Best Budget Plasma Cutters Under $500 – Reviews & Guide

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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.

In a Rush?

Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...

Favorite
Lotos LTP5000D
This plasma cuter features quite a bit for this price range. High frequency no-touch plasma arc starting, 60 percent duty cycle at 50 amps, PAPST cooling and dual 120/240 volt input with a 1-year warranty. Amazing value.
Pro Value
Primeweld CT520D
Primeweld offers a 5-year warranty on the CT520D and this 3-in-1 50 amp plasma cutter with TIG and stick 200 amp welding operates on either 120 or 240 volt input power and the air pressure gauge is on the front.
Rock Bottom
SUPER DEAL DC Inverter (CUT 50)
This plasma cutter is based on the Zeny Cut 50 platform used by several inexpensive makers. This version features lift-type arc starts, dual 120/240 volt input and 50 amps of cutting power with a 1-year warranty.

Plasma Cutters Under $500 with Reviews

These are the best budget plasma cutters you can find for under $500

1. Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter

Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter
  • Dual 120/240 volt input power
  • 1-year warranty
  • German PAPST cooling
  • Can cut 3/8-inch steel
  • Cutting power of 50 amps

Pros

  • High frequency arc starts
  • 26 pound weight
  • 13-foot torch connection
  • Comes with a regulator
  • Duty cycle is 60 percent

Cons

  • Short, 6-foot ground clamp
  • No 120 volt connector

Overview

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. Primeweld CT520D Multiprocess Plasma Cutting Machine

Primeweld CT520D Multiprocess Plasma Cutting Machine
  • Dual 120/240 volts input
  • Duty cycle 60 percent
  • 1-year warranty
  • 50 amps cutting power
  • 3-in-1 plasma, TIG and stick

Pros

  • 200 amp TIG welder
  • Will cut 1/2-inch steel
  • Regulator gauge on front
  • 13-foot plasma and TIG leads
  • Drag torch cutting

Cons

  • Doesn't come with a control pedal for TIG
  • Documentation is unreadable

Overview

The Primeweld CT520D is a triple threat machine with a 50 amp plasma cutter, 200 amp DC TIG welder and 200 amp DC stick-type arc welder. This level of cutting power will go through 1/2-inch steel with ease, and 200 amps can weld steel plate over 3/8-inch thick.

Drag torch cutting is an easy way to cut and a great way to start the arc for a plasma cutter, avoiding interference with digital machinery around the machine. The Primeweld CT520D comes with 13-foot plasma torch and TIG torch leads and operates on either 120 or 240 volt input power.

While some users felt the grounding lead was too short at 6 feet and others didn’t like the fact that this machine doesn’t come with a TIG control pedal, these are both things that can be corrected in the home workshop. A machine with these capabilities in this price range is pretty incredible.

The Primeweld CT520D gets overwhelmingly high marks from owners for both its cutting and welding performance. Primeweld’s customer service is considered among the best in the industry and it backs this machine with a 1-year warranty.


3. SUPER DEAL DC Inverter (CUT 50) Plasma Cutter

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

Pros

  • Postflow cooling adjustment
  • Includes air regulator
  • Super bright control display
  • 60 percent duty cycle
  • Front panel air pressure gauge

    Cons

    • Badly written documentation
    • Poor customer service

    Overview

    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.


    4. Forney Easy Weld 20 P Plasma Cutting Machine

    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

    Pros

    • Industrial construction
    • Cuts 1/4-inch steel
    • Generator friendly
    • 13-foot torch connection
    • Drag torch cutting

    Cons

    • 120 volts only
    • Costly for its power level

    Overview

    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 CUT50DP Plasma Cutting Machine

    Primeweld CUT50DP Plasma Cutting Machine
    • Dual 120/240 input voltage
    • 3-year warranty
    • Cuts 1/2-inch steel
    • German PAPST cooling
    • 10-foot ground connection

    Pros

    • Great customer service
    • Comes with torch standoff
    • Pressure gauge is on the front
    • Pressure regulator included
    • No-touch arc starting

    Cons

    • Very poor documentation
    • Non-standard consumables

    Overview

    The Primeweld Cut50DP features 50 amps of cutting power to easily handle up to 1/2-inch steel. The wide amperage range lets you dial back all the way down to 10 amps, low enough to cut auto body sheet metal if you’re careful. This machine uses a German PAPST cooling system to keep things running reliably when you’re doing volume cuts. One complaint by a large number of users is the poorly-written documentation, which can make the Primeweld Cut50DP hard to use for first-timers.

    Primeweld offers a 3-year warranty on this machine. It features dual 120/240 volt input power and includes the connection adapter for 120 volt household plugs. The Primeweld Cut50DP uses a high frequency torch sensor for no-touch arc starting. A spare set of consumables is included, which is a good thing because some users have complained that it can be hard to find replaceable parts for this torch.

    The torch connection is a generous 13 feet long, with a protective covering to prevent spark damage and the torch includes a standoff bail, making it much easier to maintain the proper cutting distance from the surface.


    Buyer’s Guide

    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, like the Super Deal DC Inverter (Cut 50).

    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 Lotos LTP5000D 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, like the Primeweld Cut50DP, 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 Forney Easy Weld 20P deserves a look as well.

    About Jeff Grill

    Jeff Grill hails from Long Island, a 118 mile stretch of land that starts just off the coast of Manhattan and stretches deep into the Atlantic ocean. He has always been interested in welding from an early age and has the cuts and bruises to prove it as he set out to work with a variety of metals.

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