Choosing the best air compressor for plasma cutter should be easier. A plasma cutter needs high-pressure air to function properly. As a result, you need to pick the best air compressor for your plasma cutter.
You just need to ensure the machine can use an air compressor without chances of low-pressure interruption, especially during heavy usage.
Air compressor for plasma cutter is a game changer in fabrication shops, automotive repair and restoration, industrial construction, and salvage and scrapping operations.
Top Plasma Cutter Air Compressors Comparison Chart
10 Best Air Compressors for Plasma Cutter:
1. Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate Air Compressor
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The Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate is a great air compressor for plasma cutter professionals but also works for those who are keen on DIY projects. It’s a versatile air compressor ideal for plasma cutters.
This air compressor is known to deliver the right amount of air to power things such as nailer guns. It can power grinders, ratchets, drills, paint sprayers, and dual action sanders among others.
The tank comes vertically shaped and its capacity stands at 20 gallons. It is a 115-volt air compressor. It is fitted with a pressure gauge and a pressure switch. It has a safety valve, a regulator, and a six-foot powered cord.
This air compressor is also made with cast iron. For it to give you the best performance, it has an oil-lubricated pump.
It also meets OSHA standards. Its maximum PSI is 135 with an air outlet size of ¼ an inch. Its duty cycle is 100%. It comes with a one-liter bottle of All Season lubricant as well as 2 air filter elements. This air compressor has a noise level of 75 to 80.
The drain type and system are manual. It also comes with a 12-month warranty.
As such, in case you experience any issues within this amount of time with the air compressor, you can always have the manufacturer help you in solving it. They could either replace it for you or fix the issue.
It comes with a side drain valve that is easily accessible. The powder coat paint finish is also weather-resistant.
As such, you do not have to worry about it getting destroyed in different conditions. It also has manual thermal overload motor protection.
- Its side drain valve is easily accessible
- Its oil lubricated pump provides the best performance
- Its powder coat paint finish is weather resistant
- It works for both professionals and those who prefer DIYs
- It’s a highly versatile air compressor
- It operates quietly
- The warranty is only limited to 12 months so in case you experience any issues past that time, you’ll need to sort it by yourself
- It’s considered pricey
2. Industrial Air IV5076055 60 gallon 5 hp Air Compressor
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The Industrial Air 60 gallon 2-stage air compressor provides great industrial performance delivering CFM @175PSI. It offers sufficient power needed in operating more than one air device at a go.
The air compressor is long-lasting and produces easier and also faster results for industrial users and tradesmen.
It is very efficient thanks to its 5.0 HP electric motor. This comes with thermal overload protection which keeps the motor protected from any fluctuations in the voltage. With this, you will not need any magnetic starters.
It has a patented pump and a piston design that feature deep groove directional and asymmetrical cooling fins. These as well as the cast iron flywheel that has extended fins enable your machine to run cooler.
They do so at the same time maintaining the most consistent efficiency in terms of compression.
The Industrial Air 60-gallon air compressor also features a low pump RPM that assures you of that much-desired durability.
As its name suggests, its capacity is large, at 60 gallons. It comes with a tank pressure gauge and an on and off switch.
For better cooling of this portable plasma cutter air compressor, it is fitted with a wire form belt guard. It also comes with a two-year warranty that comes in handy should you encounter a few issues while using it.
- It has a low pump RPM that ensures durability
- It has a two-year warranty so you are assured of help in case you encounter an issue during this time frame
- Its wire form belt guard facilitates better compressor cooling
- It features four tie-down holes in the platform that ensure ease in transportation
- Its electric motor has thermal overload protection
- It has a patented pump design that provides a cooler running pump
- It only comes with break in oil which you have to change this oil after 8 hours of operation with the recommended oil as per instructions
- It’s a very heavy unit
3. Quincy QT-54 Splash Lubricated Reciprocating Plasma Cutter Air Compressor
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The Quincy Splash Reciprocating Air Compressor is a plasma cutter built-in air compressor that is made to be very long-lasting. It is built to provide the user with maximum efficiency and ensures that you incur low operating costs.
It uses very low horsepower to produce air that is more compressed. The air compressor runs at a slower RPM and is also cooler even at that lower cost of operation.
The Quincy Splash Reciprocating Air Compressor assures you of 30,000 hours of pump life rating. It comes with a year of limited warranty. It however doesn’t include an extended warranty kit purchase.
You have to buy this separately and if you do so you will double the warranty of the entire package to two years. This also triples your pump’s warranty from a year to three years.
The tank is vertical meaning it saves you some space wherever you place it. Its dimensions are 29 by 21 by 64. The air tank capacity is 60 gallons. It has a working pressure of 140 to 175.
It doesn’t come with low oil protection or an aftercooler. Its duty cycle is 100% and it also has an air outlet size of half an inch.
- Its vertical shape allows you to have more space in the area where it’s placed
- It allows for 30,000 hours of pump life. It is therefore a durable air compressor
- It provides the user with maximum efficiency during the period of its use
- With it, you will incur low operating costs as it is low maintenance
- It has a large capacity of up to 60 gallons
- It does not require any batteries in its operation
- It is a heavy-duty air compressor but it’s portable regardless of this
- It comes with just a year’s limited warranty
- It does not come with low oil protection
4. Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet Air Compressor
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The Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet air compressor is known to produce the most power but is very quiet as the name suggests. It is known to be one of the quietest compressors you can find anywhere.
While operating at just 68dBa you will get it to operate well but in a bearable way since it’s very quiet. It is therefore very ideal for anybody in a work environment that requires focus.
With this portable air compressor, you have the benefit of durability. Its key components always last about four times longer than many others in the same range.
It operates oil-free and has a maintenance-free pump to make it more convenient for you to use. It has a dual-piston pump system that has been created and installed for both durability and high-level performance.
The Campbell Hausfeld 6 Gallon Portable Quiet air compressor releases 25% more air in comparison to a lot of other such air compressors.
Thanks to its oil-free pump, you get an extended operation that requires no maintenance and you can count on great motor performance.
Its maximum PSI is 125 and so this air compressor is suitable for various applications including bolting, nailing, stapling, painting, and many others.
With this plasma cutter air compressor, you will be able to finish salvage and scrapping operation projects easily. Besides, it is created by one of the most reputable companies that are known for producing quality products.
- It is the most quiet compressor you can find in the market
- It is long lasting, up to four times more than other compressors in the same range
- It has a dual pump that requires no maintenance
- It offers great motor performance
- It operates oil free and is very convenient to use
- It is highly suitable for multiple applications hence its versatility
- It only comes with a one year limited warranty
- Its capacity is smaller than others at only 6 gallons
5. Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon Electric Air Compressor
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The Powermate Vx PLA4708065 80-Gallon electric air compressor is made from cast iron and also steel. It has a three-cylinder pump that comes with both an aluminum head and a valve plate.
It is a durable plasma cutter air compressor that offers a great cooling surface and promotes a better spread of heat.
It has a maximum pressure of 155 PSI which makes sure you get the most optimal performance. It comes with a heavy-duty dual voltage motor that drives the best performance from your pump.
This eliminates the possibility of troubles during your operations. It also comes with a built-in tank pressure gauge as well as an on and off switch that brings about more convenience to the user.
When you buy this air compressor unit it comes alongside a synthetic air compressor that facilitates both long life and the most optimal performance.
For better cooling, while using it, it has a belt guard that is wired formed. It also comes with a metal belt guard that is fully enclosed to cover and protect its moving components.
As can be seen from its name, it has a capacity of 80 gallons. It is an electric air compressor that has a number of features that include a 3-cylinder style, a set of Swedish stainless steel flex valves that are very long-lasting.
It also features an oil fill that is accessible with so much ease, an oil level sight glass, a balanced flywheel that’s 12 inches and is made of cast iron.
It also comes with an intake filler that’s large in size complete with synthetic oil and silencers.
- It has a large capacity of 80 gallons
- The steel material makes the tank durable
- It offers a great cooling surface and better heat dissipation
- Its maximum pressure of 155 PSI gives you the most optimal performance
- Features an on and off switch that makes it very convenient
- It has a wire formed belt guard that enables better cooling
- You will need an electrician to set it up for warranty purposes
- You will need to bolt the compressor on the ground otherwise it will start moving by itself
6. DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor
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The DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor is a heavy-duty compressor that has a capacity of 6 gallons. It weighs 30 pounds which makes it a highly portable plasma cutter air compressor.
It is an air compressor that supports several applications that are both air tools and also pneumatic. It comes with an oil-free pump that produces 2.6 CFM at a pressure of 90 PSI. This ensures quick recovery and also long tool runtime. Its maximum pressure is however 165 PSI max.
It comes with two universal couplers that very easily support two good users. It includes a cord wrap that is very conveniently placed to facilitate easy storage.
It includes a motor that is highly efficient. This makes it easy for it to start even in colder temperatures or for extended cord application.
In case you are keen on having a peaceful and quiet environment, you’ll be happy with this plasma cutter built-in air compressor. It has 75.5 db for such an environment.
It also has rubber leg covers that protect it from marring. The ball drain valve enables thorough and faster draining of the tank.
This air compressor has a high-flow regulator that improves its performance. Its outlet tube is rerouted. This is to prevent it from being a catch point.
This air compressor from Dewalt has a corded electric power source. It has one handle and requires no batteries to operate.
- Its durable oil-free pump enables it to operate without requiring any maintenance
- Its 30 pound weight makes this air compressor very easy to move from one place to another
- It has a high flow regulator that increases the performance of the air compressor
- It has a console cover that provides protection to its controls and these can easily be removed and repaired
- It has a ball drain valve that facilitates quick and effective draining of the tank
- It comes with a convenient cord wrap to enable ease in storage
- It has a small capacity of just 6 gallons
- It only has a 1 year limited warranty
7. BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor
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The Bostitch Pancake Air Compressor comes with an oil-free pump that requires no maintenance.
It produces 2.6 CFM at a pressure of 90 PSI when the maximum storage pressure of the tank is 150 PSI. For you to have that quiet working environment, it has a 78.5 dB rating. You will have that convenience that you very much need.
This plasma cutter air compressor weighs just 29 pounds which makes it easier for you to move it from one place to another. It also makes it easier to store.
The air compressor also has a Bostitch high flow regulator as well as couplers that maximize the performance of the air tool. It features two universal couplers that significantly help in supporting up to two users.
This is a 6-gallon tank air compressor. Its dimensions are 17 by 17 by 19.25 inches. It has a corded electric power source and requires no batteries in its operation.
You will also appreciate how easy it is to start it in the cold. It also comes with one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.
- This portable air compressor comes with an oil-free maintenance pump that makes using it more convenient
- The fact that it only weighs 29 pounds makes it easy to store and to move around from one place to another
- It comes with two couplers that are universal in terms of make that can support two users easily
- Its high flow regulators and the couplers it has ensures you get maximum air tool performance
- The 78.5 dBA ensures that you are able to use it in quiet environments
- Its motor is highly efficient and makes it easy for you to start it even in colder temperatures
- It comes with just a year’s warranty which is also limited
- Its capacity of 6 gallons
Things to Consider while Buying an Air Compressor for Plasma Cutter
These different factors will determine just how good and satisfactory your compressor’s performance will be.
Air Pressure (PSI)
This is normally indicated in pounds per square inch, commonly known as PSI. Most of the highly recommended ones need around 90 PSI but you need to ensure it has high shut-off pressure.
In most cases, these are created to build up and shut in two stages. Always check the maximum pressure too to ensure it is the recommended one for your plasma cutter.
Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM)
Air compressors need a certain air volume to work well. The volume of air in a compressor is indicated in cubic feet per minute (CFM). Different air compressors have different CFMs indicated on them at different pressures.
In most cases, manufacturers have 90 PSI rating which is the most important rating as it is the pressure most plasma cutters need to run.
Note that many times the CFM indicated on air compressors is exaggerated. As such, be careful with the ones you choose. However, get at least a 4 CFM at 90 PSI.
It is also very important to know the duty cycle of the air compressor before you buy it. This is usually indicated in percentage form. It basically lets you know the amount of time in minutes the air compressor can operate out of a 10 minute period.
A lot of the air compressors you find will have at least have a 75% duty cycle. There exist others that go till 100% which only means you can continuously run them.
Air Compressor Power Supply
The most common models that exist are electric compressors. This is because they need very minimal maintenance compared to those powered by gas.
They are an excellent choice especially if you are working indoors. Gas-powered air compressors are great if you will be working outdoors where there is a limited supply of electricity. They have more horsepower when compared to electric models.
Air Compressor’s Features
It is also important that you understand the features found on your air compressor. This is in order to know if it can handle your plasma cutting work. You could get an air compressor with an oil-free pump.
This is usually low maintenance and will not lead to the mixing of oil into the air that has already been compressed. An air compressor with a belt drive system significantly helps in providing quieter functioning compared to one with a direct drive system.
If you want to protect your compressor from damage that results from overloads then check for a compressor with thermal protection. A feature such as an adjustable exhaust will allow you to keep the exhaust away from the area you’re working in.
Air Compressor Sizing for Plasma Cutter
When it comes to choosing the best air compressor for plasma cutter, you need to consider the cubic feet per minute (CFM).
Keep in mind just how much CFM your plasma cutter uses when choosing the best size. Note that any compressor can work if you’re going to be doing shortcuts.
However, for longer cuts, you need to use bigger compressors to keep up with your plasma cutter’s air consumption.
According to manufacturers for you to get the best single-stage plasma cutting air compressor or any other ensure it’s rated for 1.5 times your cutter’s CFM. This way, you’ll be able to use your machine without encountering low-pressure interruptions during heavy machine usage.
If you have a small compressor and start using it for long cuts, your air compressor will start to fail. It will make your plasma cutter throw a low-pressure sign, after which it will temporarily stop working. It stops working to allow the air compressor to slowly build more air.
In most cases, manufacturers will rate their compressor’s CFM at around 90 PSI. They will usually also include the maximum PSI that can be produced by the compressor.
However, note that most PSIs are inflated in terms of ratings. This means if your machine is indicated 5 CFM, it’s probably just 4 CFM.
Purposes of a Plasma Cutter
A plasma cutter is very useful in the following applications:
- To cut and manipulate strong materials effectively
Metal is one of the strongest materials you can find around. As such, it is often used in the production of different features. It is a globally acclaimed substance, however, it is this same strength that can be seen as its weakness.
This is because its strength makes the metal very difficult to mold and manipulate. A plasma cutter, therefore, helps with this. Using one, you can cut and manipulate such strong materials more effectively.
Plasma cutters operate by sending an electric arc via a type of gas that passes through a constricted opening. This gas could be nitrogen, shop air, oxygen, argon, or many others.
Through this, the temperature of the gas is elevated until it gets to the fourth state of matter that is referred to as plasma.
Since through this process the metal that is undergoing this is part of the circuit, the plasma’s electrical conductivity makes the arc transfer to the work.
2. Used for thin metal processing
Plasma cutters are used for the processing of thin metals maintenance in factories and agriculture, in welding repair centers, and in construction work.
It is also used for thin metal processing in metal service centers, car repair, and artwork.
CFM and Plasma Cutting
CFM refers to cubic feet per minute. Some plasma cutters come with in-built air filters that will choke the air to the required pressure.
However, some do not which is why you would have to buy a plasma cutter air compressor. With an external air regulator, you will be able to your air supply line’s PSI.
Most manufacturers advise that you purchase an air compressor with a rating of 1.5 times the cubic feet per minute of the plasma cutter. This means that you could have a plasma cutter, for example, that requires a 4 CFM while operating at 80 PSI. For it, you will need to go for a compressor of 6 CFM.
This allows you to operate your plasma cutting machine without interruptions that result from low pressure. These are often experienced during heavy usage of your plasma cutter.
Plasma cutting requires a variety of PSI settings. For you to find the right one, you simply need to refer to the manual of the machine you have.
Generally, a large machine will need a higher PSI while a small plasma cutting machine will need a lower PSI. As long as you get the right one, the plasma cutting process is made easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do You Need an Air Compressor to Run a Plasma Cutter?
Yes, you need one. One of the most essential things you need to get a cut of the highest quality is a sufficient amount of air pressure. This helps in blasting the plasma out of that cut.
A plasma cutter will need the air pressure to do the cutting in a process that has two stages. To start off, the arc heats metal until it becomes semi-gaseous. After this, we then have blasts of air forcing the plasma to complete the cut.
2. How Big Of An Air Compressor Do I Need For A Plasma Cutter?
If you are going to be doing shortcuts, then an air compressor of any size will work for you. However, if you intend on doing longer cuts, the bigger the air compressor, the better.
Ensure you buy a compressor that has a rating of 1.5 times more than the indicated CFM of the plasma cutter you are using. This will ensure the best functioning of your plasma cutter.
3. What PSI Do Plasma Cutters Run At?
PSI is a pressure unit that is expressed in terms of pounds of force for every square inch. In full it’s the acronym of Pounds per Square Inch.
Plasma cutters can operate in a variety of PSI settings. For you to understand the right one for you, simply refer to the manual that came with your machine.
A large machine will generally need a higher PSI while a smaller one will need a lower PSI.
4. Do I Need An Air Filter/Dryer For My Compressor When Using It With My Plasma Cutter?
Yes, you need an air filter.
Without using an air filter for the compressor, the moisture found in the airline will damage the inside of your machine. This will be a loss as it means you will have to invest in another new machine.
This is something that you can easily avoid considering air filters are not expensive. They are fairly priced and as such, they are a great investment and it’s worth having one on the plasma cutter you’re using.
5. How much Air does a Plasma Cutter Require?
For your plasma cutter to function properly, you need to have about 4 to 8 CFM delivered consistently at 90 to 120 PSI. With this, you will be able to cover even those units that go to a thickness of 3/8 inches for steel.
It will also cover larger units of up to 7/8 inches of steel. Make sure you always check the manual that comes with your machine so that you know what the right amount of air needed is.
6. Does the Quality of the Compressed Air Affect Cut Quality?
Yes. You need to have very clean and also dry air flowing through the plasma cutter system. When you allow contaminated air to flow through, it will affect the cut quality negatively.
This is because it causes consumables to fail prematurely. The most common contaminant is moisture that’s mostly from humidity and temperature.
When you’re using your compressor a lot for your plasma cutter, it could generate hot air that creates this moisture in the tank. When this is forced down the airlines, it meets consumables.
So, What’s The Best Air Compressor for Plasma Cutter?
Ingersoll-Rand Garage Mate is the top-rated air compressor for plasma cutters nowadays. Its vertical shape makes it ideal especially in small spaces as it doesn’t take up too much space. It also comes at a capacity of 20 gallons. It comes with an oil-lubricated pump to ensure you get the best performance.
It’s also made from cast iron which makes it strong. It has a noise level of 78 to 80 making it ideal if you want to operate it in a quiet environment.
It also has an easily accessible side drain valve. This air compressor also has a powder coat finish making it ideal in different weather conditions.
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