How to Choose the Right Circuit Breaker for Your Home or Business

Circuit breakers are like automatic power sentries, designed to protect electrical circuits from damage if things go haywire. When an overload or short circuit occurs, the circuit breaker will “trip,” or flip off to halt dangerous excess electrical flow. Choosing circuit breakers with amperage ratings suited for each circuit helps prevent fires, equipment damage, shock hazards, and other dangers.

With so many circuit breaker types and specifications to consider, it can get overwhelming trying to select the right ones for your needs. At Jco Heating A/C Electrical, we want your home or business in Lane County to have optimal circuit protection. Below are key factors to help guide you in choosing the most appropriate circuit breakers.

Amperage Rating

The amp rating on a circuit breaker must precisely match the ampacity (current carrying capacity) of the wires it is protecting. For standard household wiring, a 20-amp breaker pairs with 12-gauge wire while a 30-amp matches a 10-gauge. If the breaker amperage exceeds the safe capacity of the wires, overheating and fire can occur. Carefully follow electrical codes to choose the proper wire gauge and corresponding circuit breaker amp rating. Upgrading the wire size allows for using a higher-rated breaker to serve more power-hungry appliances.


Typical residential electrical systems operate at 120 volts for lighting/outlet circuits and 240 volts for major appliances. Circuit breakers must have a voltage rating that aligns with the voltage of the circuit they serve. Residential breakers are commonly 120V or 240V while commercial/industrial sites may use 480V or 600V systems needing different breakers. Verify your electrical panel and outlet voltages and obtain circuit breakers designed for that exact system voltage. Mismatching the voltage rating negatively impacts performance and protection capabilities.

Number of Poles

Single-pole circuit breakers have one hot wire connection and one neutral and are used for 120V branch circuits powering lights and outlets. Multi-pole breakers allow interrupting multiple hot wires and serve higher-voltage 240V appliance circuits or combined 120/240V panels. Double-pole breakers are common for 240V appliances while triple-pole versions can provide additional neutral connections. Choose the number of poles based on the specific circuit type and number of hot wires being connected. This critical step ensures each powered conductor is protected if an electrical fault occurs.

Interrupting Rating

Faulty electrical equipment or damaged wires can create short circuit conditions, resulting in extremely high fault current levels. The interrupting rating indicates the maximum amps a circuit breaker can safely interrupt at rated voltage without explosive failure. Higher amperage breakers will have higher interrupting capacities around 10,000A or greater. Selecting an interrupting rating at or above the calculated available short circuit current provides comprehensive, protected performance.

Breaker Types

Standard thermal magnetic circuit breakers have a heat-sensitive bimetal trip element combined with an electromagnet for rapid response. Magnetic-only breakers react quicker but may not protect against sustained minor overloads. Advanced types like AFCI breakers detect dangerous arcing conditions, and GFCI breakers help prevent shocks. Choose breaker types to suit the specific circuit based on NEC requirements and the need for added electrical safety protection capabilities.


Always look for evidence of testing lab certifications from respected organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or ETL/Intertek. This provides assurance that the circuit breakers have been independently evaluated to comply with NEC codes and meet strict established standards for performance, temperature/environmental resistance, and safety.

Lean on the Experts at Jco Heating A/C Electrical

Choosing the right circuit breakers prevents fires, equipment damage, and power disruptions. But given the complex factors and technical nuances, selecting suitable circuit breakers can be challenging. At Jco Heating A/C Electrical, our electrical pros have the skills to determine ideal breakers for any project.

Jco Heating A/C Electrical provides full electrical services: upgrades, new installations, replacements, and safety inspections. As a top local electrical contractor for over 20 years, we’ve earned a reputation for quality workmanship and outstanding customer service. Our NATE-certified technicians pursue continuing training and education to deliver smart, efficient solutions leveraging the latest methods.

For expert guidance in selecting and installing flawless circuit breakers for your home or business, schedule a consultation with Jco Heating A/C Electrical. We make the process smooth and are dedicated to safety through proper electrical protection. Our up-front pricing, warranties, and financing options provide added value for residential and commercial customers throughout the Springfield area.