Best Plasma Cutters with Built in Air Compressor 2019
Plasma cutters are one of the most valuable tools that are found in a metal workshop and they are usually the prized possession of anyone who owns one. The only downside to a regular plasma cutter is the requirement of an external air compressor. If your work is even slightly remote or mobile, you need something that is easy to move around but still powerful enough to get the job done. That’s where a plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor comes into play.
The problem is, there are dozens of them on the market, so knowing how to choose the best plasma cutter with built in air compressor can be a daunting task. These things aren’t cheap, so it’s important that you make the best possible decision. To make your life easier, we have tested and reviewed three of the best machines on the market. Here are our results.
3 Best Plasma Cutters With Built In Air Compressor
|Hypertherm Powermax30 AIR|
|Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C||33 lbs||4.6/5|
|Forney 317 250 P+|
(Best for the Money)
#1 Hypertherm Powermax30 AIR – Our Top Pick
If you are looking for the creme of the crop, the Hypertherm Powermax 30 AIR is definitely the one for you. Manufactured here in the USA, the Powermax 30 is the best plasma cutter with built in air compressor on the market today. Its dual-voltage power capacity gives you the ultimate freedom when it comes to cutting almost any material you throw at it. Stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, and copper are all no match for the Powermax 30.
It can easily cut through 3/8” steel at a rate of 10 inches per minute, as well as 5/8” steel at a slightly slower rate of 5 inches per minute. The auto-voltage sensing technology will automatically sense the power supply, allowing you to work faster and with less preparation time. The 240v power capacity will offer a 35% duty cycle jump for rated cuts when compared to 120v, so whenever you need more power, it’s always there. We were slicing through sheets of stainless steel with ease for longer than expected. It seems to go on forever without any loss in precision. We have never experienced anything as durable as this in our workshop before.
Hypertherm are the industry leaders when it comes to plasma cutters and the Powermax 30 is another addition to their high-powered and reliable catalog. It’s also lightweight, weighing in at around 35 lbs., making it perfect for on-the-go jobs. Overall, the Powermax 30 is the best on the market and if your budget will allow it, we would recommend going with this one.
- It’s lightweight and portable
- Cuts through almost any material
- Dual voltage capacity (120v and 240v)
- Fast cutting speeds
- It’s expensive
#2 Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C – The Runner-up
If the Hypertherm Powermax is slightly out of your budget, the next best option is the Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut by Thermal Dynamics. Although it’s not as powerful as our number one choice, it still has enough power to cut its way through almost any metal you can throw at it. One of the biggest benefits of choosing the Thermal Arc is that it rated at 15A making it perfect for use on any outlet. It also features a 20ft torch lead which makes it ideal for working on cars or larger pieces of machinery.
The Thermal Arc is the lightest product on our list so if you value portability, this could be the best choice for you. It weighs just 29 lbs. and has pretty small dimensions (W 6.5”x D 18”x H 9.5”).
You won’t be competing with the Powermax with this one but it’s still an incredibly powerful piece of kit that is worth every penny. It’s maximum cutting capacity of 3/16” allows you to cut through relatively thick pieces of metal with speed and precision. If you are consistently working on thicker sheets, we would recommend the Powermax but for everything else, why not save a few bucks and choose the Thermal Arc?
- Lightweight, compact and incredibly portable
- Comes with a 20ft torch lead
- 15A rating makes it perfect for any outlet
- Cuts through painted materials
- Cheaper than the Powermax30
- Not ideal for thicker pieces of metal
- Only has a 30% duty cycle
#3 Forney 317 250 P+ – Best for the Money
If the previous two plasma cutters are out of your budget, the Forney 317 250 P+ is going to be your next best choice. Although it’s not quite on the same level as the first two options in regard to its power, it does have a couple of benefits that we believe make it the best value for money.
First of all, the Forney uses standard 120v (15A) power supply so it can be plugged into almost any outlet. It’s also incredibly lightweight (35 lbs.) and portable. The size and power supply are not what make the Forney such a great product, however. The biggest benefit is the drag touch technology that Forney utilize. This feature allows the user to move the torch directly across the metal, leading to cleaner and more precise cuts. It also features built-in thermal overload protection for your safety.
In terms of its cutting abilities, you will comfortably be able to cut through 1/8” materials at 20 inches per minute. It will also successfully sever materials at around 1/4”. When you consider the price point, you can see why we believe this is the best value for money. It’s impressive!
Overall, the Forney is a great choice for those who want a solid plasma cutter with built in air compressor but don’t want to invest considerable amounts of money. It will get the job done properly and your wallet will be thankful.
- It’s the cheapest on our list
- Unique drag torch technology
- Cuts almost any metal
- Weighs just 35 lbs.
- It uses the standardized 15A (120V) power
- It’s not as powerful as the other two
- Slight delay after the trigger is pulled
Not all plasma cutters are built the same. Depending on your specific needs, you may need a few different features or specifications than the next person. If you are still undecided about which is the best plasma cutter with built-in air compressor for you, we have put together a buyer’s guide to highlight all of the possible factors you need to keep in mind when making your purchase. Let’s jump straight in.
Cutting Speed, Thickness, and Materials
One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a plasma cutter is it’s cutting speeds, it’s maximum thickness cutting abilities and the types of materials it can work with. Whether you are a welder, a mechanic, a plumber or just a hobbyist who enjoys working with your hands, knowing the length, thickness and type of materials you need to cut will allow you to choose the best product for your needs.
More powerful cutters will have a larger upper thickness limit, so if you cut thick pieces regularly, you will need something higher powered. If you are cutting long sheets of metal, the cutting speed should also come into consideration. All manufacturers will list all of the specifications of their tools, it’s just a matter of finding one that suits your needs.
Voltage and Amperage
Again, depending on your own circumstances, the input voltage and amperage are two factors that you need to take into consideration. The majority of plasma cutters will use either 120V or 220V, some both. The more demanding your jobs, the higher the voltage you want to work with as this will allow for more power. More power will equal faster, cleaner and more precise cuts.
Some units will have the ability to switch between both voltages. It’s worth noting what sort of power supply you have available in your workshop, however. Units with 15A rating will work in almost any shop using standard power outlets, but not all have access to a 220V power supply. If you do have access to a higher voltage and amperage supply, we suggest you buy as powerful as your budget will permit.
A combination of the speed, thickness, voltage and amperage of your unit will predict its duty cycle. This is basically the length of time that you can expect the tool to work at its maximum capacity. Some are built to work with extreme power but for shorter periods of time, while some are built to last for longer periods of time without compromising the quality of the cuts. The manufacturer’s descriptions will let you know exactly what sort of duty cycle you can expect from the cutter.
So, there you have it, three of the best plasma cutters on the market. We spent a lot of time researching and testing these products, so we hope our plasma cutters with built-in air compressor reviews have made your decision considerably easier.
To wrap things up, we would like to encourage you to consider your own circumstances when making your decision. But if your budget will allow it, we would highly recommend going with the Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30 AIR. It’s the best plasma cutter we have ever used. It competes with regular plasma cutters that use an external air compressor, and for a piece of portable kit, that is extremely uncommon. You can’t go wrong with either of our choices, but the Powermax 30 is by far the best.