I have a 50 amp breaker that runs the auxiliary heat on our heat pump. It keeps tripping. Can I replace it with a 60 amp breaker?
No, almost certainly not. The heat pump documentation specifies the breaker and conductor size, and that's what must be used.
Increasing the breaker size could lead to damage to the equipment and/or property, injury, death, and fire.
If the breaker is tripping, it means there's a problem with the equipment. Locate and fix the problem, or replace the equipment.
- The heat pump auxiliary load is actually listed to take a 60A breaker. AND
- All the wiring between service panel and heat pump is listed for 60A
First clue: the heat pump auxiliary heater is tripping a breaker often. That shouldn't happen at all. I've never heard of a 50A auxiliary heater, but I often hear of 60A and 70A units. I suspect you have one of those, and that's why it's tripping, and this is an improper install, which is just typical of HVAC people. They're not electricians.
The wire size is a really big deal. My sources are telling me that to have a bigger breaker than 50A, the cable must be 4 AWG copper, or 2 AWG aluminum (which is totally OK to use) - however in that case you are good for 60 or 70 amps.
Usually heat pump cable travels through unimproved areas, so you can inspect/replace without tearing up a bunch of drywall.
You might contact the heat-pump manufacturer and ask them if the heating unit can be "split" and powered off two 30's or a 30 and a 40. Then you could use the existing 6AWG run for the 40, and run a new 10AWG for the other 30.
Lastly, this is an absolutely crazy option, but think about how a heat pump works. It takes heat from outside, and moves it into your house. It quits working when it's very cold, because there isn't any heat out there. Okay, so build a shed around it... and heat the shed. You laugh, but that's exactly what they do in large installations, the heat pumps interchange with service water instead of air... in the winter, a central boiler heats that water to 70F using fuel, which is cheaper than electric. And the heat pumps run very efficiently, since there's plenty of heat in that water.