Must have Electrical Tools and Equipment

Welcome to week 4 of the One Room Challenge!  This week consisted of wiring the new bedroom and this post is all about the must have electrical tools and equipment.

If you’ve ever had to get electric work done on your house, you know how the dollar signs can rack up very quickly.

Sometimes, hiring a licensed professional is an absolute must. Today, I’ll give an overview of our project and share why we chose to do the electrical work ourselves.

I’ll also provide a list of electrical tools and equipment that will help you through the process, should you go the DIY route.

It’s important to note that while I am well versed with the basics of residential wiring, I am not a licensed electrician.

My electrical experience includes shadowing licensed electricians over several years, studying how-to guides and making myself familiar with current code.  

I never recommend you go into an electrical project without a basic knowledge of how the process works. 

The goal of this post is to help you become familiar with the basic electrical tools and their uses.  This is the perfect place to start when getting educated with the process and will help you identify what you may need for your project.

Electrical Tools and Equipment

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How Important are Electrical Tools and Equipment?

Whether you are a professional electrician or a DIYer like my husband and I, having the right electrical tools and equipment essential to your project.

Many of the tools I’ll share are not just about convenience. They are imperative to your safety throughout the process.

Without the proper tools, the job at hand will become more difficult and you may be taking additional risks by not having access to the proper safety tools. 

Most tools can be easily found online or at your local home improvement store.  Oftentimes, the challenge isn’t knowing what kind of tool you need, it’s knowing what the tool is called so you can search for it! 

This post includes both a list of electricians tools and purchase links for convenience. 

What are the Basic Electrical Tools?

In the early days, we started out with tools not cut out for the job, trying to save a buck. 

For example, we had wire cutters.  But they were meant for automobiles, not residential electrical wire stripping.   

While you may not think this was that big of a deal (we didn’t!), it  resulted in wasted time and more improperly cut wires than I’d like to admit.

As our electrical projects progressed and became more complex, it was clear we needed to invest in basic electrician tools.

Our first experience with wiring electrical was about 7 years ago when we bought our first home that was largely renovated.

The electrician we hired was very generous with helping us understand how to do basic electrical tasks like switching out outlets and connecting 3-way switches. 

List of Electricians Tools 

Fast forward to current day and you will find us using these 10 electrician tools and resources during every electrical project:

  1. Screwdriver Tool Set 
  2. Voltage Tester 
  3. Receptacle Tester 
  4. Fish Tape 
  5. Cable Tracer 
  6. Circuit Breaker Finder 
  7. Tube Bender 
  8. Drill
  9. Drill Bits 
  10. Tape Measure 

Electrician Tool Bag

Keeping your collection of electrician tools organized is helpful. 

We use various Klein zipper bags to store all of our electric goodies.

Some of my favorites are below:

What are the Electrical Tools and Their Uses?

Screwdriver Tool Set 

The most basic of electrical tools includes pliers, a wire stripper and screwdrivers

This tool set includes everything you need to get started doing basic jobs like replacing outlets and switches.

Don’t let the common look fool you.  These tools are specially designed to work hand in hand with electric jobs.

Try using a basic screwdriver or the wrong kind of wire strippers and you’ll find the process will take longer since those general tools are not specified for electric work.  

Trust me, we started off on that path and found using the tools designed for electric jobs to be much easier and took less time to complete the work.

Voltage Tester 

A voltage tester is the first tool I take out when wiring a new space.  

Always turn off the power to the circuit you’re working on.  When in doubt, turn off the power to the entire house.

I commonly use a voltage tester when wiring new outlets and switches. 

When the voltage tester is on and touching the black wire, it will tell you if the wire is hot or not.  Hot means power is currently running to it.

If it’s hot, it will beep and flash red.  Don’t touch the wire with your hands in this case. That can lead to a shock and injury or even death, depending on what you are working on. 

Note that there is a way to turn off the beeping noise.  If you have set the beeping noise to off, be sure to watch for the flashing red light.  That means there is power currently running to that wire.

Even when the power is off at the circuit, I still take out this tool and double check the wires to make sure there is no power coming to the wires I’m about to work on. 

There can be different circuits in one junction box, so you always want to double check that every wire in the box does not have power coming to it. 

A solid green light means there is no power in the wires.  Be sure to run the voltage tester  all around every wire (without your hand coming into contact with wires to be safe).  

Receptacle Tester 

A receptacle tester will tell you if an outlet is properly connected or not.  In order to work properly, power to the outlet must be on.

It is one of the easiest electrician tools to use as you simply plug it into the outlet you want to test. 

This Klein brand receptacle tester has the key right on the front of the device.  This makes it incredibly easy to know if there are any issues with the wiring.

If it lights up as anything but “correct”, you know something needs to be adjusted with the wiring.

I use this device after I’ve wired and powered on any new outlets just to make sure all was done correctly. 

I also use it to check if there is power going to an outlet.  If it’s plugged in and nothing lights up, it’s safe to say there is no power going to it. 

Fish Tape 

Ever wonder how in the world you are supposed to get the 10 foot electric wire through a wall that is drywalled?

A Fish Tape/Wire Puller is (part of) your answer! 

We use this when we need to run a line in the ceiling or through the wall during the remodel process.

Typically, some drywall will still need to be cut so you have access points, but this common electrician tool keeps the drywall cuts to a minimum. 

We recently used this tool to wire a 3-way switch from one room to another.  We simply cut a few holes in the drywall and fished the new wires through the ceiling. 

Cable Tracer 

We used this electrician tool recently and for the first time during our garage renovation.  It was a huge timesaver!

A cable tracker allows you to trace a wire on common wiring systems.

We used this for our string of plug in outlets.  There were several we needed to remove and some we needed to move.  

All you do is make sure the power is OFF and clip the ends of the black and white wire with the corresponding color on the tool.

This device will start to make a distinct noise as you get closer to where those wires go.

By using this device, we were able to tell which wires were the load and which wires were the line.  

Then, we removed the wires that were no longer needed in the new electrical plan. All without removing any drywall or wasting time trying to hunt around to see where each wire went.  A huge win in my book! 

Circuit Breaker Finder 

The circuit breaker finder is not as commonly used (so far anyway) in our home renovations. 

Not for any other reason than we typically find what we are looking for by using one of the electrician tools mentioned above. 

A circuit breaker works by telling you which circuit a particular plug or light switch is connected to.  

This is a great tool to use if you don’t want to spend the time going circuit by circuit, turning each one on and off, to determine where the plug or switch is located in the main panel. 

Tube Bender 

We’ve only used a tube bender once and it was in our last house.  That said, we don’t have a lot of experience with this tool, but it can be a common one, depending on your project.

If your project requires the wires to be run through conduit, you will likely need to bend the conduit at some point.  This tool does the trick! 

Drill and Drill Bits 

While not specific to an electrician’s tool, having a drill and drill bits on hand is always a good idea.

If you are wiring/rewiring a room, you may need to drill holes in the studs to fish the wires through. 

There hasn’t been an electric project yet where we haven’t needed a drill and drill bits, so make sure you’re prepared.

Tape Measure 

Another tool that is not specific to electric work but hugely important is a tape measure.

Pick your favorite tape measure and it should do the trick.  

Some of our favorite tape measure brands include Klein, Milwaukee and Dewalt  

Learn How to Wire Residential Home with Electrical Tools and Equipment 

When people learn that we often do electrical work ourselves, we are usually met with a bug-eyed surprised look, followed by “What?! How do you do that?!” 

Here’s the thing.  Electric work can be very intimidating and downright scary if you don’t know what you are doing. 

That’s why I always say if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it yourself it.  Hire a professional.

But, if you are willing to learn and find the right people and resources to help you learn, you can absolutely DIY electric work in your home.

The only thing you’ll want to double check is that your county/state does not have any restrictions on who performs electric work on your property.  

This question is usually answered by the same group who approve building permits. 

As I mentioned before, Cully and I have spent the last several years building our knowledge base. 

This included surrounding ourselves with industry experts who have been generous enough to share their expertise. 

If we ever do not feel comfortable with the task at hand, we call on the experts to help out. 

For those looking to start learning the world of electricity, I highly recommend the two books below.  

They are easy to read and incredibly useful as learning tools and as quick references. 

Every project we’ve done, I’ve referenced them several times. 

And, I always recommend having the most current National Electrical Code (NEC) book handy. Last update as of this post date was in 2020.

Electrical Tools and Equipment Conclusion 

Cully and I have saved thousands of dollars by learning how to do our own electrical work.  We do it the right way by pulling applicable permits and having our work inspected.

You can absolutely do the same with the right time and learning investment.  Just remember to always start with the power turned off and you’ll be off to a great start 🙂 

Read the recommended books above and surround yourself with industry experts that are willing to help you learn. 

Some of the best electricians we’ve met were introduced through our realtor.  Most of us have at least one (if not several) realtor acquaintances or friends.  

Ask around and see who you can get connected with!

To keep up to date with our DIY garage conversion (and all our other projects!) be sure to sign up for email notifications below.

Have a question or a comment?  Let us know by dropping it in the comments below. 

 

Check out the other posts related to our DIY garage conversion:

Planning a Garage Conversion

Garage Demolition: The Step by Step Process 

Building a Garage Partition Wall

Wiring the New Garage Bedroom (you are here!)

Insulation Installation (coming soon)

Installing & Finishing the Drywall (coming soon)

Painting and Finishing Touches (coming soon)

Final Reveal! (coming soon)

Until next time,

Krista 

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Electrical Tools and Equipment