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 these plasma cutters under $1000
A quick comparison
Hobart Airforce 12ci
No-touch arc starts
Runs on 120 volts
Eastwood Versa-Cut 60
Cuts 7/8-inch plate
20-foot Trafimet torch
High frequency arc starts
Trigger lock for long cuts
Forney 250P Plus
Runs on 120 power
120 or 240 volts
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
- 120 volt power
- 5-year warranty
- Fan-On-Demand saves power
- Cuts 3/16-inch steel
- 12 amp output power
- Lightweight plasma cutter
- Ergonomic torch design
- 12-foot torch hose
- No-touch arc starting
- Post flow cut cooling
- Complaints about low air pressure
- Cutting capacity isn't great
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. Eastwood Versa-Cut 60 Amp Plasma Cutter
- 20-60 amps output power
- 28 gauge sheet to 7/8-inch steel
- 60 percent duty cycle at 60 amps
- 20-foot torch connection
- Trafimet CB70 torch
- Standard consumables, easily found
- 3-year warranty
- Weighs only 45 pounds
- Internal air/water separator
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Not good for CNC plasma tables
- 50-amp circuit is high for DIY shops
The Eastwood Versa-Cut 60 Amp Plasma Cutter is an affordable, high-powered machine. 20 to 60 amps of output power can cut metal as thin as 1/64-inch thick (24 gauge) up to 7/8-inch steel plate. This machine runs on 240-volt power and requires at 50-amp circuit breaker, higher than the usual 20-30 amp rating of most home workshops. Eastwood also offers the dual-voltage Versa-Cut 40 plasma cutter if you’d rather have a choice between 120 and 240 power.
One of the great features of the Eastwood Versa-Cut 60 Amp Plasma Cutter is the 20-foot torch connection, making it easy to reach your work and move around larger pieces like car projects and equipment repair. Even better, Eastwood included the outstanding
Trafimet CB70 torch.
The Eastwood Versa-Cut 60 Amp Plasma Cutter features an internal water separator. While the high frequency arc starting is very convenient when working manually, it will interfere with digital electronics like cell phones and computers. This makes the Versa-Cut 60 unsuitable for use on a CNC plasma cutter table. The Versa-Cut 60 is backed by Eastwood’s 3-year “no hassle” warranty and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
3. PrimeWeld CUT60 Plasma Cutter
- Continuous pilot arc
- Dual input 120/240 volts
- CNC compatible
- PT60 blowback torch
- Air postflow timer
- 2T/4T trigger lock
- Euro-style central connector
- 20-foot torch length
- No-touch arc starting
- 3-year warranty
- On/Off switch is in the rear
- Power cord is a little short
The PrimeWeld CUT60 Plasma Cutter offers a lot of power. The 60 amp max rating is capable of cutting up to 7/8-inch thick steel. The lower limit of 20 amps works down to 26 gauge sheet metal. It’s got dual-voltage input with 120 and 240 volt input power. There’s a standard 3-pole 240 power cord, and an adapter cable to plug into 120 outlets.
If you’re wanting a plasma cutter for use on a computer-controlled CNC plasma cutting table, the The PrimeWeld CUT60 Plasma Cutter is completely compatible for CNC use. Machines that use high-frequency arc starting will interfere with the digital electronics in computers. This machine uses a 20-foot PT60 blowback torch, which uses air pressure to start the arc when you hit the trigger.
The PrimeWeld CUT60 Plasma Cutter features a continuous pilot arc, which lets you cut material like expanded metal, honeycomb and grating. When the arc crosses into space, the torch shuts off until it hits the next solid spot and strikes the arc again. PrimeWeld owners are very loyal, with high praise for its build quality, performance and customer service.
4. 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
- Controls are easy to use
- Runs on generator power
- 15-foot torch line
- Drag cut starting
- Integrated consumables storage
- Not good for volume jobs
- Compressor isn't the strongest
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.
5. Everlast PowerPlasma 52i Plasma Cutter
- Dual-voltage 120/240 powered
- 14-foot PT60 torch
- Selectable pilot arc modes
- Blowback arc starting
- 20 to 50 amps output
- CNC compatible
- Air postflow timer
- Euro-style central torch connector
- LED display settings guide
- 5-year warranty
- Build quality inconsistent
- Poorly written manual
The Everlast PowerPlasma 52i Plasma Cutter is a new version of the PowerPlasma 50S, which has been in production for a long time. One of the new features designed into the PowerPlasma 52i is a built-in digital LED settings guide for air pressure. Everlast also added an air postflow feature to keep the air supply coming for up to 60 seconds after the torch stops, to improve cut quality and for rapid cooling.
The blow-back pilot has separate modes for normal cutting, gouge cutting and for CNC plasma tables. The Everlast PowerPlasma 52i Plasma Cutter has a dual-mode cutting torch. For standard cuts, it limits how long the pilot arc will stay on to conserve tips and consumables. There’s also a continuous pilot mode that will re-strike the arc after the torch head passes over a space, like cutting grates or expanded metal mesh.
The Everlast PowerPlasma 52i Plasma Cutter has a 14-foot PT60 torch and an output range of 20-50 amps. Some owners have reported problems on initial use, most often a computer code indicating a lack of airflow. Everlast backs this machine with a 5-year warranty.
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 PowerPlasma 52i 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 PrimeWeld CUT60 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.