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What is the correct size breaker for the tons of my heat pump or air conditioner condenser?
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
The right breaker size for a condenser is approximately twice the RLA (Rated Load Amperage, which is the amperage it draws while running and after the start-up surge). RLA amperage varies between units, with older condensers and less efficient ones drawing more amps. So, for example, a 3-ton condenser can have an RLA that ranges from approximately 14 to 18 amps, requiring a 30, 35, or 40 amp breaker—and there is no one-size-fits-all breaker for any 3-ton condenser.
The correct breaker size is always listed on the data plate at the side of the condenser. Some manufacturers specify both a minimum and maximum breaker size, and others just give the maximum breaker. Here’s two examples below.
Because a new condenser installed to replace an older one will often have a lower RLA and maximum breaker rating, it may be necessary to change the breaker in the panel, based on the manufacturer’s spec.
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To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, see these other blog posts:
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