Chris is a teacher of Literature at a school in New Berlin, Wisconsin. He is also our favorite irreplaceable freelance writer who can turn such a boring topic into something that people read with interest and pleasure.
Thomas is a professional welder who gained his certification several decades ago and learned all the nuances of this job since then. When not at work, Thomas loves fishing in a lake near his summer house.
Last updated: October 26, 2020
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Weirdly enough, some well-marketed plasma cutters with built-in compressors don’t live up to their hype. However, a lot of people assume they are excellent options because of a few good marketing campaigns. Being one of those people can easily turn south, and that is a situation to be avoided. For a guarantee that you’ll get the best plasma cutter with a built-in compressor, learn to rate options on the features they come with.
You should use the input voltage, power, cutting capacity, duty cycle, warranty, dimensions, and weight as the main checkboxes while making your purchase. With input voltage as a first box, you can easily find options that are compatible with your workshop socket. The power generated, cutting capacity, and duty cycle are three areas where you can find plasma cutter performance data. As for the weight and dimensions, they tell you whether it will be easy to transport and store the device. Finally, a warranty will reveal how well the seller protects your investment against damage. Notably, for the best plasma cutter with a built-in compressor, you won’t have to make many sacrifices in terms of the features you want. Also, you can find a few impressive and well-selected plasma cutter options listed below.
The Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci deserves to take first place on this list. As implied by the article title, this is a self-contained plasma cutter since it comes with a built-in compressor. As such, only a connection to a household socket is needed for the device to work.
One huge pro of getting a plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor is the system’s portability. Putting this cutter in the trunk of your car and going to work outside your home and workshop is thus a walk in the park. The relatively lightweight of 27 lbs also helps.
The fan in the machine counts as an impressive part of the tool. It doesn’t run all the time, as is the case with most plasma cutter fans. For this reason, reduced debris and dust intake in the machine is one of the benefits.
Also essential is the 12 A @ 35% duty cycle. However, the mentioned duty cycle doesn’t stay constant and is subject to increase if environmental temperatures come down.
A critical component of this plasma cutter is the ergonomic safety trigger. During the device’s downtime, a postflow cooling unit also activates. Consequently, the consumables, whether they came with the machine or are purchased as extra accessories, will last longer.
It goes without saying high heat levels are part and parcel of using plasma cutters. Also, like all machines, too much heat can lead to damage or a short life. Catering to this, the manufacturer adds thermal overload protection.
Diagnostic LED lights are a big help as well. These lights can prompt you when the device is ready for use. They also indicate whether temperatures and power levels are suitable for device use.
Why did it make our list? This plasma cutter is relatively compact and fits a car trunk easily. The thermal overload protector safeguards tool from heat damage. Fan component works efficiently to prevent dust and debris from entering the cutter body and disrupting machine function. As for the postflow cooling system, it protects consumables in the machine, helping achieve more prolonged use. Lastly, with the diagnostic LEDs going past the needed downtime before using the cutter again is harder.
What is not ideal about it? The cutter may struggle with metal sheets wider than 1/8”.
Hands down the most powerful machine listed, the SUNCOO 50 Amp Plasma Cutter doesn’t disappoint. However, the power you use is up to you since a knob has been provided for that added control.
Further, the cutter is a dual voltage option that works with both 110V and 220V sockets. Other essential components of the invention are an LED display and various lamps to show you how the tool is working.
Some of these plasma cutter components mentioned above can also be used to make adjustments while cutting. To add to that, a pressure gauge can be connected to the cutter’s backside and is needed for optimum functionality. You are advised to stick to the device’s 60-70 PSI air requirements when setting up the air pressure.
If you have safety concerns, you can’t go wrong with this pick. The over-voltage, under-voltage, and overheat protection make sure of that. Since a mask is often needed when using plasma cutters, the manufacturer adds it to the purchase.
The cutting capacity and duty cycle ratings are also a notch above others. With all the top-notch features of the cutter, it only weighs 25.1 lbs.
What stands out? A maximum power output of 50 amps is impressive. The power also helps pull off the ½” cutting capacity, which is better than what other cutters offer. Dual voltage ensures the machine works with different socket types. The numerous safety features are most welcome. This cutter outclasses others where the duty cycle is concerned. Finally, a lightweight machine is always welcome.
What cons did we manage to find? It’s a bit of a bummer not to have a warranty with such an impressive device.
The Mophorn 40 Amp Plasma Cutter is the only invention to compete with the SUNCOO 50 Amp Plasma Cutter power-wise, although it falls short by a few amps. The difference in power can be seen in the names.
Plugging this cutter into a 220V socket will allow you to flip the “on” switch and get to work. Once it’s running, cutting up to ½” metals should be a piece of cake. Also awe-inspiring is the 60% duty cycle.
Notably, the machine is workable both as a cutter and a welder. Additionally, auto-voltage technology allows users to achieve high-efficiency levels from the device.
A rugged build and a few safety protection measures protect both the device and the user. Some examples of safety measures included are over-pressure and overheat protection. The advanced cooling system also helps.
Why are we impressed? We liked the advanced cooling system and the safety features. The machine is well built. Duty cycle and cutting capacity rival the class-leading SUNCOO 50 Amp Plasma Cutter. High power output is a benefit of the device. Auto-voltage helps users work with available power. Lastly, the cutter’s welding capacity is welcome.
What negatives must you be aware of? Weight-wise, you might struggle to carry the Mophorn 40 Amp Plasma Cutter more than other options. Lacking a warranty also doesn’t help improve the sales of the cutter.
As for the Hypertherm 088096 Powermax 30 AIR making a case for why you should purchase the cutter is easy. For one getting to use the cutter after it arrives from the vendor is as easy as pie. The inbuilt compressor means you don’t need to connect an external compressor as well as a filter. This leaves plugging in the device, connecting the clamp, and getting to work.
Further, you have your choice of 120V or 240V sockets to work with. Notably, the duty cycle is longer if you have a 240V socket around. However, most homes will only have these sockets working in the kitchen where heavy appliances such as cookers are installed.
You might thus have to settle for the 120V option with a 20% duty cycle. The auto voltage technology will also read the type of socket you are using, so you don’t need to make changes manually.
This cutter weighs almost 3 lbs more than the editor’s choice and comes with a carry strap. It shouldn’t be difficult to carry to your varying job sites. Cutting capacity-wise, this model is vastly superior to the editor’s choice. It can cut 5/16″ and 3/8”-sized sheets of metal.
Critics and fans of the machine have as well praised the cutting speeds and cut quality. Lastly, some of the significant components of this machine are covered by different warranties. The torch, for instance, has a year-long warranty while the power supply comes with thrice the coverage.
What do we love it for? The cut quality and speeds are notable. Additionally, with auto-voltage, you won’t need to tweak any settings. Further, the capacity to work with different socket types and voltages is a plus. Lastly, the warranty terms are quite interesting.
What were we disappointed with? Cleaner cuts when tackling thick metals would make users love the product even more.
Another single-phase airless plasma cutter to feature is the Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C Plasma System. Considering it weighs 33 lbs, it is one of the heavier plasma cutters listed. Nevertheless, carrying the machine by hand is still possible, although it might be strenuous.
A 120V input voltage is what is most compatible with this machine. This translates into 15 amperes when you turn it on. While this is three more amps than the editor’s choice, the cutting capacity seems similar for the two options.
Additionally, at maximum power, the duty cycle of 35% seems to be a similarity that this option holds with our favorite pick. Further down the list of benefits is the length of the cables. This applies to both the cable that supplies power to the unit and the one that extends to the hand torch.
Speaking of the hand torch, an easy-to-reach switch is included. Controlling the plasma cutter is thus an easy feat.
What are its best features? The one-year warranty is a pro. Another positive is the size of cables running to and from the device that gives you freedom in how you position yourself and use the device. Power output is also relatively impressive, as is compatibility with 120V sockets.
What could be improved? It weighs more than most plasma cutters of its caliber. Also, we mentioned being disappointed with the editor’s choice’s cutting capacity, which is precisely the same for this invention.
Things to Consider
As for the five plasma cutters with built-in compressors listed above, one of them is right for you. You’re just required to pick it out, and the guide below should be tremendously useful in helping you do that.
Benefits of plasma cutters with a built-in air compressor
Having a plasma cutter can be a huge help. However, the air compressors that you use in conjunction with these devices make the whole system bulky and impossible to carry around. However, those with built-in compressors can be taken to different sites quite easily.
You will also find these machines work with most home sockets, and fitting new sockets into a home or workshop setting will be unnecessary. Lastly, these machines tend to make very clean cuts on the metals they work on.
Features to consider when choosing the best plasma cutter with a built-in compressor
The plasma cutters vary quite a bit in their designs, as evidenced by the list above. They also come from varying manufacturers. This has a bearing on the benefits offered by each model. As such, getting the desired performance from the plasma cutter you buy is dependent on you picking features that would work for you. Further, if you feel you might make a mistake or get confused while choosing these features, use the section below as a guiding light.
The former, which produces 40 amps of power, can cut through ½” metals as if it were the easiest thing. Conversely, the Hobart model has a limit of cutting 1/8” thick surfaces. This should make it clear which plasma cutter to pick. After all, if the cutting thicker metals is part of your long-term plan, there is no way you buy the Hobart.
Nevertheless, power is not the only plasma cutter feature that matters.
As for input voltage, a few options avail themselves to you. 120V is relatively standard, as are 220V and 240V options. Some other input voltage options are also available. Some manufacturers show foresight by picking 120V input voltage as what works for their offerings. This would make the plasma cutter a plug and use option since home sockets fit that criterion.
240V input voltage options will need more power than is provided by standard sockets. This means an extra expense to switch out existing home sockets. However, the extra power may be worth it if it leads to better machine performance. Picking between convenience and better performance is up to you, depending on whether you are a professional, a hobbyist, and the jobs that you intend to tackle.
The whole point of having inbuilt compressors in a plasma cutter is to make the package more portable. However, given the varying approaches to the design and materials used, how mobile a plasma cutter is will be different from the next offering.
As for the Mophorn 40 Amp Plasma Cutter, the 44 lbs weight may seem portable. However, that pales compared to the Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C Plasma System, which weighs 33lbs. Again priorities differ for airless plasma cutter buyers. Preferring the heavier machine since it comes with more power isn’t against any rules. Neither is selecting the cutter that would be easier to carry around.
If you’re unaware, self-contained plasma cutters don’t work continuously. They function for short periods, heat up, then need to cool down for a while. The duty cycle tells you how long they work for and the required downtime.
Nevertheless, not every buyer needs a 60% duty cycle. The workload you have may help decide the maximum downtime you can tolerate.
Metal sheets differ in size, and you will find yourself working either with thicker or thinner sheets most of the time. If your workflow consists of thin sheets, 90% of the time, getting the more expensive cutter with better cutting capabilities doesn’t precisely scream cost-effective. Getting something like the Thermal Arc 1-1110-1 Air Cut 15C Plasma System that cuts 1/8” metals at its maximum capacity would be a better idea.
Then again, if the number of times you cut ½” metals justifies the purchase, go for the Mophorn 40 Amp Plasma Cutter or an equivalent device.
Working smarter and more efficiently is something a lot of us strive for. Some plasma cutters with built-in air compressors can also help achieve this by incorporating automatic settings in their designs. For example, these tools can determine voltage and tweak settings so you don’t have to do it manually.
If you have such a device, the workflow becomes easier and takes less time. As such, automatic settings may not be a must; however, they do have tremendous value for some plasma cutter buyers.
Plasma cutters also need some accessories to work. The SUNCOO 50 Amp Plasma Cutter, for instance, comes with a pressure gauge that helps regulate air pressure in the machine. Also, most options need various consumables to work.
At some point, purchasing the consumables will be your job. However, manufacturers like to include at least the first batch in the purchase. This way, using the cutter as soon as it arrives won’t bring up any issues.
Look out for these accessories in each purchase. They might break a features tie between two plasma cutter options you’re seriously considering.
Extra features for plasma cutter users are a joy to have. LED indicators are one example in the Hobart 500564 Airforce 12ci. In the same model, there is a postflow system which allows consumables to be used for longer. As such, these two extra features are huge assets for users of the editor’s choice. If you can get other features you like in purchase, then all the better for you.
Starting with the Hobart, you are going to love the portability. The machine weighs little and is compact. To add to that, LED indicators are included helping you get the most out of the cutter. Thermal overload protection is also part of the package. For hobbyists especially, this machine can be perfect.
Lots of power is also a key feature some of you look for in a plasma cutter. With such criteria, overlooking the SUNCOO 50 Amp Plasma Cutter would be a travesty. Surprisingly, this is the lightest plasma cutter with a built-in air compressor listed. Other features make the SUNCOO a steal. They include the LED display, impressive duty cycle, and the cutting capacity which puts other cutters to shame.
Lastly, it can be easy to select the Mophorn 40 Amp Plasma Cutter. The 40 amp device uses the power to cut through ½” metals just like the SUNCOO. Adding an advanced cooling system does make the plasma cutter more attractive. Finally, the convenience of having a welder and cutter in the same machine is available in the Mophorn 40 Amp device.
Perhaps one reason not to buy the Mophorn 40 Amp is that it will be more challenging to lug around the device compared to the others. After all, it is the heaviest. Finally, making shortlists of your own can make the choices you have that much easier to pick from. Start with the five picks listed above and eliminate them one by one until you are left with the best possible purchase.