Which Cheap Chinese Plasma Cutter Is The Best?
What Kind Of Unit Can You Get For $500 or Less?
If you’re here reading this article chances are you’re looking for a plasma cutter to add to your garage to do some metal work, but don’t want to spend a fortune. There are many people who want a plasma for some small projects and are not looking for a professional grade system. People in this category are typically looking to spend $500 or less. So today, I am going to provide you with all the information you need know about plasma systems under $500 and give you our top recommendations for this price range.
Plasma cutters made in China are really the only units you will find in the $500 price range. They’re often times sold online and the brands of the units are considered an “off brand” since they are not Licoln, Hypertherm, Miller etc. If you want an American made name brand machine then you’re looking at $1000+ (We recommend the Hypertherm Powermax30 on Amazon.com). For a machine made in China there a lot of options, some that have a decent track record and others that are not so great. Being that the machine is an “off brand” there is a chance that buying consumables for the machines torch can be tricky. Sometimes these Chinese brands disappear randomly and finding parts can be a pain. This is why buying the most popular Chinese brand is important for part availability.
How Well Do These Machines Perform and How Reliable Are They?
These cheaper machines do in fact cut metal and will get the job done. However, the capability of the machines is often exaggerated by the companies who sell them. For example, a unit that advertises a perfect clean cut on 3/8″ steel will often times only be able to produce a clean cut on 1/4″ steel at a reasonable pace. So keep this in mind when purchasing a machine. Buying a bigger machine is always a benefit for plasma cutters. The bigger the machine the easier and faster it is to complete a job. So really it boils down to what you can afford. As a rule of thumb I would say never buy a machine and expect to cut the max thickness it advertises. Always buy something just a bit bigger.
In terms of the machines reliability this is where you have to be very careful. These Chinese machines are not the most durable. They’re built with cheap materials and will NOT last as long as say a Miller or Hypertherm. However, there are hundreds of people who have owned these machine for 8+ years without any problems. The trick is to buy your machine, use it a lot while it is still under warranty and make sure there are no failures upfront. Chances are if they don’t fail within the first 10-15 times of use then the machine shouldn’t have problems. If you find any issues upfront immediately return it and get a replacement.
Where To Buy A Plasma Cutter With Good Customer Service/Returns?
We highly recommend buying Plasma Cutters on Amazon.com. They have a fantastic return policy and from my experience have always been great to their customers. They also have some of the lowest prices you can find. For us personally, we would avoid Ebay and purchase on Amazon.com instead. We find that Ebay sellers are often reluctant to offer fast returns on machines that have failed out of the box. You really want to buy from Amazon because you can count on them to make sure you end up with a working unit in a timely manner.
Should I Just Get A More Expensive Machine Instead?
I know after reading all of this you’re thinking to yourself “There are a lot of things to look out for when buying these Chinese machines.” This is exactly why we wrote this article. We recommend you think about how often you will use this? If you only plan to use it three times a month than you’ll be fine with a Chinese machine. It will do everything you need as long as you purchase the appropriate size. If you plan on using it 2-3 times a week than we highly recommend you purchase something like the Hypertherm Powermax30 or the Miller Spectrum 375 X-Treme. Not only will you have a more reliable machine out of the box, but you will also get better performance.