch is the same across all designs.
However, the approach they take in slicing through metal is different. There are four types of torches in general that you can find on a plasma cutter – lead, high-frequency non-touch, drag technology, and touch-start.
Although lead torch designs are extremely efficient and popular for commercial use, they also tend to get very expensive.
Practically, you have to choose between HF non-touch, drag technology, or touch-start design of torches when you are shopping at this price range. The non-touch design is typically the better choice.
The Thickness of the Plate
When you are buying a plasma cutter, you obviously need to determine its cutting capacity. You also need to consider the thickness of the plate that you want to cut more frequently. The gauge of the material that you want to cut plays a crucial role in your choice of tools.
One thing you want to do when considering this factor is to exceed the prescribed cutting capacity when choosing the tool.
For instance, if your plasma cutter can cut a maximum of ¾ inches, you only want to use it for cutting plates with ½ inch thickness.
The reason is that if you cut ¾ inch materials with it, the finish will be poor and rough.
Controls and Indicators
The arrangements of controls and different indicators of the status can make using this device easier.
Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a trade expert, it is essential that you are comfortable using the device.It would make your investment worth more in the long run.
Of course, you want the power switch to be in a convenient location. In addition, the adjustable options of the unit should also be close to your fingertips so that you can change it easily.
Some models even feature LED indicators at the front to give you different information, which can make it more accessible.
Another factor you might want to address is the quality of the cut. This requirement varies from one person to another, so you need to have a basic idea of what you want to do with this tool.
If you simply want to cut pieces of metal or aluminum, you do not need to worry about the finish too much.
However, if you need to notch letters or want to carve delicate designs on metal plates, then you need to invest in a higher quality unit.
The precision of the cut, in this case, would be a critical element for your purpose. So, before investing in a tool, consider your requirements first.
The portability of a plasma cutter is important if you need to move around with it a lot. Typically, professionals benefit more from a portable plasma cutter since they might need to move to different locations for a job.For a basic user, however, it might not be as essential.
Consider the weight and design of the unit to get a grasp of its portability. Features like carrying handles or shoulder straps are a nice addition that adds to the mobility of the unit.
Another element you need to check is its weight. If the device is too heavy, you will have a harder time moving around with it.
Pros and Cons of a Plasma Cutter and Its Applications
A plasma cutter is quite a versatile piece of equipment that has a lot of uses in different industries. The major applications of a plasma cutter are:
The primary application of a plasma cutter is in industrial cutting. Different manufacturing companies use high-quality cutters to cut through metal aesthetically and precisely to create a lot of different devices.
Another major field of this tool is in the automotive industry. It is used in cutting different car parts and also for some repair jobs. For instance, a plasma cutter with a Pilot Arc is used in cutting through rusty parts.
Nowadays, many different metal artists use this tool to fashion interesting designs and artworks.
The precision and control that you get from a plasma cutter are perfect for any contemporary artist.
Fabrication and Home Repairs
Apart from industrial and creative uses, a plasma cutter has a lot of use in basic metal fabrication at home.
You can use it for some welding repairs, fabrication of fixtures, or even plumbing in some instances.
So, as you can see, plasma cutters are an excellent tool to have at your disposal, whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional expert.
However, it does come with its own share of flaws. We have highlighted some of the major pros and cons of this machine in the following section for your convenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you will benefit from a budget plasma cutter depends on your requirements. At this price point, you are looking for units that are meant for home repairs or auto body shops at best.
If you require a plasma cutter for any of these applications, then you should have no issue with it.
No. The primary purpose of a plasma cutter is to cut through conductive materials. This means it requires metals like stainless steel, cobalt, nickel, copper, etc.
to efficiently cut through. Unfortunately, you cannot cut through a non-conductive material like wood and plastic with a plasma cutter.
Yes. To use a plasma cutter, you need to supply it with air from an air compressor. However, you can also find units with a built-in air-compressor if you want.
Although plasma cutters do tend to get quite expensive, there are some budget models in the market that give you an excellent performance.
Our list of recommended products should give you a decent idea of which units you should be on the lookout for.
We hope you found our article on the plasma cutter under $500 enjoyable. You should now have no trouble figuring out which unit you want to buy when you have a limited budget.