Whether you’re heating a trailer or your entire house, a heat pump is one way to ensure your space will stay as warm as you want it. However, without the right circuit breaker, you can risk electrical fires, power outages, or worse.
Depending on the size of your space and the temperature where you live, a heat pump can save you money on your electric bill while doing the job of a heater and an air conditioner! Since heat pumps don’t burn fossil fuels, they’re also a way to help protect the environment.
In the following article, we’ll tell you what size circuit breaker you need for the heat pump you want, and we’ll answer frequently asked questions about both. When it’s time to install, you’ll know what to do.
The size of the circuit breaker you need will depend on the size of your heat pump. Circuit breakers prevent wires from getting too hot during use, protecting your space from fire and damage. Your heat pump uses refrigerant and heat from the air to heat your home.
Here are some of the critical topics we’ll cover, and more;
- What size circuit breaker you’ll need for your heat pump
- Heat pump sizes and types
- Circuit breakers, what you need to know
- Heat pump tricks and tips
Read on for tips and tricks on preventing electrical fires, power outages, and overloads with the right circuit breaker for your heat pump.
Here’s What Size Circuit Breaker You’ll Need for Your Heat Pump
The size of the circuit breaker you’ll need for your heat pump can be found on the label that is printed on the back of your pump.
The label will tell you your minimum circuit ampacity and the maximum fuse/breaker size you’ll need. Together they determine the size you’ll need.
What Size and Type is My Heat Pump?
There are two types of heat pumps, and there are a variety of sizes. The type and size you need will depend on the size of the space you want to heat and the temperature of your environment.
The colder it is outside and the larger your house, the harder it is to heat.
Heat Pump Types
As I mentioned, there are two types of heat pumps, ground-source pumps, and air-source pumps. Ground-source pumps pull heat from the ground around your space.
They’re typically more expensive to install than air-source pumps, but in the long term, operating costs are lower.
Air-source pumps pull heat from the air outside your space to heat the inside. They’re fairly affordable and are usually the top choice for home heating or heating your small business.
Unlike ground pumps, their operating costs can depend on the weather around your space.
Heat Pump Sizes
Heat pumps come in various sizes, from home-sized pumps to larger ones used to heat industrial or corporate offices.
The general principle for sizing heat pumps is that you need 30 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heating output per 1 square foot of living space with 8ft high ceilings.
For example, if your house was “small,” say 500 square feet, you would need a heat pump that produced 15,000 BTU’s. 12,000 BTUs = 1 ton, so you would need a 1.25-ton heat pump to heat your space.
If your house was big, say 2500 square feet, you would need a 6.25-ton heat pump.
How Can I Tell What Size Circuit Breaker I Need?
Now you know what heat pump you need, your next question is how to find what size circuit breaker you’ll need to power your pump.
The circuit breaker prevents your heat pump from pulling too much energy from your electrical system and damaging it.
Where to Find Out What Size Circuit Breaker You Need
This information is easily found right on the back of the new heat pump you just bought. Each pump will have a laminated printed label attached to its backside.
This label can tell you your minimum circuit ampacity and the maximum size breaker you’ll need for your pump.
What is Minimum Circuit Ampacity?
Minimum circuit ampacity tells you what size wire you need for your heat pump. Your circuit breaker will protect that wire. The minimum circuit ampacity also tells us the minimum size the circuit breaker will be.
It needs to be able to handle that specific amount of amps.
For example, if your minimum circuit ampacity is 40 amps, your circuit breaker needs to be able to handle at least that much.
If your maximum breaker size is 60, you need a circuit breaker that can handle at least 40 amps, but it doesn’t need to be able to handle more than 60 amps.
Why is my Heat Pump Tripping the Circuit Breaker?
If your heat pump is tripping the circuit breaker, don’t worry! It’s a good thing that your circuit breaker is shutting the pump off. It means your pump is trying to pull too much energy from the circuit, and the breaker is preventing it from overloading your home.
There are many reasons your heat pump could be tripping your circuit breaker, especially if it’s happening frequently.
Take a look at some reasons below and see if you can identify the problem, but always call your HVAC technician before attempting repairs yourself.
Full or Dirty Air Filters
Check your air filter! A common but often overlooked problem is the air filter inside your heat pump. If the filter is full and dirty, it can force the pump to work extra hard to pull heat into your home, which can trip the circuit breaker.
Make sure to change your filter at least every 3 months.
Another common reason your heat pump may be tripping your circuit breaker is faulty or badly installed wiring. Wiring issues are dangerous and can cause electrical fires if not dealt with.
Weather, shoddy installation, or a bad circuit breaker can all cause wiring problems.