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What Size Breaker for Air Compressor? (Explained)

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An air compressor is an essential device for supplying high-pressure clean air. Moreover, the air compressor has many other important uses.

However, for the safety of the air compressor and other electrical devices, a circuit breaker is a must. But a wrong size circuit breaker will not be efficient. Even a wrong size breaker can cause a dangerous result.

So, you might be confused about what size breaker is needed for an air compressor. Knowing about the right size circuit breaker is essential if you want the air compressor’s smooth running.

Moreover, learning about the right size breaker is necessary to keep the air compressor safe.

Air compressor breaker size

An air compressor’s breaker size depends on the voltage and amperage of the motor in the air compressor. A 20 amp breaker is suitable for a 3.7 hp air compressor. The more the Horsepower, the large the amperage requirement will be. A 20 amp breaker is the best for common air compressors.

However, the circuit breaker size requirement can be different for different types of air compressors.

You might know that the size of the air compressor depends on the voltage and Horsepower of the air compressor’s motor. So, let’s see the air compressor breaker size for different air compressors.

Volt:

The size of an air compressor depends on the voltage of its motor. So, here are the size requirements for different voltages of the air compressor.

120v air compressor:

A 20 amp breaker will be suitable for a 120v air compressor. This size circuit breaker will work efficiently for the 120v air compressor. Moreover, this circuit breaker will prevent overheating and damage to the unit.

220v air compressor:

30 amp circuit breaker is efficient for a 220v air compressor. Generally, 30 amp can cover 200 to 230 volts air compressor. That means a 30 amp circuit breaker will work properly with this air compressor.

230v air compressor:

230 volts air compressor will also need a 30 amp circuit breaker. Sometimes, people want a 40 amp breaker for extra protection. But a 30 amp breaker has the ability to cover a 230 volts air compressor.

240v air compressor:

A 30 amp circuit breaker will also work well for a 240v air compressor. If the air compressor has more Horsepower, that will need a large size circuit breaker.

But for a 240v air compressor, 30 amp is sufficient. Moreover, this size circuit breaker will work well to prevent overheating.

HP:

You might know that HP means Horsepower. The more Horsepower an air compressor is, the more ampere the circuit breaker will need. So, the more the Horsepower, the large the circuit breaker will be required. Let’s see the breaker size require

3.7hp air compressor:

For a 3.7 hp air compressor, a 20 amp circuit breaker is enough. Sometimes, 15 amp is also sufficient for the 3.7 hp air compressor. 

But 20 amp will be safer on a 3.7 hp air compressor. This size circuit breaker will protect the compressor from being heated and damaged.

5hp air compressor:

You will need a larger size breaker for a 5-hp air compressor. Because a 5 hp air compressor requires 200 to 230 volts. So, more amperage will be required for this air compressor.

Moreover, you can also find the breaker size requirement on the air compressor manual. But if there isn’t enough information, you can calculate the requirement on your own.

7.5hp air compressor:

For a 7.5 hp air compressor, you will need a larger size circuit breaker. Generally, a 50 amp breaker is enough for a 7.5 hp air compressor. If you use a 20 or 30-amp breaker for this compressor, the breaker might not be able to cover this much amperage.

So, the unit might be overheated, and the air compressor might get damaged. So, a 50 amp circuit breaker will be needed for this air compressor.

How many amps does an air compressor pull?

How many amps an air compressor pulls depends on the Horsepower and voltage requirement. Generally, a small size air compressor will pull 20 to 30 amps. But if the size of the air compressor increases, more amps will be needed on that compressor.

For example, if the air compressor is 3.7 horsepower, it will pull at least 20 amps. But if the Horsepower is 5, it will pull 30 amps. So, the more Horsepower the motor of the air compressor has, the more amps it will require.

Besides, if the voltage requirement of the air compressor motor is large, it will need more amps. For example, a 120-volt air compressor will pull 20 amps. But a 230-volt air compressor will need 30 amps.

Another thing to consider is how many gallons the air compressor covers. For example, a 20-gallon air compressor will pull 20 amps. But a 50-gallon air compressor will need 30 amps. So, how many amps an air compressor pulls depends on various things.

What size breaker do I need for a 60 gallon air compressor?

You will need a 30 amp breaker for a 60-gallon air compressor. But the requirement also depends on the amperage requirement of the air compressor. For example, if the 60-gallon air compressor is 220 or 230 volts, it will need a 30 amp breaker.

But if the voltage is more or less than this value, the size of the breaker might vary. But a 30 amp breaker is enough for the 60 gallon air compressor. You also have to consider the Horsepower of the 60 gallon air compressor.

If the 60 gallon air compressor motor is 5 horsepower, a 30 amp breaker will be sufficient. But if the Horsepower is 10 hp, then you will need a 60 amp breaker. So, the breaker size requirements also depend on various things.

However, a 30 amp breaker will keep the 60 gallon air compressor safe. It will not let the air compressor overheat and get damaged.

What breaker to use for an air compressor?

For the protection of an air compressor, a circuit breaker is a must. But circuit breakers can be of many types and sizes. Generally, the breakers vary according to the size and power of the air compressor. So, let’s see what breaker to use for an air compressor.

20 amp:

A 20 amp breaker is the most common breaker for a small or medium size compressor. But if the air compressor is a large size, you will need a large size breaker. Generally, a 20 amp circuit breaker is the best for a 3.7 hp air compressor.

Moreover, you can use this breaker for 120 and 220-volt air compressors if the Horsepower is less than 5 hp.

30 amp:

Generally, a 30 amp breaker is used for a large-size air compressor. If the Horsepower is 5 hp and the voltage is 230 v, then the air compressor will need a 30 amp breaker.

40 amp:

A 40 amp circuit breaker is used when the air compressor has more than 5 horsepower and 220 v. Moreover, if the air compressor is more than a 60 gallon air compressor, then this large breaker will be needed.

50 amp:

50 amp breaker is a large size circuit breaker. If the air compressor has 10 horsepower and more than 60 gallons, then this large breaker will be needed.

How to choose the breaker size for the air compressor?

For choosing the appropriate size of the breaker for the air compressor, you need to calculate some factors. Let’s see how you can choose the breaker size for the air compressor.

Knowing the specifications:

First, you have to know the specifications of the air compressor. For example, you have to know the Horsepower, voltage, and amperage value for the air compressor motor. Generally, you will find these specifications in the air compressor manual.

Calculating the breaker requirement:

Then you have to calculate the breaker requirement. The breaker requirement is often present in the air compressor manual.

If you can’t find it in the manual, you can calculate it. To do this, you have to know the Horsepower. Then you can convert the Horsepower into watts.

According to the watts calculation, you can find the required voltage. From the voltage requirement, you can find the breaker amperage requirement. Finally, you can find the right size breaker for the air compressor.

Final Thoughts

Generally, a 20 amp breaker is pretty common for a medium to a small air compressor. But if the air compressor is large, the breaker size should also be large. Moreover, the more the Horsepower and voltage, the more amps will be needed. The right size breaker will provide protection.