Best Plasma Cutters under $1000 – Reviews and Top Picks

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Welding is an important skill, but to be a great fabricator you need a plasma cutter.

Plasma cutters are a cost-effective way to add amazing skills to your arsenal.

They don’t take much space and don’t add a lot of heat, maintenance costs or cleanup.

They’re also easy to learn and fast to put into production.

We researched the market to bring you 5 plasma cutters for under $1000

In a Rush?

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

Pro Choice
Hobart AirForce 12ci
Aimed at professionals needing portability and rugged construction, the Hobart AirForce 12ci offers a 5-year warranty, 12 amps of cutting power with air postflow and a built-in compressor.
Pro Value
Forney 250 P Plus
Able to cut 3/16-inch plate, the 12-amp Forney 250 P Plus is inexpensive, lightweight and built for craftsmen. Forney backs it with a 3-year warranty and it ships with a 15-foot torch connection.
Budget Pick
Lotos LTP5000D
Lotos backed the LTP5000D with a 1-year warranty and gave it a 13-foot torch. No-touch arc starts, 60 percent duty cycle and dual 120/240 volt power make a great deal for under $1000.

Best Plasma Cutters Under $1000 with Reviews

Here's a list of the best plasma cutters you can buy for under $1000:

1. Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter

Hobart Airforce 12ci Plasma Cutter
  • 120 volt power
  • 5-year warranty
  • Fan-On-Demand saves power
  • Cuts 3/16-inch steel
  • 12 amp output power

Pros

  • Lightweight plasma cutter
  • Ergonomic torch design
  • 12-foot torch hose
  • No-touch arc starting
  • Post flow cut cooling

Cons

  • Complaints about low air pressure
  • Cutting capacity isn’t great

Overview

The Hobart Airforce 12ci plasma cutter offers advanced pro features. Post flow air cooling keeps the air flowing once you finish cutting. The AirForce 12ci Fan-On-Demand feature helps to keep dust and debris out of the case and saves power as well. It’s designed to be lightweight, rugged and easily portable.

This plasma cutter runs on 120 volts, with just enough power to cut through 3/16-inch steel on 120 volt input power. That’s enough power to take on hefty household repairs on appliances, gates, fencing and garage doors. Professional air conditioning and heating techs can carry this plasma cutter into a house and plug it into the homeowner’s power without blowing circuits. The built-in air compressor is another nice touch, eliminating the expense, clutter and trouble of a stand alone compressor to provide the needed cutting pressure.

The no touch pilot arc start and ergonomic torch combine with the automatic settings system to make the machine easy to learn for beginners. Hobart backs the AirForce 12ci plasma cutter with a 5-year warranty, underscoring its status as a serious professional tool built to industrial standards.


2. Forney 250 P Plus Plasma Cutting Machine

Forney 250 P Plus Plasma Cutting Machine
  • 120 volt input source
  • 3-year warranty
  • 15 foot power cord
  • Cuts 1/8-inch steel
  • 12 amp rating

Pros

  • Controls are easy to use
  • Runs on generator power
  • 15-foot torch line
  • Drag cut starting
  • Integrated consumables storage

Cons

  • Not good for volume jobs

Overview

Built to professional standards, the Forney 250P Plus has drag torch arc starting. Plasma cutters without a drag torch can be difficult to use because the torch needs to stay a certain distance off the cutting surface to provide high quality cutting. With drag torch ability, the torch head can be placed directly on the metal and literally dragged to make the cut.

Another nice thing about the light-duty Forney 250P Plus is the built-in air compressor. Some users aren’t happy with the air pressure maintained by the onboard compressor. This is a lightweight plasma cutter at 43 pounds. The 120 volt power source means this plasma cutter can be plugged in anywhere.

While it will work fine for occasional cuts like in-home repairs, it takes too long to start a cut to be useful for production work. There’s a delay of a few seconds between striking the arc and starting the cut that adds up when making multiple separate cuts in a day. The Forney 250P Plus carries a 3-year warranty and has integrated consumables storage.


3. Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter

Lotos LTP5000D Plasma Cutter
  • 120 or 240 input voltage
  • 1-year warranty
  • PAPST cooling technology
  • Cuts 5/8-inch mild steel plate
  • 50 amp output

Pros

  • No-touch arc starting
  • Weighs only 26 pounds
  • 13-foot torch hose
  • Includes regulator and air filter
  • 60 percent duty cycle

Cons

  • 120 volt connector not included

Overview

The Lotos LTP5000D plasma cutter weighs just 26 pounds and offers 50 amps of cutting power, enough to go through ⅝-inch steel. This machine has input voltage for 120 or 240 volt power input. One thing that users didn’t like is the lack of a 120 volt connector in the box. When running on 240 volts, the LTP5000D has a 60 percent duty cycle at the full 50 amp rating.

It features no-touch pilot arc starts and includes an air filter, moisture separator and a pressure regulator. Lotos offers a 1-year warranty on this plasma cutter. This machine is rated highly by users for its cutting performance. The Lotos LTP5000D is designed with a German cooling technology known as PAPST and includes a 13-foot torch connection.

Lotos claims the LTP5000D can be connected, set up and ready to go in under a minute, using the integrated quick connector for the air compressor. Some users don’t like the quality of the grounding clamp on this machine, but Lotos has received good marks for its warranty service when there have been problems.


4. Everlast PowerUltra 206Pi Multi-Process

Everlast PowerUltra 206Pi Multi-Process
  • 120 or 240 volt input
  • 5-year warranty
  • S-45 plasma torch
  • Can cut 3/4-inch steel
  • 50 amps cutting power

Pros

  • Blowback arc starts
  • Plasma cutter, TIG and stick
  • 12-foot torch hose
  • Includes gas regulator
  • 35 percent duty cycle

Cons

  • Only runs DC processes
  • Slow 15 ipm cutting rate

Overview

The Everlast PowerUltra 206Pi is a multi-process machine combining a 50 amp plasma cutter, a 200 amp DC TIG welder and a 200 amp stick welder. Powered by either 120 or 240 volt input, the PowerUltra 206Pi features a digital control panel. It has a 12-foot S-45 plasma cutting torch and the TIG torch is a 26 series with a 12-foot connection.

This plasma cutter features blowback arc starting, a recent technology similar to both drag torch and high frequency starting. Blowback starting doesn’t require touching the metal like drag torch does. It also doesn’t affect digital equipment like mobile devices and PCs the way high frequency starting does. 50 amps can cut up to ¾-inch steel although some users feel its cutting rate is a bit slow at 15 inches per minute.

The TIG welding function has pulse width modulation and can weld thin sheet metal with a lower limit of 5 amps. With either TIG or stick at 200 amps you can weld 5/16-inch steel in a single pass. The Everlast PowerUltra 206Pi is backed by a 5-year warranty.


5. Lotos LTPDC2000D Multi-Process

Lotos LTPDC2000D Multi-Process
  • Dual 120/240 input voltage
  • 1-year warranty
  • Plasma cutter, stick and TIG
  • Able to cut ½-inch steel
  • 50 amp output

Pros

  • No-touch arc starting
  • 200 amp TIG and stick
  • 13-foot torch connectors
  • Wide 15-200 amp TIG range
  • 60 percent duty cycle

Cons

  • Build quality is inconsistent
  • No TIG foot pedal

Overview

The LOTOS LTPDC2000D offers a 50 amp plasma cutter, 200 amp DC TIG welder and 200 amp stick welder. It can use either 120 volt or 240 volt power. At 50 amps it cuts 1/2-inch steel. It has some pretty advanced features for this price range, including no-touch arc starting, great for cutting on rusty or painted metal.

On the welder side, the TIG welder also uses high frequency arc starts, which helps to save consumables, since you’re less likely to contaminate your tungsten electrode. Both the TIG and the plasma use 13-foot connections for a good amount of reach. This machine doesn’t include a TIG heat control pedal, but it can use one if you connect one.

The LTPDC2000D has a 15-200 amp welding range, which is one of the widest ranges for this class. The stick and TIG can weld up to ¼-inch metal. The plasma cutter features a 60 percent duty cycle at its rated 50 amps. Some users have complained about quality control issues. Lotos offers a 1-year warranty on this machine.


Buyer’s Guide

When you’re searching for an inexpensive plasma cutter under $1000 bucks, it’s important not to let price stand as the defining factor when shopping for the right machine. What you need is the highest quality in your price range.

When two plasma cutters offer the same features and the same quality based on reviews and warranty, that’s when you let price decide.

What Kind of Features Do You Want?

While some advanced options are beyond the reach of this price range, there are still a few luxuries to make your workday easier.

Arc Starting Types

  • Some plasma cutters can start cutting without touching the metal. Others use a feature called drag cutting to get going.
  • The Everlast PowerUltra 206Pi multi-process machine uses a system called blowback starting that combines features of drag cutting and no touch systems.
  • High frequency no touch systems can interfere with nearby digital equipment like phones and computers. Blowback starts don’t have this problem.

Do You Want Air Flow Adjustment?

A few plasma cutters in this class offer a feature called postflow that continues the flow of air over the cut for a few seconds after you stop to cool the metal faster. This makes for a cleaner appearance to the cut edges. This feature is found on the Forney 250P Plus plasma cutter, for instance.

Air Compressors

Plasma cutting requires a blast of compressed air to complete the cut by blowing through the molten metal. If you don’t have a separate compressor, you’ll have to account for the cost of one, or buy a plasma cutter that includes a built-in compressor. If you want a model that includes an onboard air compressor, then we recommend the Hobart AirForce 12ci .

What Type of Project?

The most important part of any plasma cutter choice is the type of work you need to do.

  • If you’re never going to cut metal that’s 1/2-inch thick, you don’t need 50 amp power.
  • If you are going to need that ability, a 12 or 15 amp cutter isn’t going to do the job.
  • If you haven’t already got a welder and you need one, it might be practical to consider a multi-process welding machine that offers plasma cutting and welding in one package, like the Lotos LTPDC2000D.

Input Power Sources

There are quality plasma cutters that run on 110/115/120v and some that run on 220/240v, and also machines that can run on either power source. In the United States, residential power can be wired at points in the house for 240v. It’s common to wire a laundry room or garage for a 240 volt power source to run dryers, deep freezers and power tools on 240 volts. In either case, you generally need to have 20 amps available to run a plasma cutter or welder without blowing breakers, and 30 amps is even better.

110/115/120 volt

When you see power ratings of 110, 115 or 120v, they all refer to standard U.S. household current, which is actually 125 volts AC. These designations are relics of a bygone era prior to the 1920s when the U.S. power grid was still developing. Electricians call household current 120 volt systems.

Because it costs less to make an inverter system that runs solely on 120 volt power, plasma cutters that operate exclusively on 120 volt input are less expensive than machines that run on 240 or dual power input. Obviously, the laws of physics mean that you can only get a certain amount of cutting power out of a plasma cutter that runs on 120 volts and no more is available.

Generally, the most cutting power you’re going to see out of a plasma cutter running on 120 volts is about 12 to 15 amps which is enough is you’re cutting ¼-inch or ⅜-inch plates. Welding works differently, so a welding machine can make about 140 amps on household current, good enough to weld 3/16-inch steel.

220/240 volt

If you want to cut metal thicker than ¼ inch, you’ll need 240v power. These can produce up to 50 amps of cutting power, enough for ½-inch steel, and in some cases up to ⅝-inch steel.

Similar to the situation with the 120 volt rating, 220 is an outdated label for what is actually 240 volts. Occasionally you will see references to 208 volt or 230 volt power. 208 volt power is a commercial and industrial type of power that can be wired in different ways to produce up to 230 volts in settings like large retail or factory locations. When it comes to portable plasma cutters under $1000, 208 volt power doesn’t apply. 230 is a number also sometimes seen as a description for 240 volt residential power.

Because the inverter or transformer unit has to be heavier duty, 240 volt plasma cutters and welders are quite a bit heavier than 120 volt machines are. Combination plasma cutters that run on dual 120/240 volt input power sources are usually even heavier and bulkier to allow for safe power handling.

Most dual 120/240 input machines include an adapter for one plug or the other, although some require you to rewire the machine for the power source you want to use.

Which One Is For You?

We’ve picked the Hobart AirForce 12ci as the best plasma cutter under $1000 for this guide. Hobart is an industry leader and the AirForce 12ci offers industrial build quality, a great 5-year warranty, an onboard air compressor, pilot arc start and postflow along with Hobart’s great reputation for customer support.

If you need more power, the Everlast PowerUltra 206Pi offers an amazing selection of features and capability for this price range. These are all great machines depending on your requirements, and there’s something to recommend in every one of them.

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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