The circuit breaker is a significant component of the air compressor. It has the same use as all other devices that utilize electrical energy. Primarily, it is an electrical switch that automatically functions when there is an overabundance of current from a short circuit or electrical overload. Its purpose is to disrupt the electrical flow after a malfunction is detected.
Breakers have varying sizes and shapes. The smaller ones are used for protecting household devices and low-voltage circuits, the larger ones like switchgear that enable high-voltage to feed a large area like a city block.
The particular circuit breaker for a typical air compressor should be in the correct size. It will save you a lot of problems that might happen in the future if you choose otherwise. Finding the right breaker size for your device will enable you to solve issues it may encounter in the future. The usual circuit breaker-related problems that tend to happen are breaker tripping and overheating.
The circuit breakers in air compressors do the task of protecting it and the air pump when needed. What happens whenever there is a malfunction is that the engine turns off automatically. Then, the pressurizing stops.
What is the Right Size for a Circuit Breaker Concerning a Compressor?
The necessary measurements for a breaker rely on the motor amperage rating in your compressor. To find out the compatible breaker size, you to take a look at the compressor’s motor tag to see what the voltage requirements are.
You will find out below how to compute the right breaker size for your compressor. You will also learn related information about your device that may become handy in the future.
Steps in Calculating the Right Size
If the circuit breaker is the wrong size for your compressor, its power will fluctuate while operating, so nothing would get done.
Air compressor motors are sorted according to size by utilizing horsepower, and circuit breakers by amperage ratings.
You have to be mathematically-inclined since you have to know about formulas in electricity. You need to know this because the compressor’s amperage requirements and the engine’s horsepower correspond with each other in a mathematical sense.
A Stealth Ultra Quiet Air Compressor will be made as an example to calculate its appropriate breaker size:
1. You have to exchange horsepower for watts. 1 HP is the same as 745.7 Watts.
2. Multiply 0.5 HP by 745.7 Watts equals 373 Watts of power depleted.
3. The circuit breaker is measured by the amperage, which pertains to ampacity. The voltage and amperage are multiplied to get the result of the watts.
4. To get the voltage requirements of your compressor, view its motor tag.
5. The Stealth Compressor’s tag shows the voltage requirement as 120 volts.
6. Divide 373 Watts by 120 volts equals 3.11 amps.
The breaker cannot be sized to the current rate of 3.11 amps. Typical motors consume more energy on the instance of starting up than while it is operating.
If you are planning to replace the circuit breaker in your compressor, do not do it alone. You should hire a professional technician to do the job for you.
Yet, it is good to know the steps in calculating the right size of the breaker for your compressor so that when the technician arrives, you can provide the necessary details.
The information gathered by you will also assist you in other circumstances like overheating, which you can confidently troubleshoot.
How to Troubleshoot a Tripped Breaker
What circuit breaker should I get for my air compressor? This question is answered once you know how to troubleshoot when something happens.
A frequently tripping breaker can be problematic for the compressor. Once it trips, it will immediately turn off the device, and you would not be able to finish what you are currently working on. When this happens, the best advice for owners is to ask for professional assistance to get it checked.
Here are the compressor components you need to check out one the breaker trips:
• Defective motor: The compressor has an induction motor that has low amperage and high induction capacity. Once it malfunctions, it will likely also trip the breaker. You need to consult a technician when this happens.
• Air filter: a filthy filter is a chief reason why breakers are tripped in your device. The filter’s purpose is to halt any dirt from getting into the air pump. You have to change it once it gets dirty so as not to cause tripped breakers.
It is the first thing you need to check once the device shuts down. Once it is replaced with a fresh one and it still trips, then you too observe it more.
• An errant circuit breaker. Sometimes, it is the breaker itself that is the reason for the abrupt shutdown. Breakers in compressors are usually high-quality models, but as time passes, it will become defective due to wear and tear. Once you find out that is the case, it can be remedied quickly by changing it.
• Defective extension cord: The cord is essential for powering the air pump. If it is severed in a way the wiring is exposed to the elements, fire can occur. Once the cord breaks, it will cause the breaker to trip, thus cutting the electricity off and shutting down the device.
If you notice anything of this nature happen to the device, have it checked first with a technician before turning it on. This issue is not difficult to fix and you will get to use it again in no time.
• Congested cylinder: Cylinders play a crucial part in the overall functionality of the compressor. If it becomes defective or clogged, the breaker will trip and halt further air pump damage.
Heat Versus Overheat
Compressors are often subjected to temperature fluctuations like extreme heat and coldness. When the greatest possible heat affects the device and causes it to overheat, it can be damaging and shorten its shelf life.
Yet heat is an ordinary occurrence in the system since pressurizing air produces heat. It is beneficial to know about this because once this happens, you can gauge what is normal heat or overheat.
What are the Causes of Overheating
Once the breaker trips and you are in the process of troubleshooting, overheating will happen. It is crucial to know about the causes so that you can better solve the problem further.
• Humidity and temperature: How hot or cold it is within the compressor’s vicinity can affect it. The ideal temperature that should be in the surroundings is 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The overall performance of the device is also dependent on the room’s humidity. The room should be dry and have low humidity so that condensation would not happen, which can be damaging to the device.
You have to make sure that there is proper ventilation in the room that has an abundant supply of fresh air. You can crack open a window to let cool air inside.
• Blockage in the ventilation: The ventilation vents are there in the compressor to regulate its inner temperature. Make sure that nothing is blocking it, which could cause accidents in the future.
• Voltage supply: Overheating can happen because the device lacks the right voltage, and the circuit is not protected.
You need to make sure that the circuit is only used to power the compressor.
Extension cords must be compatible with the device and meet the standards in the user manual.
• Clean all surfaces: The motor and air pump often collect dust and dirt over time, which can cause overheating.
Make sure to thoroughly clean all the external surfaces which may cause them to block crucial vents and openings. Check on the user manual for the proper process in doing this.
• Safety valve: When the valve leaks, it can cause the device to overheat because pressurization is not adequate in the tank.
To fix this, you need to replace the defective components. You can also check on the user’s manual for the correct process.
Preventing it from Overheating
When a circuit breaker trips, it is usually because of overheating in the compressor. To avoid this from happening, you need tips in preventing it:
• Do not put anything on any vents or opening that may cause a blockage.
• Do not place the compressor in a confined area where there is no ventilation.
• If you place it near a wall, be sure it should be at least 12 inches away to not disrupt the air ventilation.
• Make sure that the circuit breaker in the correct size (which you can find out from above).
• If the device is linked to a fused protected circuit, be sure to only utilize time-delay fuses.
What Circuit Breaker Should I Get for my Air Compressor? The Final Answer
The best thing that you can do is to hire a professional electrician to get the properly sized breaker for your compressor.
Troubleshooting knowledge is also essential in this case. So that once the electrician arrives, you can give him the needed information to get it properly sized.