Two Compressors Trip Breakers

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circuit breakers trips
(Last Updated On: September 29, 2020)

Question:

I HAVE 2 AIR COMPRESSORS AND WHEN I START THEM UP AFTER 10 SECONDS THE CIRCUIT BREAKER KICKS OFF, ONE COMPRESSOR IS 17.8 AMPS, THE OTHER IS A 16 AMP,THEY ARE CONNECTED TO A 20 AMP CIRCUIT BREAKER AND I ONLY TRY TO RUN ONE AT A TIME.THANK YOU

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We answer…

I guess the question is, why does the breaker pop…huh?  🙂

The breaker will pop when something in the circuit draws more amperage than the breaker can handle.

Circuit breakers

If the breaker didn’t pop, the increased amperage draw would create heat somewhere in the circuit, and that heat would ultimately result in a fire. So that the breaker is popping is a good thing.

Seems odd to me that you have the same symptom with two compressors.

If it were just one, I would ask you what components in the circuit are electrically driven, and tell you that one or more of them are failing.  The components could be the pressure switch, or the electrical motor, for sure.

That it’s both would suggest to me that you’ve got some sort of electrical fault in the power delivery system.

If it’s not either of the compressors then it’s got to be something between the panel breaker and the outlet box, or a fault in the outlet box itself.

Are you plugging these compressors into the same outlet?

Try plugging the compressors into a different outlet, preferably one that’s connected to a different breaker. What happens then?

If the new breaker pops too, then it’s got to be a fault on the compressors, so you will have to start examining what electrical component on both compressors has failed, or is in the process of failing.

That the breaker pops after 10 seconds would suggest to me that it’s a motor issue. Again, very odd that the same thing would happen with two different compressors.

As an electric motor runs, it heats up. Maybe it’s developing a short when it’s hot, or the load increases to the point that the amperage draw to run the motor against the increasing load is exceeding the breaker capacity.

One other thing; as the tank pressure builds, the motor has to work harder to drive the compressor head and continue to compress air against the pressure that’s already built in the tank. A weak or failing motor may not be able to continue working efficiently against that load, the motor would slow, and get very hot, to the point that it might shut off on thermal overload or create enough heat to short the motor.

If there any electrical folks out there that would like to add a comment to this, it would be appreciated.

Hello, I am Bill, the Compressed-Air-Man. I have years of experience in industrial and residential compressed air applications, air compressors and general pneumatics. I created this site to help professionals, students, and DIYers understand and properly implement and maintain compress3ed air systems.

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