Do You have the Right Tools for Electrical Work?
Written by Mike Cripps - Lead Product Trainer (Electrician of 10+ Years)
The Honey-Do List. The list of tasks, repairs, and projects that exist in every household that can seemingly have no end. Having the right tools can make all the difference when it comes to home projects. Sometimes as simple as a new section of a knife blade, making sure your equipment is in good condition goes a long way into turning a chore into pleasure.
That means it’s time for a bag check. Whether you are installing new outlets, changing existing outlets to GFCI’s or AFCI’s, installing a new light or more, checkout the list below and make sure you’ve got the basic and essential sets to get you going.
You may not need all of these tools, but you will thank yourself when your project is done and you’re back on the couch in no time!
Top Tools to Keep in Your Bag!
#1 - Tool Bag
Narrow your selection by thinking about your storage space, the number of tools you have (and plan to buy), and where you use and move the tool bag.
#2 - Pencil & Notepad
Keep track of purchase lists, sketching out designs or ideas, and marking and measuring. A few extra pencils or notepads on standby is a good idea, because they always go missing.
#3 - Flashlight
LED’s provide lots of light for minimal battery drain. Handy to look into joist pockets, search for a dropped screw, or when you have to turn out a light.
#4 - Safety Glasses
Flying debris can happen unexpectedly and you’ll be glad you had them. Safety squints don’t count!
#5 - Electrical Tape
Wrap wires for pulling, insulate outlet screws, mark wires or locations and easily remove it later.
#6 - Utility Knife
Think about what material you will be cutting and decide if a thinner or thicker blade is required.
#7 - Tape Measure
Several different lengths, tape stiffness, and measurement units are available. Double check that the model you choose will suit your needs.
#8 - Circuit Locator
Check out our circuit locater, CircuitIQ (bottom of page), to take the guess work out of circuit capacities. Know how many devices are on each circuit, and digitize your electrical panel circuit directory.
#9 - Plug Tester
Connect a plug tester into any outlet to determine if it is grounded, has crossed neutrals, or incorrect “hot” wires. Some models have a “trip” button to test the function of a GFCI.
#10 - Multimeter
A Multimeter can determine the voltage, current, and resistance of AC circuits and possibly DC circuits depending on the model.
#11 - Non-Contact Voltage Detector
Known as a pen tester, the Non-contact voltage detector determines if there is power on a wire, plug, cord, or light without physically touching it.
#12 - Stud Finder
Stud finders detect the density of the wall and lets you know when you find a stud. And yes, it needs to be calibrated on yourself before being used on the wall.
#13 - Power Drill
A power drill is essential to pop holes for wires and screws, and can speed up installing recessed lights. Determine if a higher-powered corded drill is needed, or the versatility of a battery powered unit.
#14 - Hammer
A useful tool to knock things into position, slam nails, and demo objects in your path.
15 - Spade Bit
Spade bits are extremely useful when pulling wire through wood studs. Make sure you have the right sized drill bit for the screws you’re using.
#16 - Slotted Pliers (Channel Locks)
Use slotted pliers to install or remove pipe, grab onto objects larger than the linesman pliers can, or open that pesky jar of pickles.
#17 - Linesman Pliers
Linesman pliers give increased grip strength to your hands for grabbing wires, fish tapes, screws and other uses.
#18 - Fish Tape
Choose between flat steel or fibreglass materials and a variety of tips. Verify how far you may be pulling from and get a length that will suit your needs.
#19 - Robertson Screwdrivers #1 #2
Be sure to have both the #1 and #2 sizes, referred to as Green and Red. Used in many styles of screws including outlets, device boxes, and most kits that come with items such as smoke detectors.
#20 - Flat Head Screwdriver
If you are only going to have a few screwdrivers in your tool bag, make sure the Flat Head is one of them. It will be needed to take off any electrical faceplate and various screws.
#21 - Adjustable Wrench
Not always needed for electrical work but when you need a wrench, you’ll be glad you had it.
#22 - Wire Strippers
Designed to strip insulation from wires, they have a number of different sized slots to use on different wires and cables. Find a grip style that fits your hands well.
#23 - Diagonal Plies (Side Cutters)
Very handy for trimming ground wires in the back of a device box, side cutters are used to cut wires, ties, and other softer materials.
#24 - Drywall Saw
A small hand tool with a serrated blade to cut through drywall material with ease. Useful to cut out device boxes or gain access behind the drywall for pulling wire.
#25 - Level
Square up devices and match outlet heights. Comes in different lengths and features such as graduated bubbles, switch and outlet adjustment slots, etc.
#26 - Laser Level
Save time and shoot a laser around the entire room instead of making small marks with a pencil and level.
#27 - Laser Measurer
Measure across rooms, walls, or ceilings singlehanded without difficulty. Some models provide area and square footage calculations.
#28 - Impact Drill
Highly recommended. Impact drills deliver lots of torque to drive in screws, bolts, anchors, or other types of fasteners.