5 Top Picks
23 Hours of Research
18 Products Considered
Our Score: 93/100
Our Score: 92/100
Our Score: 90/100
Our Score: 85/100
Our Score: 80/100
MIG Welder Features
- Power - We will rank three different categories of MIG welders (110V, 220V, and Multi-Volt Plug). A powerful welding output is important even if you are mostly doing small welds, if anything to have the versatility to perform larger jobs.
- Power Cycle - A quality MIG welder will stand up to the rigors of the job you're performing, no matter how heavy-duty they may be. Of course it's important to not overwork and burn out the welder but a cycle of 60-80% is feasible.
- Versatility - Even if MIG is the main type of welding being done the technologies exist to permit wire feed flux for aluminum bonding and some types of stick welding. Along those same lines both gas and gasless MIG welding should be capable.
- User Friendly - The quality of weld is determined in equal parts by the skill of the welder and the capabilities of the machine. That being said a home user should not need a welding certificate to operate the MIG welder.
- Portability - Having the ability to weld at your home or in a shop is a great convenience but it doesn't reach the extents of parts that might need fused. A quality MIG welder should be portable to repair things out in the field, to loan as a favor, or to take somewhere to have repairs conveniently.
- Affordable - There's a slippery slope when you want a high-performance MIG welder with tons of features but are surprised at the high asking price. You should seek a machine that offers value for the types and frequency of welding that you'll be doing but also one that offers peace of mind with a 3-5+ year warranty.
By Gregory Sanders: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding plasma cutters available for those who are interested in steel cutting. Our top recommendations have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the plasma cutters currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
Plasma is a form of matter that can be created by applying electricity to a gas.
This is precisely what happens in a plasma cutter where an electric arc is applied to the gas in order to excite the gas particles and make them electrically conductive.
Depending on the unit you use, your plasma cutter will use oxygen, nitrogen or even environmental air as the gas and force this inside the torch. Meanwhile, electricity is generated from an external power supply and applied to the high-pressure flow of gas.
This creates a ‘plasma jet’, which has an incredibly high temperature up to 40,000 degrees F. This simple technology uses an electrical arc and compressed air to cut steel, aluminum and other conductive metals and is far more effective than mitre saws.
7 Best Plasma Cutters 2021
#1 - Lotos LTP5000D Air Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
The Lotos LTP5000D is a 50Amp Non-Touch Digital Inverter Air Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter delivers strong cutting performance in a compact package.
The pilot arc feature is especially useful for continuous cutting on rough surfaces.
MOSFET transistors optimized design provides high power, steady output and can cut through tick and thin metals.
The Lotus LTP5000D is an excellent choice for home and light duty small projects.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT LOTOS LTP5000D AIR PILOT ARC PLASMA CUTTER
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT LOTOS LTP5000D AIR PILOT ARC PLASMA CUTTER
#2 - Hobart 500564 Airforce 12i Plasma Cutter
The Hobart Airforce 12iPlasma Cutter is a plasma cutter with a built in compressor powered by standard household voltage (120 VAC).
It excels at cutting sheet metal and 1/8-inch mild steel, and can even sever 1/4-inch mild steel.
This unit has some smart design features such as a smaller heat-affected zone to prevent warping and no slip grip and finger contours.
It also lets you use a no gas pressure mode for tuning the flame and ultimately allows you to achieve a more exact cut with a thinner kerf and less slag and mess to clean up after.
The built-in air compressor and lightweight inverter power supply make this plasma cutter a convenient, totally portable, efficient cutting system.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT HOBART 500564 AIRFORCE 12I PLASMA CUTTER
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT HOBART 500564 AIRFORCE 12I PLASMA CUTTER
#3 - Miller Spectrum 375 Plasma Cutter
The Spectrum 375 is small, lightweight and very portable.
For it’s size, this plasma cutter packs a lot of power.
The cutter uses state-of-the art MVP for plugging into selected power sources.
Features and automatic air regulation feature that will automatically compensate the air input pressure to provide for constant recommended torch pressure needed for maximum performance
The Spectrum 375 is one of the most professional units designed for garage, farm, ranch or small business purposes.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT MILLER SPECTRUM 375 PLASMA CUTTER
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT MILLER SPECTRUM 375 PLASMA CUTTER
#4 - Longevity Forcecut 40D Plasma Cutter
The Forcecut 40D is a pilot arc plasma cutter powerful enough to cut through ½” of steel.
This is a hardworking little cutter that cuts clean and straight.
It has a built in air-separator and can run off of 110V or 220V.
Features Thermal Overload Protection and Low Air Pressure Warning.
This is an inexpensive, efficient little cutter for residential and hobby use.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT LONGEVITY FORCECUT 40D PLASMA CUTTER
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT LONGEVITY FORCECUT 40D PLASMA CUTTER
#5 - Hypertherm Powermax45 XP Hand System
The Hypertherm Powermax45 XP Hand System has simple controls; a stable plasma arc and a patented drag technology that make it easy to operate.
A versatile and portable 12mm machine that can cut metal quickly, cleanly-even electrically conductive metal.
With 45 amps of cutting power and Hypertherm torch technology it enables easy cutting of 1/2" (12mm) thick metal and has a severance capacity of 1" (25mm).
Although pricey, with a broad set of application capabilities, the PowerMx45 is a great multi-purpose tool.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT HYPERTHERM POWERMAX45 XP HAND SYSTEM
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT HYPERTHERM POWERMAX45 XP HAND SYSTEM
High Efficiency and Energy Saving, Display4top Cut-50 plasma cutter offers a lot of power as well as stable performance. High duty cycle of this cutter result in less power consumption. This makes it more economical and effcient than the average cutting machines due to the high speed, high temperature and high energy plasma draught.
It automatically recognizes the input voltage and can operate at 110V or 220V, with a power of 60HZ. The LCD Display is of great quality and all the controls easily enable perfect settings for the job at hand.
This plasma cutter boasts reliable built-in over-heat protection, over-voltage protection, and low-voltage protection.
It's super-ergonomic which gets it a huge plus for me when I have to move it around the shop or take it to site. As for applications, I was happy with its performance with various sheet metals, car repairs, light industrial use, site work, ducting work, around the home repairs and maintenance jobs. Overall, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to both hobby welders and pros alike!
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT DISPLAY4TOP CUT-50 DC INVERTER PLASMA CUTTER
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT DISPLAY4TOP CUT-50 DC INVERTER PLASMA CUTTER
Hypertherm Powermax30 XP is a professional-grade plasma cutter built to withstand all the rigors of industrial use.
The quality of this machine is hard to match at any price but it's still above the average user price range. In my eyes (and hands) it IS worth every dollar.
The auto-voltage feature automatically adapts to whatever voltage electrical socket you plug it into, from 110V-240V. In addition, all adapters you'll ever need are included.
The most impressive feature about this cutter is... the way it cuts! It's a beast, I'm tellin' ya! Even on ½-inch steel, I was able to produce clean cuts with almost no slag and at a very fast rate. It rough cuts up to ⅝ of an inch, and it’s not nearly as rough as the cuts made by other plasma cutters I tested. For improved versatility, you do get FineCut consumables for making finer cuts in thin metal, as well as consumables for high-power cuts in thick metal. So, is it worth the price, if you can afford it, absolutely yes!
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT HYPERTHERM POWERMAX30 XP
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT HYPERTHERM POWERMAX30 XP
Benefits of Using a Plasma Cutter
Plasma Cutting technology is a rapidly growing alternative to oxy-fueled. Laser and water-jet cutting technology for many reasons.
Ease of Use
Anyone can easily use this equipment with minimal training. Plasma Cutters generally don’t require complicated adjustments to achieve and excellent cut quality.
Rapid cutting and Piercing Speed
Plasma Cutters can cut or pierce thick metals in seconds compared to oxy-fueled cutters.
The speed increases as the metal thickness decreases, so you can achieve greater productivity with a Plasma Cutter.
Use on a range of materials with varying thicknesses
You can achieve a quality cut on a wide range of materials including painted, rusty or dirty metal.
Since Plasma cutters use nitrogen, they can cut through steel, aluminum and other metals up to an 80 mm thickness and give an efficient and precise cut.
The ability to cut several types of metal is essential in many operations. Because plasma is an electric arc process, cutting any material that is electrically conductive including aluminum, copper, mild steel, stainless steel, and more is made easier.
At the same time, plasma cutting is able to cut several plates stacked atop one another. All of these are impossible to cut with an oxy-fueled cutter.
Safe and Economical
Plasma Cutters operate on electricity or compressed air; they do not use highly flammable gases. Plasma Cutters are lower in cost than oxy-fueled, laser and water-jet cutters.
How to Choose the Best Plasma Cutter
You need to consider a few things to choose the best plasma cutter for your garage, farm, ranch or small business use.
Built In compressor
The first things you need to look for are the best plasma cutters with a built in compressor.
You want the air/gas compressor to be built into the unit itself, making it a self-contained and fully functional tool rather than something that requires an additional, external gas supply.
The next thing you need to determine is the thickness of metal most frequently cut. Most plasma cutting power sources are rated on their cutting ability and amperage.
Therefore, if you most often cut ¼" thick material, you should consider a lower amperage plasma cutter.
If you most frequently cut metal that is ½" in thickness look for a higher amperage machine. Even though a smaller machine may be able to cut through a given thickness of metal, it may not produce a quality cut. Instead, you may get a sever cut which barely makes it through the plate and leaves behind dross or slag.
Plasma cutters create temperatures that are extremely high, which requires a fair amount of power to operate well.
Plasma cutters with built in compressors can be designed for 110-volt outlets or 220-volt outlets and will come with their own amperage rating.
Many consumers use their plasma cutter for a variety of cutting applications and need to move the machine around a plant, job site or even from site to site.
Having a lightweight, portable unit and a means of transportation for that unit - such as a valet style undercarriage or shoulder strap - make all the difference.
The most portable plasma cutters will have built-in inverters, which allows for a smaller housing for the plasma cutter which is ideal if you intend on taking your device on the road with you.
Make sure to look into the ‘duty cycle’ and average thickness. This tells you how long the plasma cutter can be used and its maximum cutting ability and what thickness of material its capable of cutting through.
As a general rule, cutters with high amperages will be able to cut through thicker materials and will also have greater duty cycles when at lower amperages.
Here you need to make the choice between a device that does only what you need it to as cheaply as possible, versus a device that will last a long time and offer the best performance – possibly being the better investment if you do a lot of cutting.
Each of these Plasma Cutters is a top tier machine that will deliver outstanding results.
Your choice will be determined by the type of application or job you want to perform, the types of metals you will be working with, the features you hold dear and your price threshold.
1. What gas do you need for a plasma cutter?
Argon-Hydrogen is required for the automated cutting of materials more significant than three inches in thickness. Additionally, this mixture makes an excellent plasma gouging gas for all materials.
2. How much does a good plasma cutter cost?
A plasma cutter unit on sale can cost between $475 and $800. Although price is not always indicative of product quality, you can anticipate paying a premium for plasma cutters at the top of the quality spectrum.
3. Do you need an air compressor for a plasma cutter?
Sufficient air pressure to blast the plasma out of the cut is critical for a quality cut when using a plasma cutter. That means you will need a high-quality air compressor in addition to a high-quality plasma cutter, both of which should be housed in the same cabinet.
4. Is hypertherm the best plasma cutter?
It is one of the best plasma cutters for home use because it is reasonably priced and provides more than enough features for a hobbyist.
5. Are plasma cutters dangerous?
What are the dangers of plasma cutting? Electrical shock, eye damage, and the risk of inhaling metal dust and other debris generated by the plasma's interaction with the metal on which you are working are just a few of the potential hazards.