What Size Breaker Do I Need for Air Compressor?

Air compressors are a must-have for homeowners and professionals in various settings. They come in handy for inflating tires, powering tools, and providing compressed air to different machines. However, before buying an air compressor, you must know its power requirements, including the size of the breaker needed.

In this post, we’ll discuss what size breaker you need for your air compressor.

1. Know Your Air Compressor’s Power Requirements

One of the most important factors in determining the right size breaker for your air compressor is knowing its power requirements. You need to know the exact voltage and amperage of the air compressor before you can determine the size of the breaker you need. You can find this information on the label affixed to the machine. Most air compressors require 120-volt supply, which requires a 15-amp breaker. However, you should always check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that you have the right breaker size.

2. Calculate the Amp Rating

Understanding the amp rating of your air compressor is key to selecting the right breaker size. The starting current, also known as locked rotor amps (LRA), can be up to ten times higher than the running current. To calculate the exact amperage of your air compressor, add the starting current and the running current. For example, if your air compressor has a starting current of 26 amps and a running current of 10 amps, then you’d need a breaker with at least 36 amps.

3. Choose the Right Wire Gauge

In addition to the breaker size, you must also ensure that the wire gauge is appropriate for the amperage requirements of your air compressor. The right wire gauge helps ensure that there is minimal heat buildup, and the electricity is transmitted efficiently. For example, if you need a 15-amp breaker for your 120-volt air compressor, then you need to use 14-gauge wires. If your air compressor needs a 20-amp breaker, then you will need to use 12-gauge wires.

4. Consider the Length of the Wiring

The length of the wiring can also impact the size of the breaker you need. If you’re installing an air compressor that’s far away from the circuit breaker panel, you’ll need to adjust the breaker’s size accordingly. If the wiring is long, it will have more resistance, which can cause voltage drops and even amperage drops. This can make the air compressor work harder, which can lead to overheating and other problems. Therefore, you should ensure that the wire is thick enough and short enough to handle the amperage requirements of your air compressor.

5. Consult with an Electrician

If you’re not sure about the size of the breaker you need, you should always consult with a professional electrician. These experts can assess your air compressor’s requirements and your electrical wiring to determine the appropriate breaker size. Moreover, a licensed electrician can ensure that the breaker and wiring meet your local regulations and are safe to use.


When it comes to air compressors, choosing the right breaker size is essential for optimal performance and safety. Knowing the power requirements of your air compressor, calculating the right amperage, choosing the right wire gauge, and considering the length of wiring are crucial in picking the appropriate breaker size.

In case of any doubt, always consult with a licensed electrician to assess your needs and ensure that you have the right breaker and wiring to power your air compressor.

Ronald Cantrell

My name is Ronald and I'm a passionate home tools blogger who loves to help people find the perfect tools for their homes. I'm constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest products so people can make informed decisions when it comes to their DIY projects. In my spare time, I like to tinker around with projects of my own and put my knowledge of tools to the test.

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