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Electrical Tools for the Home

You'll need these essential items to tackle most electrical projects around the house

You can accomplish most simple repairs around the house with these items in your toolkit: hammer, pliers, adjustable wrench, slot and Phillips screwdrivers, saw, and drill with bits. However, if you're a serious do-it-yourselfer and electrical handy-person, these limited toolbox items are not sufficient.

For less than you can hire a professional electrician to make a single trip to your home, you can purchase all the tools needed, including some specialized items that will make the job fast, easy, and safe.

Let's talk about the latter first: safety. Never throw caution to the wind when you decide to work on any electrical system. This is the reason we put a voltmeter (sometimes called a multitester) at the top of our list. It's a handheld battery-operated tester that checks continuity, voltage, and resistance to electricity's flow. Use the voltmeter with the power on or off. Additionally, you can use this tester on battery-operated and low-voltage devices.

After the voltmeter, other essentials include:

General carpentry tools
-Power drill with 5/8-inch spade bit (allows for holes to string cable)
-Keyhole saw for wallboard cuts
-Measuring tools (tape measure, level, and wooden yardstick)
-Utility knife

Electrical hand tools
-Assortment of pliers (needlenose, tongue and groove, side cutters, lineman's)
-Screwdrivers (Phillips in at least three sizes and lengths, and slotted in the same quantity). These should be rubber handled with electrical tape wrapped around the metal to within one inch of the base.
-Adjustable wire strippers
-Fuse puller (never pull by hand)
-Fish tape
-Extended length bits (some stores may carry a bit extension and it will reduce your cost over multiple long bits)
-Solder gun with lead-free solder

If you plan to work with metal conduit, a tube cutter and bender will make the task simpler. However, a bender can be quite pricey so 45 degree and 90 degree connectors will work.

A few specialized supplies will also make for a faster project completion. Always have these items available in your toolbox stock:

-20 amp and 30 amp breakers - purchase larger sizes as needed to reduce cost
-2 each single pole switch
-2 each 20 amps grounded receptacles
-50 feet of 14 3G NM cable
-Spool of 10-, 12-, and 18-gauge wire
-Electrical tape
-Packages of wire connectors - red, yellow, and orange (the color indicates size according to number of wires to be attached)

Finally, always read and follow instructions exactly when working on electrical projects. If you are uncomfortable working on any electrical repair, always consult a professional.



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