As a metal fabricator, nothing besides welding is more important than cutting.
And nothing makes cutting metal easier than a plasma cutter.
But finding a cheap plasma cutter that gets the job done isn’t so easy.
Check out this selection of budget plasma cutters we rounded up for you.
A quick comparison
No-touch arc starts
Eastwood Versa Cut 20
Easy to use
Extra clean cuts
Consumables are common
Powerful and affordable
No-touch pilot arca
Forney Easy Weld 20 P
Made in USA
120 or 240 input
Great customer service
Wide operating range
Super Deal CUT50
Plasma Cutters Under $500 with Reviews
These are the best budget plasma cutters you can find for under $500
1. Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter
- Dual 120/240 volt input power
- 1-year warranty
- German PAPST cooling
- Can cut 3/8-inch steel
- 50 amps cutting power
- High frequency arc starts
- 26 pound weight
- 13-foot torch connection
- Comes with a regulator
- Duty cycle is 60 percent
- Short, 6-foot ground clamp
- No 120 volt connector
This plasma cutter features high frequency no-touch pilot arc starting. The Lotos LTP5000D outputs 50 amps, enough power to cut 5/8-inch steel. It’s also built to run on either 120 or 240 volt power and only weighs 26 pounds. This machine includes a moisture separator, a pressure regulator and an air filter with the plasma cutter.
The Lotos LTP5000D comes with a 1-year warranty and users love its performance when cutting heavy steel. It uses German PAPST cooling technology that’s a big part of the reason it can deliver a 60 percent duty rating at its full 50 amp rating when running on 240 volts.
The 13-foot torch connection is a plus, but users complain about the short 6-foot ground connection, lack of a 120 volt adapter and many feel the grounding clamp is of cheap quality. The LTP5000D comes with an integrated air line quick connector. There are some reports of inconsistent quality such as occasional wires not connected, but Lotos does receive good reviews for its customer service and the Lotos LTP5000D does offer a lot of value for this price range.
2. Eastwood Versa Cut 20 Plasma Cutter
- 110 volt input power
- Trafimet-type S25K torch
- 15 amps output
- Cuts up to 1/8-inch plate
- 10-foot ground clamp
- Low air pressure needs
- 0.65 mm tip for clean cuts
- 20-foot torch connection
- Designed for sheet metal
- Makes precision drag cuts
- Not a genuine Trafimet torch
- Won’t work with CNC table
The Eastwood Versa Cut 20 Plasma Cutter is easy to use, running strictly 15 amps with the only adjustment being air pressure. This inexpensive machine makes fine precision cuts with its 0.65 mm tip. This very fine cutting stream and low 30 psi air pressure requirement are perfect for auto body sheet metal. Eastwood is best known as an automobile restoration supply house. The precision tip makes much narrower cuts than most plasma cutters, meaning less work preparing panels for welding.
Because it uses high-frequency arc starting, the Eastwood Versa Cut 20 Plasma Cutter won’t work with a CNC table. Another minor issue is that the torch, listed as a “Trafimet type” torch, isn’t actually a genuine Trafimet S 25. A real Trafimet plasma torch is nearly double the cost of this affordable machine. On the other hand, it does use commonly available Trafimet consumables and parts.
With a 20-foot torch connection, the ability to perform precision drag cuts on the surface and its 120-volt power source the Eastwood Versa Cut 20 Plasma Cutter is a bargain, with a place anywhere you’re cutting less than 1/8-inch plate.
3. YesWelder CUT-55DS Plasma Cutting Machine
- Dual 120/240 volt input
- Cuts up to 1/2-inch plate
- AG60 torch head
- No-touch arc starting
- 2T/4T trigger lock
- 13-foot torch connection
- Comes with an air filter
- 20-seconds air postflow
- Aluminum handle, not plastic
- Includes spare consumables
- Cheap quality air hose
- Manual is badly written
With 55-amp output power, the inexpensive YesWelder CUT-55DS Plasma Cutter fits between the numerous 50- and 60-amp plasma cutters on the market. This machine can cut 1/2-inch steel plate. The no-touch high-frequency pilot arc means longer lasting consumables, but also means you can’t use this cutter with a CNC table because high-frequency torches interfere with digital electronics.
The YesWelder CUT-55DS Plasma Cutter is equipped with the Longevity AG60 torch and it will do the job well enough. One nice feature of this design is the flip-up shield that covers the control panel. Some users report problems with air flow, possibly because of the cheap air hose. Even on a bargain machine like this one, you need adequate airflow and pressure to keep the cutter running and to get reasonable performance.
One thing that’s a little strange about the YesWelder CUT-55DS Plasma Cutter is the decision to use a 120-volt main connection with an adapter for 240 volts, when most dual-voltage machines use 240 main power with an adapter for 120 volts. YesWelder backs this affordable plasma cutter with a 1-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee.
4. Forney Easy Weld 20 P Plasma Cutting Machine
- 120 volts input - plug in anywhere
- 35 percent duty cycle
- 1-year warranty
- 20 amps output power
- Weighs only 21 pounds
- Industrial construction
- Cuts 1/4-inch steel
- Generator friendly
- 13-foot torch connection
- Drag torch cutting
- 120 volts only
- Costly for its power level
The Forney Easy Weld 20P plasma cutter is lightweight and powerful for a 120 volt machine. With a 20 amp power output, it’s able to cut steel up to 1/4-inch thick. At 21 pounds, it’s very portable and quite practical for use around the household, in the workshop and as a jobsite tool for professionals who need to work inside customer homes.
With an industrial build, a 13-foot torch connection and drag cutting arc starts, the Forney Easy Weld 20P provides reliable and professional features that are hard to find in this price range. Forney’s been making welding machines for 90 years now and know what it takes to keep a plasma cutter functioning in the modern industrial setting.
Nothing’s perfect, of course, and in this case you might want something more powerful than this machine if you’re doing any kind of volume fabrication. 1/4-inch is pushing the limit if you’re doing things like fabricating hitches, modifying frames or customizing suspension parts. Forney does have good customer service and offers a 1-year warranty on this high quality plasma cutter.
5. Primeweld CUT50D Plasma Cutter
- Dual 120/240 input voltage
- Drag torch arc start
- Cuts 1/2-inch steel
- 10-foot ground connection
- 12.5-foot AG60 torch
- Outstanding customer service
- Pressure gauge is on the front
- Air filter included
- Standard AG60 consumables
- 3-year warranty
- Can't be used for CNC
- Not a no-touch start
The PrimeWeld Cut50D Plasma Cutter features 50 amps of cutting power, easily handling up to 1/2-inch steel. The wide amperage range lets you dial back down to 15 amps, low enough to cut auto body sheet metal if you’re careful. Primeweld gives a 3-year warranty on this inexpensive machine.
It features dual 120/240 volt input power and includes the connection adapter for 120 volt household plugs. The Primeweld Cut50D uses drag torch arc starting. Just touch the surface, wait a second and drag to cut. The main disadvantage to a drag start is that consumables get used up faster, but they’re a cheap maintenance item and the additional cost is minimal.
The Primeweld Cut50D The torch connection is a generous 12.5 feet long, with a protective covering to prevent spark damage and the AG60 torch is easy to find parts for, making it much easier to maintain the proper cutting performance. Because this machine uses high-frequency technology, it won’t run on a CNC plasma cutting machine because of digital noise. An affordable machine that combines these features, this kind of power and unmatched customer service is an amazing deal.
6. Super Deal DC Inverter (CUT 50) Plasma Cutter
- 120 or 240 volt input power
- 1-year warranty
- Can cut 1/2-inch steel
- 11-foot torch hose
- 50 amp output
- Postflow cooling adjustment
- Includes air regulator
- Super bright control display
- 60 percent duty cycle
- Front panel air pressure gauge
- Badly written documentation
- Poor customer service
The Zeny Cut50 platform is used by several makers of inexpensive plasma cutters. This kind of standardization allows for the low price ranges on this type of equipment, with each maker specifying certain optional features and equipment that determines the eventual price level of individual machines.
This plasma cutter by Super Deal is a thoughtful mix of features on the Cut50 platform with lift-type arc starting, a quiet fan and bright LED digital control gauges, with a high build quality often mentioned by owners. The Super Deal DC Inverter (Cut 50) is equipped with dual 120/240 volt input power.
This machine comes with an air regulator and features an 11-foot torch connection. It’s able to cut 1/2-inch steel with ease, and users frequently praise the cut quality and ease of use. The Super Deal DC Inverter (Cut 50) is lightweight at 24 pounds and includes an air regulator.
The torch is a standard P-31 that uses easily found consumables. The 60 percent duty cycle is a great number for a machine in this price range. The Super Deal DC Inverter (Cut 50) is backed by a 1-year warranty.
When you’re shopping for your budget plasma cutter, you’re in luck these days, with more features than ever before in this price range. Here are some of the main features and factors you need to consider for plasma cutters under $500.
Power Level Requirements
Some plasma cutters offer the ability to run on either 120 volts or 240 volts. You may see power ratings that mention 110 or 115 volts. These are just other names for the same level of power, 120 volts that are left over from the past.
The same is true of 240 volt power, which is sometimes expressed as 220 volts. These are actually the same power rating, and the true number is 240 volts.
Metal Thickness and Type
If you only need to cut metal that’s 1/4-inch thick or less, then you’re not going to need 50 amp power that can cut metal that’s twice that thick. That means you can get by with a machine like the Forney Easy Weld 20P that runs on 120 volt input power.
If you can, then you’ll find that these plasma cutters tend to be more inexpensive or offer more advanced features for the same money as the larger, heavier-duty units.
On the other hand, if you want to leave the option open for cutting thick metal, or if you’re working on heavy-duty projects like trailer hitches or cutting thick-walled pipe, you will have to have 240 volt power to reach the kind of amperage levels you’ll need for plasma cutting thick metal like that.
There is one last consideration when choosing the power level of your new plasma cutter. Some metals, like aluminum and copper, take more power to cut than ferrous metals like iron or steel. You need to take that into account when you’re choosing your machine.
If you only want to cut 1/4-inch metal, but that metal is going to be aluminum most of the time, you won’t be able to make single-pass cuts to get the job done.
If you will be doing a lot of that kind of work, you should probably step up to a 240 volt plasma cutter or one with dual voltage input power.
High Technology Features
While buying a budget plasma cutter in the sub-500-dollar range may exclude some features, there are still a lot of advanced features available in this class. Special types of arc starting like the high-frequency no-touch arc starting of the YesWelder CUT-55DS can make using a plasma cutter a lot easier for beginners.
Drag torch cutting lets you literally drag the torch along the surface like the Forney Easy Weld 20P rather than having to maintain a gap above the surface for a proper cut.
Other plasma cutters will offer a standoff torch, which features an attachment on the torch head that keeps it a certain distance above the cutting surface for the highest quality of cut.
Multi Process Plasma Cutters
There are some machines that offer more than one process in one box, for instance, a TIG or MIG function alongside a stick welder and a plasma cutter. The Primeweld CT520D features a high-powered plasma cutter and powerful TIG and stick arc welding processes all in the same machine, making for a lot of capability in an inexpensive package.
The Envelope Please
For this guide, we’ve selected the Lotos LTP5000D as our Favorite because of its outstanding mix of features and power. The included regulator and moisture separator, no-touch torch starting and the dual input voltage deliver true value for a great price range.
If you only need 120 volt input power and you’re cutting metal 1/4-inch thick or less, the Eastwood Versa Cut 20 deserves a look as well.