A circuit breaker is a product that protects electric machines from short-circuits or overcharges. Without one, the unprotected machine could stop working at any time.
That’s why water heaters need one of these almost obligatorily. In fact, some heaters won’t work unless they are connected to a circuit breaker in the first place.
But circuit breakers come in many different sizes just like water heaters do. So, while you can always hook up a water heater to a breaker, you need to make sure that you’re connecting the right size. Otherwise, you may leave the water heater susceptible to any electrical issue.
Choosing the right size is not easy, though. You will need to know several things about both water heaters & breakers – so you can eventually make the right choice.
Here, we’re going to explain everything you should know, so selecting the right size won’t be much of a problem. Want to know what we’re talking about? Then keep reading!
How Is a Water Heater Breaker Size Measured?
The size of a circuit breaker is measured in Amperes. You will find models that go from 25 Amp up to the largest ones that can reach 100 Amp.
Of course, this Amp measurement refers to how many Amperes the circuit can handle. When an electrical connection surpasses the Amp capacity of the circuit breaker, then it will automatically shut down.
That’s how they are measured. And that’s how they work. So, you should always look for the right Amp capacity depending on your heater’s needs.
How to Size Breaker for a Water Heater
Now that you have an idea of how breakers are measured, it is time to know how you can pick the right one for your needs. Here are some steps to take:
· Find the Requirements of the Heater
The first thing to do is to know the total wattage and type of connection the water heater will work with. So you’ll have to always check behind the water heater around the specifications label. It will tell you the power in total watts and the type of connection it needs.
For example, typical residential water heaters use around 1,500 watts continuously in 120-volt operative voltage connections.
· Divide Current by Voltage
If your water heater needs 1,500 watts in total to work and works in 120-volt connections, then you’ll need to divide them together.
That would be 1,500 watts by 120 volts. This will give the total amperage. In this case, it is 12.5 Amp that you need to get the water heater working.
· Find out the Right Operative Amperage
Once you have the amperage needed to get your water heater working, you can proceed to check what the ideal amperage would be. Why is this important? Well, most circuit breakers work consistently well only if they have 125% of the power capacity that the water heater needs.
That means, your 1,500-watts water heater on a 120-volt connection won’t work well on a 12.5 Amp circuit breaker. Instead, it demands something that offers at least 15.6 Amp. But even then, it falls short.
The next possible option would be a 20-Amp breaker. So, for a 1,500-watt heater working in 120-volt connections – only a 20 Amp breaker will work.
· Picking the Right Size
Now that you have a better idea of what you can choose depending on your water heater needs, it is time to explain what size you should go for. Remember, there aren’t only 1,500 watts heaters out there. That’s why it is necessary to know the types you will find.
Generally, it is necessary to have 125% of the water heater Amp needs on your breaker. But that won’t keep the product working correctly for long. Instead, you need to pick a breaker that can cover the heater needs without using more than 80% of its total capacity.
What does this mean? It means that if your water heater demands 20 Amp in total, you won’t be able to use a 20 Amp breaker. Instead, you need at least 25 Amp. This happens because 20 Amp from the water heater is more than 80% of the breaker capacity. So, it won’t work as effectively as it needs.
But with a 25-Amp breaker, the 20-Amp water heater will only cover 80% of the total capacity of the circuit breaker. So it will work consistently and in a stable way.
· Final Choice
Of course, pairing up the right circuit breaker according to the water heater demands is useful. But you will also have to consider any other electronics or machines around.
Apart from that, you will need to make sure you’re getting the right circuit. It is not only about size capacity but also about the type of protection you want. Circuit breakers come in a wide array of designs offering all kinds of features.
To make your final choice, we recommend getting a circuit breaker that offers at least twice the amount of amperage that your water heater will need. So, if you have a heater using 6,000 watts in total in a 240-volt connection, the operative ampere total would be 25 Amp. In this case, you need no less than 35 Amp.
Because it will use 25 Amp in total, getting a 30 Amp breaker will cover it safely, but a 35 Amp unit will cover more than just a heater if needed. This would be the perfect way to get a circuit breaker for your water heater.
Which Size of Water Heater Breaker to Go For?
As you can see, this can be way trickier than it seems. Selecting a circuit breaker for water heaters has never been an easy job – so leaving it to professionals is always the ideal choice.
As long as you follow our recommendations in this article and don’t overlook any single detail, then you’re likely to get the correct circuit breaker.
Don’t let your water heater be susceptible to energy issues and instead get a breaker to protect it with our help. You won’t regret it!